Philips Chromium Dioxide Audio Cassette: Für Elise

Philips Chromium Dioxide Audio Cassette

This is another really nice example of a high quality chromium dioxide pre-recorded cassette tape. It’s a Philips compilation entitled Für Elise – The Magic of the Piano, which includes works by a raft of composers including Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, Schubert and Gershwin.

The recordings were made in various European countries between 1963 and 1983, and performed by pianists Bella Davidovic, Claudio Arrau, Werner Haas, Misha Dichter, Ingrid Haebler, Nikita Magaloff, Rafael Orozco and Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich.

The original analogue recordings have been digitally remastered, and whilst neither the tape nor the inlay bear any indication of a release date, it looks to have been around the beginning of the 1990s. The cassette, manufactured in the Netherlands, cost £3.99 in Central England – some time between May 1991 and the end of the year. Its product code is 422 268-4.

I’m enjoying listening to these chrome classical cassettes (although Gershwin was not strictly classical, and stands out as an exception on this compilation). In pretty standard fashion, the product was recorded with Dolby B-type noise reduction, which keeps background hiss and hum pretty well suppressed. This tape is not always as quiet as the EMI chrome I looked at a few days back, but I suspect that’s down to background noise present in some of the original recordings, and not any technical inferiority in the media.

The tone of the pianos is extremely attractive and consistent throughout this programme, so I imagine a fair amount of effort went into the remastering, in order to maintain uniformity. If you’ve ever tried producing a uniform-sounding compilation from material recorded at different times and with different equipment, it’s harder than it might appear. But it’s not easy to tell that some of this tape’s performances sit two decades apart, so it’s a job very well done.

Regarding the tape formulation, here’s Philips’ own documentation from the inlay…

The high output chromium dioxide tape used in this musicasette gives improved sound reproduction on any playback equipment. In order to obtain the maximum benefit from the quality of this tape, the equalisation switch should be set at “normal” (on some sound equipment designated “ferro”, “low noise” or “120ms”). On equipment having automatic tape selection the indicator light will function as with iron oxide tape.

No great surprises there, but it’s always interesting to see how manufacturers related this info, in the period.

There’s a silver paper label on the cassette, which has made for a nice photo – so, another worthy addition to Tape Tardis.