Sony ceases production on cassette player/recorders

Sony will no longer make its cassette player/recorders. In other news, Sony was still making cassette player/recorders.

Sony to discontinue the production early 2013 of Cassette Player/ Recorder


          1.  For some people, the fact that the other person was an idiot rather than evil, doesn’t change the fact that the idiot still managed to kill them.

          2. @B. Peasant

            Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

            Hear, Hear!

            And as a utilitarian and a doubter of free will, they both boil down to the same thing for me anyway: bad programming – garbage in, garbage out.

    1. Okay, just to be a pedant, Kodak are still in business. They’re just down the road. In a much smaller building, admittedly.

    2. Don’t count them out yet. They are working very hard to become irrelevant, with losses the past 8 years and overpriced, low desirability products. Korea and China has won.

      1.  Nope. 

        The discs themselves are still available, but according to wikipedia, they stopped making the players last year.

    1. That’s cause minidiscs suck.

      You put your drink on one and it’s likely to tip over, if it doesn’t it will certainly leave a watermark on wood and a wet spot on other shit

  1. Pretty sad actually.  No more simple analog recording of stuff without worrying about copyright, DRM, and all that bullshit. As a kid, I grew up with vinyl disks and reel to reel and cassette tape.  Digital has taken all the fun and creativity out of amateur sound recording.

    1. “No more simple analog recording of stuff without worrying about copyright, DRM, and all that bullshit.”

      Now it’s simple digital recording without worrying about copyright, DRM, and all that bullshit, and with much greater quality than analog cassettes.

      1. Nah.  I think recording sound was simpler and more true to life when it was just analog to analog.  DAC just adds a level of complexity and artificial-ness which just gets in the way.

        Sure I’m a geezer. I’ll be dead soon enough.  Just stay off my lawn in the mean time.

    2. As a kid, I grew up with vinyl disks and reel to reel and cassette tape.

      So did I. Also with film photography. I don’t miss either.

        1. Do you really miss the media, or was it just nostalgicly tied to important memories in your life? I was primarily exposed to cassette tapes growing up. They sucked. They took up a lot of space, they ate through batteries, it was slow to get to the songs you wanted… What’s to miss?

    3. Growing up, being able to record and manipulate sound on my parent’s computer was amazing. The capabilities of the amateur software I used then (and the stuff I use now) is far wider than those provided by tape recording (which I am not naive to and have used before). The fun and creativity in amateur sound recording is just beginning.

    4. I purchased one of the early cassette four-track devices (a Fostex, not a Tascam) back in the early 1980s. I used it exclusively to record my music and other folks bands for many, many years. It was a fascinating little device with amazing possibilities considering its limited number of tracks and limited audio quality.

      Nowadays I record in digital. The day I go back to analog is the day that I become a sad little hipster, more concerned with trendy artifice than craft. You can take my digital from my cold, dead digits.

  2. This is quite a landmark. I know cassettes are essentially dead media, but because of the sheer inertia of the format I would have thought players would have been produced by the big players for a while longer. (Say, for institutions and companies that still used them.)

    Cassettes were so cool when they came out. Back in the early 70s having one of those portable players — the ones with a handle — was a Big Thing for a kid. You could make your own radio shows! Sing raunchy song parodies! Record music played on a record player!

    For many years, cassettes were the major part of my audio collection. After a while I realized how sucky they were. So many of my tapes went bad, or degraded. Just a few years back I ditched all but a dozen (which had important lectures and the like). The hand-made stuff I threw away, the labeled commercial tapes I donated.

    It felt great.

    1. I know cassettes are essentially dead media, but because of the sheer inertia of the format I would have thought players would have been produced by the big players for a while longer.

      Except that, as you acknowledge, cassettes blow chunks next to any other format. That’s why

      Sony will no longer make its cassette player/recorders. In other news, Sony was still making cassette player/recorders.

      …was actually news to me.

  3. Hopefully archives will stock up on these just like they have with VCRs.  Millions of hours of oral history interviews are on cassettes and have never been digitized.

