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Title: Cassettes are cool again: Surge in popularity for the retro device has led to the revival of magnetic tape manufacturing lines
Source: Daily Mail
URL Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet ... tapes-threat-experts-warn.html
Published: Nov 6, 2017
Author: Shivali Best
Post Date: 2017-11-14 06:32:08 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 106
Comments: 18

They were the must-have item of the 90s, and now, it seems cassettes are cool again.

The surge in popularity for the device has led to a shortage of magnetic tape.  

National Audio, one of the only companies in the US that produces cassette tapes, says it has less than a year's supply left.

Now, its co-owner and president Steve Stepp says he is planning to build the US' first high-grade tape manufacturing line in decades to help meet demand. 

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They were the must-have item of the 90s, but it seems that cassette tapes are
now under threat. Experts have warned that the world is running out of
cassette tape, and new production methods are required

Experts from National Audio are developing new ways to make magnetic tape using rust and a 62-foot-long contraption that is normally used to create magnetic strips on credit cards, Wall Street Journal.

If production goes to plan, the machine should produce almost four miles of tape a minute by January.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Stepp, said: 'The best tape ever made.

'People will hear a whole new product.'

While you may think of cassette tapes as old-fashioned options, many people are still interested in the format.

Lee Rickard, 32, co-founder of independent record label Burger Records, which is based in Orange County, a suburb of Los Angeles, explained the appeal, saying: 'Music just sounds different on tape, sometimes as it was originally intended to sound.

'Cassettes are compact, tangible, instant collectables, often with original and numbered artwork — and as cheap as a cup of coffee, so you can support your local artist without buyer's remorse.

'We worked with Green Day to produce a cassette version of their Dookie album, but most of the acts are young and unknown — for now.'

Among National Audio Co's repeat customers are heavy metal band Metallica, Twenty One Pilots, and several up-and-coming bands. 

But cassette tape is no longer widely produced, and since 2014, when National Audio Co's main producer ceased production, stockpiles have been shrinking.

Tape-making is not a simply process, and requires a finely calibrated slurry of metallic particles and polyurethane, miles of Mylar, 48 feet of ovens, a small amount of radioactivity and a very precise slicer.

And while Mr Stepp has kept the details of his new production method a secret, he hopes to ship the first cassettes with the tape by January.

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

what do you do about those devices that chew up tapes? or about tape streach

paraclete  posted on  2017-11-14   7:28:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Deckard (#0)

Just more proof that poseur hipsters are morons.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-14   11:12:42 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: paraclete (#1) (Edited)

what do you do about those devices that chew up tapes? or about tape streach

You don't fall for this crap to begin with.

I was sick to death of cassettes in the '70s, eagerly awaited the arrival of CDs (development covered in the tech news of the day) and never looked back.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-14   11:13:53 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Hank Rearden (#3)

I was sick to death of cassettes in the '70s,

How do you feel about vinyl?

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Deckard  posted on  2017-11-14   11:18:23 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Deckard (#0)

Man, really?? Vinyl and now Cassette tapes are coming back?

Actually I think more than one or two mediums for data makes sense. (And how much great music has been languishing on TDK tapes and vinyl for years?)

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-14   13:27:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Hank Rearden (#3)

I was sick to death of cassettes in the '70s, eagerly awaited the arrival of CDs (development covered in the tech news of the day) and never looked back.

Though easier to use and seek tracks, I've found my CDs to be deteriorating relatively quickly.

I wasn't altogther thrilled with cassette tapes either. Looking forward to 8-Tracks again. Woo-Hoo!

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-14   13:30:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Liberator (#5)

Vinyl and now Cassette tapes are coming back?

Vinyl never entirely went away it just became something that you found on the internet instead of in the stores.

Vegetarians eat vegetables. Beware of humanitarians!

CZ82  posted on  2017-11-15   7:40:13 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: CZ82, Liberator (#7)

Vinyl never entirely went away it just became something that you found on the internet instead of in the stores.

A lot of record companies are releasing new product on vinyl. The overwhelming sound quality of vinyl records compared to digitally compressed music is just oustanding.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Deckard  posted on  2017-11-15   8:36:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: Liberator (#6)

Though easier to use and seek tracks, I've found my CDs to be deteriorating relatively quickly.

I have about 1,400 CDs dating back to 1983 and have never noticed any deterioration in any of them over that time. All are commercial, purchased discs, with no CD-Rs except for a handful of those containing family audio and things I created.

A few years ago, I ripped all of them to 128kbps WMA format and stored them on my home media server, then archived all the discs in a basement closet. They all ripped just fine, with no evidence of visible or digital deterioration.

But now I can easily transfer my collection to portable players (like my treasured Cowon J3 and my BlackBerry Z10 phone) as well as call up any song in moments via the server.

Hipsters are as dumb as democRats for claiming to hear better audio via vinyl and cassettes.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-16   12:11:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Deckard (#4) (Edited)

How do you feel about vinyl?

I had a radio show for 4 years in the '70s, slip-starting many thousands of prog-rock, Motown, psychedelic SF bands, 60s, blues and jazz vinyl tracks. They sounded better than cassettes, but there was no other alternative at the time other than reel-to-reel.

Vinyl is a pain in the ass to maintain and physically deteriorates with every play by the simple fact of dragging a needle along the grooves. Until laser turntables come along, that will continue (where are laser turntables, anyway? I've been expecting them for 20 years). Then there's dust, scratches and general deterioration.

I still have about 2,200 vinyl LPs stored in boxes from those days; sometimes I'd get a couple dozen freebies in a week.

I've never heard any audio improvement of vinyl over CDs and regard the vinyl "comeback" as just more bullshit hipster pretention. Of course, after 25 years of Grateful Dead shows, another 100 or so other bands, 300,000 motorcycle miles (with earplugs, but still...) and some firearms, my hearing no doubt couldn't tell the difference anymore.

To answer your question: vinyl is a pain in the ass and all my CDs have been ripped to media-server and portable player WMA files.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-16   12:18:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: Hank Rearden (#9)

All are commercial, purchased discs, with no CD-Rs except for a handful of those containing family audio and things I created.

"CD-Rs": THAT may be my problem.

A few years ago, I ripped all of them to 128kbps WMA format and stored them on my home media server, then archived all the discs in a basement closet. They all ripped just fine, with no evidence of visible or digital deterioration.

Do you suggest the WMA format over the others? And what kind of CD?

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-16   12:40:40 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: Hank Rearden, Deckard (#10)

I've never heard any audio improvement of vinyl over CDs and regard the vinyl "comeback" as just more bullshit hipster pretention.

Gotta tell ya -- my ear tells me the difference/improvement in analog vinyl over CD is quite noticable.

The downside of course to vinyl is the crackles, scratches, and PITA of finding specifics tracks.

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-16   12:43:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: Liberator (#11)

"CD-Rs": THAT may be my problem. Do you suggest the WMA format over the others? And what kind of CD?

If you were using CD-Rs, that could very well be the problem; their inherent design and chemistry makes them prone to deterioration and manufacturing quality varied all over the map. My understanding is that high-humidity environments are particularly bad for CD-Rs as it can oxidize the disc materials.

Commercially-pressed CDs are just that - pressed, and not 'burned' like CD-Rs, so unless they delaminate there's not much to go wrong and I've never seen one do that. I've had CD-Rs fail during recording, but for discs that worked I don't recall having any that failed later. But I live in the Northwest, where it's relatively cooler and much lower humidity than some places down south.

When I decided to rip my CD collection for future use on players and servers, I did some testing with MP3 and WMA, the two universally-supported formats (except Apple never supported WMA, but I have never owned an Apple product so screw them). I found that 128k WMAs were sonically-equivalent to 192k MP3s (the level at which I couldn't tell the difference from the original CD) for my ears and were 1/3 smaller, so I went with that and have never regretted the decision.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-19   12:30:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: Liberator (#12) (Edited)

Gotta tell ya -- my ear tells me the difference/improvement in analog vinyl over CD is quite noticable.

The downside of course to vinyl is the crackles, scratches, and PITA of finding specifics tracks.

See, that's the thing for me: crackles and scratches make vinyl sonically inferior to CDs - I absolutely loath them, and I got sick long ago of all the maintenance needed to try keeping vinyl intact. I concluded it's not possible for repeated playing and moved on.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-19   12:31:36 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: Hank Rearden (#13)

If you were using CD-Rs, that could very well be the problem; their inherent design and chemistry makes them prone to deterioration and manufacturing quality varied all over the map. My understanding is that high-humidity environments are particularly bad for CD-Rs as it can oxidize the disc materials.

Commercially-pressed CDs are just that - pressed, and not 'burned' like CD-Rs, so unless they delaminate there's not much to go wrong and I've never seen one do that.

Thanks. That would help explain my problem. Bummer. Lotta work has been wasted.

When I decided to rip my CD collection for future use on players and servers, I did some testing with MP3 and WMA, the two universally-supported formats (except Apple never supported WMA, but I have never owned an Apple product so screw them). I found that 128k WMAs were sonically-equivalent to 192k MP3s (the level at which I couldn't tell the difference from the original CD) for my ears and were 1/3 smaller, so I went with that and have never regretted the decision.

Excellent overview and advice. Thanks again.

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-20   10:23:35 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: Hank Rearden, Deckard (#14)

See, that's the thing for me: crackles and scratches make vinyl sonically inferior to CDs...

Hear ya. Furthermore, you must flip over an album, stop everything and realign the needle to skip a particular track, and yes, the maintenance is a PITA. AND a great thing is having a 6-CD changer as in my car.

However, funny thing -- for our generation our ears have likely accepted and adapted to the initial crackle at the start of an album (they seem to disappear more or less as the music plays unless really damaged/scratched.) And again -- depending on your ear, the fidelity of analog sound IF the album isn't too beat up is superior.

So...once you get beyond the annoying crackles of the beginning, all seems to be pretty much ok.

Q: Do you guys or anyone else have the same experience?

Liberator  posted on  2017-11-20   10:32:18 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#17. To: Deckard (#0)

Another MAGA moment.

redleghunter  posted on  2017-11-20   10:46:29 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#18. To: Liberator (#16) (Edited)

Q: Do you guys or anyone else have the same experience?

When all there was (for good sound) was vinyl or reel-to-reel, I was fine with it and yes I think my ears were trained to ignore the defects. But in the quiet of the radio-station studio they were very apparent.

But once CDs appeared and record companies went back to the vaults to remaster for the new capabilities, I never looked back. Some very early CDs were terrible; just capitalizing on the format with crappy source material. But back in the days there were a lot of 'demos' that grabbed remastered tracks from several albums and served to advertise the new catalog - these showed what could be done. And I remember the gigantic hoopla surrounding the release of the Beatles catalog at long last - these were expensive and minimally remastered. A few years ago they were rereleased (cha-ching!) and now sound as good as they day they were first mastered in the studio. I have both the stereo and mono box sets of those...... ahhhhh.

I still have those 'demos' I bought from Motown, Atlantic R&B, several classical labels, A&M Records etc. and they still sound great 34 years later, although I rarely bother to pull out CDs anymore - I have every one on my phone, Cowon J3 audio player and my home media server .... almost 18,000 tracks. It's so nice to be able to call up anything I want in seconds.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2017-11-20   13:13:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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