Tech UPTechnologyWhat has led to the renaissance of cassettes and...

What has led to the renaissance of cassettes and vinyl?

The 80’s definitely brought music in digital format. The compact discs changed the way we listened to our favorite works, with a much smaller size and use sounds that just sounded perfect. But it would not be until almost a decade later when they stopped publishing musical works on vinyl and cassette. To those who said that the only advantage that the old disc format had was the large size in which the covers could be displayed well. As for audio tapes, they were considerably cheaper, but their sound quality was the worst of all. In addition, on many occasions the tapes wound to the head and we gave that unit for lost.

Cassette tapes were also an inexpensive format in which to make recordings, such as the radio. How many moments have we spent glued to our deck waiting for our favorite song to play on the radio to record it? The CD put an end to all that , which was later finished off by the memory units in which we stored music in mp3 format. Ultimately, digital audio platforms made scores of physical music collections disappear. Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal share customers eager to have any work at any time and place.

The vinyl record and the cassette, protagonists of several decades

The discs appear from the hand of the Columbia record company at the end of the 40s, and they are still the evolution of the previous shellac discs and the primitive slate. Those of a larger format rotated at just over 33 revolutions per minute , while for singles or discs of very short duration they were played at 45, which appeared 20 years later. For almost five decades, vinyl was the absolute king. Although you had to be very careful with the disc itself, avoiding dust or scratches, at the time it was a real revolution.

As for the cassette, it was invented by a Philips company engineer named Lou Ottens. It was originally devised as a method of recording recordings, something that the vinyl record was not capable of, but in the late 1960s it exploded massively as a means of bringing music to the world. An inexpensive and highly successful format that remained in force for just over 30 years. However, the cassette tapes reproduced them with the same clarity as a vinyl record and were also certainly delicate. But that was not an inconvenience to democratize music and make it available to anyone. Curiously, Lou Ottens, who died in March this year, could not understand how after the appearance of music in digital format, the cassette was once again so successful.

The new renaissance of old formats

But vinyl never ends losing the battle, something the cassette did. Like the Gallic village of Asterix, the vinyl was left in a residual format , but it did not disappear completely. It is true that many of the people who have joined the vinyl or cassette craze are simply snobs.

Well into the first decade of the new millennium, interest in old records arose again. Currently, the growth rate is impressive and it is only enough to visit a department store to see the large number of works that have been reissued in this format. There are also new artists who already record directly on vinyl . Something similar has happened with cassette tape, although it was reborn later, it is the ideal format for some independent labels who want to offer musicians a way to expand without spending too much money. Making cassettes is fairly inexpensive, although the problem is finding factories that still make it and players capable of getting a tape going.

In terms of audio quality, analog formats tend to distort more, but they also provide a different experience. When listening to a vinyl record on a cassette you can come to appreciate a greater degree of compression and associated warmth that other formats do not provide. Be that as it may, both the vinyl record and the cassette are once again welcome in our homes, and it is an amazing way to listen to music for those generations born recently.

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