Back in 2006, somebody somewhere said that cassettes would no longer be manufactured. I guess National Audio Company and a few other firms didn’t get that memo. The good news for cassette users is that you can still buy them. Googling the subject of cassette tape manufacturers brings up a considerably long list of firms still making and selling this venerable format.
“Why use such an old fashioned technology?” many people ask today. With the Internet delivering MP3 files and the popularity of MP3 players, there doesn’t seem to be a need for magnetic analogue recordings.
One benefit of cassettes is that they can be re-used. You can’t do that with a CD-R and CD-RWs don’t work in CD players. Companies did try making portable CD players but they had problems with the recording breaking up when they were bumped. Though vehicles have CD players, CD-Rs often won’t play in them. With portable cassette players, the only worry was the battery dying. Some cheap models did eat tape on occasion but careful winding of the tape into its shell often worked to restore the cassette.
Another benefit is that they can be stopped and then started again without losing their place. With CDs, you have to fiddle and diddle until you find the point where you stopped listening. This is especially annoying when listening to long spoken-word pieces or sermons.
Cassettes can take a fair amount of abuse. If the tape is mangled and returned to the shell, it still will play. The whole recording isn’t ruined like it would be with a scratch on a CD. I’ve been able to revive a tangled tape many times using this method. On the other hand, I’ve had whole CD-Rs become unplayable because the foil started flaking off.
People in Third World countries often lack CD players but have access to cassette players. I’m currently taping the sermons of John MacArthur and episodes of Unshackled off the Internet and sending the cassettes to a friend in Alabama. He distributes them to missionaries in various countries. One man in Nigeria translates Unshackled episodes into one of the local languages and says the people deeply appreciate the dramatizations. The cassettes also bless the missionaries.
Cassettes are also easier for seniors to use. Computers fluster them, making it hard for them to make their own CD-Rs. It’s a lot easier to push buttons than work one’s way through menus on CD-R burning software. Most of these elderly folks grew up in a world of dial telephones, vacuum tube radios, and vehicles with no electronics. They’re much more comfortable pressing “PLAY” than clicking an icon.
As long as I can, I’ll use and listen to cassettes. I recently purchased four boom-box-like recorders from a bargain shop just so I can keep listening to the hundreds of cassettes I recorded over the years. Additionally, I can use these machines as computer speakers because they have a “line in” jack. One thing is for sure, I won’t lack a cassette player for years to come.