The vinyl revival make a lot more sense. Of course, the biggest pop star in the world selling a few hundred cassettes may not constitute a 'come back' either.
You could loan someone a tape without worrying about scratches. You could make your own mixtape, which became a romantic trope and let people take creative part.
Cassettes were usually cheaper than vinyl or CDs. Also, you could record your own tapes. I have tapes of me talking as a toddler. You could record a lecture or interview. There's a reason people still say "album" and "demo tape." Tapes could be produced in 1s and 10s. Vinyl presses had big minimum runs. So.. underground music happened on cassette tapes.
I would flip it. Vinyl's only advantage was sound quality (assuming the needle was sharp and the record unscratched). Cassetes had every other advantage.
There's a reason they were so popular well into the cd age.
Some friends in unknown bands produced ~100 CD-Rs of their music and left them lying around bars and nightclubs. That cost £20 and a lot of time spent swapping CDs at the computer.
>You could make your own mixtape, which became a romantic trope and let people take creative part.
Whilst I agree, that in absence of any real alternatives, the Compact Cassette had these features/qualities that made them very convenient and ubiquitous. However, it was an inferior medium as they were a pain to look after i.e. if you left them near unshielded speakers or in the car on hot days or try and avoid having the player chew it up, then spend hours trying to spool it back with a pencil, splicing the tape etc. There was also the Zen of Cassette Player Maintenance with the 'head-cleaning' routine..
If I had to bring back a format, it would be the MiniDisc (versus the superior DAT), not only for the nostalgic element but also for it's sheer versatility and durability.
> Portability (also walkmen and boomboxes, not just car stereos), recording (copies, mixtapes, radio recordings), durability & price.
And the question remains:
> what's the point in bringing them back?
The tape does this because it was mechanically simpler. But in other systems, where it may not be, this is still what you want. So, a good Implementation should do it anyway.
Portable minidisc players _could_ have been made slightly cheaper by removing the solid state storage, then they would have skipped if jogged like old portable CD players (and unlike a portable tape player). But all the official ones had solid state and so the experience for the end user was that they "didn't skip" even though of course in reality a spinning disc can't achieve that, the solid state storage hides it from you for long enough. Good Implementation. CD players copied this technology eventually as RAM got cheaper.
This is the same for TV channel up/down on most digital TVs. It's very slow. Why? Well, mechanically changing channel is more complicated, and so by default it will be slow. But that's not really _why_ the real answer is that consumers prefer a cheaper TV that has poor Quality of Implementation and so those have won. Vendors could spend $5 extra on the BOM (duplicate tuner and decoder circuitry following adjacent channels) and a few hours engineering to make it nice and fast, but why bother when customers won't pay a dime extra?
At least, I imagine anyone who has a cassette player also has a CD player while many people who have CD players don't have a cassette player.
The weirdest album I've seen for sale at a show was a Sega Saturn (or maybe it was a Megadrive) cartridge.
Cuz it's not. CDs use the same sound encoding method as vinyl, just stored in variable reflectiveness instead of variable height. The "files" you see when you pop one in your computer is an abstraction generated by the operating system, they're not really there, there's not any digital data after the table of contents.
But still, that hardly makes cassettes better sounding.
I thought it would be worth mentioning that you may be confusing CD with Laserdisc, the video format. Those look a lot like huge CD's but are in fact analog and work more like what you describe.
I think the point I was trying to make was that tape is something different than digital. You can download high fidelity files as well and if you buy a CD you'll probably end up importing the files anyway.
With that said, cassettes are definitely not a hifi option and I'm quite sure it's genre dependent as well.
DAT, of course, saw reasonable success in the recording industry for transferring 2-track digital lossless audio to and fro studios and such before CD burners were commonly available. DCC saw very little, if any, success anywhere :)
I saw that figure of 540 cassettes in one week, and it reminded me of the article "How Many Copies Of An Album Do You Need To Sell To Hit #1 On The Australian ARIA Chart" . TLDR: Ed Sheeran got to #1 with just 3777 album sales across digital & CD.
Edit: I really appreciate the simplicity of it, it's DRM free (the only DRM-free digital prerecorded physical format still pressed?) and contains lossless uncompressed stereo PCM at the frequency and bitdepth that is still the standard for digital music, good enough no human ear can distinguish it from theoretically superior successors.
I mean, that sounds fragile when you put it like that, but in reality you can go to any thrift store and pick up a 1988 CD player and a 1982 CD and it will more than likely play perfectly. CD transport and decoding has been a solved problem for literally decades. CD is very, very robust as long as you handle the discs like an adult.
You could take a CD pressed in 2002 directly from the store into a reader and many of the data blocks would already be corrupted.
Audio CDs last for a while because they are not lossless. Data CDs have a lot of redundancy to try to fix that, but even then don't last for very long.
