Cassettes or compact cassettes are a type of magnetic audio with files recorded onto tape, which is wound on reels in the cassette. Most cassettes feature recordings on both sides, allowing users to flip the tape over to play the next side without having to rewind, as was necessary with VHS tapes . Cassette tapes were mostly discontinued from manufacture in 2002, but are still available new or in vintage condition. Things to check before buying vintage cassettes include condition and original labels.
Vintage Cassette Condition
The condition of the tape is the most important thing to look for when buying vintage cassettes because a damaged tape is not suitable for playing. Crinkles, bends, or tears in the tape mean audio distortions and that the tape might snag in the cassette player. A good way to check to see if the tape is in good condition is to roll the reel with a pencil and watch the tape as it turns. If there are snags, pulls, tears or broken ends, the tape is worthless. It is sometimes difficult to see some damage, such as heat damage, to cassette tapes, so for the most part, users should base their decision on the appearance of the case. A case in good condition usually means the cassette is in good condition.
Vintage Cassette Clean Case and Tape
Dirt on a cassette tape is a huge issue because it can damage the cassette player and affect the quality of the audio. In some cases, it is possible to clean dirty cassette tapes, but unless the cassette is rare, it is likely not worth the time and effort. Look for clean tapes with no dirt or grime on the tape or in the reels as this causes distortion, snags, and skips during playback. Alternately, you can choose to purchase a cassette tape cleaner with your cassettes.
Vintage Cassette Printed Labels
Bootlegging and recording audio on blank cassettes was very popular throughout the heyday of the cassette tape. It is important to purchase officially manufactured music tapes with professionally recorded audio for a number of reasons. The first is that purchasing a home-recorded cassette tape is a form of music piracy. The second is that the audio quality on home-recorded tapes is often much lower than that on professional tapes.
Vintage Cassette Value
The majority of cassette tapes are worth very little, and often available in cassette collections. Some tapes are worth a great deal because they are rare or collectible. In this case, it is important to research the market value of the cassette before purchasing it in order to ensure that you get a fair price.