Review: We Are Rewind Cassette Player

Analogue gold from a bygone era?

The portable cassette player is back. But is it still alive? Join us for a test of the We Are Rewind Cassette Player.

Published 2024-05-02 - 8:00 am
We Are Rewind Cassette Player
Geir Nordby

A retro wave is currently sweeping over us. Suddenly, speakers and amplifiers need to look old again and vinyl sales have surpassed CD sales. And now, years after LP sales have picked up again, now it is the turn of cassettes. It still takes effort to find new cassette tapes, although recently music has started to be released on the once forgotten format again.

Of course, to play the cassettes, you need a cassette player. Which for many of us is a journey back to a bygone era. French company We Are Rewind has taken this nostalgia to a new level with their portable cassette player, simply called the Cassette Player.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player with tapes
(Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)

Build quality, Bluetooth – and a pencil

The Cassette Player is a beautiful piece of technology. The design is directly inspired by Sony’s first Walkman cassette player, the original TPS-L2 from 1979. But where Sony has a plastic cover, the French player uses high-quality aluminium instead.

The compact player has replaced the traditional disposable batteries with a rechargeable lithium battery that lasts for 10-12 hours of playback. And to bring the old technology into the present, the cassette player has been equipped with Bluetooth connectivity! This means you can use it with your noise-cancelling headphones when you’re on the go. That way you will be able to hear the tape noise better.

The Cassette Player also has a recording function so you can make your own mixtapes. For that, you’ll need the 3.5 mm line input.

And here’s a fun gimmick: Should you experience “tape salad”, i.e. the cassette tape curls, a pencil is included for the occasion, which you insert into one of the notched holes to wind the tape back into the cassette. Just like we did in the 80s.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player pencil tape spaghetti

Tape salad? Relax – pencil included! (Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)

“Not for earbuds”

For some reason, the specifications state that the player is not compatible with earbuds. I’m sure not every Bluetooth product can be paired with a product that only has one button for pairing, but at least I’ve gotten both earbuds and wireless headphones to work with the player.

Wired headphones also work well. For example, I’ve had good experiences with the Sennheiser IE 600 high end earbuds.

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All types of tapes

We Are Rewind Cassette Player supports all cassette tapes, from Type I to Type IV, which indicates the composition of the tape. Type I is a standard tape and pretty much the only one available today. Type II, also known as chrome tape, is mixed with a little cobalt for increased sound quality, while Type IV is metal tape with even higher magnetic capacity – giving a wider dynamic and frequency range. And what about Type III: It was the FerriChrome format that never made a big impact on the market.

The player is available in several colours. (Photo: We Are Rewind)

We Are Rewind Cassette Player: Test procedure

To test the sound quality in a favourable environment, I recorded on a newly restored Nakamichi 1000 II that I inherited from my father. A high-end cassette player from the late 1970s that still sounds better than most other cassette players on the market.

The sound was tested both through headphones and earplugs, and also through a real vintage reference stereo system, with a Harman Kardon 730 stereo receiver from the late 1970s and a pair of JBL 4411s from the early 1980s. Together with the Nakamichi recorder, it’s a system full of charm, but also with great sound quality!

The recordings were made on older, but completely unopened Type II Maxell XL-II and XL-IIS tapes. They were considered to be the very best money could buy before cassettes were phased out. I’ve also recorded on newer Type I tapes.

As the portable cassette player does not support Dolby noise reduction, the recordings were made without it, otherwise there would be too much treble during playback.

Original tapes were also tested, in the form of the album Sehnsucht by German metal band Rammstein. The seal on this was broken exclusively for this test.

Finally, I tested the recording function of the portable cassette player to see how suitable it is.

Harman Kardon 730 & Nakamichi 1000II & JBL 4411 (2)
The journalist’s vintage system has never looked better. (Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)

Ease of use

The Cassette Player is essentially very simple to use. The controls are intuitive and easy to navigate, even for those unfamiliar with cassette players. However, there is no EQ or tone control, which I would have liked.

I miss being able to hear a muted playback sound when rewinding so you can hear when one song ends and the next begins. You could do that on the coolest players of the 1990s. The stop button has no trigger function, instead you have to lift the lid manually.

During recording, there is no sound from the recording source through the headphones. This means that you can’t hear what’s going on while recording. To do this, make sure the audio source you’re recording from has two outputs so you can hear music while recording.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player buttons
The We Are Rewind Cassette Player also has a record button. (Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)

Playback quality

With a high-quality recording, the Cassette Player delivers surprisingly well. Even with audible tape noise, I think the music flows well, there’s good channel separation and the warmth that characterises analogue sound is also present here. There are some slight speed deviations, which are most audible when listening to piano music. Wow/flutter is present on all analogue equipment, and here it is audible. But not so much as to be annoying.

The sparse output means you need lightly powered headphones to get the most out of the player. Neither the closed Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X nor the open Sony MDR-MV1 thrive on low power, but the quality of what comes out is good. The sound level is just a little low.

It’s better with the Sennheiser IE 600 earbuds. I’m defying the rules from the manual here, because with them the soundstage comes alive. The dynamics come out better and the bass is well preserved. The soundstage is never as clean, vibrant and resolved as streaming or CD, and the Rammstein cassette in particular is a rather flat experience. But good music recordings made even on a good cassette have significantly more rhythm and especially bass.

What’s missing is deep bass and also overtones. There is clearly less air in the top end than we are used to from digital and the soundstage is also narrower. The stereo image doesn’t extend to the sides like I’m used to. Some people think that’s an advantage. That’s why you’ll find a crosstalk function on many headphone amplifiers and digital players.

By the way, you can almost forget about wireless headphones. The sound signal is far too low, even at maximum level. Audible hiss and almost no sound level is a bad combination.

Recording quality

I would advise against recording with the cassette player. There is an extreme amount of tape noise, and more of the low-frequency type than when the same recording is made on the Nakamichi. It’s simply a stopgap solution that never sounds very good.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player 2
(Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby)


The We Are Rewind cassette player evokes nostalgic feelings, both in appearance and in use. The charming design, recognisable ease of use and decent sound make it a fun product for anyone who wants to relive the joy of cassettes. The price is high but still affordable, although you get much better sound from a streaming service and the headphone output on your smartphone.

The most disappointing aspect was the wireless functionality, which provided far too low a sound level on both headphones and earbuds.

The Cassette Player should be seen as an investment in musical memories. As pure, unadulterated nostalgia, it does the job and the Cassette Player is definitely worth checking out.

We Are Rewind Cassette Player

We think

Lots of retro charm. Build quality has a solid feel to it. Recording function with line input. Bluetooth allows for wireless headphones. Low power for headphones and low sound on Bluetooth. No support for Dolby noise reduction, audible tape noise and poor recording quality.

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