back to article Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

I once tried to do it standing on one leg, arms pressed against the wall for stability. On other occasions, I would do the business with arms and legs akimbo. In fact, I have variously tried it huddled in a corner, sitting on a ping-pong table, at both ends of a teak sideboard, straddling the back of a leather sofa and even …


  1. Bob Wheeler

    Bow wow wow ....

  2. Justin Case

    C30 C60 C90 Go!

    They don't write songs like that anymore.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!


      1. AbelSoul
      2. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Nope, they write much worse shit now. PP

    2. Dippywood

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      I have this on at least 2 compilation CD's...

      Go Wild in the Country and I Want Candy too.

      But don't worry, the rest of the compilations contain music

    3. Pedigree-Pete

      Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

      1. EvadS

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

      2. Michael Strorm

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        @ Pedigree-Pete; Funny you should say that.

        Bow Wow Wow *was* essentially the original "Adam and the Ants" line-up with a different singer.

        Apparently the band had sought out Malcolm McLaren for advice/management... only, his advice turned out to be to get the rest of them to abandon Adam, leave the band and form a new group called "Bow Wow Wow", who then acquired a 13-year-old(!) singer. (#)

        (Only a cynic would suggest that this was because Adam might have been quite a strong-willed person with his own ideas that might derail McLaren's attempts to control and mould the band according to his own vision.)

        Meanwhile, Adam was forced to put together a new "And The Ants" and console himself with numerous top 10 singles and albums and much greater chart success than "Bow Wow Wow".

        (#) I don't know how old she was when that video was recorded, but that was apparently one of their early tracks, which would explain why she looks so bloody young.

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

        But not the drumkits, unfortunately, preferring the cheaper, tacky ones.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: C30 C60 C90 Go!

        Sounds like they borrowed Adam Ants drummers too.......

        As I remember, BowWowWow was comprised of Adam Ant's *first* backup band. But that was the 80's, my memory isn't so good anymore.

  3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    There was a brief spell during my late childhood when it took an hour to download an awful quality MP3 but libraries stocked CD's that you could borrow for a few days (why?). We used to go to the library, take out a CD each, go home and rip it.

    That method of acquiring knock-off music can't have been a thing for more than a handful of years. Did anybody else do that?

    Earlier in my childhood I had a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier than the 'balance on a shelf' thing that earlier generations had to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Did anybody else do that?"

      Yeah I did that. At the time I was working in IT at a College gfx / 3d model etc dept who had one of the newfangled Colour Laser printers worth about £50k , So i could print out front and back for 3 cd jewel cases on an A3 sheet.

      So i still have a couple racks of painstakingly recreated , worthless , CDRs staring at me at home. Not been touched for years , taking up space , daring me to throw them away ..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thinking about it a while back, I realised that home-pirating CDs never became a big thing in the way that pirating via cassette was.

        Probably because the point at which blank CDs and burners became affordable for most people (around the tail end of the '90s) was also the same time that MP3 was exploding in popularity.

        I'd already been listening to MP3s for a while when I got a CD burner circa 2002, and while I copied a couple of discs, but never really listened to them. I think it was more the residual appeal of something I'd have lusted after a decade earlier- the ability to copy and make my own CDs- but was already irrelevant.

        Aside from briefly burning to CD-RW for temporary listening (on a portable CD player already obsolescent when I was given it), I never bothered.

        Still listened to- and bought- CDs for some time (#), but never felt the need to pirate them- at some point I realised that I'd rip someone else's CD to MP3 without even giving consideration to making a physical copy.

        (#) Haven't really listened to CDs at all since ripping my collection circa 2004, but still bought them for years after that- typically listening to it once, ripping it, then putting it away...(!!)

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          My ripped CD tracks used to get copied to Sony Minidisks, which was more carry-able than a portable CD player, didn't skip and the batteries lasted longer than an album.

          That Sony software though...

          1. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

            "That Sony software though"

            Tell me about it. Luckily I was savy enough to avoid NetMD and do everything MD related in real time. I mean I dindt need to sit at the thing while it recorded lol. It takes care of itself (battery permitting).

            Nowadays I keep running into another bit of crap called itunes. Horrible thing cant even understand network proxies! We have have proxies for DECADES and I still need to connect to the guest wifi to let it try and download the restore image for my Directors i-device? Really?

