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