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Will magnetic music cassettes slowly delete themselves?

Discussion in 'science, nature and environment' started by Slo-mo, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Slo-mo

    Slo-mo Active Member

    Point taken, but most of mine are stuff that's already available in digital format. About 10 years ago I threw out all my bootlegs off the radio but kept my original albums. In retrospect I wish I'd done the opposite.

    Just listening to the old Walkman now and Levelling the land (1992) is still sounding fine at the moment, lets see what another 25 years does to it. :D

    EDIT. But Introduce Yourself (1987 and looks like it's on very low grade ferric tape) is starting to sound a bit rough. I'm sure I've got some really old cassettes at my folks house so I'll try them at the weekend.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  2. 2hats

    2hats 3hats when in consumermas forum

    Yes. Probably within a few (small number of) decades (at best) but they don’t just decay magnetically but also chemically too. Environmental storage factors generally cause them to fail first (how many people store tapes at a constant, controlled, suitable temperature and humidity?) - so the binder/coating fails (also aided by degree of lack of QA in the original production process).
  3. killer b

    killer b Gazing vacantly at a plate of mince

    It seems to vary wildly how they degrade - I have some tapes from the 1970s that still sound perfect, and some from much more recently which have died altogether. Expect it'll be down to the quality of the initial tape stock, and how it's stored.

    Older CDs are dying off too, btw.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Everything will slowly delete itself.
    S☼I likes this.
  5. S☼I

    S☼I steely-wally

    William Basinski made music like this, at first by accident while transferring an old music loop onto another tape...ended up recording the sound of the tape degrading, with beautiful results.

    The Disintegration Loops - Wikipedia

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Pickman's model likes this.
  7. 2hats

    2hats 3hats when in consumermas forum


    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    All my 80s tapes seem to still work and sound just fine.
    Slo-mo likes this.
  9. NoXion

    NoXion Give me space communism or give me death

    How many times do you reckon you've played them? And how would you compare their longevity with vinyl, if you have any?
  10. DaveCinzano


    There was a late 90s variation on this with VHS machines running on rooftop kamikaze rigs - allowing for prerecorded shows of up to 4 hours (on Long Play) which could be played on a loop until recovery ( :thumbs:) or DTI detection ( :( )
    cupid_stunt likes this.

    ATOMIC SUPLEX Member Since: 1985 Post Count: 3

    Well when I first bought some of them I was the only format I had. I would play some of them constantly, at home and on a Walkman. I have plenty of records too and they would get a lot of use as a kid. A couple of records got scratched due to me being a dick, but apart from that they have been kept well and are all in good nick. So to summarize, I've seen no noticeable degradation in either format.

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