Best cassette players: Old School Cool

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Sony Walkman Cassette Player in blue

Landing on this page can mean one of two things. Somebody mentioned the word ‘cassette’ and you are curious what that is, or you had found some mixtapes from when you were a child and are looking for something that can actually play them. Maybe it’s something else, but people don’t look for cassette players anymore. It’s something that fell out of fashion once the CDs were out. Of course, there are still cassette players in old cars, and maybe in your grandparents’ house, but few people use them.

Some people are looking for cassette players just for old-time’s sake. Maybe it’s a memory of a once good time. I don’t know what year you were born, but when I was a child, cassette players, especially portable ones, were the ‘thing’ you had to have. If you didn’t, you weren’t cool enough. Almost every kid had a pair of big headphones connected to a Walkman that didn’t fit in his or her pocket. 

Why would someone need a cassette player?

I think that is a valid question. I asked myself the same question before doing some research. Why would people still look for cassette players when the modern alternatives are so much better? Everything about cassette players is inferior. The sound is not as good, the size is huge, you depend on batteries or an outlet, and where could you possibly take that thing? However, there are a few valid reasons why people want to buy a cassette player. That is probably why manufacturers still make them. Here are a few reasons why they are still on the market.

  • Recording – yes, I know that you no longer need to record songs from the radio because we have the mighty internet now, but say that to a person who has an old car. Old cars don’t have aux cords or CD players. Sure, they have a radio, but even people with old cars want to listen to their favorite music. And that is where a cassette player intervenes. It can help anyone record music either from a CD, radio or even a USB flash. A lot of models have converters, which allow anyone to transfer music from anything they want. 
  • Boomboxes – I hope you have heard of them, or maybe you even had one. I had one when I was younger, and I think that a boombox is a reason enough to buy a cassette player. In fact, all boomboxes have a cassette player. Otherwise, they are just speakers. It has more of a sentimental value, and it helps you reminisce. 
  • They had a comeback – that was last year. People from all over demanded that cassette players should make a comeback. I don’t really understand why. I like to think that some people found a lot of mixtapes at the back of a storage unit and didn’t know how to listen to them. Mixtapes were very cool back in the day, and kids made and exchanged them every day. It is the old version of sending a link to a very cool new song.

If you know any other reason, then feel free to share. That is pretty much all I got. I know no other reason why would people still buy a cassette player. As far as I am concerned, I’m not sure if I would buy one. Maybe I would like to have one in my home, for old times’ sake, but I don’t like to dwell on the past. I love modern technology and everything that comes with it. But you can do as you like. If you want or need a cassette player, by all means, go for it.

Cassette player buying guide

Even if a cassette player is something of the past, that doesn’t mean manufacturers didn’t improve it. They managed to do a pretty good job actually. They added a few features that weren’t available in the past, but they kept the original ones so they wouldn’t change the essence of the entire thing. So, if you are looking for the best cassette player, here is what you should look for.

  • Functionality – if you want a cassette player, I think it’s safe to assume that you don’t want it just because you have some tapes and want to listen to them. Most people want one to convert tapes to mp3s or CDs. If you want one just for old-time’s sake, that’s fine. I am just saying that most people use it as a means to an end. That is why a lot of models have converters. 
  • Power – this depends on how you are going to use the cassette player. If you want a small, portable one, power is of little importance. But if you are throwing an 80’s party and want a boombox, I recommend you go for more watts. It’s true that cassette players have better sound now, but if the volume is low, it’s all for nothing, So make sure to read the specifications when this aspect is concerned.
  • Power supply – in the past, cassette players were powered by batteries or had to be plugged in. As far as this issue is concerned, that did not change. Most models come with an AC power cord or can be powered by batteries. I didn’t find models that have rechargeable batteries, and I wonder why manufacturers didn’t think of that. After all, we live in a day and age when everything is rechargeable.
  • Sound – this might as well be the most important thing. Stereo sound existed in the past as well, but it can’t be compared to the sound we have now. Fortunately, even if a cassette player is an old concept, the sound has constantly been improved. You can have a better quality of sound than before. And just because you like one of these old devices, that doesn’t mean you have to accept a low sound quality. 
  • Extra features – I always thought that the more features a device have, the better. And there are plenty of features a cassette player has nowadays. I am not referring to cool lights and a double deck. They were a hit in the 80s and 90s, but the modern age comes with its own cool features. For example, some models come with a mega bass option. Some are able to convert directly to a USB flash. It depends on the manufacturer, but you can find a variety of impressive features if you look long enough.

