“Listening to a cassette tape is not an exact science,” says [Gruff] Rhys. “Some cassette players play them a little faster. Others distort and phrase the music, changing the sound on the cassette forever. My first introduction to U2 was listening to a cassette that had at some point been chewed up by a dog. It sounded like a recording of a My Bloody Valentine rehearsal or something, full of incredible whooshing noises and vibrato. Imagine my disappointment on hearing the correct version a few years later.”
My two cents
I think I was near the tail end of the cassette tape generation. I had a few back in the day, but I can’t say I miss them nowadays. Well, perhaps the only thing I miss is those test tones at the beginning of the tape.
With my cassettes, I remember one or two where there was a defect in the physical tape and so the recording went funny (or silent) for a split second. Now, when I hear the same song on YouTube or a CD, I still remember (and expect to hear) the defective sound—and it’s not there!
In 2007 or so, I used a no-name mp3 player that I won on eBay. Then I saw this girl on the bus who was listening to a tape on her Walkman. I thought to myself, “man, that’s old school”—I think it’s cool how she stuck it out. Not that I ever spoke to her, but if I could speak to her now, I’d have to ask her about it.
Cited in Hogan, M. (2010). This Is Not a Mixtape. Available: http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/7764-this-is-not-a-mixtape/2/. Last accessed 9th Apr 2013.