Monday, June 29, 2009

What is this "tape" of which you speak?




It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day 

Yes, the Beeb gave a 13yr old a gen1 walkman to have instead of his mp3 player for a week. You can read more here. Quite sweet, really. 

Anyone had any similar old tech/new tech experiences lately? 

27 comments:

DarceysDad said...

Giving the thread topis an ever-so-slight bodyswerve, I've decided that my cassettes are in much more imminent danger of demise than the vinyl. So between my physio appointment and the accountant meeting, I'm off to look at a couple of tape-to-PC digitisers tomorrow ...

Any recommendations?

DsD said...

"topis" ?? The S and the C aren't even adjacent!!

Anonymous said...

Rich- before you go spend unnecessary monies-

1. Do you have a tape player already?

2. Does your PC have a mic/line in?

3. Does yr amp have a headphones socket?

Anonymous said...

He he I though "topis" was some sort of posh classical pluralusation!!

Intrigued of Queensbury said...

Yes, yes and yes, but they're 15ft apart.

Although ... Yeah I suppose I could, 'cause there's always the old ghetto blaster I could perch on the desk.

What's the plan, Nonny Mouse?

steenbeck said...

I love this post!! My brother lives in ultra ultra hip williamsburg Brooklyn, and he likes to listen to his walkman, and he says that when he pops the tape out to turn it over--on the subway he gets wondering/disparaging looks. We got him an iPod a little over a year ago for his 40th, and he's too sweet to say it, but I think he felt, "What the fuck is this?" doesn't really want anything to do with it.

Blimpy said...

ok, richy boy, DON"T GO BUY ANY USB "SPECIAL" DIGI_TRANSFER gubbins, you have everything you need right there infront of you!!

All you need is ONE LEAD TO UNITE THEM ALL!

Is your tape player hooked up to your amp?

Blimpy said...

Or does it have its own headphones socket?

Blimpy said...

It's me!! Speng!!!

Ooopsy!!

Blimpy said...

You probs only need to buy a mini-jack to mini-jack lead, which cost just a few pounds

Blimpy said...

if your tape deck has a headphones out, you can connect this directly to your pc line in, using a mini jack cable with a quarter inch adaptor (you most likely have several of these in your house already)

If your tape deck goes into your amp, and has a headphones out or aux out, you can connect this directly to your pc too in a similar fashion.

Technodud DsD said...

Oh - Kaay ... mini-jack to mini-jack (for the headphone socket to mic/line-in) is the same lead as my Walkman to car stereo aux, I believe, so I reckon I've got that.

Software?

AliMunday said...

I still have a portable cassette player but it's not as big as the one in the picture. My step son very kindly bought me an Ipod-type Walkman for Christmas - it's good but it only works with 'Windows' so I have to borrow his lap top if I want to upload or download anything (we've got a Mac without Windows), so I don't change the music much. But there's so much stored on it, it doesn't really matter. And I don't use it much because you have to have it so loud to drown out the train / bus / commuters that I'm afraid of getting mugged when my concentration is elsewhere!!

sourpus said...

Not much to add, except that I was looking at buying an old 'Pro' Walkman the other day from a bloke in London. The 'Pro' is the kind of Walkman that records as well (a feature which, to my knowledge, iPods still dont have).

With a good microphone, the 'Pro' was probably too good quality a sound to be sold at the price it had. People were recording demos, and even whole albums on it. I had access to one in the early nineties and always took it to gigs I attended (standing at the back, suspicious looking, with a big long microphone jutting just-a-little-too-far forward out the front of my jacket pocket, etc.); I even took it to Glastonbury 1994. I liked the 'Pro' so much, I even wanted to use one in the present, to record the demos I am making for a new record. I needed something specifically portable.

In the end though, I opted to borrow a friends Mini-disc (yet more 'old tech' - im an old tech sort of guy, maybe(?) which im enjoying using at the moment.

Anyone else any thoughts on the best way to record demo of a song at home (just voice and one or two acoustic instruments)? Any portable tech you would recommend? Always open to suggestions...

B-Mac said...

@darce - i think 'spillers have had sucess with audacity, and as far as i'm aware it's audacity that gets bundled free with the usb record players

B-Mac said...

Ii would like to add that my five year old knows fine well what records are, I'm not sure if he'd know what to do if presented with a c90 though.

B-Mac said...

@sourpus - the minidisc is still a good bit o' tech. i find a macbook (it has a line in) and garageband really good for home demos (portable too)

Mnemonic said...

I found Audacity easy to use when I converted a bit of vinyl to mp3. Haven't done much of it (too lazy) but I had all the equipment I needed at home already and Audacity was a free download. I did put the vinyl onto minidisc first simply because it was easier to carry over to the computer than to move the whole vinyl set-up around.

saneshane said...

