Cassette Tapes Make a Comeback in Thailand, Too

A collection of cassettes, on display at the 'Cassette Tapes Night Party' at Thong Lor Arts Space, on Dec. 19

By Lisnaree Vichitsorasatra
Staff Reporter

BANGKOK — “I won’t sell, I won’t sell!” said Nikorn Sae Tang, asked if he’d sell his tape for 10,000 Baht. He repeatedly had to knock back people asking him if he’d sell his Maroon 5 album.

The album in question is an old one, from the days when the rock-indie band still released their songs on the classic format. 

A few dozen hipsters attended the Cassette Tapes Night Party at Thong Lor Arts Space, on Dec. 19. Those who did brought along their cassette collections, which they said they would never sell, preferring to keep them as a treasure. 

Nikorn had a mix of classic tapes from Thailand and the west. They included the Thai girl band “Sao Sao Sao” from the 1980s, “Bog Rak” (Confess Your Love) by Pan Paibulkietsin from 1993, and the classic Thai- indie album “Papae and Butterfly” released in 1985. 

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 Because I Love You" by 1980s girl group, Sao Sao Sao.

He swears by the differences in the sound quality of each musical format. He said MP3s aren’t as sharp and detailed as CDs, while cassette tapes had a value that other digital formats can’t compete with. 

“The sound from the cassettes is warmer than CDs, which have a sharper sound,” Nikorn said. He put on one of the first albums from Mariah Carey, and since I had it on CD, I could hear the warm tone that he was talking about. 

He added that physically holding a tape in his hands gives a different experience than from just downloading songs. Even taking out the leaflet from inside to read its details is a pleasure. 

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An old cassette copy of Nirvana Unplugged

“Artists used to write down their inspiration for their albums, on the leaflet inside” said Chrisada Chiaravanond, the organizer of the event, joining in the conversation. Chrisada, said that his inspiration for the event came when one day he realized that a lot of cassette tapes and videos might been destroyed due to the Great Flood of 2011. So he asked everyone to join in to see how many tapes survived the flood. 

 While we were talking, a girl put a tape in a small cassette tape player.
 
“Don’t push that button!” said Nikorn pointing to a walkman containing one of his tapes. He explained to me that these players had a button that, if pushed, automatically records over the cassette. 

Chrisada recalls that buying tapes for 119 Baht, back when that was a major decision. 

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 A Sony stereo at Cassette Tapes Night Party.

Nikorn recalls that there was a time when there was a service to copy expensive CDs onto tapes. He got a pirate cassette version of "I Wanna Be Loved By You", by Marilyn Monroe, via that method.

There’s also a romantic factor with tapes, as it takes much more effort to copy songs to a cassette than a CD. 

“Before when you wanted to win a girl’s heart, you made a cassette for her,” said Chrisada, “You had to listen to the song, wait, pause, and rewind it to listen to it again.” 

Then there is the difficult part of finding a cassette tape player. Most at the event had their old cassette players, some of which need to be fixed. Nikorn had a stereo that plays CDs, Mp3s, and cassettes all in one, and it still worked.  

“Most of the time when you try to take it to get repaired, they will say that it’s difficult to find parts for it,” said Chrisada, who swears Sony made the best top tape players.

An article from hyperbot.com said The National Audio Company, one of the largest manufacturers of cassettes, sold almost 10 million units in the US in the past year. So if anyone still has cassette tapes, don’t throw them away. They’re making a comeback. 

 

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