Review: TapeDeck 1.0

If you grew up in the pre-digital age, you might fondly remember the tactile qualities of what would now be summarily dismissed as ‘retro’ recording kit. There’s a definite immediacy to a tape deck: big buttons, with large text that leaves you in no doubt regarding function, and this is something that cannot be said for the bulk of audio-recording software. TapeDeck now aims to bridge old and new.

Boot the app and a digital tape deck appears on the screen. The buttons all work as you’d expect, even making suitably chunky noises when clicked. However, SuperMegaUltraGroovy has made plenty of concessions to the modern age: mono, stereo and quality levels can be selected with mouse clicks; tapes can be labelled and relabelled with ease; and keyboard shortcuts provide an alternate means of controlling the virtual tape deck (with system-wide shortcuts also available for ‘Record’, ‘Pause’ and ‘Stop’).

In keeping with the application’s aesthetic, each chunk of recorded audio is displayed in a slide-out drawer as a cassette tape. (In reality, this is merely a pretty way of displaying the contents of the M4A files TapeDeck stores in ~/Music/TapeDeck, and so users can also manage TapeDeck recordings in Finder.) Tapes can’t be recorded over, although they can be dropped in the Trash via Command-drag (Command-dragging elsewhere copies the tape to a Finder folder).

Other handy features become evident with a little exploration. Control-click on the current tape and the contextual menu provides shortcuts for adding the tape to iTunes or emailing it. And when the drawer becomes full, you can drag tapes around until you find what you want, or use the built-in search field to hone down the displayed tapes.

Strictly speaking, TapeDeck offers nothing new in terms of functionality—the likes of GarageBand and a slew of other recording apps do everything TapeDeck can and more. Also, importing is strictly limited to M4A, which is a shame—it would be great if you could drop MP3s and audio files saved with lossless formats into TapeDeck.

However, as iPhone continues to bludgeon into people’s minds, the interface is often key, and where TapeDeck excels is in making the audio-recording process totally idiot-proof and fun. It’s not quite enough for TapeDeck to garner a Cult of Mac recommendation badge, but it comes close, and if you’re flush and fancy dropping 25 bucks on a fun, straightforward and surprisingly original take on audio recording, TapeDeck more than fits the bill.

TapeDeck screen grab
TapeDeck: handily lacking a ‘randomly chew up tape’ option.

Further information

Manufacturer: SuperMegaUltraGroovy
Price: $25
URL: tapedeckapp.com

Related
  • Deocliciano

    It is #1, don’t be harsh this soon.
    The interface is gorgeous.

  • Deocliciano

    It is #1, don’t be harsh this soon.
    The interface is gorgeous.

  • Craig Grannell

    I didn’t think I was harsh. It’s a pretty positive review, and I said the app just fell short in a couple of (important) areas. If they dropped the price by 10 bucks or enabled you to import more formats, I’d slap a ‘Cult of Mac recommendation’ badge on the review right now.

  • Torley

    Looks fun! I think the deck could use some more grit to add “character” — I’m not fond of the sort-of handwriting font used as tape labels.

    Craig, the “About the Writers” links on the right-hand side aren’t working. They lead to a dead end with a bomb icon, and you should be on there, right? :)

  • smallerdemon

    *heh* I still have a dual cassette deck hooked up to my Mac. I don’t use it much, admittedly. But back in 2001 I recorded some great intros to some movies by Quentin Tarantino at QT5 and cassettes were still cheap, plentiful, and readily affordable (and they didn’t go crazy then about brining recording devices into theaters to see old movies) and I recently captured those.

    Yeah, a few tweaks and this would be a great fun little piece of usable nostalgia.

  • Craig Grannell

    Torley – yeah, the template links are doing weird things, and my details aren’t up there yet. Leander’s got them, though, so hopefully he and Rob will sort this out soon enough. If you’re desperate to find out more about my stuff, point your browser at http://reverttosaved.com/

    Also, I retract my previous statement about price. I still think the app is a bit expensive for what it offers, but it’s not 10 bucks too much. Man, if only you could cunningly edit comments!

  • leigh

    I’m loving your reviews Craig…

  • Sean Peters

    I’m sorry, but I think this sort of slavish copying of physical objects into software interfaces is just dumb. I don’t want to pretend that my music files are “tapes”. I don’t want to pretend that the application responsible for doing the recording is a “tape recorder”. If there was some reason to do this, it would be fine… but this is just copying the physical world for the sake of doing so.

    Suffice it to say that I won’t be buying this app.

  • imajoebob

    Sure it’s a clever interface, but I wish they’d make it in reel-to-reel, because everyone knows that’s much higher fidelity than cassette…

About the author

Craig GrannellCraig Grannell is Cult of Mac's designer and an occasional contributor. He also runs iPhoneTiny.com, a Twitter-driven reviews site for iPhone apps and games. Follow Craig on Twitter @CraigGrannell and visit his website, Snub Communications.

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