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back to article Happy birthday, LP: Can you believe it's only 65?

This storage medium progressed from spinning disk to flash and then entered the cloud... Sound familiar? It's the long-playing music album and this year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of its inception. The 33 1/3rpm vinyl long-playing record was devised in 1948 by Columbia Records and was an upgrade on the prior 78rpm 12-inch …

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In those days ...

music wasn't just music ... it was a sensory experience.

We really need a "old fucker going on again" icon .....

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Re: In those days ...

Could you explain to an apparently ignorant member of the so called "Generation X" (or "Y" I can never tell) what you mean?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In those days ...

So very true, the one thing I have noticed is how music listeners now just skim and skip through songs, never listening to the whole song, just bits of songs.

With the LP, you put it on sat back and listened.

I would even buy one on the strength of the Album cover without having heard the music.

I still buy CD's, I like a physical presence for my music.

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Anonymous Coward

What about

The Mini Disc?

I still have one.

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Anonymous Coward

Remembering the faint pops and crackles after putting the needle on the start of a new album, holding my breath in anticipation for the first track to start...

Remember kids: HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC. In big letters with 'skull' and crossbones. Oh, AND IT'S ILLEGAL.

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jai
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lol i can't remember the last time i even took a cassette out of a case, let alone played or recorded on it.

so by that standard, seems the "is killing music" campaign worked well and put a stop to it!

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I also miss such warnings as:

"This stereo record can be played on mono reproducers provided with a

compatible or stereo cartridge wired for mono is fitted. Recent

equipment may already be fitted with a suitable cartridge. If in doubt

consult your dealer."

Of which the best and most memorable example was of course:

"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."

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Tubular Bells

"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."

Where's the "old fuckers going on again" icon ?

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Don't copy that floppy.

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Happy

I was so excited with my first tape-to-tape deck. It was very advanced and featured "fast dub", 5-band equaliser and detachable speakers! Oh my giddy aunt, memories...

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Pint

@Catpain

"Remembering the faint pops and crackles after putting the needle on the start of a new album, holding my breath in anticipation for the first track to start..."

I do indeed. Heck, I'm one of the proud few who can say they got all of Metallica's "real" (before the black album) on vinyl. Heck; I even have the Phantom Menace OST on vinyl (no, I'm not a big fan of the movie; it was a gift from a good friend).

Alas, I'm also a sound designer by heart (semi-professional) and did you know that there are dozens of filters and sound effects out there for the sole purpose of re-creating this sound? For example iZotope Vinyl... I'm mentioning this because this company has a very good reputation on "sound scoping" thanks to their Ozone product range (tools for mastering a piece of music).

Oh; and that sound effect is fully free of charge; usable in any DAW of your choosing.

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Re: Tubular Bells

Oh, you mean catalogue number V-2001?

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Anonymous Coward

OMG "fast dub" that must make you an arch criminal, one of FBI most wanted!

Fast dub must have decimated the record industry... what? it didn't?

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Virgin pops its cherry!

"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."

I still love this album...and its subsequent variations!

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Headmaster

Introducing a new definition of "a few"

"flash-memory-powered portable players with digital music files swept the Walkmans away after a few years"

The cassette-based Walkman was introduced in 1979, 18 years before the 1997 introduction of the first MP3-playing player, the Audible.com MobilePlayer. And Sony withdrew the cassette Walkman in 2010, thirteen years after that.

So "a few" apparently includes numbers up to 31.

((Source: Wikipedia. Accuracy unknown, except that 1979 sounds about right, as does 1997.))

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Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

Also the iPod wasn't originally flash - it had a 2.5" HDD in it until (I think) the iPod Mini in 2004.

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Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

Yeah, that jumped out at me as being a very strange paragraph... The cassette Walkman was king for years, then a very few people bought DAT and DCC, before the CD Walkman became very widespread (though wasn't as portable as its cassette brethren). The MD player started to gain a bit of momentum before it was killed by flash players (more portable) and HDD-based players (more capacious).

I miss my iRiver H320, stolen from my car, one of the few HDD machines that had mic and line-in for recording WAV and MP3, analogue and digital recording was a feature most MD devices had.

