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Is it just a waste to use type II cassettes for a DIY release in 2017?

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 Around 2008 I got 1500 blank TDK type II bulk cassettes for free from a guy who used to run a local punk label in the 90s, and every couple years I'll do a little 30-40 tape DIY release for fun.  I like the sound of cassette and record on them pretty regularly but I don't really listen to them and haven't followed the whole revival that closely to be honest, so I didn't realize until just a week ago that apparently type II cassettes aren't being made anymore and modern cassette decks don't even have Dolby B.

 

I've been doing all of my DIY releases on Type II with Dolby and they sound great (the tapes I mean, I'll leave it up to others to decide if the music sounds good), a few people have commented on how much better they sound than the average modern cassette release, but now that I know type II cassettes are kind of a limited resource, is it stupid to use them for releases? Should I just hoard hem for my own use in the old Portastudio?  Doing type I releases would actually cost a lot more money because I'd have to buy tapes, as it is now I can release stuff for around $1.25 per tape (for boxes, glossy photo paper, and printer ink).

 

I've got between 600 and 7l00 banks left, maybe 100 C-60s, 200-300 C-40s, and the rest are C-20.

 

I know at least a couple people on here are in to the modern cassette scene, do you think that fidelity is something to worry about (beyond the base line of dubbing stuff on a decent machine at the right levels) or am I just pissing in the wind?

 

 

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i'm sure someone with more knowledge on the topic will chime in, but from what i'm hearing you say it does sound like a bit of a waste

I'd wager a bet that of the people who are buying the cassette releases only a small portion are true audiophile who are searching for the optimum listening experience - the majority are just in it to collect, support the artists and to have a physical copy (usually just listening to the digital copy)

 

if there is a scarcity happening then perhaps keep the Type II for your master recording, but release on Type I or whatever

 

ALTHOUGH - there's also another side to look at it, how many releases do you think you will put out on tape for the foreseeable future? if you have about 700, and you say you usually only put out 30-40 at a time per release thats about 17 releases...which is loads!

 

So you could just keep up the high quality outputs, and have a nice goal to aim towards - finishing every single tape you have!

Better than being stuck with boxes full of potential thats going to no good use

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I have some stuff out on cassette, but I personally don't have a good player to listen to them. I do think they're better than CDs, not necessarily because of the sound quality, but to have something physical to sell to people. Vinyl has a much higher barrier to entry and CDs are just pointless pieces of plastic at this point anyways. 

 

Regarding the scarcity thing, I think it affects both the cassettes and players, so might as well use up the reserves you have now, because unless it goes through the same revival as vinyl, there's going to be less and less people able to listen to your stuff at all. And after a while if the fad keeps going, there's surely going to be some boutique cassette maker that will still keep making them, if only because there's some wack shit like nuclear missile control computers that run on tape. :)

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You could always use this as a creative limitation: music designed to be listened to on lower quality cassette. 

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Are you sure they stopped making Type II ?? I still buy mine here and they seem to be making new stock.... 

 

http://nationalaudiocompany.com/Audio-Cassette-Tapes-C1.aspx

 

If you look up discussions on tapeheads.net you'll see a bunch of info about how the NAC and duplication.ca (and any other new tapes) have different formulas that make up their Type II tapes. 

 

I think you can still find TDK and Maxell loaded tapes on duplication.ca and some other sites. There was also some company called Phoenix tape (I think) that also puts out vintage quality tape.

Edited by joshuatx

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 I know at least a couple people on here are in to the modern cassette scene, do you think that fidelity is something to worry about (beyond the base line of dubbing stuff on a decent machine at the right levels) or am I just pissing in the wind?

 

Bridgetown Records still uses Dolby Reduction. They put out a lot of dynamic drone, ambient, etc. A lot of "bigger" bandcamp and DIY tape labels use type II and I know for a fact that vaporwave labels DC and Bedlam - which are pretty big for vaporwave labels - i.e. runs of 50-100 or more - dub real time on Nakamichi decks.

 

So yes, there is a niche for type II tapes and those lengths - C-20, C-40, C-60, are ideal ones for releases.

 

I would say that type II and/or dolby is best for dynamic stuff (higher frequency heavy music, classical, ambient, etc.) whereas stuff like beat heavy electronic music or hip-hop is actually better on good quality type I. 

 

Type I varies a lot btw - old stock TDK and Maxell still sound excellent and there's a big difference from cheap "voice grade" type I and the more professional type I tapes you can get now. 

 

I get the impression Type IV is overkill, even for many audiophiles, thankfully you don't have any of those.

