The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Cassette Project

11-27-07 The Cassette Project

Recently, I did a “Cassette Project” – I had a large number of used blank cassettes and I wanted to make them look beautiful, as I put new stuff on ‘em. I went to a paper wholesaler and bought one sheet each of two dozen “Astrobrights” (two different paper companies, even!) – so I could re-wrap the cassettes with beautiful colors. A cassette inlay card is 4” x 3 ¾”, so I can cut the paper on my Rotatrim easily. I used to cut pictures out of magazines and use them for cassette inlay cards. The tapes I am currently working with were left by my GF’s mother’s old “jazz” boyfriend. He was a cassette nut – and he used to keep his cassette stash in my GF’s mother’s garage – which we cleaned out, about two or three years ago.

Onto these many cassettes I am dubbing “various artist” Sony Mini-discs; One odd thing – most of these cassettes are either 60 or 90 minutes. The Mini-discs are either 74 or 80 minutes (their time doubles when recorded in MDLP2) – either way, MD’s and cassette lengths do not always line up! Also, TDK & Sony cassettes have a standard sized plastic cassette box, and Fuji cassettes have a slim-line box – but I haven’t bothered to change the size of my cutting template.

The cassettes are destined for a friend that has a car with an in-dash cassette deck. He is someone with a fairly large musical frame or reference, so I am not afraid that my assorted musical choices will completely confound him. Sure, there will be some ‘familiar’ stuff on those collections, but there should also be some “new music” for him. He’s got a bit of a drive each day to and from his work, so these tapes should come in handy.

Over the years, I have had several commutes and for most of them, cassettes were a very important part. I only replaced my car’s cassette deck with an in-dash Sony Mini-Disc player when my in-dash cassette deck finally bit the dust. Too bad Sony isn’t supporting the MD format. The only “commute” I really have these days is my weekly drive to L.A. to my GF’s house in Friday ‘rush hour’ traffic (and the mellow drive home, on Sunday evening). I enjoy having a large selection of music available to me in my car. I have not really considered getting satellite radio – my MD deck does the trick just fine.

But I have no trouble remembering ‘how to do’ cassettes – and I am happy to help my friend with the in-dash cassette unit. There’s always the quandary: Dolby B or Dolby C? The last Sony cassette home deck I bought has ‘auto’ bias settings, so no setting it wrong for better high-end frequency response. The cassette deck ‘flips’ the tape for me, too – so I can set an MD to dub to cassette when I leave for work in the morning.

Somehow burning CD’s isn’t quite the same as making a cassette – even if it is a cassette being made from a Mini-disc. I guess I spent so many years (from roughly 1970 to 1999) using cassettes that I got really used to ‘em. Ah, the humble Philips Compact Cassette. The French refer to them as “K7” (lit. ‘ka-sept’).


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Cassettes

They were hot with me from 78-85. I all but stopped when CDs hit home since I only used cassettes to "save the LP." I only ever made mix tapes for other people who asked me. I trashed hundreds of cheap nasty cassettes over the years. I only have about 50-100 left. Mostly live boots of artists I like gotten from other fans.

Don't miss 'em.

CD-Rs are WAY BETTER for me. I make em as close to legit as possible with my budget and they give me a rush that tapes never even got near. A tape was always "2nd best." An echo of music. Useful for getting someone else hooked on the same sauce as you, though.

12:45 PM  

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