- The Gracioso CR-318 Cassette Player is the best overall choice for playing old cassette tapes or recording audio.
- The We Are Rewind Kurt Cassette Player has a retro-inspired design and features Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity.
- The Pyle PT658DU Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck is a great component deck for listening, dubbing, or converting cassette tapes.
- The Jensen Stereo Cassette Player is a budget-friendly option that offers simple and effective playback.
- The Ion Audio Portable Bluetooth Boombox has a retro design with modern connectivity options and features.
If you’re of a certain age, you remember how awesome cassette tapes were. While those days are gone, you can still listen to your old mixed tapes if you pick up one of the best cassette players available today. They aren’t necessarily something you’ll find on the store shelf like you could in the 80s, but manufacturers are still producing new models. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly cassette player to test out old tapes or a system with a modern twist, we have you covered.
- Best Overall: Gracioso Walkman CR-318 Cassette Player
- Runner-Up: We Are Rewind Kurt Cassette Player
- Best Component Deck: Pyle PT658DU Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck
- Best Budget Cassette Player: Jensen Stereo Cassette Player
- Best Retro Design: Ion Audio Portable Bluetooth Boombox
Best Overall: Gracioso CR-318 Cassette Player
Play and record cassette audio
3.5mm headphone jack
AM/FM radio with DSP chip for enhanced signal
Powered by DC or AA batteries
The best cassette player for most people is the Gracioso Walkman Cassette Player. While the design is a far cry from the sleek old Walkman’s of yesteryear, this cassette deck performs as advertised and has an interesting feature.
One of the problems with old cassette players was that you couldn’t exactly share your music. You’ll never have to lend out an earbud again with the CR-318 from Gracioso. This small cassette deck has a prominent speaker on the front but weighs less than 8 ounces. It won’t take up much space in a bag and has standard controls with Play, Stop, Fast Forward, Rewind, and Record.
This classic cassette deck has a 3.5mm headphone jack and an AM/FM tuner with a DSP chip. It also has a retractable antennae. While effective, it is an interesting choice from a design standpoint compared to other models. Gracioso’s tape player will work with two AA batteries, but you can also power it through a wall outlet.
While there are more stylish cassette decks and models with high-tech features, the CR-318 is the best choice for people who simply need to play an old cassette tape or record audio. We like the speaker on the front and its size, even if we’re not fans of the antennae. Check out the Gracioso Walkman Cassette Player on Amazon.
|It has a lightweight, easy-to-use design.
|The design makes it look a bit cheap.
|There is an AM/FM tuner with a DSP chip.
|There is potential for the antennae to snag.
|Dual power is available through batteries or a wall outlet.
|It has a large built-in speaker on the front.
Runner-Up: We Are Rewind Kurt Cassette Player
If you grew up listening to cassettes or want a tape deck designed for modern times, We Are Rewind is a fantastic choice. It’s the type of device that will grab people’s attention when you’re using it in public and will still be around long after other tape decks bite the dust.
The design of We Are Rewind’s cassette decks hearkens back to the classic Sony TPS-L2. It’s intentional, as the developers engineered their new tape player with aluminum cases and minimal distractions. It’s a clean design that screams “retro” from the buttons on the side to the viewing window and logo. Don’t let the looks fool you, however.
Have you dreamed of blasting an old mixed tape from a new Bluetooth party speaker? Well, you can with this cassette deck. It has Bluetooth 5.1 built-in, which allows you to sync to compatible headphones and speakers, but you can also plug in using a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Batteries have also been left in the past. A lithium battery has replaced AAs, so you can expect up to 12 hours of playback per charge.
We Are Rewind’s cassette decks aren’t for casual fans and they certainly aren’t cheap. They are well worth it if you want something unique and well-built with modern sensibilities, however. While we chose the Kurt, these stylish cassette decks are available in two other colors, including Serge and Keith. The only drawback is the lack of an FM tuner and the fact they aren’t compatible with Bluetooth earbuds — just headphones and speakers.
|The cassette player has a retro-inspired design.
|They aren’t compatible with Bluetooth earbuds.
|They are built to last with an aluminum case.
|There’s no FM tuner.
|It has a headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.1.
|A lithium battery provides up to 12 hours of runtime.
