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Cassette Decks: Easier to Use and Better Sounding Than Ever

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

Even though the cassette isn't as popular as it once was, cassette decks still sell for the same reasons that made this format so popular to begin with. With a cassette deck, you can record from any source: CD, tape, radio, or records. You can easily record custom mix tapes, with any songs, in any order. You can quickly make multiple copies for playback at home, in your car, or in your portable. And unlike some disc formats, there are no player compatibility issues with cassettes — you'll always be able to enjoy any tape you've recorded in any cassette player.

cassette deck A dual-well dubbing deck makes it easy to copy your favorite tapes, or to relay play two tapes for hours of uninterrupted music. (Sony TC-WE475 pictured)

Make it a double?

The main advantage of "dubbing decks," as dual-well models are often called, is incredibly easy tape-to-tape copying. (With a single-well model, you need a second cassette deck to copy a tape.)

Dual-well models offer the option of high-speed dubbing, which cuts copy time in half. You will, however, usually get a slightly better sounding copy if you dub tapes at normal speed.

Tape-to-tape dubbing isn't the only reason to go for a dual-well deck, though. Decks with auto-reverse play in both wells also let you play both sides of two tapes, non-stop. This convenient feature is called relay play, and it's a great way to cue up as much as 3 hours' worth of continuous music. Once you've inserted two cassettes and pressed "play," you can sit back and enjoy.

Other features

It's very uncommon for cassette decks to include their own remote control. However, the basic functions of most decks can be operated via a receiver's remote control — provided that both the tape deck and the receiver are made by the same manufacturer. If remote control is important to you, be sure to check for this remote compatibility while you're shopping.

Most cassette decks offer Dolby B and C noise reduction, which help cut down the amount of "hiss" you'll hear on your tapes and give you a better signal-to-noise ratio.