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    HomeTechnologiesThe Fiio CP13 is almost a new Walkman

    The Fiio CP13 is almost a new Walkman

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    It's hard to believe, but the Fiio CP13 is actually a brand new portable cassette player. It brings back memories of the legendary Sony Walkman, but cannot replace it. Nevertheless, in the test the device proves to be a good alternative for recovering old cassette treasures.

    Anyone who still has old music or radio play cassettes or is interested in them can be happy that there are new players for them again. The latest addition is the Fiio CP13, a portable device that is reminiscent of the first Sony Walkman TPS-L2, which gave music enjoyment a leg up in the 1980s.

    An original Sony Walkman TPS-L2. An original Sony Walkman TPS-L2.

    An original Sony Walkman TPS-L2.

    (Photo: IMAGO/Stefan M Prager)

    Technology over 60 years old

    In 1963 the music cassette was presented at the radio exhibition in Berlin. It was developed by Philips and came onto the market in 1965. It celebrated its final breakthrough in the 1970s as a compact, cheaper and more robust recording medium than records. In addition, for the first time, music fans had an easy way to make recordings, mixtapes of radio recordings or records.

    With the Sony Walkman, music enjoyment became mobile from 1979 onwards and in the 80s cassettes overtook records in terms of sales. Then came CDs and MP3s and almost put an end to both recording media. But it's not just vinyl that has made a comeback in recent years, cassettes are also still around. Even stars like Taylor Swift release their albums on the nostalgic recording medium.

    They have survived primarily as recordings of radio plays for children, but many adults also have cassette treasures that they don't want to part with. There are often great emotions and beautiful memories attached to mixtapes in particular. And that already defines the main target group for the Fiio CP13. New fans of the music cassette have less to do with the device, as a look at the technical features shows.

    A pure player

    A little insight into the mechanics of the cassette player. A little insight into the mechanics of the cassette player.

    A little insight into the mechanics of the cassette player.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The Fiio CP13, which costs just under 130 euros, can only play cassettes; it does not have a recording function. The performance of the recording heads currently available is inadequate, says the manufacturer. In addition, high-quality empty cassettes are difficult to obtain.

    Because you can't simply revive old technology, the Fiio CP13, at 120 x 88.3 x 31.8 millimeters, is not as compact as a later Sony Walkman. According to the manufacturer, the components that are currently not available include electronic components that were installed 20 years ago. That's why the cassette player has a predominantly mechanical interior, which requires more space.

    The most modern thing about the Fiio CP13 is the USB-C socket for charging. The most modern thing about the Fiio CP13 is the USB-C socket for charging.

    The most modern thing about the Fiio CP13 is the USB-C socket for charging.

    (Photo: kwe)

    Fiio does not use Bluetooth for other reasons. The manufacturer writes that radio transmission would, among other things, worsen the audio quality. Above all, the analogue character, which is so important, would be lost.

    Movable, but without a clip

    One limitation cannot be explained by a lack of supply chains or nostalgic sound images: the Fiio CP13 does not have a clip to attach it to your belt. There are also no eyelets for a carrying strap or transport bag. You can therefore take it with you for walks or jogging, but you have to hold the 310 gram device in your hand. At least the cassette player runs smoothly without making any audible noise as it moves.

    You notice that something moves mechanically when you press the keys. You notice that something moves mechanically when you press the keys.

    You notice that something moves mechanically when you press the keys.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The Fiio CP13 makes a good impression with a sturdy aluminum housing and high-quality workmanship. As before, there are large mechanical buttons on the top to start and stop playback or to fast forward or rewind the tape. On the right, in addition to the volume control and headphone jack, there is a modern USB-C port. But it only serves to charge the battery that the Fiio has instead of “Walkman batteries”. But that is a clear advantage because it lasts for more than ten hours, according to the manufacturer it can even be over 13 hours.

    Not a sound miracle, but absolutely okay

    Judging the sound of the Fiio CP13 is difficult, almost impossible. The quality of old recordings varies greatly depending on the storage time, the quality of the cassette, the source material or the skills of the mixtaper. The choice of headphones also plays a role; Fiio does not provide a headset. ntv.de achieved the best results with Sennheiser's audiophile ID 200 earphones and Bose's QuietComfort 45 headband headphones, which work when switched off when wired. Operation on the Teufel Motiv Home speaker also worked well.

    A three-question mark radio play supplied by Fiio served as the benchmark medium. The attempt to record a new mixtape with two Technics 1200 turntables for the test using empty cassettes that were discovered and still shrink-wrapped failed: the Sony cassette deck used gave up the ghost with an ugly noise. Time has not been kind to drive belts etc. This also applies to old mixtapes, although they may not have sounded good back then.

    Based on the impressions gained, one can say that the sound in radio plays is great because it brings back childhood or parental memories. The noise mainly comes from the tape; the Fiio CP13 itself contributes little to it. When it comes to music, the old recordings may be the problem, but here the sound generally seems to be a bit thinner. But that hardly plays a role in the fun of rediscovery and with the right headphones the sound is absolutely acceptable. If you want top sound, you should look for a high-quality cassette deck in good condition.

    Conclusion

    All in all, the Fiio CP13 for just under 130 euros is a great opportunity to collect old cassette treasures. It probably sounds better than cheap devices that you can find online. If you want to record tapes and listen to them in high quality, you have to switch to stationary solutions. An alternative is the We Are Rewind, which offers a recording function and Bluetooth for around 150 euros.

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