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Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

>Also the iPod wasn't originally flash - it had a 2.5" HDD in it until (I think) the iPod Mini in 2004.

The iPod had a little 1.8" Toshiba disk in it, the same as the iRviver H1xx and H3xx machines, as well as some of the Creatice players, amongst others. Then mysteriously, you couldn't lay your hand on a spare drive for love nor money... and everyone but Apple seemed to move exclusively to solid-state. These days, portable HDD-based players are thin on the ground... there's the iPod Classic, Cowon and Archos, but I can't think of many others. To be honest though, a little Sansa Clip+ with a few microSD cards quickly exceeds all but the biggest music collections.

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Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

> >Also the iPod wasn't originally flash - it had a 2.5" HDD in it until (I think) the iPod Mini in 2004.

>The iPod had a little 1.8" Toshiba disk in it

Aye, and the iPod mini had a 1" microdrive in it

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FAIL

Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

Do ya know how big a 2.5" HDD is? I think your thinking of the Zen (Creative Labs)

The iPod had a 1.8" HDD in it on the whole a much more tinier thing.

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Happy

Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

I also agree, the Walkman kept marching on for *decades*, not just a couple of years. In fact, it ended up being more portable than its CD counterpart, the Discman. I have a 1998 Walkman, it still works, and I still use it from time to time.

The place where cassette did get displaced was on the car stereo.

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Coat

Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

>>The cassette-based Walkman was introduced in 1979

I remember selling the first Sony version of the Walkman in 1979, when it was called a "Stowaway" and had the model number TPSL2.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walkman

Of note to Apple might be the fact that, in 1982, Sony made a product called a Watchman.....except that this was a portable TV, rather than something you wear on your wrist and listen to... :)

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Holmes

Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

If your little Sansa Clip+ can hold your music collection, then you are a philistine that doesn't store your music in 96/24 lossless or higher bitrates For those of us that DO, an iPod Classic is now one of the few choices left to actually hold a lot of music and make it portable enough - I keep the old-style Apple dock in my car just because it lets me plug in a capacious Classic for my journeys. When Apple stops supporting the Classic, those of us that relish lossless will be...er, lost.

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Re: Dave 126

Replacement HDDs for DAPs are still available.

iRivers and iPod Minis (possibly all HDD based iPods?) will also accept certain CF cards as replacement for their original spinny drive.

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Sony made a product called a Watchman

Yeah, but who watched it?

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Re: "lossless"

Pretentious wanker alert. Lossless formats like FLAC are a great archival format but for carrying about on a portable player to listen to, just downsample them to 320kbp MP3, you berk. You will not, WILL NOT, be able to hear the difference. You will still have your precious lossless originals stored at home for converting into whatever formats you might wish in the future, but trying to squeeze them into a portable device is utterly pointless.

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Re: "lossless"

I thought it would be cool to re-convert my CD collection to FLAC to put on my DAP after I'd upgraded its HDD...

...until I noticed that doing so resulted in most of the files being larger than the device's buffer, so the HDD was almost constantly spinning. Whoops.

Also it's most often used in the office, with a pair of cheap earphones that I can afford to lose, and in the car. Like you say, the fidelity was never going to matter.

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Re: Introducing a new definition of "a few"

The statement in the article is correct for suitably large values of "a few".

My knockoff portable cassette player died after a mere ten years or so, but I still listen to cassette tapes once in a while. Yes, the audio quality is poor, in theory, but my car's cabin isn't an opera hall, either.

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Oh god

..I've just realised that I'm very, very old. Witness conversation with friends son:

"What's a tape?"

"We used then to put in walkmans, because LP's could only be played on a record player"

"I don't know what any of those words are...how do you download music to it [the tape]? How many mb was the tape?"

...and I think you know where it goes from here. And it's all downhill (for me anyway...).

Ironically, the days of downloadable individual songs mean "albums" have been replaced with "playlists".

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Boffin

Re: Oh god

Actually I always kinda wondered about the modern day Data Capacity of your average LP Disc, and or Cassette. Anyone have a clue about it?