    1. Well, even with the equipment the way tapes degrade makes it likely that a lot of these recordings have become unusable anyhow. Transferring from analog to digital is, if you really get down to it, a process of freeing the information from the media, albeit at a cost of setting a fixed resolution.

      1. Nice way to put it.

        Hopefully these days the resolution isn’t so much an issue; I think we’re at the point where we should all be thinking, bugger MP3s, it’s time to go FLAC.

        The issue of player support has largely disappeared since people started keeping their favourite tunes on their smartphones, and if the approved iPhone software doesn’t support FLAC, there’s always jailbreaking.

  4. I remember wanting one of these pretty badly, back in the day, for recording class lectures and little voice memos to myself. (I probably would have needed an accessory microphone for the class notes.) Couldn’t afford it, though. Can’t say that I even thought about it after I got my first PDA with a digital recording function.

  5. These were actually pretty common in law enforcement up until very recently. Cheap, durable, reasonable record time and long battery life kept them around even once digital recorders became the go to tool. Basically just for redundancy’s sake. “If this digital recorder gets fucked up then this nigh indestructible and idiot simple tape recorder from 1988 will save me”. 

    1.  They were better for evidence too.  Easier to control a discrete object with a chain of custody label and testify that you personally removed a brand new cassette from the wrapper, loaded the machine and then took that object and that alone and had possession of it at all times etc.

      Chain of custody is massively important, just ask the prosecutor in the OJ trial.

  6. I have a high end cassette player from the 1980’s (the ones with the complicated name). It has dual capstans which makes a world of difference. I still have about 700 tapes with a ratio of about 70-30 with “pre-recorded” tapes being the 30%. Most of those sound alright, but it is hard to get a cheap tape to sound well.
    I’ll keep them until the tape player dies, I guess. One element of my collection of tapes are copies of radio programs and simulcasts.
    I do have a handful of sealed tapes waiting to be used.

  7. i still have the bigass tape drive from my trs-80. it still works great. it weighs about a pound and a half and could easily be used to decapitate a zombie, and it would still work after that. huzzah 1980’s tech!

  8. actually, I found that cassettes had a longer life outside of the 1st world nations, partly because they were sturdy, a known quantity, required less power / no internet and people just didnt have the cash to go all fruity with digital music. I think this is an indicator of how long it’s taken for people in 3rd world nations to be able to afford the chance to change their music devices.

    1. I’ve been under the impression that flash drives are very common for music in the developing world – we tend to expect developing nations to follow the same path we did, just a few steps behind, but they tend to leapfrog things that aren’t necessary. In Ghana you can find street vendors who will jack your USB drive into their computer and load it up with music for a small price. Then people have those car stereos with a USB jack on them hooked up as jukeboxes, and whoever wants to play their music can just plug their drives in. Way easier than tapes, no moving parts, and way more density of storage.

      1. That’s so cool.

        Sounds like they might be a step ahead in actually utilising the available tech; IME only a small proportion of smartphone users have them loaded with tunes.

  9. They still make cassette player up to up to 2012? My goodness, some business are not worth investing. Sony should streamline their business and focus on a handful of core products.

    1.  There was still a strong market. Some folks aren’t very good with change, and actively try to stop learning things until they’re forced to. In the last few weeks I’ve had to explain what a DVD is three times, and the other month had someone ask where the music on cassette was.

  10. The first sentence made me morn the loss of an old friend. The second made me realize that Its OK to let go of a technology that I haven’t needed for at least a decade.

  11. People are misreading the headline here, are Sony STILL going to continue to make regular cassette Walkman players (i.e. not the ones with recording function)?

  12. Honestly what I never understood for a product line like this is the need to keep making it.  It’s not like a car where you need to update it.  It’s a tape player, I’m pretty sure the technology pinnacled out in the mid 90’s or earlier.   Just fire up the production line, run some numbers and figure out about how many you’ll sell over the next decade or so and build them.  Then you can stick them in a warehouse and sell them as needed.  That has to be way cheaper than running a production line at low capacity for years on end.  (All that is assuming they are not running near capacity anyway.)

    1. Cassette players and recorders use rubber and plastic moving parts that deterioriate over time even if not being used.

