AT YOUR SERVICE

Car tapes: the song (prerecorded) of the open road

GWEN BEATTIE March 1 1971
AT YOUR SERVICE

Car tapes: the song (prerecorded) of the open road

GWEN BEATTIE March 1 1971

Car tapes: the song (prerecorded) of the open road

AT YOUR SERVICE

THE SPENDER

GWEN BEATTIE

THE MODERN CAR has all the comforts of home, including its own record player, thanks to cassette and cartridge recordings. Today’s highway driver need not be prisoner of whatever music the nearest, clearest radio station chooses to squeeze between its ads; he can pick his music, or his pretaped radio program, and play it whenever he likes.

There are more than a score of car tape recorders available, as options on new cars or easy-to-install units, at prices ranging from about $50 to $170; installation adds between $20 and $40. With some models speakers are another extra, with others they are included. The recorders go either in or under the dash; some operate through the radio amplifier, while others are self-contained and you don’t need a radio.

There are two main types of unit: the cartridge and the cassette. The cartridge contains an endless-loop tape driving in a single direction, and is not reversible. An eight-track cartridge — the usual type — plays up to half an hour, then repeats itself. There are four “programs” to select from by push-button or automatic control. The sound quality is similar to the cassettes.

The cassette is exactly the same as the reel-to-reel home recorders, except that it plays more slowly. The advantage of cassettes is that they can be rewound to pick up a precise spot on a recording. They are ideal for teach-yourself subjects (you can brush up your French while you drive) and for home-recorded material — even for recording a route map.

To operate an automobile tape player, you simply push the cassette or cartridge into a slot and it plays automatically.

There are now hundreds of jazz, rock, pop and classic LP tapes available. Tape prices are not quite competitive with LP records; cassettes and cartridges cost between $6.95 and $8.95.

If you want to buy blank cassettes and record your own programs, look for the length of time they will play — 60 minutes, 90 or 120.

Sonorous motoring. □