The French Start-up Making the Coolest Cassette Players on the Market

With retro aesthetics and high-quality construction, We Are Rewind offers the perfect gift for anyone with a dusty cassette collection or young people looking for analog charm.

Courtesy We Are Rewind
We Are Rewind Cassette Player. Courtesy We Are Rewind

One of the odd consequences of the streaming era is the renewed focus on physical media. The Criterion Collection has a thriving business with their Blu-rays, not just for their superior fidelity and immunity to censorship or removal by streaming services, but also because they serve as beautiful bookmarks for films you love.

Amid the endless music on Spotify, it’s easy to lose track of great finds in thousands of constantly updated playlists. But buying a vinyl record allows you to hold onto a piece of music while also financially supporting the artist. Vinyl records now outsell technically superior CDs.

Perhaps most surprisingly, cassette tapes have made a strong comeback. From pop stars like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo to indie rappers, musician’s web stores now list new cassette tapes for their latest albums, even when their customers don’t have anything to play them on.

In some ways, this resurgence is puzzling. While vinyl records offer a warmer, more characterful sound than CDs, cassettes are objectively worse overall. They have limited dynamic range and frequency response, are predisposed to hissing and noise, and are vulnerable to damage.

But that’s partly the appeal. If you want the cleanest, most precise version of a song, digital is fine. But the crackle, impracticality, and style of cassettes make them cool. They’re nostalgic, and opening a cassette box feels more special than tapping an album cover on Spotify. For those wanting a player that carries this nostalgic, stylish spirit, the French company We Are Rewind has the solution.

In addition to selling blank tapes and running a blog about cassettes, We Are Rewind offers portable, Bluetooth-connected cassette players — modern Walkmans for a generation that never experienced the original. They come in a range of chic colors — soft blue, chalk gray, bold orange, and the black-and-gold of my review sample — and with metal construction and carefully placed buttons and ports, it’s a beautiful piece of kit. The player is reminiscent of the work of renowned Swedish design firm, Teenage Engineering, and the build quality far exceeds its $160 price tag.

We Are Rewind WE-C60 Cassette Tape.
We Are Rewind WE-C60 Cassette Tape. Courtesy We Are Rewind

Is the audio quality amazing? No, but it’s a cassette, so you don’t expect that. It’s about having fun with your music. Their retro Bluetooth headphones support this ethos. Priced at $52, the sound is just OK, but they’re light, comfortable, and stylish.

Walking with the player and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” mixtape in my ears felt great, as did listening to “Speshal Machinery” by 38 Spesh and Conway the Machine the next day.

As someone who works online, bringing my music on walks while leaving my phone at home was refreshing; and for podcasts and other audio content not available on cassette, you can record it yourself.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player.
The We Are Rewind Cassette Player. Courtesy We Are Rewind

Simply insert one of their WE-C60 blank tapes, plug a 3.5mm audio cable into the player’s input port and the other end into a dongle connected to your phone or laptop, and record anything from albums and playlists to audiobooks and podcasts. This was how I listened to Tyler Cowen’s interview with Jonathan Haidt, which I put to tape over lunch, then listened to it on the player afterward. The hiss was part of the charm.

The player is extremely simple to use, which adds to its appeal. There’s no app nor fancy controls; just a set of buttons, — play, stop, rewind, fast-forward, record, and Bluetooth — simple ports, and a volume wheel. For wired headphones, just plug them in. To connect Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, hold down the pairing button, and they’re connected.

If someone in your life has cassette tapes collecting dust or wants to buy new mixtapes from their favorite artists but lacks a player, this makes an excellent, fun gift. For music lovers who want to disconnect from the online world, it’s the perfect way to get back into your tunes.

The New York Sun

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