Record and Cassette Day

The 2014 edition of Record Store Day, the seventh edition, happened on the 19th of April. It’s a collaborative effort between participating stores that get together and mutually promote vinyl LPs, special editions, in-store exclusives and other vinyl-related “events” in brick and mortar stores. For those of us old enough to remember, shopping for the latest music at your favorite music outlet was a really fun thing to do.

These days with everything coming through the web, it’s a genuine challenge for music retailers to stay in business. Apparently, Record Day was a success again this year…lots of vinyl fans flocked to their local vendors and snatched up new releases from some major artists. There was even a story I saw that Jack White and Third Man Record set the world record for the fastest record release in history. He recorded a live performance and had the vinyl on the shelves in just over 3 hours! Pretty amazing.

I honestly think I could beat that record but not in the vinyl domain…no interest. I could get Laurence Juber or John Gorka in the studio and have them perform a set of music. These guys have the chops to be able to record an entire album in a couple of hours. The recording could be mixed in real time to high-resolution digital files and uploaded to iTrax for purchase as the tunes were completed. I’m not sure there’s a special Guinness record for that but it might be a clever way to get some press. Jack White is all over the web with this new record-breaking record. And in this business it all about getting people to talk about your product or service. It doesn’t even have to be true or positive…any press is good press. I’m not sure I agree.

While we’re talking about aging and old school formats, I was quite surprised to hear a report on my local NPR station the other evening about the resurgence of tape cassettes. Yes, apparently it’s true. There are actually hundreds of thousands of cassettes still being duplicated and released to an anxious consumer base. There are even specialty labels that release nothing but cassettes. As a label that chose to avoid releasing my productions on compact discs, I can relate. The way one label owner put it, “It’s much cooler to purchase a cassette than a CD at the merch table after a show by your favorite band.”

But how do you play them?

The last car that had a cassette player built in was a 2010 Lexus. I quickly looked at the dash of my 2005 Acura TL (the one with the ELS DVD-Audio surround sound system in it) as I drove and confirmed that I could still play cassettes. Lucky me.

The next thing you know, we’ll be hearing about the resurgence of 8-track tapes. I never owned one but my father in law had one in the Winnebago years ago. I did have a miniDisc player for the studio but went digital just as fast as I could.

I applaud the vinyl LP and cassette fans and the retailers that pull off the annual record day. The world of High-Resolution Audio deserves the same kind of recognition. I’ll add it to the list of things I have to do.

2 thoughts on “Record and Cassette Day

  • April 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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    For me, music reproduction gears (including media) have to provide the frequency spectrum and the dynamics that live music can achieve, with as little distortion as possible. This means a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz (it seems that some people can feel the next octave, up to 40 kHz, so why not going for it?) and up to 135 dB of dynamic range. In fact, taking into account an always-present background noise of about 35db, if the difference between the softest and the loudest sound is 100 dB, I am perfectly happy.

    Your readers now know that CD can do 20 Hz to 20 kHz but only with a dynamic range of 96 dB, that reel to reel can also do 20 Hz to 20 kHz but are limited to 72 dB of dynamics, and that vinyl may go from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (with an after production boost over 15 kHz) but is limited to around 80 dB of dynamics, considering the inherent vinyl/stylus friction.

    In a mouvance toward better reproduction of new recordings, SACD can go up to 22,5 KHz with a dynamic range of 120 dB, while DVD (mainly DVD-Audio), Blu-Ray or downloaded files can actually get closer to live music (20 Hz to 40 kHz at 144 dB).

    As far as distortion is concerned, all media has its problems (speed fluctuations, generation loss on analog media, standard EQ to correct media anomalies, self-erasure degradation, crosstalk, print through, low frequency mono mix, jitter) but the more recent medias seem to greatly attenuate the impact of these problems on music listening.

    Where does analog audio cassettes fit in these media comparison?

    Reply

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