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Music on cassette tape made easy

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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:23 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
So, what does it DO? Add hiss, W&F and some harmonic distortion?

Yes. And it doesn't unravel all over the floor of your car.

Joo know! I have never had one do that! But then I never bought ***t cassettes!

Ok, sorry, it is just that I come from the era when there was great competition between just a few top companies to make THE best cassette decks and a few diehard reviewers like J L Hood kept the buggers on their toes!
Now! We have a recording system that is all but perfect and the ability to store zillions of albums on something the size of my little finger nail but we hanker after a technology that was basically imperfect to start with (dictating machine) and only by supreme effort was made about as good as a top FM broadcast! Except the latter did not have W&F if live!

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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:32 pm

Yes it's a funny old world but I don't believe it's all hype when people bat on about old analogue gear and distortion and the rest of it.

Character and atmosphere can transform a boring, perfectly recorded performance and give it an extra something for your ear and emotions to latch on to. The same way a slightly out of tune upright piano in an echoey church hall can sometimes sound sadder and more evocative than a perfect Steinway recorded in a perfect studio with mics costing as much as my car!

I think the hiphop innovators recognised this early on, when sampling old records was all they had. There's something about a gritty old LP and limited bandwidth sounds that are intrinsically atmospheric perhaps?
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:19 pm

Can't remember who said this or where I read it, but the conversation was about vinyl, and on being asked "why would you want to listen to something with all that surface noise", the response was "life has surface noise".

I'm on board with that. I think there's value in imperfection, and especially at a time when recording clarity is easy to achieve, compared to say the 90s or the 70s or the 50s, embracing some of the imperfection and instability and noise is part of the character of the experience.

Horses for courses, mind. I wouldn't go back to loading software from a C15 shoved in my Dixons cassette recorder. But I did buy an album on cassette from someone on Bandcamp a while back, and played it on an early 80s Technics component, and... it sounded, really, really good.
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Re: MUSIC ON CASSETTE TAPE MADE EASY

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:43 pm

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Yeah, one of the Tascam semi-pro decks would be cool, I’ve got a Tascam 3 head job, very reliable. Or grab yourself a Nakamichi...

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NAKAMICHI-BX-2-Dolby-B-C-2-Head-Cassette-Deck-Working-Good-Condition/154032680436?hash=item23dd102df4:g:-6kAAOSw-OpfKH9K

Yes, nice. But the problem with buying a second(?) hand deck privately is that you have no idea of its state of wear. Cassette decks rely on precision head structures and alignment. Drive belts can stretch or go hard and lead to wow and flutter and accurate Dolby* replay depends critically on a flat frequency response and aligned levels.

The seller of that one strikes me as someone who knows what they're on about. The rubber idlers are a weak point of the cheaper Nakamichis with the Sankyo mechanisms and are a bit of a pain to replace (I need to do it on mine by haven't plucked up enough courage to take everything apart) so it is good to know that they've been replaced.

Normally I'd echo the suggestion to buy something used but many cassette deck drive belts seem to have a lifetime of only 15-20 years so you may well need to be prepared to replace the drive belts if it hasn't been done already.
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby desmond » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:56 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
Surely somebody has made a cassette tape simulator vst..

Of course. I have one and it's really good...https://aberrantdsp.com/plugins/sketchcassette/ I bought this because the UI was such fun to be honest, but it sounds fab too. There are free ones out there too which a quick Google will supply.

There's quite a few tape/cassette simulation plugins in various flavours. u-he's Satin will do it, and this one is quite nice:
https://www.wavesfactory.com/cassette
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:11 pm

I know what you mean about "courage" James. About two years ago I found the capstan belt on my Sony had 'melted'. Got a set no bother at all but the job of fitting them was MUCH trickier than I remembered when I did it for a living forty odd years ago!

I almost got to the point where I would have to take the 'bag of bits' to a hi fi shop and grovel. Fortunately, one last stupendous effort got the job done.

My stance on "imperfections" and grunge are that I doubt Bach would have been happy playing a harpsichord recital accompanied by the equivalent of half dozen chaps hissing on a tin roof!
And why do even Heavy Metal producers spend hours making sure of tunings if it is ok played on a wowing cassette deck?

But, there's no accountin'f folk!

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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:17 pm

"why would you want to listen to something with all that surface noise", the response was "life has surface noise".

I like that a lot! :thumbup: We all know how sometimes you can make a positive difference to a mix by putting an almost inaudible background pad or sound fx underneath everything. It's like that room tone thing that some engineers swear by. Just an almost imperceptible little bit of sonic filler that our ears seem to like. Glue reverb etc etc. Maybe, as the quote suggests, we're so used to the surface noise of life that it sometimes seems unnatural to hear something without it? My personal view is also that our brain craves movement in sound, as it does in vision. So tiny bits of wow or flutter or hiss that come and go stop our attention switching off. We're programmed by evolution to notice change, sabre-tooth tiger twitching a leaf in our peripheral vision and all that. Nothing more boring than a perfect sine wave.
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:19 pm

I doubt Bach would have been happy playing a harpsichord recital accompanied by the equivalent of half dozen chaps hissing on a tin roof

But I doubt he would have been happy playing it in an anechoic chamber either!
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:42 pm

ef37a wrote:I know what you mean about "courage" James. About two years ago I found the capstan belt on my Sony had 'melted'. Got a set no bother at all but the job of fitting them was MUCH trickier than I remembered when I did it for a living forty odd years ago!

