It had to happen. We’ve been sensing that rumours of a cassette revival are ‘reel’ (sorry) for a while now, and at CES in Las Vegas, Chinese audio manufacturer FiiO has taken a punt and launched a new personal player inspired by the original 1979 Sony Walkman.
The CP13 is a classy-looking thing, for sure. Its boxy design certainly has echoes of those original Walkmans (Walkmen?), and the two-tone colour scheme is also very much in keeping.
As for features… well, you can play, fast-forward, rewind and stop, and that looks like it’s about it. There’s no immediate evidence of an auto-reverse feature, so you’ll have to turn your tapes manually to play different sides.
Also missing is Bluetooth functionality: that’s right, kids, you’ll need to plug in a set of wired headphones, just like your parents/grandparents did. There is a built-in rechargeable battery, though, which can be juiced-up via USB-C (no need to pester your parents for another set of AAs, then). Our colleagues at What Hi-Fi? report that you should be able to get up to 15 hours of playback on a full charge.
While launching a new personal cassette player might seem like madness in the age of streaming, it’s not a totally illogical move. Recent years have seen a number of high-profile artists releasing their music in the hissy old-school format, amid a climate of nostalgia that grows ever more prevalent.
Even music software companies and producers have been getting their heads in alignment: numerous developers have released plugins with the wow and flutter factor, and Finneas recently revealed that he used one of them, SketchCassette, on Billie Eilish’s Golden Globe winning song What Was I Made For?, taken from the Barbie soundtrack.
The obvious next step, of course, is a new 4-track cassette recorder. The ball’s in your court, Tascam.
All of that said, in terms of scale, it seems unlikely the cassette resurgence will ever rival that of vinyl, sales of which continue to rise. We can’t see C90s overtaking CDs, either, which are also on the up again.
Still, if you’re a Gen-Z who wants a taste of How Things Used To Be, or a Gen-Z who’s desperate to listen to the mixtape that they made for an unrequited love when they were a teenager (sob), the CP13 might float your boat. It’s set to be released in March priced at £129; the cassettes, of course, you’ll have to source yourself.