Joe Tries to Infiltrate Cassette Culture (Part 1)

After like twenty five years going strong, my dad’s old Sony CD Player from his apartment after he graduated college has officially bitten the dust. It had a good life, but stopped reading discs last week. The final disc that it ever played was Talking Heads’ classic Speaking in Tongues, which may or may not be fitting because I’m not 100 percent sure of what my dad’s music tastes were in the late eighties and if a copy of that CD would’ve found its way into that tray at any prior point.

Anyway, my system of playing CDs had to be severely changed, and it eventually became an old Craig Electronics (a brand that is still around even though they apparently do not have a Wikipedia page in the year of the Common Era 2017) portable CD player hooked up to an amplifier via the aux cord I took out of my car.


The years between end of the cassette walkman era to the beginning of the iPod era must have been horrible because you have to hold this thing perfectly flat all the time

Now, this actually worked fairly well for two reasons

  1. The quality of sound coming from the CD player was actually pretty solid all things considered.
  2. I would otherwise have absolutely no use for my Craig Electronics portable CD player.

So my need for a CD player was, oddly enough, basically sated by this method. As a stopgap, this will work fine.

However, knowing that my audio setup was being affected in this manner brought one of my longest standing frustrations out to the forefront:

I have no manner to properly play cassette tapes.

img_5347-1Okay, well, that’s not completely true. I do have this absolute hunk of garbage faux-walkman from Coby electronics, a brand that does – for what it’s worth – have a Wikipedia page.

I bought this thing from the internet in early 2014, it’s one of the few items I have tying me back to my freshman year of college. This put me back like twelve dollars in 2014 – that’s twelve and a half dollars after inflation – and boy howdy is it not a good product.

I don’t know if Coby Electronics stalks online reviews on its mediocre cassette players, but if they do, please don’t shut my site down.


Cassette players are unique among consumer electronics because – from my relatively limited scope of knowledge – there’s one specific tell that can let you know that you’ve bought a mediocre cassette player, and that’s by just looking at the spindles that turn the tape. That spindle on the left side of the image is not a spindle at all, and rather just a little peg upon which a cassette rests and does nothing. The spindle on the right carries all of the weight.

That’s not to say that a product with two moving spindles is going to automatically be a great player, but the cheaper end of the spectrum will use the inanimate peg and your sound quality will suffer for it.

I am tired of using this thing for many reasons –

  1. The sound quality is horrible even by cassette tape standards
  2. The playback speed varies, but generally stays on the slow side so everything sounds not quite like Vaporwave and more like the singer’s gone through puberty mid-song and the rest of the band got very sleepy
  3. The second that it goes outside, everything becomes distorted, which is a shame considering the whole concept of portability involves going outside at some point.
  4. There’s no rewind button, you just flip the tape over and fast-forward
  5. It’s bulky and ugly. By nature of being a cheap cassette player, there isn’t a way around that. Being upset about this is kind of like being upset that my pants go down to my ankles and when it’s hot out and I wear my pants my legs get hot. Granted, some high-quality Walkman models look really good, but this twelve dollar Coby brand player is not good.

So, my ideal move forward was to replace both the CD and tape players in my possession with something more permanent. I will never use a portable CD player for its intended use again, seeing as the iPod completely took over that market by just being better about fifteen years ago and we’ve never looked back, and a portable cassette player at this point should only be a low-cost alternative to a legitimate tape deck for me.

I need to purchase a replacement, and these are, in order, the ideal results of what I find.

  1. Some sort of combination CD and tape deck for convenience’s sake since I’m no audiophile
  2. A decent cheap tape deck to be used in tandem with the current portable CD player layout
  3. A decent cheap Walkman (But a good Walkman) to be used in tandem with the current portable CD player layout (But it’ll have to be a damn good Walkman)

With my twisted priorities, I’m okay with sticking with the portable CD player setup for now if no home stereo unit can be found. It’s not perfect, but it works. The cassette setup doesn’t work at all at the moment, so it’s the first issue at hand.

Tomorrow, I will go searching.

About Joe Bush

The guy behind and a lot of other things
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1 Response to Joe Tries to Infiltrate Cassette Culture (Part 1)

  1. Brendan Rogers says:

    Just go buy one of those plain jane cassette tape players with a handle.

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