There has always been something to say for the cassette tape. Even if you didn’t grow up in the age when a No. 2 pencil was essential to ensure you could wind up your unspooled tapes, the odds are you heard about the charm of making a mixtape with the technology. Real effort goes into creating a cassette mix; it isn’t just drag and drop, but instead a methodical, physical process that allows intention to somehow shine through in the end. So now, as vinyl the cassette’s predecessor is enjoying an unprecedented revival, driving manufacturing prices sky high and clogging processing plants, bands are turning to the much-cheaper cassette tape to deliver their music with a vintage feel. Odds are that if you lived during the cassette tape era you already ditched your player at a yard sale or tossed it into the trash. Luckily for you, cassette players are still available and in some pretty neat configurations that allow you to both listen to and create your own tapes. Here are a few of our favorite options.
Listen to everything. Amazon
Not everyone is going to need what the Teac LPR660USBPB has to offer, but just about everyone will be able to appreciate all of it. Featuring a tape deck, 3-speed turntable, AM/FM tuner, and a CD recorder, this monster will allow you to listen to multiple formats and record your tapes and records to CD. A USB output also allows you to digitize your music collection on your PC. It sounds good without any additional work, but make it a part of your home stereo system and you’ll get even better results.
Analog and chrome. Amazon
If you’re thinking about breakdancing in public, you are probably going to need one of these. With a major, early-eighties feel including bright LED lights, an LCD clock, and classic tuning nobs, you’re going to feel like you entered a time warp. Don’t worry, though; this boombox also has the modern functionality of Bluetooth and a USB connection so you can stream from your phone. But why would you do that when you have an amazing tape deck connected to four banging speakers?
Portable and potent. Amazon
If you’re living in a cramped apartment or only looking for something for your bedside table, this NAXA will do just fine. It has a CD player that handles CDR and CDRW, a tape player/recorder, a radio tuner, and auxiliary ports so you can plug in your smartphone. This could also be perfect to bring on a romantic picnic; pop in your mixtape and watch the heartstrings melt.
Your grandpa’s tape machine. Amazon
It doesn’t get much simpler than this: a radio tuner, a tape deck, and a handle. The Crosely CT200B-SI looks like it might be a prop from a Scorsese flick. But there is something to be said for the simplicity of the machine. It’s easily portable and includes a built-in microphone so you can personalize your mix tapes.