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My Cassette Tape Collection: Junk or Not Junk?

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Record collections can often be very valuable, however the same can’t really be said about cassette tape collections.

Cassette Tapes

With the recent renewal of nostalgia in retro devices and technology, it might seem like the cassette tape collection gathering dust in the basement will turn out to be worth something.

However, there are many reasons that the prices won’t increase, which is unfortunate for those who listened to a lot of music during the 70s through to the 90s.

The Cassette Tape is not the Best Storage Medium

Records and cassette tapes store information in analog format, while CDs and MP3s store them in digital form. Although there are significant differences when it comes to printing, storing, and playing analog and digital mediums, both systems have strengths and weaknesses. Records are incredible for the amount of information stored on them, as they produce great depth when played. Each print is non-identical, and the music also changes over use, which leads music lovers to call it a living medium.

Cassette tapes aren’t as good at recording information as the record or CD, and it’s also prone to breaking down. In fact, early recordings on tape were notoriously poor in quality.

There are various moving parts that are required to playing the tape, each susceptible to encountering problems. All these issues lead to music listeners favouring other mediums, leaving cassette tapes to fade into obscurity.

Are there Special Cases of Collectable Cassettes?

There are some special editions that will drive up the price of your tapes and entice music lovers into purchasing it from you. Certain bands may have left Easter Egg bonuses, such as recording tracks solely for cassettes and not for CDs or record releases.

Underground recordings from famous bands or artists are also bound to be prized possessions. There is a trend for punk tapes from the late 70s to the early 80s will often find a buyer. Of course, tapes in better condition will fetch higher prices.

An interesting phenomenon is the demand for blank tapes from a particular manufacturer during a certain period. Sealed blank tapes manufactured by Japanese companies made with high bias have excellent quality. Indications that your blank tape is valuable include:

  • Manufacture by TDK, Hitachi Maxell, or Denon
  • Labels saying high bias
  • XLII-S or MX formulation

More likely than not, your cassette collection doesn’t contain anything a buyer will even pay a few pennies for. Bottom line: Cassette tape collections are junk!

Written January 9, 2015 by Christopher Luciano

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