Breathe life into mixtapes with FiiO’s CP13 portable cassette player

The Sony Walkman was launched on July 1, 1979 and was a huge breakthrough in personal music listening. We had never seen anything like it and I remember seeing the first Walkman and thinking I had to have one, no matter the cost.

Well, you might have thought the cassette tape and the Walkman were dead, but like vinyl records, the world’s most popular tape format is still going strong. There are billions of pre-recorded cassettes gathering dust, and that’s not even counting all those romantic mixtapes many of us made in the 80s.

Now, FiiO has announced a striking cassette player with USB-C charging and up to 13 hours of battery life on a single charge. The CP13 features an all-analog circuit that produces the classic cassette sound we remember so well.

For true analog playback, the entire audio circuit of the CP13 is made with analog components. Everything from the magnetic tape head to the signal amplification is devoid of digital technology. The result is a classic and unmistakably analog cassette tape sound.

The CP13’s motor is powered by a high-voltage 4.2V power supply, up from the 1.8V or 3V typically found in most portable cassette players. This power supply works in conjunction with a custom motor speed stabilization circuit, which increases the resistance on the motor as needed to ensure stable motion speeds. This technology eliminates unwanted pitch shifts and means the CP13 can handle a wider range of tape types.

FiiO says that unlike the single-ended signal acquisition used in many cassette players, the CP13 uses a differential circuit for balanced acquisition of signals from the custom tape head. This ensures more stable signal transmission, a higher signal-to-noise ratio, and less distortion.

While ultimately limited by the size of the cassette player’s movement, FIIO says its engineers paid attention to making the CP13 as compact as possible. By integrating manufacturing and structural design, the CP13 is just 31.8mm thick, making it thinner and more compact than most portable cassette players.

The CP13 is powered by a lithium battery, which can be charged via the USB Type-C port. The battery is lighter than the original AA batteries used in previous generations of cassette players and can last for 13 hours on a single charge.

Prices and availability: The FiiO CP13 is available to buy this week from Advanced Audio Players, priced at $129 / £99.

Technical specifications:

  • Battery capacity: 1,800 mAh.
  • Playing time: 13 hours.
  • Operational amplifier: JRC5532.
  • Flywheel: Copper.
  • Mechanical core: Custom mechanical core.
  • Head: Custom balanced amplification magnetic head.
  • Output: 3.5mm.
  • Output power: 250 mV.
  • Signal to noise ratio: >55dB.
  • Dimensions: 120 x 88.3 x 31.8 mm.
  • Weight: 310g.

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