• 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?

pablolie

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
2,095
Likes
3,536
Location
bay area, ca
Hello audiophiles!

We're contemplating venturing into cassette players and would love your input. With many vintage Walkmans becoming hard to repair, niche bands releasing music on tapes, and a steady demand for cassette players, we see an opportunity. However, current models often don't live up to expectations, so we're eager to offer you an alternative.

As you know, cassette player technology from 20 years ago has largely been lost, making production challenging due to scarce core components. We're in the initial stages of defining this product and would greatly value your insights to co-create something special.

After some research, we've developed three concepts and we're curious to know which resonates with you:

1. A focus on playback and sound quality, minimizing other features. We'd concentrate on the mechanical structure and high-quality magnetic heads. Our aim is affordability and a sleek design, creating a dedicated music player without an overload of features.

2. Besides playback and sound quality, we're considering additional features like AIWA-style EQ custom tuning, various sound enhancements (bass, treble), Bluetooth connectivity, and recording capabilities. It might be slightly bulkier and pricier, but the added functionality would enhance its longevity and playability.

3. Alternatively, we could move away from the traditional Walkman model and create a modern, compact cassette deck. This would incorporate Bluetooth transmission, analog-to-digital conversion, and recording functions. If you have more ideas, we're all ears!

Which direction appeals to you most? What price point would you consider reasonable?

Or, just let us know your ideal vision of a cassette player. We're excited to hear from you!
View attachment 345113
I think smartphones took over the job. There clearly are still some dedicated products (is Astell and Kern still alive?) but they seem very niche. I used to be about Walkmans then MP3 players but I would have zero interest in yet another portable device with a narrow use case. My smartphone does just fine for that job. But... that's just me.
 

Robin L

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
5,282
Likes
7,713
Location
1 mile east of Sleater Kinney Rd
I think smartphones took over the job. There clearly are still some dedicated products (is Astell and Kern still alive?) but they seem very niche. I used to be about Walkmans then MP3 players but I would have zero interest in yet another portable device with a narrow use case. My smartphone does just fine for that job. But... that's just me.
I think so. FiiO is still producing DAPs, but unfortunately no longer are manufacturing their great little budget models. I've got a M3K, capable of holding a 2tb micro SD card. Good performance, only cost $70.
 

markalot63

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2024
Messages
16
Likes
16
Hello audiophiles!

We're contemplating venturing into cassette players and would love your input. With many vintage Walkmans becoming hard to repair, niche bands releasing music on tapes, and a steady demand for cassette players, we see an opportunity. However, current models often don't live up to expectations, so we're eager to offer you an alternative.

As you know, cassette player technology from 20 years ago has largely been lost, making production challenging due to scarce core components. We're in the initial stages of defining this product and would greatly value your insights to co-create something special.

After some research, we've developed three concepts and we're curious to know which resonates with you:

1. A focus on playback and sound quality, minimizing other features. We'd concentrate on the mechanical structure and high-quality magnetic heads. Our aim is affordability and a sleek design, creating a dedicated music player without an overload of features.

2. Besides playback and sound quality, we're considering additional features like AIWA-style EQ custom tuning, various sound enhancements (bass, treble), Bluetooth connectivity, and recording capabilities. It might be slightly bulkier and pricier, but the added functionality would enhance its longevity and playability.

3. Alternatively, we could move away from the traditional Walkman model and create a modern, compact cassette deck. This would incorporate Bluetooth transmission, analog-to-digital conversion, and recording functions. If you have more ideas, we're all ears!

Which direction appeals to you most? What price point would you consider reasonable?