 

Personally I home dubbed my stuff and I bought type II tape for ATOP's stuff. The Roqual and Spiricom releases were on type I and I actually liked how the tape made that stuff sound more saturated, grittier, lo-fi, etc.

 Should I just hoard hem for my own use in the old Portastudio?

 

From what I've read the shorter the tape the more ideal for Portastudios - I'd use your C-20s for that first.

 

Also if you need to clear these out people will buy them on ebay or even locally, although that can be a crapshoot depending on where you are. Tape is a lot trendier than it was in 2008 though.

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Thanks for the answers!

 

I'm not sure that type II has been discontinued btu I heard that mentioned in a few different places (of course I can't remember where now) one aftet he other and that inspired this thread to begin with.

 

Especially sicne, at least in my experience, a Type II cassette with Dolby B played back as Type I without Dolby sounds worse than it would have if it had jsut been recorded as type I without Dolby to begin with.

 

For me it's a concern partly because I still use my old Portastudio regularly and that thing is designed for type II only (although I'm sure it's pretty far from its factory calibration after kicking around for about 25 years) and at least 2/3 of the cassettes I have in the closet are short enough that I'd only get 5-10 minutes total recording time on them recording 4 tracks at high speed.  As far as cassettes of useful length I have enough to do 4-6 more releases in the quantity I've been doing, so I'm still leaning toward saving the long ones and maybe doing a series of one-off, straight to cassette singles or EPs like I was considering 4 or 5 years ago, just set a timer and record live to tape for 5 (or 10) minutes per side and that's the only copy available.

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I do think they're better than CDs, not necessarily because of the sound quality, but to have something physical to sell to people. Vinyl has a much higher barrier to entry and CDs are just pointless pieces of plastic at this point anyways. 

But CDs still dramatically outsell tapes and vinyl...

 

With the amount you have left, I'd say save up a bunch to do some more releases. You have a load of tapes, use 'em. 

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I'm not sure that type II has been discontinued btu I heard that mentioned in a few different places (of course I can't remember where now) one aftet he other and that inspired this thread to begin with.

 

This might be what you are talking about.

 

From what I glean NAC's Type II was NOS (new old stock) - they just had so much of it was listed as part of their ordering catalog all of these years. They have since removed some of their Type II and chrome tape types as options. They dropped the #747, #771 recently leaving only the BASF Type II #799 as the only truly hi-fi Type II tape. The still have #751 Chrome and the #731/831 which is your standard music grade Type I tape. Colbat tapes are like a type I / type II hybrid and chrome is like a mid-level type II or something like that. 

 

 

 

es, the NAC 799 is NOS BASF Super Chrome, or IIRAC Chrome Extra II

The NAC 771 is NOS BASF Chrome Extra, a step below..

Finally the NAC 731 is Saehan modern 831

NAC 747 is Saehan's modern cobalt doped ferric, similar to most of the legacy Maxell and TDK Type II's.

I find it closest in properties for recording to the last edition Maxell UDXL II 'Man In The Chair" from Mexico.

 

Duplication.ca still has some type IIs but I think too they are NOS.

 

TLDR - type IIs appear to be running out but type I is around and there appears to be a new chrome or cobalt dipped formula NAC in development that will be a option for those wanting something closer to Type II. A "super type I"

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Tape is cool but if I ever do a release I hope its on vinyl.

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The trouble with vinyl is that pressing plants are so burdened that between the logistics of running a small label, and the turnaround time for getting test pressings, approving them, maybe sending them back, etc. the time between completing an album and seeing a vinyl release can be a year or more, and if you self release you're looking at a few thousand dollars just to get a small run of reasonable quality LPs plus reasonable quality covers, so unless you're expecting to sell at least a couple hundred and/or have a decent amount of money kicking around it's pretty hard to justify that route.

 

I love vinyl, too, but the cassette revival is nice because it makes it easier to do tiny physical runs of stuff that's never going to be paying for itself.

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Yeah, it matters. I get the impression most people don't give a fuck, treat it like a novelty item, gimmick, or whatever. When I buy a tape, I want it to sound good. If I'm recording to tape cassette, I'll usually use type II, because it sounds good. Notice Recordings (label) uses cobalt or chrome tape stock for their releases, and they sound decent. Meanwhile kids are dubbing shite punk music to crappy normal bias/type i tape cassettes, not even paying attention to the signal level, or anything for that matter. It's frustrating.

Edited by barbara planar

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For me it's more about getting the tape itself (and a personal thank you note written on a napkin from some band in Oklahoma), I consider the fidelity (or lack thereof) part of the charm

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