Back in 2016 we ran an April Fools news story on HD Cassette. High-res audio support and unchewable tape were just two of the features promised in our spoof story. But of course truth is often stranger than fiction, and it seems high-res audio cassette tapes are now a reality.
Toshiba has announced a CD radio cassette player that promises to deliver high-res sound from a tape, reports The Japan News. The player contains a "mechanism" that claims to improve "the quality of music data on a cassette tape". Supposedly this will ensure the player's performance matches that of a high-resolution audio source. Interestingly, the picture shows the Aurex brand, which was an audio-focused subsidiary brand of Toshiba in the 1970s (think Technics to Panasonic).
Sceptical? Us too. But the appearance of the hi-res audio logo on the deck in the picture suggests a level of legitimacy. This logo - originally launched by Sony and then passed on to the wider audio industry - should mean the product meets the standards agreed by the Japan Audio Society and the Recording Industry of Association of America (RIAA). The standards in question? A microphone response performance of 40 kHz and above; able to record, decode and play 96kHz/24bit formats; amplification performance of 40kHz and above. But it is still just a sticker...
That said, there's no reason cassette tapes couldn't be made to deliver high-res audio with the right equipment at the production end, we just imagine they'd need quite a bit of tape - and maybe different tape - to support hi-res tracks of any length. As far as we're aware, there are no such 'hi-res tapes' already in existence.
The article says Toshiba Lifestyle Electronics Trading, a subsidiary of Toshiba, plans to promote this new product with cassette tapes featuring singer Tomoyo Harada (big in Japan). This suggests the company may genuinely have produced high-res audio cassettes for this machine. And it's not just for show. The new player has a price tag of ¥29,000, a little under £200, and is said to be hitting stores soon.
But is it really hi-res audio from a tape? Does anybody even want hi-res audio tapes? Will you ever be able to listen to anything other than Tomoyo Harada? We're really not sure, having so far failed to find out any more information on this product. Regardless, we can't help thinking you're probably better off investing in more established hi-res audio hardware and software...