          1. it’s in pieces that things do it; I’ve had transformers have a single leg or arm yellow, and the bottom plus cartridge slot on my SNES do it too. No rhyme or reason to it.

  13. What’s the digital equivalent?  Will an iPod take a microphone?  How do the whippersnappers record their Marxist college lectures?  Or do they?

    1.  Yes Ipods will take a mic. and there’s digital recorders. and smart phones can do it. For several hundred more hours.

    2. Pff: digital music players, they’re yesterday.

      Been swallowed up by the smartphone, only lots of folks have still failed to notice.

  14. Still use a MZ100 Mini Disc every day at work. It is the best I have found for what I do. Wish they were a bit more durable so I wouldn’t have have to search ebay etc. for replacements. I have spent between a hundred and three hundred dollars to keep using old tech.. 

  15. Totally OT here, but the truly interesting bit in the linked article was the link to Daimaou’s encounter with DHS flying into JFK — flagged for a “random check,” they demanded surrender of his business laptop for four days while they gave it the old anal probe.

    Attempting to get back on-topic: the digital mind thinks, “I should store my work stuff in a cloud to avoid these hassles.” The analog mind thinks, “I could p’bly smuggle in all my data on cassette tapes, and no one would know…”

  16. I purchased a new USB powered cassette player off Amazon a few days ago in order to listen to tapes in the car. There are still a few labels out there that release music on the medium (Hanson, Chondritic Sound, RRRecords, Cathartic Process, etc.). Occasionally the music is posted to Bandcamp or is rereleased on CD years later, but typically it’s unavailable in any other format. Some may level an accusation of format-snobbism but I for one still dig the sound of tape hiss between songs.

    1. TIL i learned there is a musical genre called psychedelic industrial death noise and it sounds like this: 

      This is actually interesting and cool, I love wired stuff

      I’m actually not surprised they release this on tapes, a decent digital codec would probably eat 50% of it, just because of ‘noise’ reduction

      1.  Today I Learned, I learned?

        It’s like a Jackson Pollock painting set to music. I can hear something similar to this at work when the plant is running, with mills, transport blowers and squeaky rotary feeders.

  17. You might be surprised at how many people still use portable cassette player/recorders like these.  In fact, Sony might be making a mistake, as cassette culture seems to be coming back, with indy distributor Forced Exposure carrying cassettes again, and a LOT of young musicians home-releasing limited edition cassettes (AND actually selling out of them.)  Dig this: a recorded cd-r is often unplayable after only 5 years, even with perfect care, whereas I have 20-year old cassettes that still play fine.

      1.  I carry my Sony Sport Walkman with me when I’m on campus. I like it better than playing stuff off my smartphone, cause I can just grab my tapes and go. I’m not going to waste time ripping some f’ed up old ass tapes just so I can avoid using older tech.

      2. But what can you hand out as a physical item?

        USB sticks are a little pricey, unless you find a bunch of really old stock like 1GB or something.

  18. Now what will I do with this box of shitty mix tapes with a DJ cutting in on every other song that an old girlfriend left among my shit many years ago?


  19. CDRs are ‘throwaway’ music media for me..burn 700megs of music, toss it in the jeep, throw away when it eventually gets scratched up. I run over wild flowers and flatten bunnies too with my big tires. mwahahaha. 

  20. Does anyone recall Sony’s *very* short lived experiment with “L-Casettes”?  Wider tape in a bigger shell.  I think they were out for about 6 months along with their player/recorders.

    They died so hard almost no one even seems to know they existed.

    1. “Elcasets” actually, and they were around for years, but yes, they never really caught on, and didn’t even become trendy in a retro sense in the way 8-tracks became.

    2. Sony specializes in creating proprietary media that don’t get widely adopted (or not widely enough to maintain for very long): Betamax, MiniDisc, DAT, MemoryStick…

  21. One of the other remaining markets for cassette players (along with police interview rooms) was people studying languages at school in the UK. The A-level listening exams involved the students each being given a cassette with recordings of people speaking the language, which they had to answer questions on.

  22. I know a lot of law firms still use tape recorders/players, but they are microcassettes usually, for lawyers to dictate things for their secretaries to type. Also law firms still use fax machines, lol

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