Thursday, September 3, 2009

The heyday of cassette tape

In a few weeks time, it will be my 40th birthday, and being an old analog nut, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate, then to grab this rare find off eBay.

It's 140 rare 1983 Maxell UDXLII audio cassettes, yes the good ones with the square shaped hubs.

As many cassette lovers know, the quality of today’s tapes and their cassette shells has deteriorated severely over the years. This is due to the main cassette manufacturers making major cut backs in their tape plants, and trimming every corner possible to save on costs. This is largely due to the main stream take up of digital storage devices, such as CDRs, portable players like ipods, and removable hard-drives.

When it comes to the actual cassette, components and models are stripped down with each successive year. Parts such as pressure pads, specialised slip and press plates used for stable tape travel, and adhesive labels have been completely removed from today’s models. These include Sony's HF's and EF's.

With cassettes getting rarer, members on audio forums, such as and are placing extra efforts into lobbying cassette companies. This is in hoping that they will re-consider the introduction of their old tape models again, like Maxell's XLI and TDK's AD. As member’s letters are just getting ignored, it is becoming clearer that the TDKs and Maxells are adamant on no more tape production.

In the end, the remaining "New Old Stock" of blank audio tapes is dwindling by the day, thus ultimately pushing up prices on auction sites like eBay and Amazon.

With this in mind, it's no wonder I was totally blown away with winning these tapes. The last time Maxell used this key technology in their shell design was 1989 for the S-LN range. Since about 1991, all their cassettes have reverted back to the standard rounded hub design, which has become common place with all their current transparent shell models.

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