The OUT Guide to Mastering Aural


By Editors

From the best headphones to speakers, we choose the best music tools on the market

In Praise of the Cassette
First things first: The cassette was short-lived for good reason. Though it didn’t have the quality of vinyl, it was just as vulnerable to deterioration, especially if you tried to fast-forward or rewind too often, when you might find yourself spooling the great entrails of tape back into the wheels. Weirdly, this was also the cassette’s virtue, for it made the experience of playing music tactile — even intimate. Then there was the lovely, plastic-y creak a cassette case made when you pried it open and the neat way the liner notes folded up like a map into the door. As a design object it’s unequalled by the CD and has been lost entirely in the digital revolution. The great innovation was, of course, the Sony Walkman, which made music portable (and a public nuisance). I got my first one in 1984 as a bar mitzvah gift and recall an evening of teenage angst, when it seemed like the right thing to do was to walk through my village, barefoot, shedding soft tears to the Smiths. You couldn’t do that before the cassette was invented. — Aaron Hicklin

Tags: Music