Or, just let us know your ideal vision of a cassette player. We're excited to hear from you!
View attachment 345113

How will you solve the problem that no one mass produces a competent drive mechanism anymore, with low wow and flutter? All the decks produced so far use the exact same, or very similar, mechanism. If you can do it, yea, I'd get one for fun. I already bought into full size tape decks, now all I need is a portable to play these mix tapes. :D
 

Mikig

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2024
Messages
405
Likes
434
Location
Italia
If I don't use computers, I also use smartphones. I had considered Astell & Kern in the past but it's more work.
Nowadays, with the memory of smartphones I don't see any great alternatives: moreover, I can use all the programs I want including TIDAL, Roon, Qobuz, Music etc.
You use them via Bluetooth at home in the car, and via Wi-Fi... what more could you ask for?
 

Robin L

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
5,282
Likes
7,713
Location
1 mile east of Sleater Kinney Rd

DavidEdwinAston

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 18, 2021
Messages
780
Likes
592
I said "hobby", which means not for others. That would seem a lot like "work". And I'd probably screw it up.

Rick "who can break his own stuff without consequences" Denney
No that's okay Rick! You can take as long as you like with my machine! Just thr logistics of getting it to you? :)
 

AdrianusG

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2023
Messages
390
Likes
293
God that Fiio is hideous.
yes it is, they are a far cry from the prettiest Sony's of yesteryear.

like this for instance
23ded2eb78c79ecd3f560c88c9063c37.jpg
 

Ze Frog

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 4, 2024
Messages
628
Likes
721
yes it is, they are a far cry from the prettiest Sony's of yesteryear.

like this for instance
23ded2eb78c79ecd3f560c88c9063c37.jpg
And the later ones that were barely bigger than a cassette. The engineering of this kind of thing was really something special. Think Toshiba had the smallest portable cassette player, was really astounding at the time.

Modern players I've seen are all like the cheap no brand stuff that nobody really wanted even back in the day.
 

DavidEdwinAston

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 18, 2021
Messages
780
Likes
592
To respond to the actual thread I would say. Don't bother Fosi. Outdated and unnecessary.
On the other hand. A stereo amp producing 300 watts into 8 ohms. Meeting all of the normal hi-fi specifications, naturally. Five year warranty, for maybe £700?
 

egellings

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
4,063
Likes
3,309
Hello audiophiles!

We're contemplating venturing into cassette players and would love your input. With many vintage Walkmans becoming hard to repair, niche bands releasing music on tapes, and a steady demand for cassette players, we see an opportunity. However, current models often don't live up to expectations, so we're eager to offer you an alternative.

As you know, cassette player technology from 20 years ago has largely been lost, making production challenging due to scarce core components. We're in the initial stages of defining this product and would greatly value your insights to co-create something special.

After some research, we've developed three concepts and we're curious to know which resonates with you:

1. A focus on playback and sound quality, minimizing other features. We'd concentrate on the mechanical structure and high-quality magnetic heads. Our aim is affordability and a sleek design, creating a dedicated music player without an overload of features.

2. Besides playback and sound quality, we're considering additional features like AIWA-style EQ custom tuning, various sound enhancements (bass, treble), Bluetooth connectivity, and recording capabilities. It might be slightly bulkier and pricier, but the added functionality would enhance its longevity and playability.

3. Alternatively, we could move away from the traditional Walkman model and create a modern, compact cassette deck. This would incorporate Bluetooth transmission, analog-to-digital conversion, and recording functions. If you have more ideas, we're all ears!

Which direction appeals to you most? What price point would you consider reasonable?

Or, just let us know your ideal vision of a cassette player. We're excited to hear from you!
View attachment 345113
Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, what with the cassette's limited sound quality. It might make sense for someone who owns a library of recorded cassettes, however.
 

JCM800

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2022
Messages
31
Likes
21
I'm glad to see they went through with this and went with a minimalist feature set. I'm considering buying one even with the W&F issues. And IMHO it looks way better that Sony player covered in whiz bang marketing graphics.

