Mixed Tapes and Memories: Challenges (and Joys) of Keeping Old Cassette Tape Collections


cassette-collection

Listening to my old cassette tape collections brings back many fond memories. Carefully curated, those mixed tapes contain classic rock, perky pop songs, and highlights from my college radio show. But time takes its toll on obsolete music media, and the fragile tape inside each cassette gradually degrades. Wondering what to do your old cassette tape collections? Read on.

A Delicate Matter

Old cassette tape collections can’t last forever. Tapes degrade over time with an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years in the best of conditions. And no one wants to hear their favorite tunes distorted. Besides the effects of time, factors that contribute to the degradation of old cassette tape collections include how it’s stored, where it’s stored, environment, and usage. Here are some tips for better longevity.

  • Keep your collection at the right temperature. Heat is one of the most common causes of degradation. The best environment for old cassette tape collections is between 55F to 75F degrees, no extreme temperatures.
  • Store vertically, not stacked, to preserve the edges of the tape.
  • Because this format is old, so is the equipment on which to play it. Be sure that any device you use to play cassette tapes is clean and in working order. We are all too familiar with having a tape deck “eat” the delicate material.
  • Never store tapes in the attic, garage, or basement. There, they experience extreme climates, dust, humidity, and moisture, plus the potential for exposure to pests.
  • Rewind or fast forward cassettes before putting them away to ensure the tape material sits correctly in its case.
  • While overuse wears out this media, underuse can cause the tape layers to meld together. Make sure to play a stored cassette tape at least once a year.

Don’t Ditch Your Old Cassette Tape Collection

Today, we tap our iPhones, drag and drop in iTunes, or shout to Alexa to play that perfect party playlist. Digital technology provides access to a whole host of songs, from old to new, leaving old cassette tape collections to catch dust or disappear into the back of the closet. Your mixed tapes may now be obsolete music media, but these memories still mean something to you. Preserve these priceless memories by transferring them to a longer lasting format. Although it takes time and special equipment, it’s well worth it, especially if a professional takes on the task for you. Call Disc Hounds at 610-696-8668 and let us transfer yesterday’s memories to today’s easier-to-access digital formats.