Romain Boudruche’s We Are Rewind cassette player is a Kickstarter project that aims to bring back the pleasures of the Walkman, but with a few modern additions to make it more pleasing to use. You'll be able to indulge in nostalgia-inducing activities like making mixtapes but with modern conveniences like Bluetooth connectivity for audio playback to your favorite wireless speaker.
While it's hard to put a price on the sorts of memories using tape cassettes might trigger for you, the glory of capitalism means we can. It's ~$105 (€89) if you get in while the campaign is running, or ~$147 thereafter.
What this player offers — We Are Rewind's product comes clad in aluminum, there's a window in case you forget what you're playing, and a volume dial for when you need to crank it up. Gone are the AA batteries of days gone by in favor of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and next to the 3.5mm jack there's a Bluetooth button. You'll have to supply your own headphones, though, unlike classic portable cassette players, there aren't any included.
The player packs 10 hours of stereo playback time and there's the option to record, too. The orange model is already sold out (sorry), but if you're keen on the blue or gray variants those are still both available at the time of writing.
The undying charm of cassettes — The appeal of vinyl and its resurgence in popularity in recent years is easy to understand. There's the warmth of the sound that audiophiles revere and the 12-inch by 12-inch cover art and line notes to pore over. Vinyl is inherently collectible in a way that digital audio can never be.
The appeal of cassette tapes, and their return from the physical musical format grave, is less obvious. Tapes are sensitive to heat and magnets, wear out over time, can get stretched, and offer even smaller artwork and booklets than CDs.
But there's something magical about making mixtapes for loved ones. And, as with vinyl, there's a deliberateness that selecting a tape, loading it up, and hitting the play button demands that's missing from the world of search bars and virtual buttons streaming services serve up.
The turning of the heads is reminiscent of an analog watch. It physically embodies the movement of time. There's something hypnotic about watching them turn. And if something does go wrong, there's a special pleasure in winding the extruded tape back into a cassette by sticking a pencil through one of the sprockets and spinning it around.
Slower by design — Physical music encourages us to slow down. We're less likely to skip a track halfway through. We may pay closer attention to it, too. It probably explains why people loved 8tracks so much. Unlike digital players and streaming services, skipping, jumping forward or back to a song requires a mechanical change (and a good deal of battery, in the case of a classic Walkman). That intimate quality of slowing down and taking a deep breath is hard to find today. We Are Rewind's retro beauty could help the modern-day listener take life at a more reasonable pace, and maybe relax a little in the process.