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Do I need a new cassette recorder, in 2024?

Compact Cassette to Digital audio

Can I finally digitise my old analog cassette tapes?

Over the holidays, while unpacking boxes, I found my collection of cassette tapes from the 20th century! I never threw them away it seems, even though I haven't had a cassette player connected to my home audio system for decades. Handling and looking through my tapes evoked many memories of recording and playing them, whether they were concert bootlegs, band practices, or taped off the radio. I remembered too the important process of writing out the track listing and decorating the cassette tape labels and covers.

Vintage cassette players and recorders, are expensive and full of compromises on eBay but seem to have a devoted following among collectors, vinyl enthusiasts, and music lovers who perhaps are nostalgic for the warm sound of analog audio and the hiss of tape. Professional and semi professional restoration shops sell them too, often with warranties. I looked up my old long lost Sony Walkman DC2 and the prices are in the stratosphere for this, the king of the Walkman players and much loved by me. So much so that it made me wonder if anyone makes new cassette players and recorders these days. Even Phillips the inventor of the format has no Cassette players or decks in it's current line up. This to me seems sad and wrong.

But, there are a couple of decent pro audio and HiFi decks around and this is a little bit of a rabbit hole!

What do I need from a Cassette Player in 2024

  • Comprehensive tape support for all the different types of compact Cassette tape.
  • USB out so I can play the tapes and capture the output digitally on a PC or Mac.
  • Line in and Line out. Old School.
  • Headphone Connector for monitoring.
  • Noise supression. Gosh do you remember how bad tape hiss could be!
  • Tape to tape. Not sure I really need this but nice to have retro functionality.

What don't I need from a Cassette Player in 2024

  • APSS - remember that, seeking forward for space between tracks, I think it was from Sharp who were for a time the king of the twin tape ghetto blaster It stood for Advance Program Search System. I never used tape counters either but they would do the trick nicely.
  • Auto Reverse - it just made the device less reliable.
  • CD drive - Macs, and PC's and XLD have totally got ripping CD's thanks very much.
  • Metal tape support - I never had many of these.
  • Custom 4 track support like my old Tascam Studio - not really needed.
  • Twin decks I dont really need two, I'd really settle for one audiophile cassette deck with USB out.

TL:DR — If you have the means theres still one Pro Audio and one HiFi consumer cassette deck available in new condition with USB out. Both have the exact same mechanism with a few styling differences, rack mount capability and one additional playback function on the Pro Audio version. Both are expensive so shop around. If you're looking for a second hand professional level Cassette Deck in 2024 read my other article Old Cassette recorders for 2024.

New Cassette recorders in 2024

Contents

Comparisons

TL:DR The Teac W-1200 and the Tascam 202MKVII are almost identical

These are pretty clearly exactly the same design. Everything is the same except for that the Tascam has signature orange display colours whereas the Teac is blue and red, the Tascam has rackmount ears and a monitor/cue function called 'special' that might be useful for Cassettes in Pro Audio settings like conferences where you need to line up the next track to play - but who uses Cassette decks for that anymore?

Lets check the designs with side by side photographs. If only the images were the same size. 

 

 

 

 

 

Front of Tascam 202MKVII Dual cassette deck with USB output
Tascam 202MLVII Dual cassette deck with USB output

The 202MKVII is an easy-to-handle, good sounding dual-well cassette deck for professional use in karaoke bars and sports centres, yet also for town halls, civic and community centres, schools or libraries. It can also serve as a reliable audio storage or backup solution for authorities like police departments or civil defence thanks to the proven long-term stability of tape and the additional option of USB output for digital backups on a computer. USB output on the Tascam 202MKVII dual-well cassette deckThe unit offers excellent sonic performance due to a wide frequency range. 

Front of Teac W-1200 Double Cassette Player, Black
Teac W-1200-B Double Cassette Deck with USB output

The W-1200 is a double cassette deck featuring two, one-way cassette decks, mic mixing, a USB digital output and other versatile recording features. In recent times, cassette tapes have fascinated those whom have never used them, thanks to their warm, distinctly analogue sound, not to mention the ease of recording and the ability to create ‘mix-tapes’.

 

Tascam 202 MK VII rear view showing USB!
Tascam 202MKVII - USB!

Unlike most other cassette decks, the modern 202MKVII is equipped with a USB output that allows you to create digital archives of tape material using recording software on a Windows or Mac computer. Audio can be captured at sampling rates from 8 kHz to 48 kHz and 8/16-bit resolution.

 

Teac W1200 rear showing USB!
Teac W-1200 USB!

The built-in A/D converter and a USB digital output on the rear panel allows users to digitally archive their cassette tape libraries, at 48kHz/16-bit CD-quality. The sampling frequency and bit depth are selectable from 8k to 48kHz and 8 or 16 bit, depending on recording quality of the original tape. Once a digital archive is created, users are able to listen to them anytime anywhere with a computer, DAP, smartphone, network player or even in a car.

Tascam 202 MK VII remote control!
Tascam 202MKVII - Remote Control

They have identical part numbers.

Teac W1200 remote controller
Teac W-1200 Remote!

They seem to be identical.

 


References

See also: