The That’s AS:I 54 was a really impressive Type 1 normal bias tape. The first thing you noticed about it was the unusually quiet performance. Noise levels are truly low for a mid-range Type 1. I used this particular cassette to record an acoustic piano performance, which I played on a Welmar upright in 1994. Tape hiss could be an issue on solo acoustic instrument performances even with Type II cassettes, but it really isn’t a problem here. I didn’t even use Dolby! The sound is what you’d expect from a very good normal bias tape. Rounded and warm, but with a well defined edge.
The 54 minutes capacity was quite an unusual find on the shelves of general high street stores, and the look of this cassette is quite unusual too. The frosted effect works very nicely on clear plastic, and I think this tape is very photogenic given that it has no stick-on label or coloured print.
I don’t know when the last batches of That’s tapes were actually shipped to the UK, but I recall them remaining available well into the latter half of the 1990s around Birmingham, England. I believe I was able to buy some That’s Type IIs from high street stores as late as early 1997, although in terms of manufacture I can’t find anything mentioned for later than 1995. It’s difficult to search That’s tapes on the web, though. Google doesn’t understand that That’s AS:I is a product, and even using Advanced Search it starts serving up sentences like: “That’s as I remember it”. It’s obvious that the Internet was not the be-all-and-end-all of commercial support back in the days of this particular brand.