Why Use Audio Cassettes in the Digital Age?

Sony Metallic 60 Cassette

The answer was once obvious. Decades ago, people used compact cassettes because there was no other media upon which they could conveniently preserve sound at home, and because cassettes allowed pre-recorded matter to be played in places where the delicacy and static requirements of vinyl disc turntables were impractical. Continue reading

Bob Marley Live Rainbow Theatre Bootleg Tape

Bob Marley Rainbow Theatre Live Audio Cassette

I’ve spoken before on the blog about the record fairs of the early 1980s, and the bootleg tapes that featured so prominently in their trade. Extremely erratic in quality, and often pedalled by people who knew little to nothing about the artists, these tapes (usually of live performances or radio sessions) were frequently Continue reading

1980s Sony BHF 90 Audio Cassette Dismantled

1980s Sony BHF90 Dismantled

Firstly, I should mention that this is not the 1983 BHF 90 I photographed previously (or indeed the 1981). This is another variant with a few small detail differences from the ’83. Continue reading

The (English) Beat Live at Bradford 1982 Audio Cassette

This is a real nostalgic treat. It’s a bootleg tape of The (English) Beat, playing a blistering live set in Bradford on 9th October 1982. Recording quality is poor, but the performance easily makes up for that, and it would have been a crime to let the less-than-professional recording prevent that fantastic performance from being preserved. I bought the tape – dubbed onto a Sony CHF-90 (how typical of the time) – from one of the record fairs held in Birmingham and the West Midlands either in late 1982 or early 1983. The inlay is in most ways typical of those on early ‘80s bootlegs – typed and photocopied onto matt-finish paper in an eyecatching solid colour. However, in this case the paper is thick and stiff enough to be described as card, which was quite a luxury at the time.

The English Beat live in Bradford 1982 audio cassette Continue reading

Sony AHF 90 Audio Cassette (1981)

1981 Sony AHF 90 Audio Cassette

The Sony AHF was an excellent normal bias cassette from the renowned hi-fi manufacturer. At the dawn of the 1980s, there were three normal bias ferric oxide tapes in the Sony range. The CHF was the basic offering. Light on treble definition, fairly noisy, and low in price – but in its class, still pretty good value. The next step up was the BHF. This had noticeably better treble response, and whilst noise/hiss wasn’t exactly minimal, it was certainly more under control than with the CHF. The price was typically around 30% higher than that of the CHF. Stepping up again to the most expensive Sony ferric, you found, this, the technically superior AHF. Continue reading

The Type III Ferrichrome / Ferro-chrome Audio Cassette

Most cassette-buying consumers of yesteryear will remember normal tapes (classified Type I), high bias tapes (classified Type II), and to a lesser extent, metal tapes (classified Type IV). These were the three options from which consumers would choose. If you look back at the cassette decks from the heyday of analogue home recording, you’ll probably see a reference to each of these three cassette types. Perhaps a physical selector (if it’s a very old deck), but more likely just a series of LED indicators, showing which of the three types the deck has auto-detected, once the cassette is in the machine. Type I, Type II, and Type IV. But no Type III…

Sony FeCr 90 Type III audio cassette tape Continue reading

1995 Sony FXI 90 Audio Cassette

1995 Sony FXI 90 Audio Cassette

As promised in yesterday’s post depicting the 1996 Sony FXI, this is my other 1990s FXI, from 1995. This version was not pre-labelled at the factory, and came out of its packaging with a bare plastic face. Continue reading