MIXXTAPE Captures The Magic Of The Cassette While Modernizing It
by Rudy Sanchez on 01/03/2020 | 3 Minute Read
The audio cassette tape-first introduced in the 1960s but at the height of its powers in the 80s and 1990s-endured for many reasons as it was a durable and low-cost vehicle for tunes that were easy to duplicate and enabled wide audio dissemination.
Even as digital technology went onto give consumers convenient ways to consume music, the cassette tape never went away, with contemporary artists such as Billie Eilish releasing music on the physical medium in 2019. While that doesn’t mean that folks are actually playing them, tapes, unlike Spotify streams, are a tangible manifestation of the tunes we love.
The folks behind MIXXTAPE recognize how much having a physical connection to music can add to the experience. The cassette tape-shaped media player utilizes electronic components instead of magnetic tape, and it will probably play all your digitized punk-rock underground bootlegs, as it supports most popular audio formats. It retains the look of cassette tapes but also restores the physical connection between the listener and their music.
MIXXTAPE looks like a cassette and even plays back as a cassette, so long as your tape deck is compatible, and unlike the garbage vinyl-wrecking turntables poser hipsters buy off Amazon, the MIXXTAPE is an upgrade on the cassette tape. MIXXTAPE has a built-in auxiliary port and Bluetooth, giving users multiple listening options, and the USB-C port charges and serves to upload, or download, music. The bright OLED screen lets users know what MIXXTAPE is doing, and while it has 8GB of built-in storage, enough for hours of music, it can be expanded via SD card. The included flat cable is a retro shade of blue that matches the spool gears of the transparent cassette tape and can be attached to a keychain, which is quite handy if you need a USB-C cable.
Digital music players can be designed in almost any shape, though most take the form of a rounded rectangle. MIXXTAPE, however, stays true to its cassette tape inspiration—packaged in a plastic jewel case that also serves as a protective cocoon for the cartridge-shaped device. The packaging comes embedded in the product’s design for full effect. Rather than hide the essence of MIXXTAPE inside of another box, the music player is presented to the user as if they received an old-school, traditional cassette. MIXXTAPE is rare in that outer packaging would detract from the product experience rather than enhance it.
That minimal approach to packaging is extended further with the inclusion of a blank sleeve, providing a canvas for personalization. Handdrawn band logos, stickers, inside jokes-the overall DIY aesthetic of tape cases gets restored, something that has yet to be replicated to equal effect for a Spotify playlist. The adorning of a cassette sleeve is perhaps as meaningful as the track curation contained within, something not lost on the makers of MIXXTAPE.
My MIXXTAPE also came with some JLab’s Rewind retro-styled headphones; they look right at home in Jazzercise class with their metal, adjustable headband, as well as their bright, orange ear foams. They weren’t just designed for MIXXTAPE, but they make using the media player more fun to use. The device I received was also surprisingly preloaded with a few albums, including Homecoming and Lemonade, so I guess the folks at MIXXTAPE know that I am Beyonce, always.
Of course, you don’t have to be part of the beyhive to appreciate the magic and nostalgia of listening to music from a customized, expertly-crafted mix on cassette tape.
Even if that tape is in your pocket and you’re listening via wireless earbuds.