Look here:
http://www.vinyl-2-cd.co.uk/

I never bothered buying the leads from them as I had them all.. but I think it gave me the heads up on starting...

more detailed info on Audacity:
http://transom.org/tools/editing_mixing/200404.audacity.html

transom.org do some interesting tutorials.

another tip: don't try and perfectly hit the start and end of each song.. however well you know it.. you'll often miss.
Record the whole side, then edit each track.. for your media player.


And stick with a normal deck (of any sort) its easy to sort.. I do have a USB record deck.. now linked to the usb in the car, for vinyl on the move.. not so good over speed bumps or anywhere with a lot of roundabouts.

Abahachi said...

Have to confess that I had the same "metal/normal" issue when i got my first Walkman...

goneforeign said...

Blimp et al: The Metal/Normal switch is a genre specific equaliser, the different tape formats had different EQ's. My Walkman Pro has 3 settings, Normal, Chrome and Metal IV plus 3 Dolby settings, C-type, B type and off, plus a low and high mic attenuation switch; great little unit, I've had it about 25 years, works perfectly well, feels like a small brick.
As you've stated everything needed to transfer vinyl to digital has already been said here, if you go TT direct you'll need a twin RCA plug [male] to mini adaptor and then go in through the 'line-in'. Initially it could be slightly frustrating if you don't know to open your system preferences, open 'audio' and set the inputs/outputs. I started off with Audacity but switched to Sound Studio, not free but reasonable and very good. Also I've found that 'transom.org' is very good with tutorials. It's not widely known but Pro-Tools has a free version, excellent and transom has several tutorials for it. Sourpus: GarageBand is the answer, an amazing piece of free Mac software that can keep even non musicians like meself occupied for hours, is anyone else playing with GarageBand, we should post our efforts?
Ipods DO record! I often use mine to record, my first effort at a Spill podcast was recorded on my iPod whilst walking around my garden, I wasn't happy with it so it was never posted. All you need is an iPod mic, mine's here somewhere but I can't see it, it's called an iTalk, go to :http://www.griffintechnology.com/products
for a full range of iPod accessories, the mic is very good, it's small and plugs directly into the headphones plug.

steenbeck said...

Not sure how this relates, but I heard an interesting story the other day. You know the Isley Brothers' Shout? Of course you do. Apparently the part where they say, "Now wait a minute" comes at the point where you have to turn the record over. I'm sure there are stories like that about cassette tapes, too.

Goneforeign, my first feature the sound was entirely recorded on a synch-sound walkman. Crazy, right? The sound wasn't bad, though. Turned out to be better than the sound on my second, where we used a DAT.

Japanther said...

I love the humble cassette!

All my early teenage forays into music (Guns'N'Roses, NIrvana, Manics, erm...the Wonderstuff, Carter USM, Therapy?) were on cassette, it was my first format as I couldn't afford a CD player at the time. Actually, I remember saving my paper round money (6 pounds a week) to be able to buy the radio/cassette deck which was pretty expensive, around 60 or 70 quid, for a teenager (of course we were too poor for pocket money)!

And, they are still the best format for making mixTAPES!

FP said...

Did it occur to anyone else that that article was sooooo NOT written by a 13 year old? Words like 'cumbersome' and 'aesthetic'. Anyone with me on that? I stil have lots of mix tapes and was very touched, a coupla years ago to see that the stage scenery for ROYKSOPP was a 10 foot high mix tape with their name written on it in thick black pentel. Like you used to....

Shoey said...

Well, the once, cutting edge 2G Shoephone may need an upgrade as the memory can't seem to cope with the 'Spill anymore. Did the pages get longer or something? Hate to see a good un fall off the page too soon (unless it contains one of my more regretable drunken comments), but any chance of a little shortening to save me forking out for an upgrade? Anyone else having problems? 1st RR, now this. Starting to suspect a conspiracy to keep me quiet. Took me half an hour to post this without a crash.

ejaydee said...

I used to have wonderful tapes, and knew them by heart, could fast forward and rewind exactly where the song started. I've rescued a few, especially the ones where I try out my new recordable walkman (maybe it was a Pro), bought in Japan, in which I recite where I want my earthly possessions such as my pens and pencil case to be dispersed, as describe my surroundings, in this case, an airport.

Catcher said...

I still have a shelf of hundreds of tapes; like Japanther, they were my first and preferred (and affordable) format. I saw this piece on the Walkman, remembered how ecstatic I was with my first one, and was sadly reminded of finding my very first mobile phone a few weeks ago, from late 1995 and thinking it was a ridiculous brick of a thing. What hope for the lowly tape so? Sigh. Soon it'll be time to wear my trousers rolled.