Midnight Pub

The Applicability of Tapes


I've had my tape deck for around 4 months now, if memory serves. I don't know why I didn't opt in for one earlier, or how I did so long without one. For anybody who's interested in music production, or sound design, or audio science, a tape deck is a must-have. It supersedes any other equipment, because being able to play back and record audio in real time is the most important function of any studio setup.

My tape deck isn't even that fancy, it's only a Sony model. I do hear Nakamichi is big these days, especially among people who are even more dedicated to quality sound reproduction than myself, although for what it's worth anything in the ballpark of a JVC or a Sony will suffice for the amateur to the intermediate. The other day I handed out a free tape to the girl working at the ice cream shop, and she was like "Oh, cool. I'll be sure to play this on my Nakamichi." So I guess Nakamichis are currently in vogue, and have been since their inception, as the golden standard of tape decks.

I think my tape deck suits my particular needs, however, in that it's lightweight and weighs about as much as a laptop, which means that I can carry it around the house and plug it in at various spots, and- most importantly- it has a headphone jack, so I don't need to buy any speakers. I got it along with its corresponding amplifier, and while I haven't been able to use the amplifier with any speakers yet, I do always run the audio through the amplifier when recording onto tape instead of directly onto the deck, just to ensure that my albums are given a quality studio treatment. The amplifier also allows me to employ various audio tricks while recording, such as switching up the range or the curve, or fading in and out. By utilizing all these methods in tandem I'm able to invent some truly insane audio collages.

Of course, the other thing you need for production is a surplus of blank and used tapes. I prefer to buy these in bulk, I usually see 5-packs of them at my local thrift store and snatch them up. The main appeal of tapes is that you can record over them, so if I buy a used tape I'm not particularly fond of, I can just record my own audio over it. Usually, however, the stuff on the used tapes is really interesting. I've found a tape with this lady who goes on and on about hidden rules of the universe, collective consciousness and the like. While I don't put much stock into any of that new-age type stuff, I do think her voice is especially cool from an audio standpoint. It's tapes like those that really increase my curiosity, my desire to discover new and unknown things on mysterious tapes. You really never know what you're going to get.

I stand by my statement that Compact Cassettes are without a doubt the most versatile and practical audio format ever devised. They really don't have any limits as far as audio is concerned, only your own imagination. Yesterday I was checking out at the register at the thrift store I usually frequent and these two old ladies were bagging my tapes up, and one of them commented "The other day some guy came in and donated a ton of 8-track." I responded, "8-track, huh?" and they seemed genuinely taken aback that I knew about 8-track as a format, considering my age.

Make of that what you will, I suppose.


Old timer, here. Well-timed post given it was just a week ago a guy in a bar was telling me about having come into possession of the same TEAC/Tascam 4-channel cassette deck I recorded some originals upon in the early 1990s.

And, oh, how fun to see the word 'Nakamichi' again for the first time in ages.

Overall, thank you for the opportunity luxuriate in some well-written tape lust made text!