            To be fair that argument applies to a lot of device recovery/update software. I mean, DECADES!!

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

          Unlike tapes, many home-burned CDs were quite short lived. I can still play tapes I made over thirty years ago, but many CDs are unreadable already.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

            CDRs and Home burned (not pressed) DVDs are not archival. There were goldish ones used for PhotoCd that keep better.

            I've some 1/4" tapes that are nearly 60 years old. Life depends on thinness (print through on very thin tape wound tight), original composition (there was an era of bad binder. Fortunately unlike film, I think tape was always Mylar = Polyester?). Also humidity and temperature. I watched a 20 year old VHS never played recording from analogue satellite last week. I'd forgotten about that "time shifted" recording of a film on late on TNT. Fine on the 43" 4K TV once all the stupid video enhancement was turned off, though its a late model S-VHS hardly used as we already had a DVD player then.

            Home made CDs and DVDs may erase in days if left upside down on a windowsill. The commercial ones are pressed dots (the groove is pressed even on dye based home burning), so corroded single layer pressed discs can in theory be "re-silvered".

            Backup tapes are a problem as the mechanisms were unreliable and so many formats. Unless you verified, you might have no backup due head clogged or mechanism failure. Good luck finding a drive to restore them on and an interface for the drive (floppy, propriety ISA card, parallel port, IDE, SCSI etc).

            Audio tapes hard to play:

            There are RCA 1/4 cassettes (late 1950s)

            Sony Elcassette (1/4" HiFi)

            Hotel / restaurant Musazk endless loop 1/4". About A4 / letter sized.

            DCC, the digital format on 1/8" tapes. Often the machines could play real analogue compact cassettes. The 8mm video camcorders that can take analogue or digital and transfer via firewire were far more popular, still some on eBay and far better even for external composite PAL to digital (if you can install a Firewire interface) than any of the cheap USB video adaptors, most of which only really manage NTSC resolution (though poorly).

            You can still find 8 track players esp. in USA. The Compact Cassette for cars was already established in UK/Europe, so rare here. The cartridges tend to need repair. Reel to Reel decks still available S/H.

          2. Outcast

            Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

            Funny you should say that...


            Strangely the tape deck has stopped playing now. I suspect a belt has perished

            1. Ed_UK

              Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

              "Strangely the tape deck has stopped playing now. I suspect a belt has perished"

              In the past, I've bought replacement belts from Maplin or similar. They were really cheap (<£1) but a quick look at Maplin's site now puts them at £6 to £8 a pop, which seems exorbitant for a glorified rubber band. Prolly cheaper elsewhere.

        3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          I'd already been listening to MP3s for a while when I got a CD burner circa 2002, and while I copied a couple of discs, but never really listened to them. I think it was more the residual appeal of something I'd have lusted after a decade earlier- the ability to copy and make my own CDs- but was already irrelevant.

          My car stereo can play MP3s off of a data CD, but I haven't done that in a while because the player is being picky about them and doesn't play half of them. These days I use a USB stick, holds a lot more than a 700MB CD. Would like it if there were a car stereo that could use DVD data disks (but not a video player, don't want to pay for a function I'll never use); the problem with the USB vs DVD is the optical disks can be bought cheap by the spindle, and you could create music sub-sets (and you can write on them what they are, not so easy with a USB stick).

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Probably because the point at which blank CDs and burners became affordable for most people (around the tail end of the '90s) was also the same time that MP3 was exploding in popularity."

          Likewise, I don't think I ever burned any actual audio CD. I bought a portable CD player that also played MP3 files of discs and a wired cassette adaptor to use it in the car. When that broke, I got one of those cheap "fat" USB stick type MP3 players which used the same cassette adaptor. Next car had a 3.5mm AUX socket so now the adaptor went in the bin. Next car played MP3s off the built-in CD player. Every car since has had a USB port for playing MP3s direct from a pen drive. Evolution in action :-)

          (NB, all company cars, so I didn't get to choose the in car HiFi systems.)

        5. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

          I skipped MP3 and went direct to Ogg Vorbis. The MP3 patents had a bad smell about them. I was very sensitive to such smells back then when I was learning about the FSF et al.

          I think I listened to maybe 12 MP3's many of which were horribly encoded 64K samples of the soundtrack of my fave cartoon series. Still have them but got some of them upgraded with the CD that came with the DVD release of that series.