Best Component Deck: Pyle PT658DU Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck
- Direct dubbing from cassette at normal and high speeds
- Transfer your music from cassette to MP3 via the included USB cable
- Supports standard and CrO2 tapes
- RCA input and output
- Features dynamic noise reduction
Listening to cassettes on a Walkman or portable tape player is handy, but the Pyle PT658DU is the best option for audiophiles. This component would be an excellent addition to any stereo system, whether you want to listen, dub, or convert.
A dual-tape deck was something to behold back in the day, and Pyle’s system is reminiscent of those old stereo components. It has a comparable design, with big buttons for both decks, but it’s also incredibly easy to use for people new to this type of tech. The peak level indicator and other controls ensure that, along with the outputs on the back.
The Pyle PT-658DU has RCA input/outputs on the rear and a USB port. This lets you connect the deck to a PC and rip or convert a cassette tape. If you just want to enjoy a classic mix, dynamic noise reduction can help clear out the noise. For dubbing, you can look forward to normal or high-speed transfers, depending on your needs.
Pyle is a familiar name with people old enough to remember tape decks, and the PT-659DU is a blessing to anyone interested in an affordable component tape deck. It’s not on par with classics from Sony and other brands, but it is one of the only good new models in this class. It can be a little finicky to sync to some PCs, although that’s the only real con with this system. Check out the Pyle Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck on Amazon.
|It has dual-speed dubbing at normal or high speed.
|It could be tricky to connect to some PCs.
|There is a dynamic noise reduction feature.
|It takes up a considerable amount of shelf space.
|It has a USB port for PC conversions.
|It’s straightforward to use.
Best Budget Cassette Player: Jensen Stereo Cassette Player
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Includes earbuds
- Powered by 2 x AA batteries (not included)
- Features a line-out jack
- Detachable belt clip
The best cassette player for consumers looking for an affordable tape deck is the Jensen SCR-75 Stereo Cassette Player. It’s a retro tape player from a classic brand, and while it doesn’t break any new ground, it certainly won’t break the bank.
Simple and effective. Those are the first words to spring to mind with the Jensen SCR-75, given the design and features. It has the standard detachable belt clip and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The controls are easy to access, but the design looks like it hasn’t changed since the 80s. The viewing window is tiny, and there are only three controls for Play, Fast Forward, and Stop.
While the controls on this cassette player are limited, it has an auto-stop feature. It also has an AM/FM tuner without an antenna, like our top choice. This cassette player gets its power from two AA batteries and has a line-out feature. It also comes with a pair of earbuds, although you may want to replace them with a more suitable set if quality or comfort is a concern.
Jensen didn’t break any new ground with their cassette deck, but they didn’t need to. It’s one of the cheapest tape decks you can buy without skimping on playback quality. It doesn’t record or allow users to convert audio, but it will let you listen to old cassette tapes, and the line-out jack is a bonus for the price. Check out the Jensen Stereo Cassette Player on Amazon.
|It has a fantastic price tag.
|There is no rewind button.
|The FM tuner and line-out jack.
|The outdated design.
|It comes with headphones.
|The cassette deck is easy to operate.
Retro: Ion Audio Portable Bluetooth Boombox
- Cassette player and recorder with AM/FM radio
- Aux-in and headphone jack
- VU meters to help adjust your recordings
- USB recording
- 60W dual full-range speakers with separate bass and treble
- Runs on AC power (cord included) or 6 D batteries (not included)
Boom boxes have made a comeback in recent years, but the Ion Audio Street Rocker is the best retro boom box with a cassette player. It may not be able to help you pop-lock or do the worm, but it can bring old cassettes back to life and has some interesting features.
Your old cassette of The Egyptian Lover will feel right at home on this boombox. Whether you’re jamming to “Egypt, Egypt,” or you prefer Iron Maiden, you’ll dig this system. Six large gold buttons control playback, and there’s even a “Bass Boost” switch. The antenna allows you to hone in on local stations, but the Street Rocket has some tricks up its sleeves.
