Here's something we didn't think we would see launched at CES 2024: a cassette player.
FiiO, a brand we normally associate with cutting-edge DACs and desktop streamers (such as the new R9), has gone retro. The brand revealed a surprise new personal cassette player, the CP13 – not too dissimilar from the iconic Sony Walkman.
In fact, FiiO itself has said this CP13 cassette player is a direct homage to Sony's first Walkman player from 1979, even down to that "silver-blue" two-tone finish and simple rectangular design.
There are modern design flourishes and upgrades over the original Walkman, of course. The CP13 has large oval buttons for playback controls (play, stop, rewind, fast-forward) on one side, while down the other side you will find a sleek volume dial, a USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone input and a status LED. It's portable of course, with battery life lasting 15 hours to play your tapes.
FiiO first teased that it was working on the Walkman-inspired CP13 in December 2023, in a tweet (see below) that showed concept designs for the silver-blue finish and a black and white version too.
To commemorate Sony's first WALKMAN, FIIO debut cassette player CP13 will be silver-blue color(There will be color differences for the rendering and real thing. So the color wont look 100% same) . What do you think of the black color CP13?#cassette #walkman #FiiO #CP13 pic.twitter.com/UF96AAJSgFDecember 5, 2023
Our deputy editor Andy Madden is on the ground in Las Vegas and has seen and held the player on the show floor (pictured at top) and the final design isn't too far off the concept images.
Available in early March, the FiiO CP13 will cost £129 in three finishes – white, black, or the blue of the sample we saw in Vegas.
FiiO isn't the only brand reviving the portable cassette player for a 21st-century audience. Last year, French brand We Are Rewind launched similar Walkman-inspired cassette players with 12-hour battery life, three finishes, and even featuring Bluetooth connectivity, costing £133 / $164.
The FiiO player doesn't include Bluetooth, so you'll have to plug in a wired pair of headphones – just like in the old days. We can't imagine this paves the way for a full-blown cassette revival, but if we can dig out our old cassette tapes (yes, we still have some!), we'll be interested in taking the CP13 for a spin.