I have to admit that there aren’t many products you can find. They are not as common as iPods or Mp3 Players. Also, not many manufacturers still make cassette players. It’s not a growing niche, so to speak. But you can still find a few that will satisfy your needs. All you have to do is look carefully.

What are the best cassette players?

Searching through a bunch of products, nostalgia came over me. But I also noticed that there are new things added to what was once my only source of entertainment. If you are looking for the best cassette player, here are a few suggestions that I am sure you are going to love.

Sony CFDS70BLK CD/Cassette Boombox Home Audio Radio

I don’t know about you, but as the years passed, Sony was the only manufacturer that managed to produce high-quality music players. Everything I had, from the iconic Walkman to the Mp3 Player I currently own, they were all made by Sony. I remained loyal even after all those years.

The Sony boombox comes with a lot of impressive features. The full-function stereo sound will provide an amazing listening experience. It is truly different than what we used to hear back in the 90s. The sound is clear and profound, just as it should be. It resembles the HD audio we often hear in modern technology. You can listen to CDs, CD-R/RW, and MP3 CDs. You have plenty of functions that will allow you to listen to your music however you like.

The cassette deck will let you listen to your old mixtapes, and you can even make new ones thanks to the recording option. The device has a radio as well as 30 preset radio stations that you can listen to whenever you want. The auxiliary input cord will allow you to connect digital music players to the speaker dock, and the mega bass button will let you give the bass a boost for maximum performance.

The Sony CFDS70BLK can be plugged in, but it can also run on batteries for approximately 19 hours. All you need are 6 size C batteries, which are sold separately.

Sony WM-FX195 Walkman Stereo Cassette Player 

This product is from Sony as well, but the difference is that this one is a Walkman. It’s the pocket version of the previous model. It may be a bit expensive for some people, but the price of an item is often given by its rarity. New cassette players are not so easy to come by these days, so you can imagine that it’s not the cheapest music player on the market.

The Sony WM-FX195 is slim and weighs less than half a pound including the batteries. It’s light enough to take it anywhere. Apart from playing cassettes, this model has a radio as well. The anti-rolling mechanism keeps the tape steady when you are moving, and the FM local/distant switch improves the stations whenever you hear static.

The auto shut-off feature in playback mode extends the battery life and extends the life of the tape by preventing the tape wear when the cassette reaches the end. Even without the shut-off feature, the batteries last for up to 25 hours of tape playback and 55 hours of radio reception. The best thing about this Walkman is the quality of sound. It’s something that I wish I had done years ago. The headphones are fantastic, and you can hear the bass as if you were in front of a subwoofer. Push the Mega Bass button, and you’ll experience even better performance. You won’t believe you are listening to a cassette player.

Hamilton Buhl Audio Star Boombox

This unit is designed for all those people who miss the music of their youth and want to turn all those mixtapes into mp3s. That is because it converts cassette tapes and CDs to mp3 format. And what is even better is that it manages to do that in real-time.

The CD player is programmable, and the best part is that you don’t need a computer to make the conversions you want. You can insert a USB flash drive into the unit, and it will convert directly to it. Apart from playback, the Hamilton Buhl can also play FM and AM radio. 

One of the features that people seem to love about this cassette player is that it has six 3.5 mm headphone jacks. They can all be used at the same time. There aren’t many circumstances in which that feature is exploited, but it’s nice to have the possibility. The Hamilton Buhl cassette player needs an AC power cord to run or 6 ‘D’ batteries. It has excellent sound quality and will last a very long time. It may not be the cheapest cassette player, but it’s worth its value.

My recommendation – The best cassette player

I find all three products worthy of their value, but I will always prefer portable solutions over stationary ones. That is why my number one recommendation is the Sony WM-FX195 Walkman Stereo Cassette Player. It’s small, it’s light, and portable, and it has excellent headphones. For me, that is more than enough. It may be a bit pricey, but from my point of view, it is one of the best cassette players available.  


It’s true that not many people still look for cassette players. I bet that a lot of them don’t even know what that is. Ask a teenager and see if he or she knows or has ever heard of tapes. However, people from older generations will always remember cassettes. That is probably why such players are still available. If you are looking for one, the three I described above are excellent suggestions. 

Updated on March 6, 2023