• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

How About Creating a Modern Cassette Player?

Zapper

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 4, 2023
Messages
608
Likes
842
I wouldn't want it, but if I did, it would have to have Bluetooth output, because everyone has BT headphones and buds.

- Bluetooth output
- Dolby B is necessary, Dolby C optional.
- USB-C charging, good battery life
- Looks cool
- headphone amp with good power, can drive low impedance

I share the same technical revulsion for cassettes as the previous posters, but people like and buy a lot of goofy things in audio, technical quality be damned. So if there is a market for this, then good luck with it!
 

JayGilb

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
1,389
Likes
2,382
Location
West-Central Wisconsin
20120901_154256-1024x576.jpg

If you're going to use obsolete technology, then why not go all the way. With LI batteries and class D amplification this would be an interesting toy to own.
 

zeropoint

Active Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
136
Likes
170
Well I certainly appear to be in the minority here, but I'm used to that.

I'd be interested, although you've been pipped at the post by FiiO, who are currently taking pre-orders for their CP13, and up against the likes of We Are Rewind, and RTM B-1000EW.

I still occasionally use cassettes, and intend to continue to do so. I'd be interested in option 1, with the emphasis on playback quality, but would like to add full logic control, which would give you an advantage over current rivals.
 

bluefuzz

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
1,078
Likes
1,848
We're contemplating venturing into cassette players

I can't for the life of me think why you would want to do that (though I admit I do have suitcase full of old cassettes upstairs that I haven't looked at in 30 years or so). But if you really think it's a good idea then just make it look cool and retro. Sound quality is irrelevant for the kind of person who would buy this. But do try to make it robust enough not to destroy peoples' vintage tapes ...
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2023
Messages
91
Likes
206
Location
Saint-Étienne, France
Tapes are great fun. Despite what all these negative Nancies say, there’s a small market for something like this (metalheads, punks, experimental underground music fans, etc.).

Yes! As a mastering engineer, a lot of the music I work on is released on cassette because that's what sells at shows. For independent music, LPs are too expensive and CDs are not very fashionable (much to my chagrin), so cassettes are still very much appreciated. Just take a look at Bandcamp to see how many are sold every day!

Very often people (myself included) buy used cassette decks to listen to them, but they're becoming increasingly rare and expensive, so there's really a niche to be filled for a no-frills experience. The only new options are Tascam and TEAC decks, both of which are terribly expensive and mediocrely spec'd.

The most important thing (for me) would be good W&F specs, decent frequency response, line level outputs and AC connectivity. So... a mixture of concepts 1 and 3.
 
Last edited:

Billy Budapest

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Messages
1,867
Likes
2,807
I wouldn't want it, but if I did, it would have to have Bluetooth output, because everyone has BT headphones and buds.

- Bluetooth output
- Dolby B is necessary, Dolby C optional.
- USB-C charging, good battery life
- Looks cool
- headphone amp with good power, can drive low impedance

I share the same technical revulsion for cassettes as the previous posters, but people like and buy a lot of goofy things in audio, technical quality be damned. So if there is a market for this, then good luck with it!
Forget Dolby B and C. Dolby S is backwards compatible with both, and requires as part of the spec a certain precise tape head alignment. I know, a portable Dolby S recorder-player is a pipe dream!
 

DWPress

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
1,080
Likes
1,554
Location
MI
So we can make mix tapes from Tidal?

Emphatic "NO" !
 

jbattman1016

Active Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2021
Messages
256
Likes
126
Hello audiophiles!

Starting with this and then asking if we want to use cassette tapes....

II have a few tapes around, but I can get these tapes on CD and rip them. I would be more interested in a media player that was of similar design to the switch, where it can be docked for using optical/XLR or other wired audio interfaces and then removed off the dock for using on the go with headphones or in other rooms. Yeah, I mean this COULD be a cell phone... so maybe a USB-c dock that can do the same would be great lol
 

JakeK

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2022
Messages
147
Likes
162
Location
UK
Just make an mp3/flac player that looks and functions like an 80s walkman bundled with headphones that also look like those classic walkman 'phones. Or make it look much like the one from Guardians of the Galaxy. You could even put a dummy mechanism in so it looks like a tape is playing. Even add some hiss, wow and flutter to the sound as a switchable retro effect. A mixtape building function would be a must.

Actually building a device to play such a fundamentally mechanically unreliable medium would seem like suicide though. You would have so many customer support queries and warranty returns that your company could be overwhelmed.
 

restorer-john

Grand Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
12,826
Likes
39,383
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
A cassette mechanism is only part of the story. Where are you going to obtain heads of a decent quality? The very best heads were glass crystal, various permalloy/sendust and of course the ultra rare titanium heads (Hitachi).

None of the heads today can even handle a faux Cro tape, letalone a metal tape. So you're stuck with crap boombox/answer machine style PB only heads and no mech.

