Is this transparent cassette player with audiophile chops worth it?

Earlier this year, FiiO launched the CP13 cassette player, a nostalgic nod to analog music in a digital age, harkening back to the era when the Sony Walkman revolutionized portable audio nearly 45 years ago. Our Audio Editor, Becky Scarrott, was particularly enamored with it, highlighting its appeal as a cost-effective alternative to vinyl for capturing that analog charm.

Now, FiiO has reintroduced the CP13, but with a twist: it’s transparent! This new iteration allows users to see the cassette inside, adding a sleek, modern aesthetic that’s reminiscent of other transparent tech innovations like LG’s OLED TV and Lenovo’s transparent laptop. However, the transparent design isn’t just about looks; it’s packed with substance too.

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The FiiO CP13 transparent version boasts several key features that enhance its usability and performance. It offers impressive battery life of up to 13 hours on a single charge, powered conveniently via USB-C. Unlike typical cassette players, which often run on lower voltages, the CP13 operates at 4.2V, ensuring more stable speeds thanks to its motor stabilizer. The audio circuitry, entirely analog, promises a high signal-to-noise ratio and minimal distortion, preserving the rich sound quality of cassette tapes.

Using a lithium battery not only contributes to its lightweight design—weighing just 310g—but also allows FiiO to maintain a slim profile despite housing both a cassette mechanism and motor. The dimensions of the CP13 measure 120 x 88.3 x 31.8mm, ensuring portability without sacrificing functionality.

For music enthusiasts, especially those with a penchant for retro formats, the appeal of cassette tapes lies in their unique warmth and nostalgic charm. Tapes offer a distinct sound quality, characterized by a slight hiss in quieter moments, that many find endearing compared to digital formats like MP3s. Moreover, supporting artists by purchasing tapes from platforms like Bandcamp provides a tangible connection to the music while directly benefiting musicians in an era where streaming royalties often fall short.

Whether you’re reliving the past or embracing a unique audio experience, the FiiO CP13 transparent cassette player combines vintage appeal with modern technology, catering to both the aesthetic and functional desires of music enthusiasts and collectors alike.