January 6, 2010

Cassettes


Few people can afford to record music on 1/4" tape. But cassette tapes are still around. they're cheap, and in a good player they sound great.

Old 4-track cassette recorders are cheap. Though sometimes they're a challenge to track down.

They're the best investment ANY recording musician could ever make. I bought mine when I was 14 and I'm still using it.

Also,

Criterion is releasing Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life. I saw it several years ago on 35mm and it stuck with me for a lot longer than I expected it to. Quite a film.

5 comments:

Jon Coutts said...

I miss cassettes. Our van actually has a cassette player and I'm wishing I had brought my old stash of mix tapes, buried away in some trunk somewhere. If you release a cassette, I will purchase it.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Yeah, even beyond the nostalgic value it's nice to be forced to listen to music in a certain order for a certain length of time.

Obviously vinyl is best, but expensive to have pressed.

I think I'll still release anything in the future on CD, but I'll record it on cassette.

But then, who knows!

forrest said...

What kind of unique qualities does recording on cassette give you? Im curious, as we may be recording as well - and looking for ways to make it better.

Other: on my last day of work I sent an email to everyone that I liked - whether I had met them once or seen them every day at the Library. It was an email of recommendations: books (including Duddy Kravitz - thanks!) and your blog the crooked trees.

Do you ever look at your old posts and feel embarrassed, but them overcome that feeling and find yourself in a deep state of contemplation?

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Forrest:

You wrote,
"Do you ever look at your old posts and feel embarrassed, but them overcome that feeling and find yourself in a deep state of contemplation?"

All the time. Ha. One of my worst habits is re-visiting old art. I spend far too much time in that head-space of embarrassed contemplation. How 'bout you?

You wrote,
"What kind of unique qualities does recording on cassette give you?"

Cassette recordings are warmer sounding, is what it comes down to basically. And for reasons I don't quite understand, recording on tape automatically equalizes the sound better. It brings in the right tones and pushes out a lot of the bad ones.

A friend of mine who is a real audiophile has a theory that tape is better than digital because digital is code -it's the world of machines- whereas magnetic tape is recorded onto using an entirely physical process. And so, his theory goes, we -natural beings that we are- connect with the chemical process more than the code process.

Another way to put it is to say it's like the difference between digital photography and film photography.

On my album Sinners 'Drops of Water' is the only song recorded on cassette, if you'd like to actually hear the difference.

The thing with cassette is that it doesn't exclude the possibility of using a computer to alter things AFTER you've recorded onto tape. You can copy each track onto the computer, sync them up, and you still have all the same options you would have had if you'd recorded directly onto the computer.

It adds another step to the process, but for me I've been realizing that it's definitely worth it. In the last month I've completely switched my recording process to go on tape first, and THEN onto computer. I'm pretty happy with the results.

Hope that helps.

I'm flattered to have been recommended to the people in your life.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Oh, also... try to use the highest quality tapes you can find. Usually music stores sell high quality cassettes.