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Re: Oh god

There was one interesting part to that conversation though...he found the concept of measuring in minutes, not mb amusing. Specfically, that the quality of the recording was "fixed", and that quality did not affect capacity. AM, FM, or CD quality...if a song was 3 minutes, it only used 3 minutes of "capacity". A 60minute tape always contained 60 minutes of music, whether it was recorded off the AM radio, or off a CD.

He only knows a world where a crappy DVD rip is 500mb, full DVD quality is nearly 3gb, and Blu-ray is 25gb. Yet the film is still 2hrs long in each case.

Kids can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but they are refreshingly useful for reminding you that sometimes things look very different if you approach them with an uncluttered, inquisitive mind.

Edit: Actually Mike, that might answer your query, in a roundabout way.

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Re: Oh god

A Rose is a Rose... wasn't the answer I was looking for. The question as a whole was genuine.

I suppose the best way would be to take a sample of the RAW Data per Track and multiply that by the number of Tracks on the Album.

As I was hoping for an answer in MB / GB or even TB?

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More old-fuckery !

Some computing mags had flexi-discs you could play into a computers TAPE IN, to access programs printed in the mag.

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Re: Oh god

How long is a piece of string (LP groove)?

Digital media have a precise number of bits, or an upper limit defined by the system and the physics of the media. With an analogue medium, it depends on the bandwidth, modulation method(s), use of lossy or lossless compression, etc, and also the ability of the hardware to resolve such signals.

For example, the audio bandwidth of the human ear, and thus the hi-fi disc, is generally agreed (hi-fi has at least as many nazi pedants as computing) to be 20 Hz-20 kHz. However the short-lived CD-4 quadraphonic system used frequencies up to 45 kHz. One of the reasons for the demise of this system, was the difficulty in decoding the signals from less-than-perfect media. Define your storage system, and you can work backwards to storage volume.

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Headmaster

Re: Oh god

Using some rather optimistic numbers for a vinyl record player, a bandwidth of 25kHz and S/N ratio of 60dB, Shannon's Law gives a maximum theoretical data rate of 500 kbit/sec. A 20-minute LP side would have a raw capacity of 75 Mbytes.

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Re: Oh god

Well a CD is about 600MB but CDs can have about 60 minutes of recording so that's way above an LP. Also CDs are sixteen bits of pure digital stero joy whereas LP comes in at around 12 bits (yes it does) - and you have to reduce that because of the noise floor for a typically dusty and worn LP.

The answer is about 150MB.

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Go

Re: Oh god

I have a CD recorder in my home stereo and record LP albums to CDs. Per the data amount, since I can fit two LPs on one 700 MB CD in terms of time, I'd say there's about 350 MB of data per LP, so 175 MB per side, and since there are usually 6 tracks per side on the LPs I convert (usually old Command/Phase 4/etc ones), that works out to about 30 MB per song.

Ignoring the whole "well the CD recorder uses WAV format so that's just one way to measure the data" line of reasoning--

I then of course rip the CD to FLACs or MP3s and put the files on my various flash-memory devices. I do love my car stereo with an SD card slot.

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Re: Oh god

"Witness conversation with friends son"

This reminded me of a conversation I had with the 13-year old son of a neighbour here in France. The neighbour and her husband are both not technologists (euphemism), and I was there to administer first aid to an elderly WinXP box that had been too near to too many questionable web sites. Their son is technologically aware, but clearly has no concept of adults who know anything about computers, which was annoying for me - heck, I've only owned a PC (not the same one, duh) for a dozen years longer than he's been alive... A few "Oui, je sais"s waved in his direction put him in his place, though.

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Boffin

Re: Oh god

This is after Beer O'clock so the mental arithmetic might be askew, but an LP was about 40 mins, Top frequency about 18Khz. Nyquist says two samples per Hertz, 2 bytes per sample,, so 18,000 * 2 (stereo) * 2 ( samples, nyquist) * 2( bytes/sample) * 60 (seconds /minute) * 40 (minutes) = 691,2 Mbytes, so vinyl about the same as CD. (except CD was 60+ minutes) Cassette not that much different, but top frequency unlikely to exceed 15 Khz (more like 10-12) You do the maths.

