This really was a remarkable discovery. I found it among some odds and ends of my Mom’s, which were collected together and stored after she died in 1994. Not only was it amazing just to find a mid 1970s Agfa High Energy Low Noise audio cassette, but it was also quite a revelation listening to it.
1970s audio cassettes are not in my experience associated with high fidelity, so when I saw the ninety minute (relatively long) record/play length and standard Type I ‘Low Noise’ specification I was braced for something pretty grim. Actually though, this Korean-made cassette is very good indeed. Refreshingly, ‘Low Noise’ really does mean low noise… well, it’s certainly low for a ’70s Type I. And there’s some really good brightness to the sound. It helps that the content has (evidently) been recorded on good equipment, and the level to tape is perfect, but some ’70s ‘Low Noise’ jobs sound excruciating no matter how good the recording gear and technique. The definition and hiss level of this Agfa easily beats that of an early 1990s Type I found at the same time. It’s a strong, punchy sound with edge, and good smoothness. No glitches I can detect either.
I’ve been able to tie the material on the tape to a project I know my Mom was doing in mid 1976. She was a school teacher and pianist, and much of the work she did for the school is documented. I’ve therefore deemed this tape to be a ’76. I suppose it could feasibly come from 1975, but it doesn’t look well used, so I’m guessing my Mom bought it specifically for the recording which remains preserved on it to this day.
This find has brought back memories of that scorching 1976 summer we had in the UK. I was only a kid at primary school, but you couldn’t forget that relentlessly dry and hot holiday. Rock hard light brown mud with huge, gaping cracks, beneath yellowish brown parched grass. Water rationed from stand pipes in the street because there wasn’t enough to go round… Very unusual for England – there’s never been a summer like it since.
I always find myself pausing for a moment to take in the importance and absorb the implications of a very personal piece of history like this cassette. A distant moment in time which has, courtesy of science and industry, sneaked its way into the present.