by Brad Nelson 7/14/14
I went to a garage sale on Saturday and picked up a brand new (never been unboxed) Yamaha KX-R430 RS stereo cassette deck.
Why, you may be asking, should I buy a cassette deck (autoreverse even) in this digital age? Well, because, first of all, for five bucks I couldn’t pass it up. I had an old one but it was a cheapo unit. This Yamaha is a fairly good one. And I still have some cassettes with some interesting stuff on them.
Also, the car I have — if you can believe it — has a cassette deck in it. Oh, I can and sometimes do plug my Android tablet into the car (through the cassette deck — there’s an adaptor for this that works very well and sound great) and go digital (sort of).
But the biggest reason is, well, it’s nostalgic as all get-out. Cassettes were a huge advance at one time over the clunky 8-track. And if you use the good-quality high-bias tapes and a good tape deck, your recordings will sound superb to all but the most discerning ear.
This is by no means Yamaha’s top-of-the-line unit. But it is a good one. And throw in a TDK SA90 or a Maxell XLII 90 minute high-bias cassette, and you have a relative audiophile system on the cheap.
I actually remember buying a couple metal tapes at one time when they were supposedly the best of the best. They were called “metal” but I don’t think it was a solid piece of metal. And they were expensive. But I’ve found nothing to match the price/performance of either the TDK’s or Maxells of the high-bias type. And I’ve got tapes I’ve recorded over 10 years ago that have sat in the hot car and haven’t faded a bit. They really built these babies.
So who needs digital? There’s nothing to hold or appreciate with a digital file. But there is something beautiful, if now low-tech, about a good cassette deck — sleek in an all-black finish — and the sexy (yes, sexy) high-bias cassettes. Rock on.
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