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Jakarta Post

Old-school cassettes surviving in the digital era

Wed, February 13, 2019   /   06:16 pm
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    Reel repository: A collection of cassette tapes at the Lokananta Museum. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Vintage and original: Lokananta production head Bemby Ananto shows an audiotape master and phonograph record of Indonesia’s national anthem “Indonesia Raya” (Great Indonesia) recorded in 1959. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Switching format: Bemby Ananto remasters music files to be processed onto cassette tapes. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Multislot production: Multiple cassette tapes are produced simultaneously. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    End of an era: An information board explains that the transition was made from phonograph records to cassette tapes in 1971. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

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    Rolls and reels: The bulk magnetic tape that is cut and wound into cassettes is referred to as a “pancake”. JP/Maksum Nur Fauzan

Maksum Nur Fauzan

These days, one might think that the music industry has been fully digitalized, but there are some small circles that are more interested in the old-school sounds of audio cassette tapes.

This analog recording format first appeared in 1963 and the youngsters of today might deem them outdated, or they may not even know what they are. Nevertheless, cassettes exist to this day.

Indonesia’s oldest recording company, the legendary Lokananta, for example, recently produced 6,200 cassettes of indie bands within two weeks.

The strong brand of Lokananta has won the trust of today’s indie bands. The company has been the hallmark of cassette production since 1971, when it released the debut album for Waldjinah, a maestro of keroncong (Portuguese-influenced pop music), titled Entit.

Lokananta begins its production process by remastering music files into compact disk (CD) form for further copying by a recording machine furnished with audiotape cassette material known as the “pancake”. The phase of cassette quality checking follows to determine whether the cassettes pass their testing.

Cassettes that pass enter the stage of audiotape feeding, where any excess of the tape is cut off to avoid a long sound vacuum. In the final stage, cassette stickers and covers are fitted for delivery to the indie bands and for public marketing.

Apart from the hi-fi sounds produced, the persistent demand for audiotape cassettes has been due to their stronger physical format than that of CDs, the difficulty to subject them to piracy and the higher value accruing from their age over time because of their unique features.