          I did have an MP3 player back in the early 2000's. It was a bit of plastic crap that cost £60 for my birthday, contained 2x 16MB MMC cards and held about all 12 of those songs. Worked fine till some dust killed it a few months later. Went straight back to CD then onto minidisc for convenience in the car (I got over the bad patent smell). Still use minidisc when on holiday. Most portable listening I do today is with a wonderful Sansa Clip I got a few years back. Batery almost never runs down, records from the built in FM radio should I want to record some talk radio and holds all my podcasts I've listened to for the last few years. Its tiby and dust can barely touch the innards!

          As for streaming, thats for the VOD "TV channels" called netflix and iplayer et-al. I do have amazon music on my phone but thats mostly to help blot out the horrible noise of kiss FM playing in my office should I leave my sana in the car. To be honest my smartphone has better things to do than constanly stream expensinve data packets draining its aging battery. I need the power to play ingres and pokemon go or sell a bit of my bitcoins. Also it runs my homegrown location logging app nicely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite the same for me, I was at Uni in 2000 and for a modest fee (think it was £50 a year) you could get a connection to the internet via the Uni's JANET backbone which in those days was about as fast as the internet could get. Napster had also just taken off so I had loads of MP3s which then had to be dumped back to CD either for use in the car or just to save space as at that time I had a 30GB hard drive and the days of dirt cheap large drives were still far away.

        Still have all of those CDs, although all have now been ripped back to MP3 again, and there's enough obscure 80s and 90s rock music to make streaming not an option.

        Anon for obvious reasons.

    2. Just Enough


      "a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier"

      A yes. The days you could be enjoy at parties fourth generation copies of tapes that sounded like they were recorded in a tin outhouse during a rainstorm. Also great fun if the tape-to-tape automatically set recording levels, so the quieter the music was, the louder it would turn it up until it was 90% hiss, 10% quiet bit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We had a record library where I was too. I joined for a year and taped most of the CDs I was interested in (this being 1989, not 1999) along with LPs and other cassettes. Didn't rejoin the next year as I had most of what I wanted...!

      Still bought CDs at the time- doubt I'd have bought more if the library hadn't been around as they were bloody expensive and I couldn't afford more anyway! It's easy to forget how expensive CDs were back then (and remained so until the early 2000s).

      1. Mage Silver badge

        CDs ... bloody expensive

        Still are. €6.99 for DVD and €14.99 for CD, possibly badly remastered from vinyl or earlier release to make it have more bass and "louder". Idiots.

        Record Executives: Killing Music, underpaying Artists.

        I'm only interested in buying music as pressed CDs. I then rip and archive the physical disk. HDDs die. Backups mysteriously get lost or fail. Cloud services fail ("plays for sure" Groove*). Apple iTunes since the start seems determined to destroy the album concept. Also expensive for buying an entire album compared to a physical movie on DVD or BuRay.

        [* Oct 2, 2017 - Microsoft rebranded Xbox Music to Groove Music two years ago, in a bid to make its music streaming service more relevant to consumers. Now being "closed" as MS partners with Spotify. Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?]

        1. gypsythief

          Re: Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?

          Obstinate [cr]apps can be removed with Powershell. Open Powershell with administrator privileges and enter:

          Remove-AppxPackage "Microsoft.ZuneMusic"

          followed by:

          Remove-ProvisionedAppxPackage "Microsoft.ZuneMusic"

          to stop it appearing for new user accounts.


          1. davidp231

            Re: Why can't I remove Groove from Win10?

            "to stop it appearing for new user accounts."

            Until the next major build, where it restores all the crap, and all the settings your disable.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

          "Record Executives: Killing Music, underpaying Artists."

          Except for brief periods with artists like Muse, most "modern" music just plain sucks.

          The music executives MARKET what they WANT you to hear until you tolerate listening to it, then OVERPLAY it until you "like" it. They've been doing this since 70's DISCO. Thankfully the 80's was a time when the 'one hit wonder' bands PROVED that real innovation still existed. Also were one-hit wonders in the 50's and 60's. But that kind of thing is VERY hard for "the suits" to wrap their claws around, as it's unpredictable.

          Instead, they DRIVE "the trend" with their somewhat evil marketing strategy. it deliberately picks the winners and losers, more or less, and finances the losers on the backs of those who are unlucky enough to have a sucky contract. Well known artists and bands who were so exploited: The Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins, and Prince (who had to become 'The artist formerly known as Prince' for a while). There are many others.

