The cassette tape will be remembered not so fondly as vinyl albums, but rather more like the way you can think back to your teenage years to remember when you first discovered which household products best assisted masturbation. Cassettes tapes were great in their time, necessary even, but also a bit cringe-worthy in retrospect. At least tapes don’t leave your genitalia smelling like peppermint or cause parental guardians to ask you what exactly have you been cooking with all that oil?

I’m still using my cassette deck, because my (obsolete now, I guess) radio doesn’t have auxiliary input, digital files, streaming music, satellite radio, or even the pornhub app. I needed an audio solution. Plan A was to roll the windows down and never leave second gear. Plan A does work awesomely unless it’s raining, cold, snowing, anywhere near the plants, stuck in traffic, on the interstate, or some combination. I tried those radio broadcasts that I hear people used to listen to in their Nash Ramblers. I found some stations that only talked about Jesus, a station that just played this one long song that never finished like “One, Eight, Seven, One, Five, Eight, . . .”, and whole bunch of stations that eroded my faith in humanity. And then I thought, “Hey, I bet I can get digital music on those speakers through this tape deck.”

Digital music can magically enter through the tape deck it turns out. Here is my experience on the various devices I tried.

The ion Bluetooth Adapter is pretty neat. It goes into your cassette deck and functions pretty much like a Bluetooth speaker. If you have Tasker on your phone, you can set up a profile that automagically tweaks your phone to be used in the car. Having Tasker adjust the volume is an obvious up side, but I also set to Tasker have my phone to unlock straight into Pandora.

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Pandora is awesome for driving, because it just goes, so you can focus on driving instead of, “What was that pop music project with the lead singer from Faith no More. Mike Patton? Yeah. What else was he in? Mr. Bungle and Fantomas. That’s not it. I love Fantomas. I never read any Fantomas books. Am I poser? BAM. Woah. Was that a human? What are they doing standing out in the road? Oh looking at that wreck. Folks crashed trying to set up a play list. I can relate to that— BAM. Dang. Did I just run down another Looky Loo? Looky Loo. Oh PEEPING TOM! It’s Peeing Tom! Bam. That was probably just a dog. ‘It’s my party, but I waiting for someone to start it.’”

The adapter charges via usb cable, and this is getting to the down side. The ion eats through battery life. The tape will let you know when the battery has been drained by turning off and not playing any sounds. If you buy two adapters it would almost make sense, because a spare would be waiting, but for the price of two adapters one could get an installation kit and a cheap head unit with Bluetooth ability from the jump.

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The Datasette is really cool, but not for any of the reasons I initially got it. The Datasette is a cassette tape that plays whatever is stored on an SD card. That sounds like a scam, but works 100% legit. The gizmo can play through a tape deck or through a head phone jack. This makes an awesome mix tape, because A. it’s a real tape, B. it can hold like a million songs, and C. even though it’s a real tape the recipient doesn’t have to listen to it in their car/bedroom.

The problem with the Datasette, and the reason why I didn’t use it long for myself is the remote. Left to it’s own devices the Datasette will play the songs in a set order. It doesn’t shuffle. This is perfect for a mix-tape, but annoying for your own music.

One last note: people were impressed by it. I think my friends that saw it were shocked that such a clash of old and new technology existed. All the passengers I’ve had with this thing in the car were immediately like, “Woah. That tape has MP3s? SD card? I wanna use the remote!”

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And I was like, “Sure it’s not like I can while I’m driving.”

The iDeck is not a joke. It is a real iPod dock that runs through a car’s tape deck. I kid you not.

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It only works with an iPod or with an older iPhone being used as an iPod (no calls), but it apparently works great. Folks say it charges the iPod and plays music. Folks say it is not an April Fool’s prank.

If I had an iPod I’d seriously consider this.

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It works. It’s hard to beat the standard. These things have been around since the 90’s introduced the world to the very first mp3 players where storage space was so limited that display screens were a frivolous luxury.

This doesn’t have to pair or charge, and as long your digital device has an audio jack the Sony Cassette Adapter will work. I tested it with a Gameboy.

The only problem is the cord. If you mount a phone to your dash you’ll have the audio cable and charging cable doubling over your center console and tangling up in your slide out cup holders.

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Otherwise: nice.

Not directly related to digital media on a tape deck, but indirectly it’s pretty important to clean your tape deck. There are several ways to clean the tape deck. Proper way is to put rubbing alcohol on a Q tip to wipe down the heads and rollers. The are quite few “kits” that come with a tiny Splooge bottle of rubbing alcohol that the buyer is expected to spray all over a “special” tape before placing the “special” tape dripping into the deck.

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Scotchs makes dry tape cleaners. These have a “buff” strip that I’m pretty sure is ultra-fine sand paper. These shouldn’t be used as a regular maintenance technique like the Q tip, but they’re great if a tape deck is already nasty. The older Scotch tapes have tiny magnets inside, but the newer one contain the buff strip only.