Because vinyl was analogue, noise was more evident, giving the impression that Cds were much higher quality. In fact vinyl probably contained more "information", even though we couldn't hear it. (and most record decks introduced up to 10% tracking distortion, anyway)

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Re: Oh god

It's worth noting that analogue recordings are subject to a form of compression vs capacity trade-offs. The issue is that if the producer wishes to squeeze a longer run time onto a side of a vinyl record, this can only be achieved by reducing the modulation, especially at the bass end of the spectrum, or adjacent parts of the spiral groove will interfere. For this reason, many "budget" compilation vinyls sounded rather "thin" as the bass had to be disproportionately reduced in amplitude. Taken to more extremes, this has to be done further up the frequency range (that is amplitude reduced) and thuse the SNR will suffer. So compression is an issue on vinyl too - it's a trade-off with capacity. Note that vinyl recordings roll off amplitude with lower frequencies anyway using an RIAA equalisation curve, or the lower frequencies would lead to adjacent parts of the grooves "interfering" with one another as the physical modulation has to be higher. The lower frequencies were boosted on replay, at least with magnetic pickups; to a certain extend ceramic/crystal pickups provided their own natural boosting of bass frequencies. This boosting of bass frequencies can lead to "rumble" being heard, where low frequencies due to the turntables rotation will be boosted.

Note that this is a rather different issue to dynamic range compression, which is driven by the record producers wish to boost the quieter parts of musical tracks to make them sound "louder" or "brighter". This is a plague. Radio stations tend to do this as well in order to hide what was often rather poor SNR of the broadcast medium in marginal reception areas - or, for that matter, listening in noisy environments.

I think it best to say that vinyl sounds notably different to CD reproduction, although, in theory, a CD recording of a vinyl playback ought to sound identical assuming that it's done competently. Thus the vinyl lover should be able to hear all the peculiarities of the vinyl recording and playback without damaging their precious bit of plastic...

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Re: Oh god (@GrahamT)

Sorry Graham, but your execution of arithmetic is off today. The basic concept is sound, but the result should be more like 345.6MB (decimal). And it certainly shouldn't be the same as a CD - the CD uses a higher frequency (22050Hz versus 18000) for much longer (originally 74 minutes versus 40 for the LP). It looks like you tapped in one more *2 than you should have (345.6 * 2 == 691.2)

On the basis of this formula, a 74-minute CD contains 783.216MB(dec) of audio bits.

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Boffin

variable capacity

While cassette tapes did have a fixed "capacity" rate, both vinyl and VHS/Betamax tapes had differing quality/capacity. vinyl: 33.3, 45 RPM. VHS had SP, LP, and "SLP". But besides that, the capacity would still be fixed.

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Re: Oh god

A 60minute tape always contained 60 minutes of music

Up to a point, Lord Silverburn. Open-reel tape recorders could record at several speeds. The trade-off between quality and capacity was the same as the bit-rate trade-off with digital recording. Admittedly, the expression "60 minute tape" implies a cassette, as open-reel tapes were measured in length, rather than time.

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Mushroom

Re: More old-fuckery !

You had to dub it onto a tape first (depending on your TAPE IN interface of course), and if your recording equipment wasn't good enough, it would make a total mess of things.

<-- Killer Poke

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Re: Oh god

@FutureShock999

Your talking complete nonsense. You can sample as fast as you like and as deep as you like, but unless the original analogue source has sufficient bandwidth and SNR you are just digitising noise. The signal to noise ratio of a vinyl LP is, at best, 60-70db and that's assuming it's absolutely pristine, pressed from an absolutely top quality master in prime condition (and most will not be after a few thousand pressings) and the vinyl is of the best quality. Those sort of discs are expensive, and are damaged during playback. Bandwidth is limited by a mixture of the materials used, the ability to actually cut masters with very high frequencies and the ability of vinyl to actually record such fine details. A 20Khz frequency signal near the inside of an LP will require features only about 12 microns in size. Indeed, in producing masters for vinyl pressing higher frequencies will actually be filtered out as the presence of such signals can cause other problems.

