A little bit of Maxell Cassette Tape nostalgia

Sorting through a cupboard over the last few days I found some boxes full of my old cassette tapes. I still have plenty NOS sealed ones too. In particular the boxes of Maxell UDXLII, XLII and XLII-S brought back memories of a time during the early to mid eighties when I had friends who were seriously into Grateful Dead bootleg swaps. The goal was to try to ensure the least number of “dupes” so the tape you ended up with was as close as you could get to the original. Of course, the nature of such swaps meant that usually what you ended up with was many generations down the line, and the sound quality was, to my ears, fairly ropey, even at best. To try to ensure that the “quality” was maintained as best as possible there were some strict rules on deck type and level (IIRC Nakamichi was favoured) and also on which tape brand and type to use; that was Maxell UDXLII or XLII. Heaven help anyone who tried to use anything else, although you got extra kudos points for using XLII-S, particularly the early type with the smoked cases (awesome dude!). So in celebration of that I pulled out a handful of the Maxell UDXLII, XLII, and XLII-S cassettes for a quick photo. Hopefully it will bring back some memories for others here too…


Late 80s early 90s dance music mix tape currency amongst friends and I was the TDK SA90 :smiley:

(grumbles about the new young generation sharing screenshots of Apple Music playlists in a few decades time;) )


Ah, nostalgia!

I’d forgotten the adjective ’Epitaxial’, which I think refers to the Iron/ferrite crystals being deposited on the tape in layers, but it’s hardly a commonplace term.

My recollection is that Maxell cassettes had a very distinctive smell when newly opened - does anyone else remember that?

My favourite XLII-S design was this one, from the later 80s:

Very cool.



Reminds me of Mussorgsky night on the bare mountain and the Maxell advert from the 1980s. You can probably find it on YouTube. Apparently “It’s worth it!” :blush:

I can just imagine you, Richard, hunched in your leather armchair, hair slicked back, with Mussorgsky’s ‘Night On A Bare Mountain’ blasting away at you.

That was the TV advert for Maxell tapes that I remember from 30-odd years ago!

Or there was another one with a soprano shattering a wine glass with the clarity of her singing.

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I think it was Ella Fitzgerald advertising for Memorex who shattered the wine glass.


Forgot that was Bauhaus’s Peter Murphy.

And who can forget this one.


Yes, remember that one with her scatting away.

Mark, yes Maxell definitely had a very distinctive smell when new. Not many could resist a sniff straight after cracking open the wrapper and opening up the case, including yours truly! I found that early eighties Maxell MX in the white/purple wrappers was my favourite - expensive habit though!




I’ve still got around 50 Maxell cassettes still sealed and two cassette decks, am very reluctant to part with anything… my wife despairs!



@Richard.Dane - LOVE the XLII-S, my favourite blank of all time. Especially the early '80s ones, as you say, in the “smoked” cases. You can really push the levels high on them, and the bass/treble is amazingly good.

And yes, serious Deadheads did insist on Nak decks being used for copying live tapes.

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As an ex TVR owner I always liked this one…


I loved trading live Dave Matthews shows on these tapes! The old B&P (Blanks and Postage) to help get folks going on their collection.

Definitely Team TDK here, SA or even MA if I was recording something important. Of course the equipment I had then probably merited nothing more upscale than AD at best!


Used to buy UDXL-II for use with my (then) JVC cassette deck. As Kevster says, on those Maxell tapes you could get away with quite a bit in the saturation region.

Didn’t Maxell do metal tapes or was that TDK? Seem to recall they were more expensive than the standard SA90

Yes, Maxell MX was one of the very best metal tapes back in the early eighties.


I’ve got a sealed metal one somewhere it’s a TDK and the cassette case is made of metal.
While since I’ve seen it. :thinking:


I had a fairly long-term relationship with TDK too, with just the odd flirtation with Maxell. The ne plus ultra TDK was MA-XG:


ISTR they cost about £5 each in the late 80s, which was too much for teenaged me. It’s the equivalent of nearly £15 today, but that’s still less than they now go for on eBay!