Since its launch in 1979, around 220 million Walkmans have been sold worldwide. The retirement of the Sony Walkman in Japan was announced last week the day before the ninth anniversary of the release of the iPod.
In the mid 80`s Sony took over CBS, back then the largest record company in the world. Sony, also the leading manufacturer of CD players, started releasing CD`s and stopped producing records, vinyl, thus changing the face of the industry forever.
Man, there is nothing like the sound of a vinyl or cassette tape. I still have tons of them and vividly remember getting on an airplane equipped with my fancy metal Sony Walkman and a bag full of cassette tapes. Back then we were certain the sound was incredible, but the truth of the matter was it really had its own character; if you were listening to a high quality cassette tape, you were in heaven. I still own a Rockman, the Walkman`s brother-in-law, another great invention (invented by Tom Scholz of the ‘Boston‘ Hall of Fame). Plugged in to your Rockman, a small guitar amp with headphones, enables you to ride on your rollers for example (I was an eye witness to that in Venice beach, CA), with your guitar strapped around your neck and the sound is awesome – nice distortion, chorus, and stereo sounds. I even know musicians that used to plug their Rockman into an amp to get a certain kick ass sound. Plus, the analogue hiss has its own character, and I have noticed the ‘Lofi advantage’ it has these days; the sound this site loves so much. And it`s becoming trendy, all those projects released on cassettes only – it provides an excuse for the sloppy sound and makes the music sound spontaneous, like you don’t really give a damn. Many of those bands we write about and bedroom electronic musicians release their work in limited editions, 150 – 500 copies on cassette tapes at the most, thus making each copy unique, something like a signed reproduction in visual art.
But if that`s not enough for you, Panasonic, another dinosaur and the manufacturer of some of the most popular turntables, Technics (legendary 1200`s, I still have one), used by musicians and DJ`s all over the world, have announced that they too will discontinue production by the end of the month. The Technics turntables were very popular due to the use of the Direct Drive (via magnets) turning mechanism and their heavy 12.5-kilogram base (composed of what is known as the Technics Non-Resonance Compound), which isolated the platter so as to reduce feedback and the chance that the cartridge would jump.
I still remember moving from analogue to digital and listening, trying to figure out what was missing. It was like, too perfect, no noise, no hiss, like humanity was dying, it was unnatural, as if from another world, like living in a vacuum. Try it – put your headphones on and listen to something on a portable CD player and then on an MP3 player – listen to the sterile sound. And what about saturation, a word many of you have never heard of, meaning hot recording to analogue tape, the kind of analogue tape border of distortion that you wanted to achieve, great for drum, bass and heavy guitar sound, something all those fancy plug-ins try to imitate – and do, so poorly.
Not to mention the screwed up MP3 or WMA or OGG sound, with the artificial low and high end , with a system`s frequencies are boosted by a factory preset – to give you the illusion it sounds great; everyone swears it sounds so good, pointing at a fucking 50$ multimedia system?
You are invited to my crib to listen to a pair of old JBL monitors and after you heard a track on those, you could tell me your Logitech Subwoofer and 2 tiny Twitters sound dope….
Fuck it man, I am going back to tape.