Cassette Tapes: Just how are they made…and Why?

Wondered about the process of making a cassette tape? Now you can be visually informed with three featured films. The first film takes you step by step through the process…in just under five minutes (with no speech). There’s also a mini-documentary, of just under four minutes, about a US-based cassette factory in Springfield, USA (with speech) who have been producing cassettes since 1980, without a break. Finally, you can view a Philips-backed film (well, the company invented the format) of just over six minutes, on a couple of independent cassette labels. Wallow in analogue goodness.

Filmed by the good people at Super Deluxe, here is a rather nice video sequence showing just how cassette tapes are made. There’s no commentary here so zero the music for a silent movie if the vibes irritate.

(Super Deluxe is an entertainment company and a division of Turner but it operates independently in Downtown LA, USA. You can check out its YouTube channel HERE)

But that’s not all! Here’s a video piece via Bloomberg, a tiny documentary from Springfield and the MO-based National Audio Company opened in 1969. When other major manufacturers abandoned tape manufacturing for CD production in the late 90s, the company kept going. Now, the cassette maker is producing more cassettes than ever. This one does include speech so turn your volume back up. Fascinating stuff.

(Subscribe to Bloomberg on YouTube, HERE.)

Next is a documentary about the rise of cassettes via Philips and Noisey. Featured are interviews with Jen Long who runs the Kissability cassette label (with a consistent link on their page straight to the second-hand Walkman section on eBay!), Brian Shimkovitz who runs the Project Awesome cassette tape label featuring music sourced from Africa and DJ Rocc (DJ/Producer)

You can subscribe to Noisey on YouTube, HERE.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    17th January 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Hi Paul: Amazing ! I was the cassette king back in the 1980’s -recording from LP’s to Maxell II-S, TDK SA-X my favorite blanks. Later mixed-tape/recordings sans Dolby ‘B’, ‘C’.
    With the right deck (head alignment, frequency extension), bias adjutment, recoding levels some really decent sound could be achieved via the various Aiwa, Yamaha, Luxman, Denon, Marantz, BIC (T-2) decks used back then.
    Conversely, pre-recorded cassette tape was bad -plain and simple; I suppose no one (majority) complained so the pre-recorded (SQ) drek continued.

    The video presented here were/are great. Thank you for that. It clearly revealed the great expense (precision equipment, staff) of cassette/physical media manufacturing. Incredible. Considering today’s digital files and businesses such as HD Tracks, one must wonder where all the money goes; $20-$30 (US$) for a high-resolution (CD equivalent) 24/94, 24/192 “file” ???

    Where’s the labour/equipment and expense of the HD Track model compared to cassette tape manufacture ? Mr. Waldrep (HD Tracks) should really watch these video’s and learn about the ‘value for money’ concept.

    Not to pick on HD Tracks, but any similar download music busines model. Compared to cassette manufacture, downloads are extremely fast and inexpensive to get into consumer’s “hands”.
    I believe kids today realize there is nothing real, tangible in downloads or streaming.and so turn to physical media. And, many wish to support their favorite musician’s/bands; LP, CD, cassette tape demonstrates this.
    And that will be the death toll of wickedly over-priced music downloads (regardless of claimed or in fact real resolution).
    As i looked at perhaps my first music download ($18-$25.), I thought to myself “What am I buying?”. More specifically, I thought about the 6-10 CD’s i purchased a week earlier -the product; material, case, packaing, liner notes, in addition to the time, effort, money of all the people involved with physical media purchase. And, looking to my CD’s priced from $7-$16. (a rare Japanese CD for $20.) and thought : “I’m considering to purchase thin air for $25.” Ain’t happening.

    On the other hand, premium streaming/renting (Tidal Hi-Fi, $20./month) is an amazing option enabling one to listen to near anything in an instant. For me, this will introduce me to new music that ultimately will end up as a physical media purchase (when I find the ones I enjoy most). It wouldn’t feel right not to own a physical copy.

    Anyway, enough rambling. What a nice trip down memory lane.
    Wonder where I can purchase some premium Maxell/TDK ‘blanks’ ? lol

    (P.S. I’m guessing these pre-recorded cassettes do not sell for $20. + dollars ? ).

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