          I have no love at all for RIAA or any of the OTHER DMCA-wielding media-fascists. When I hear some of the CRAP that seems to get airplay, I have to wonder "how come you're not playing MY stuff, which I see as being a WHOLE lot better than much of _THAT_". OK I know the reason why these contracts go to others, much of which has more to do with the way Harvey Weinstein used to do business in Hollyweird than it does with REAL talent or good quality stuff: When THEY are "in control", THEY 'make or break you'. It's that simple. And so, to 'make it big', your forced to play THEIR game THEIR way, and it STINKS.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

            most "modern" music just plain sucks

            Fascinating! I have never heard this claim before. Tell me more!

            No, wait - tell me less.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: CDs ... bloody expensive

              The observation that 'most "modern" music just plain sucks' is justifiable in light of Sturgeon's revelation (sometimes called his 'law'), a comment which echos an adage from Rudyard Kipling.

              Their point relevant to the claim above is that a large percentage of everything is rubbish: 'Four-fifths of everybody's work must be bad' or '90% of everything is crud'.

              So yes indeed most 'modern' music sucks - whatever period you're thinking of as 'modern'.

              'But the remnant is worth the trouble for its own sake', added Mr Kipling.

    4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Earlier in my childhood I had a dual tape HIFI in my bedroom, so copying tapes was much easier than the 'balance on a shelf' thing that earlier generations had to do.

      And some of those had high-speed duplication too.

    5. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

      "Did anybody else do that?"

      No, I just bought the CD lol

      To be honest I had so little interest in music that I really didnt even know that libraries stocked CD's till maybe 10 years ago! I usually just went there to get a book (or pay a fine).

    6. Luiz Abdala

      I had a portable CD player with an option to sync-copy. You would select enough songs on the CD until the added time would be the amount you had of tape eg. 30 minutes. Then, you'd hit the REC+PLAY buttons on the cassette, and it would record those songs on that side.

      Select the remaining to copy on the other side and presto.

  4. TonyJ Silver badge

    Oh my...

    Showing my age now although by the time I got into music in any small way we had tape recorders as part of a massive hi-fi unit that you could use to record the top 40 off of Radio 1 every Sunday whilst you tried to avoid the gobshite DJ talking over the end of each track.

    And then of course we got dual-tap sytems which meant you could just copy your mates' mix or even their most recently acquired computer game.

    Ahhh happy memories.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Oh my...

      I never found useful dual tapes systems because music out of tape and recorded on another was too low quality for my taste. "Ripping" an LP on a good tape (using a deck on an hi-fi system, of course), was mostly adequate. I rarely used C90 cassettes, though, but for double albums, or later, to carry around in a walkman - tapes were too much "sequential access" while "random access" was clumsier and stressed the tape more.

      An uncle of mine was the source of many LPs.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        too low quality for my taste

        It was mainly for this reason I only ever bought one album on cassette, and I managed to avoid pre-recorded VHS too (partly because it was nearly the 1990s before I actually had a video recorder - bought just one film), but my stack of self-recorded stuff is enormous. Mainly things from the radio or events at church. Most of them I know I will never listen to again, but can't bring myself throw away partly because they are unique - I've never come across a repeat of "Weekending" for example. Of course the church stuff genuinely is unique and maybe some day I'll see about digitising it. Or maybe not.

        Then one day in the mid 1990s I found a shop selling off Laserdisc players and on an impulse, bought one. This was a time when MVC and Virgin were still selling LDs on the high street, Encore was going strong and DVDs hadn't yet become properly available.

        Glad to say that the LD player, built like a tank, still works. I don't have a vast collection, but many of the films I do have - bought while I was still young, free and single - would be difficult to justify re-purchasing to my other half...


      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        in the 80's I deliberately purchased vinyl, and then [when brand new] went straight to tape with it using high quality C90 cassettes, typically one album per side. Then play 'wherever' like in the car, or with a walkman.

        Records hardly ever got damaged that way. I sometimes wish I still had some of my old vinyl. For various reasons, it went away... [I don't even have a working record player any more]

    2. Zimmer

      Re: Oh my...

      Showing your age ?? Showing your age !?!? Harumph!!