I've done an Aiwa ADF450 and a Tascam 112 recently - the Aiwa was easy while the Tascam was a bit more complicated and a Youtube video helped. The Nakamichi seems more difficult than those. I've got a couple of others that need doing too.
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:55 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
"why would you want to listen to something with all that surface noise", the response was "life has surface noise".

I like that a lot! :thumbup: We all know how sometimes you can make a positive difference to a mix by putting an almost inaudible background pad or sound fx underneath everything. It's like that room tone thing that some engineers swear by. Just an almost imperceptible little bit of sonic filler that our ears seem to like. Glue reverb etc etc. Maybe, as the quote suggests, we're so used to the surface noise of life that it sometimes seems unnatural to hear something without it? My personal view is also that our brain craves movement in sound, as it does in vision. So tiny bits of wow or flutter or hiss that come and go stop our attention switching off. We're programmed by evolution to notice change, sabre-tooth tiger twitching a leaf in our peripheral vision and all that. Nothing more boring than a perfect sine wave.

I agree with the spirit, but thing is, these micro-movements are like 0.001% of the result.. I mean you cannot take a boring song and magically make it sound good because it's on vinyl. It can be cooler, but the music (and the mix) don't get better in any way.

The surface noise thing is cool to read but a meaningless slogan.. there's no fun in racing a slower car (but it's more fun to race a faster car with a noisy gasoline engine than an electric one, any time of the year and twice on Sundays!!). It is just a head game, a fun self delusion (and by all means, nothing wrong with it, self delusion is essential to life.. anyone being totally rational would sucide in 30 seconds flat).

Sonically it's not even like the icing of the cake, it's like having bought the eggs for the icing from an eco farm feeding hens only with Bulgur grain and picking them up between 4:00 an 5:00 in the morning. Makes a difference? Sure does..

One of my band' songs has a simple lyric video, whose background consist on a old deck playing an even older vinyl record, suitably blurred. The recording is, of course, a state of the art digital one which has never seen a (non-virtual) master tape, to say nothing of a vinyl pressing plant. It has, also of course, all the tricks I know to make it sound the opposite of sterile and "digital", including the right amounts of mains hum, tape printing and so forth.

Nevertheless it's as digital as they come. And yet you can't believe the amount of feedback I've got by people stating without question that "the vinyl sound is really making a difference", "nothing sounds as good as vinyl" and suchlike.

I politely nod and thank said people - I truly do appreciate the attention, of course - and I am continuously reminded on how pop music has as much to do with image than with substance.
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 09, 2020 5:57 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
I doubt Bach would have been happy playing a harpsichord recital accompanied by the equivalent of half dozen chaps hissing on a tin roof

But I doubt he would have been happy playing it in an anechoic chamber either!

That as well.

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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 09, 2020 6:06 pm

My first encounter with CD was on a system consisting of Quad 405 and a pair of Castle speakers, the big ones with 10" woofers.

The song was Bat out of Hell and THE most exciting part of that experience was sound coming from that black, zero noise background and the dynamic range.

I had a young family and a mortgage at the time and NO money but I said "I have GOT to get me one of these!"

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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 09, 2020 8:55 pm

I remember I went to a hi-fi shop with a friend in the Mid 80's. He wanted to hear Dire Straits' Private Investigations from the Love Over Gold album on CD -- his first experience of the format. I think we were auditioning a Meridian MCD -- the company's first CD player being a reworked Philips model if memory serves.

I remember my friend was initially very disappointed with the highly audible tape hiss.... But he hadn't realised just how loud the salesman had turned it up! I can't remember was the amp and speakers were, but it was a very big sound! And I remember it fading into that same black silence that you describe.
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Re: Music on cassette tape made easy

Postby Humble Bee » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:26 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
Surely somebody has made a cassette tape simulator vst..

Of course. I have one and it's really good...https://aberrantdsp.com/plugins/sketchcassette/ I bought this because the UI was such fun to be honest, but it sounds fab too. There are free ones out there too which a quick Google will supply.

And here is another...

https://klevgrand.se/products/dawcassette
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Re: MUSIC ON CASSETTE TAPE MADE EASY

Postby HomerJSimpsson » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:52 am

ef37a wrote:
HomerJSimpsson wrote:Beware of old tapes and cassettes. Through time, moisture from the air settles on the tape makeing it sticky almost like glue. Therfore its usualy much 'harder' to rewind old cassettes. Playing them put heavy load on the motor and mechanics, it can overheat and get damaged. You may even hear the music slowed down from the tape.

There's supposed to be a trick using a microwave to boil off the moisture, but I never tried that.

I think this MIGHT be a confusion with "Sticky Tape Syndrome" as it affected certain brands of OR tape?
I must have over 200 cassettes recorded some 40-50 years ago and whenever I pull one out to check it is always fine. These are a range of makes, TDK, Maxell, Philips, BASF, 3M, and a many strangers!

Dave.


If they are stored so no watervapor reaches them, then they should be fine. Try one's been lying around open in a car, every time it plays'little slower.
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