It has been mathematically proved that its only necessary to sample at twice the highest frequency component in order to reproduce the waveform. Go beyond that, and you are digitising randomness. There some utility in higher sampling rates and bit depths in the actual mastering, but purely to avoid "aliasing" problems in the production process (which these days tends to be done using digital, not analogue processing such as filters). There's absolutely no point if the aim is to just digitise vinyl output as there simply isn't sufficient information in the analogue output to justify it.

This is quite apart from the little matter of the ability of the ear to actually distinguish signals above about 20Khz. The ability to distinguish high frequencies deteriorates with age.

These aren't negotiable things - they are fundamental to information theory and the nature of the materials in use. Vinyl pressings simply don't contain more information than a CD - indeed, quite the reverse.

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Windows

Re: variable capacity

" vinyl: 33.3, 45 RPM. "

There was also 16 RPM for audio recordings like Linguaphone courses.

Before 78 RPM became a standard the records could differ in speed. The ancient wind-up gramophones, with thorn or steel needles, had a lever to control the speed. As kids we would play my grandfather's "Messiah" set of 78 records - and annoy him with a dying HAL "Haaaaaaallllleeellllluuuujjjjjjaaaaah" followed by a Pinky & Perky "hliljah - hliljah" repeated several times as we slid the speed control to its extremes. The record set came in a bound album about 3 inches thick.

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Re: ...dynamic range compression, ... This is a plague. Radio stations tend to ... hide

Reminded me of a comment by a DJ regarding 'dead air', which was found in a station's operating manual:

"The VU meter shall never fall below -3dB for more than 3 seconds, otherwise listeners will think we have gone off the air. Failure to keep program audio at sufficient levels will result in your immediate termination."

That sort of shit convinced me that working in commercial radio was a mistake to be avoided; as it was infested with individuals whose competency was questionable. Much later on in life, did I learn the correct term to describe this type of individual: damagement.

$DEITY help us all, because they still walk the earth.

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Re: Open-reel tape recorders could record at several speeds.

I recall once (in the '70's) visiting a commercial radio station that had 10.5" open reel machines in a rack, most of them ran at tape speed of either 7.5 or 15 ips (inches per second). A typical 2400 foot reel of of 1.5 mil tape gave you nominally 60 (@ 7-1/2 ips) or 30 (@ 15 ips) minutes of run time.

There was one machine all by itself, which was referred to as a `logger recorder`, whose purpose I later found out was to be able to "prove" that the station actually aired the commercials they billed for. It had a mono signal from the board in its left channel and a time code signal from WWV (IIRC) fed into its right channel. If memory serves me correctly, that machine ran at a molasses slow speed of 15/16 of a inch per second. The point was to be able to keep the number of reels needed to "archive" the day's transmissions down to 2 per day. Getting the tape wasn't much of a problem, since this station had its entire broadcast day on reel-to-reel tape, when a tape started to get a bit too worn for on air use, it got shunted to logger duty. Those cheapskates ran those tapes until the oxide was worn off.

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Re: Oh god

Actually I always kinda wondered about the modern day Data Capacity of your average LP Disc, and or Cassette. Anyone have a clue about it?

It's difficult to answer because an LP and tape are on sliding scales. You not only have to cater for the quality of the medium (and there's a few options for tape), but it changes as it ages, and as it's used.

As a record is played, the saphire gouges a deeper groove than the one that is already there, not only reducing the high end pitch of the source material, but the scratches introduce noise as well. Tape stretches, the metallic layer flakes off or gets thinner with use, the record needle and tape heads are a variable, tape is open to "data" corruption through rougue magnetic fields, records warp through exposure to adverse environments - the list goes on.

Both records and tape have speed variation specifications that are virtually unheard of within the digital realm, you can't just equate that to tighter digital compression because it doesn't work that way.

Just to complicate the issue, are you limiting yourself to domestically available compact cassettes, or do you count studio grade tapes?

Within the domestic market, and with exception of some very special circumstances, you can safely say that CD beats everything before it. So, to answer your question: 44.1Khz 16 bit (stereo where applicable), less with compression.

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