      When I were a lad the first record player had needles you had to sharpen on a stone.... recording ? You listened to it over and over until you memorised* the thing and were able to sing it as you walked down the street (probably a copyright offence today !!)

      It is Friday, isn't it? Nurse, tell me it's Friday ......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh my...

        "When I were a lad the first record player had needles you had to sharpen on a stone..."

        There were steel needles - but also ones made from thorns.

        The turntable had a lever to get the speed right - possibly the early shellac record producers hadn't agreed on 78rpm as a reliable standard.

        Visiting grandfather we used to lug out the large thick "binder" that contained the many records required for a complete Handel's "Messiah". We only ever played the Hallelujah Chorus - and had fun moving the speed control between Marvin slow - and Chipmunk fast. It used to infuriate our grandfather.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: steel needles - but also ones made from thorns

          Steel needles are single play. You can still buy packs of 100. I have a 1935 radiogram with "magnetic" pickup that uses steel needles. USA autochangers in 1930s used sapphire (50 to 200 hrs) or even diamond (500 to 1000 hrs). Some UK models in early 1950s still used steel needles.

          The moving iron in my 1934 pickup isn't the needle. A bamboo cocktail stick works well.

          Early "78s" may have been deliberately recorded at 82rpm (more quality) or as slow as 65 rpm (longer play). Cinema used 33 1/3rd rpm and up to 16" disks playing from the centre.

          From the 1930s the 78s did come in 7" (kids) and 12" (classical) sizes. The modern microgroove 45rpm and 33 1/3 rpm came out in 1948/1949 approximately. Vinyl did exist before WWII.


          The modern "retro" players in the high street today do have a 78 setting, but it's useless as the stylus is unsuited, it's for microgroove only. Real multi-type players either had a flip over stylus or dual flip over cartridge. The non-microgroove (all 78s) needs a longer fatter different shape of stylus. The 16rpm was microgroove 12" for language learning or recorded lectures as the frequency response is much poorer.

          CD is superior to LP. More dynamic range, more frequency response after 1st playing, less distortion, no surface / needle noise, no rumble. DAB & DTT & sat audio are inferior to CD, Vinyl or FM with a good signal due to compression artefacts (distortion), which is ironically worse for people with impaired hearing, maybe because they don't match the acoustic lossy model. MP3 at 256K isn't bad and at 320K good enough for most material. Sadly most digital gadgets only support MP3, not Flac. With 256G SD cards and USB sticks the storage isn't an issue.

          Low audio bitrates on Digital Radio & TV is simple greed to reduce costs.

      2. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: Oh my...


        I think that's the origin of the phrase "The Old Grey Whistle Test". Ah Whispering Bob Harris...mumbles off humming the theme. PP

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Oh my...

          Ah, the OGWT theme.

          Wonderful piece of music in its own right. Not sure if that's just because of what it's associated with in my tired old mind

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Oh my...

        You listened to it over and over until you memorised* the thing and were able to sing it as you walked down the street (probably a copyright offence today !!)

        Actually, some artists did lobby for applying stricter copyright regulation to amateur "performance". Lessig has a lengthy anecdote about Sousa's complaints regarding people on the street making free with his tunes in Remix. I'm no great fan of Lessig or the book, but it's an interesting story.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Oh my...

      Dad bought one of those Amstrad "HiFi" things in the 80s. It was about 1.2m tall and came in a glass case, with space to shelve your records at the bottom. It also had a radio and twin casette decks. So my music copying and mix-tape making tasks were pretty easy.

      Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied, so trying to pirate computer games was incredibly unpleasant - you had to leave the room, and it upset the dog.

      I remember trying to tape Radio 4's Lord of the Rings adaptation on Sunday afternoons, but this plan needed 13 weeks uninterupted access - which was foiled by family visits.

      I still remember one mixtape with The Reflex (Duran Duran), 19 (Paul Hardcastle), Cricketers 19 (parody by Rory Bremner), I Like Driving in My Car (Madness) - though heaven knows why I made it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

        Have you ever tried to set the volume to 0?

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

          Or plugging in a pair of headphones?


        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: "Although you couldn't turn the sound off while you copied,"

          Have you ever tried to set the volume to 0?

          My recollection, of using a Sharp twin-deck Cassette machine to copy computer programs, was that if you set the output volume to 0 it also set the tape-to-tape volume to 0, so you ended up with a tape of silence.

          I don't know how common that was, but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case here.


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