BASF Ferro Super I Audio Cassette (1989)

One of the problems with striving to improve Type I normal position audio tapes was that whatever manufacturers did with them, they were always still Type Is. That may not have been a problem technically. If the sound and signal to noise characteristics were massively better than those of a very basic, low end Type I, then a higher end Type I would have merit and, in real terms, justify its extra cost.

BASF Ferro Super I 60 Audio Cassette 1989

But it was a problem in the market, where consumers categorised products under broad headings, and typically, only listened to sweeping generalisations. A Type II tape was better than a Type I. But not because consumers were analysing its performance at the point of retail and finding superior results. A Type II was better than a Type I because the TV ads said so, and it cost more. Therefore, as soon as a Type I cassette was made sufficiently upmarket to be priced within or near to the Type II ballpark, it would struggle to sell.

For that reason, quite a number of the more sophisticated normal bias cassettes were less visible on the high street. Many shops just wouldn’t order them. One such cassette was the BASF Ferro Super I of the late 1980s. The Ferro Xtra was the standard Type I offering from BASF during this era, and was very impressive – easily subordinating basic Type Is from most other manufacturers I can think of. This, the Ferro Super I was the next step up, taking performance to a higher level. The issue of rather noticeable noise, which blighted the Ferro Xtra, was dispensed with in the Ferro Super, and the frequency response, already good in the Xtra, was widened further.

There was in fact an even more upmarket ferric tape from BASF at the time, in the shape of the Ferro Maxima I. But be under no illusions about the Ferro Super – it was a dazzling product and very difficult for any other manufacturer to beat. The fact that it wasn’t BASF’s Type I range-topper might have created a sense that the Ferro Super was average or oridinary. It certainly wasn’t, but the typical shopper didn’t know that. And that was the cassette’s only problem. Because of the way cassettes were categorised and marketed, it simply couldn’t scream out at the public: “Buy Me! I’m a hell of a lot better than you think!”.