And for all the cassette poo-pooers, I think egellings is right: Gear like this is about resurrecting a dead format (though new tapes still have their place); It's about getting as much use as possible out of the millions of '80s and '90s cassettes sitting in people's closets before they inevitably end up in the landfill / ocean. Sadly there's no Dolby / Type II / Chrome settings, but it's good enough.
 

Billy Budapest

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Messages
1,852
Likes
2,772
Fine as a toy for hipsters, but of no interest for anyone else.
That’s simply not true. I’m solid Gen-X (born in 1972) and as a result, have many cassettes from the 80’s and 90’s. Many of these are from small local bands and college bands thst do not have music available in any digital form, online or otherwise. That’s also not to mention mix tapes I made during that same time period, although for the most part they could be recreated through streaming playlists.

I don’t think I am alone, and a lot of people in my generation have drawers full of cassettes which they have no way to play.

As for me? After years of not having any way to play them, I bought a serviced and restored Nakamichi BX-150. It has the quality I need to play back cassettes—even though it’s not a three motor dual capstan drive, it has very good wow & flutter specs, and because I won’t be using the deck to record, I do not need a three head machine. I do not need auto reverse. I do not need music search. Etc., etc. I just need something that can play Type I, II, and IV tapes some of which are Dolby B and C encoded. The BX-150 is pretty inexpensive to buy used and refurbished and no currently-produced cassette deck can come close to its performance. It’s a basic deck with none of Nakamichi’s proprietary automated azimuth and bias setting features.

If Fosi could make a basic deck like this one, with good playback heads, it would probably fulfill what most of the current market needs.


DSCF3458.jpg
 
Last edited:

Ze Frog

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 4, 2024
Messages
628
Likes
721
That’s simply not true. I’m solid Gen-X (born in 1972) and as a result, have many cassettes from the 80’s and 90’s. Many of these are from small local bands and college bands thst do not have music available in any digital form, online or otherwise. That’s also not to mention mix tapes I made during that same time period, although for the most part they could be recreated through streaming playlists.

I don’t think I am alone, and a lot of people in my generation have drawers full of cassettes which they have no way to play.

As for me? After years of not having any way to play them, I bought a serviced and restored Nakamichi BX-150. It has the quality I need to play back cassettes—even though it’s not a three motor dual capstan drive, it has very good wow & flutter specs, and because I won’t be using the deck to record, I do not need a three head machine. The BX-150 is pretty inexpensive and no currently-produced cassette deck can come close to its performance.
DSCF3458.jpg
Yeah, sadly most modern tape players use really sub par head's, that would be my worry about a modern tape player. Definitely agree that tape still has it's place in many hearts. Only reason I got rid of mine was because couldn't find a decent modern player and was weary of secondhand after going through a few with disintegrating bands among other problems in quick succession. Had I spent more on something like a Nakamichi I probably could of avoided that problem though.

If Fosi were to make this, I really hope they find someone making good quality heads compatible with all the tape mediums, all the new portable stuff is really quite limited as it seems nobody makes good heads anymore.
 

Joe Smith

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
1,011
Likes
1,054
I have Nak BX-100, BX-125 and Cassette Deck 2 units, all are still performing well. I tend to use my other decks that have auto-reverse more, but the BX series is definitely a fine Nak entry point, and avoids many of the expensive "care and feeding" issues of the higher-level Nak decks.
 

Billy Budapest

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Messages
1,852
Likes
2,772
I have Nak BX-100, BX-125 and Cassette Deck 2 units, all are still performing well. I tend to use my other decks that have auto-reverse more, but the BX series is definitely a fine Nak entry point, and avoids many of the expensive "care and feeding" issues of the higher-level Nak decks.
The BX-300 is arguably Nak’s best “basic” deck but serviced ones are fetching a *ridiculous* $1,000 on eBay, whereas you can get a serviced/restored BX-1, -2, -100, -125, or -150 for $200 or less if you look around.

LX-3 and LX-5 are also good choices but are priced much higher than the BX decks (except for the BX-300).
 
Top Bottom