There are additional controls on the side of this boombox, along with a microSD card slot and USB port. That extends its capabilities considerably, and there is an aux-in and headphone jack on the other side of the system. Bluetooth is a nice touch, and you will be thankful for the AC power outlet. Like the old boomboxes, you can power the Street Rocker with D batteries, but you don’t have to.
The Street Rocker’s design isn’t for everyone, especially consumers looking for a small or cheap cassette player. While it has a style similar to classic boomboxes, it’s far from a prop thanks to the modern connectivity options and some nifty features. Check out the Ion Audio Portable Bluetooth Boombox on Amazon.
|It has a retro-inspired design with full tape deck controls.
|It’s expensive for a “retro” music player.
|There is a range of connectivity options.
|There’s not as much boom in the box as you’d like.
|It has bass and treble control.
|The 60-watt speakers get loud.
How to Pick the Best Cassette Player: Step-by-Step
Looking for a cassette deck in 2023 is a far different experience than people had in the 80s and 90s. The selection today is sparse, and you won’t find “new” portable systems from brands like Sony or Samsung. With that in mind, these are the most important areas to consider if you’re looking for a new cassette deck.
If you’re buying a cassette player in 2023, you obviously need something to play tapes on. Every cassette player can handle that, but if you plan to record, you may be in for a surprise. How you plan to use the tape deck plays a part in the type of system you should buy, especially considering how affordable cassette players are today.
If you just want to listen to an old dusty tape, any cassette deck will work, whether it’s a “Walkman” or a model designed for recording and playback. Do you need to dub a tape or have a lot of cassettes to deal with? A dedicated deck may be the best solution.
Alternatively, consumers who want to convert music from a cassette deck to a more current format need an entirely different kind of cassette player. Consider your needs before settling on a style, and then think about the features.
Consumers who haven’t used a cassette player since the 80s will be surprised by some of the new features. You no longer have to rely on AA batteries for portable players, although it’s certainly still an option on many models.
Rechargeable batteries are a product everyone should be thankful for. It’s still good to have the option to use batteries given the fickle nature of tech. Bluetooth is another fantastic feature commonly found on new-school cassette players.
While those features and dubbing aren’t exactly standard, all of the best cassette players should have an AM/FM tuner. The same is true for the classic 3.5mm headphone jack. One feature that gets overlooked is the rewind button. It’s something that was missing on many early cassette players and is still excluded on some new models today.
We’re not going to spend much time here as cassette players aren’t typically considered a pricy purchase. It is tied to usage and features, so you can expect to pay more for a classic tape deck with modern features.
We found that most cassette players manufactured today for casual use are under $50. There are some boutique models from companies like We Are Rewind, but most traditional models are very affordable. The exceptions are component decks from premium brands with a cassette player, although you’re not going to find new models from Onkyo, Pioneer, or Sony.
What to Know Before Buying a Cassette Player Today
Our best advice when buying a cassette player in 2023 is don’t expect too much if you’re dealing with older cassettes. If you’re trying to replay or restore a cassette of your children singing from an old Rainbow cassette tape, the quality may not be up to par.
Age and obvious hazards like dust take their toll on tape quickly, whether in a cassette or VHS tape. You may also have to clean your new cassette deck frequently if you plan to run older tapes through it for testing.
Today’s modern cassette players perform admirably, considering the big brands that dominated the space are no longer active in the niche. Just check your expectations if you’re picking up a tape deck to listen to a dusty box of cassettes.
Using a Cassette Player: What It’s Like
Anyone who used a cassette player when they were still popular will have no problem with a tape player manufactured today. The basic controls are still the same, from the buttons to the volume dial, and tapes still jam and can get disfigured in the machines on occasion.
If you are using a cassette player for the first time, the experience could be delightful or incredibly frustrating. That depends on what you’re trying to listen to because of the age of cassette tapes. If it’s a newly produced throwback, you’ll have no problems, although you’ll need to adjust to how you listen to music on these devices.
Wireless earbuds are generally a no-go with cassette players. They also don’t have the same features as modern music players, so there’s no audio enhancement or noise cancellation. Unless you purchase a component deck or cassette player with a rechargeable battery, you’ll also want to pick up some batteries.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Shaiith/Shutterstock.com.