If you are going to do a mech, you do have the advantage of modern brushless coreless motors from various sources. I would be doing a three motor pancake style mech- basically a miniature DD RTR with solenoid tape decoupling guides and direct control of the supply/takeup motors, allowing for a complete disposal of all the idlers, clutches, swing arm/rubber tires, belts and most of the mechanical mechanism parts. I've often toyed with the idea/concept.

Basically, you want to remove all the garbage in a cassette mechanism that created the cost and complexity and use modern micro control of supply/takeup and capstan, along with real time torque monitoring for PB/FF/REW etc.

The audio electronics are easy.
 

JakeK

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2022
Messages
147
Likes
162
Location
UK
I had a really nice cassette deck many years ago, primarily for making copies of my CDs and LPs, so that I could use them in my Walkman or, later, in the car.

View attachment 346843 View attachment 346844

I don't want to go back. :)
Same.

Years ago when I still had a high quality tape deck I used line out to my pc and made the best of my tapes into mp3s. They are bad enough to be pretty much unlistenable these days and that's not the fault of mp3 or the equipment used, it's fundamental to the tape medium. I used to think they sounded great but that was then. Then you have the fun of the tape getting loose and having to be rewound by hand using a bic pen. Or getting the tape stuck in a player and having to pull loops and loops of it out and then decide if it was worth trying to untangle it and reel it back into the cassette. In car tape players were particularly bad for being reluctant to release a tape and sometimes you had to pull the whole thing out of the dash to release the mechanism and then decide if you could afford £50 for a new player or just put it back in and hope for the best or only listen to radio.
 

Talisman

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
997
Likes
2,943
Location
Milano Italy
Same.

Years ago when I still had a high quality tape deck I used line out to my pc and made the best of my tapes into mp3s. They are bad enough to be pretty much unlistenable these days and that's not the fault of mp3 or the equipment used, it's fundamental to the tape medium. I used to think they sounded great but that was then. Then you have the fun of the tape getting loose and having to be rewound by hand using a bic pen. Or getting the tape stuck in a player and having to pull loops and loops of it out and then decide if it was worth trying to untangle it and reel it back into the cassette. In car tape players were particularly bad for being reluctant to release a tape and sometimes you had to pull the whole thing out of the dash to release the mechanism and then decide if you could afford £50 for a new player or just put it back in and hope for the best or only listen to radio.
You have revoked nightmares of the past with terrible images that pass before my empty eyes, like stills of Vietnam
 

JakeK

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 9, 2022
Messages
147
Likes
162
Location
UK
A cassette mechanism is only part of the story. Where are you going to obtain heads of a decent quality? The very best heads were glass crystal, various permalloy/sendust and of course the ultra rare titanium heads (Hitachi).

None of the heads today can even handle a faux Cro tape, letalone a metal tape. So you're stuck with crap boombox/answer machine style PB only heads and no mech.

If you are going to do a mech, you do have the advantage of modern brushless coreless motors from various sources. I would be doing a three motor pancake style mech- basically a miniature DD RTR with solenoid tape decoupling guides and direct control of the supply/takeup motors, allowing for a complete disposal of all the idlers, clutches, swing arm/rubber tires, belts and most of the mechanical mechanism parts. I've often toyed with the idea/concept.

Basically, you want to remove all the garbage in a cassette mechanism that created the cost and complexity and use modern micro control of supply/takeup and capstan, along with real time torque monitoring for PB/FF/REW etc.

The audio electronics are easy.
That's a lot of work to make something that will have a ridiculously bad SINAD no matter how well you make it. I'm guessing a SINAD of 40 at best!
 

radix

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
Messages
1,431
Likes
1,399
Like who has cassette tapes that are still any good and not deteriorated below the already marginal audio quality of tape.

Cassette tapes were said to last about 30 yrs, so that's 1990s. I don't think I was even doing cassette that late, it was all CD. I might still have a few from the 80s....

And if you're going to record something new, really just do a playlist on your phone. Don't torture the poor chromium and iron particles.
 

Zapper

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 4, 2023
Messages
608
Likes
842
Sometime about 10 years ago I pulled out the 100's of cassette tapes that were sitting in storage since the 90's and wondered what to do with them. I listened to a few of them on the working cassette deck I still owned. That made the decision easy. All the cassettes went in the trash, and the deck with them.
 

ajramirez

Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2020
Messages
13
Likes
13
The amount of negativity in this thread is amazing. To answer OP’s question, I believe a high quality compact player (not necessarily Walkman size but not full size), with Dolby NR, recording capabilities, a built in ADC and Bluetooth would be very attractive. I believe the biggest obstacle to a high performance deck is the unavailability of high quality cassette tapes (chrome or metal) at reasonable prices or at all.
 
Top Bottom