Then you consider the fact that our own ears are band limited and dynamic range limited and you realise pretty quickly that CD audio at 16 bits 44100 Hz is, for all practical purposes, an objectively lossless audio format.
As long as you stay in the frequency range of the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem the source signal is indeed lossless.
There are a lot of misconceptions about this you should look it up.
Don't forget, that a vinyl has frequency limits as well.
It's similar to the difference between JPEG and PNG. There is a quality parameter when creating a JPEG because the decompressed image will not be exactly the same, but there is no such quality parameter for PNG because PNG will restore the exact value of every pixel.
CDs are also imperfect. There are two levels of error correction. Both affect the sound.
The only perfect format is digital storage of a lossless source such as a bit-perfect CD rip or direct digital master copy, with multiple copies in different locations.
Cassettes are terrible. You have to clean the pinch rollers a lot or you can get a weird “wah” sound as the speed changes slightly as the tape is being pulled through.
And the hiss, even with Dolby b noise removal it was kinda not great. Dolby c and Dbx where so much better but without having it on walkmen/car players the point was lost.
OccTionally you’d get a jam and the tape would pull out of the shell. you’d have to try and get the tape back inside without a twist..see the first photo in the article
It was an interesting format (write protect tabs on the top, that would prevent you from recording over accidentally. There were also differ holes in the top of the tape which indicated which “type” of tape it was (cro2, metal or normal)
I don’t miss them though.
CDs were like this too, for a while. When everyone had a burner and you could fit 650MB of MP3s on them, the magic faded. The CD was just a vehicle, not the song itself. The songs could be downloaded and shared trivially. If you wanted a song on tape, you had to buy it or find someone that had it and make a copy in a slow manual process.
The closest we've ever come to reclaiming this magic, IMO, is HitClips.
It may sound obvious, but in a world with infinitely scrolling feeds and bottomless Spotify/YT playlists, it's practically novel.
I saw a recording forum where someone had read up on the wonders of tape, looking for the elusive 'magic' talked about. Then was surprised and disappointed at some lo-fi hissy results. Somewhere along the line, it's not communicated that the nostalgia is for 1/4" to 2" studio tape, and not a box of TDK C90's from a garage sale.
But with vinyl, I do shamefully admit a bit of nostalgia for thunk, rumble, snap, crackle and pop.
I very much enjoyed an album experience and I try to relive it with a CD, but CD encoding de-humanises the inter-track moments. Even the fade-out is sometimes gone. "re mixed for your listening pleasure" as if the beatles didn't record in Mono deliberately.
What works for me, is Keith Jarret and Glenn Gould, because they mutter and fidgit while playing. But I miss that initial thunk,rumble, snap crackle too.
Another "porky" prime cut...
Vinyl also has a much lower dynamic range than CD.
I've actually come to hate vinyl as a format. I love the artwork, but I hate the impracticality, the cultishness, and most of all I hate the distorted low-fi sonics.
Nothing matches a high resolution digital source file played on good equipment.
Plus a whole lot of EQ compromises have to be made to stop the stylus jumping out of the groove, which don't exist on digital formats.
So if you add up the HF and LF rolloffs, rumble, wow, and general snap crackle and pop from vinyl that probably isn't completely dust-free, you have a grab-bag of imperfections that won't exist in a FLAC file ripped from a CD when it was mint and free of read errors.
Nothing's stopping you from putting brick wall compressed mastered music on record just as nothing's stopping you from putting a track with more dynamic range on cd.
Now you're conflating the media with the content.
You need a 44kHz digital signal to reproduce a 22kHz analogical one. That's why CDs default to 44.4kHz.
I don't think tapes got anywhere nearly as high.
A perfectly recorded metal tape (I believe metal tapes are no longer manufactured) in a very high-end deck can maybe reach 20 kHz under optimal conditions. For normal cheap-o ferric tape you're looking at maybe 12-16 kHz. Add in faster than real-time factory dubbing, tape wear, and substandard playback equipment and you're probably usually not even getting 12.
The thing with tapes is that they have 2 sides. Artists previously utilized that fact in interesting ways. It was a logical way to break up songs or themes.
One of my favorite examples of this is Metallica's black album. The first side begins with enter sandman which has this mellow but building intro. The second side hits hard right at the start with Through the Never. Today, most listeners have no idea how this album is partitioned.
Since music is inherently playful, and society is great at inventing new musical toys, I think we're destined to an ever-shifting musical landscape.
And of course, as far as bands releasing albums on SD cards with artwork... They tried that with something called MQS SD. Needless to say, it didn't go so well.
This is the closest I could find: https://www.agptek.com/?product=agptek-u3-16gb-portable-usb-...
Take out the built in USB and internal storage, add ogg/flac support, it'd be excellent.
So, yeah. We do play them. At least those of us who are serious about the format.
By that measure, we should see a nostalgic CD revival around 2030.