Fiio CP13 cassette player review: Nostalgia done right

The CP13 doesn't sound as good as '90s Walkmans, but it still has a lot to offer.

Fiio CP13 cassette player with Meteora cassette next to it
(Image: © Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

The CP13 is all about reliving the nostalgia of the cassette era; the player combines a minimalist design with stellar build quality, and you get the convenience of USB-C charging. The battery life is great as well, and the motor is able to drive any headset. The cassette head isn't as polished as cassette players of the '80s and '90s, and there is a high noise floor. That said, if you just need a player to enjoy your cassette library, the CP13 has plenty to offer.


  • +

    Great design and build quality

  • +

    USB-C charging

  • +

    Can be used with any headset — even demanding planars

  • +

    Good battery life


  • -

    Cassette head doesn't hold a candle to '80s and '90s designs

  • -

    No ability to record

  • -

    Lid indent only on one side

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I used to take my Walkman (a WM-GX100) everywhere in my pre-teen years; it was just cool to be able to listen to music on the go, and I was attached to that thing — most of my vacation photos from that era had me rocking that Walkman. 

When Sony's Discman became accessible a few years later, I switched over to those models. I ended up buying a few dozen cassettes (mostly alt rock), but the collection wasn't anywhere as extensive as my CD catalog, and I haven't paid any attention to them for the better part of two decades.

Fiio CP13 cassette player's design

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

These days, I use Roon to stream my lossless music library throughout the house, and I don't really use any analog media. But with a resurgence in retro tech, audio manufacturers are once again catering to this niche, and when Fiio said it was making a cassette player, I was interested.

Fiio CP13 cassette player with cassettes next to it

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The CP13 is aimed squarely at users who have an existing cassette collection and want a reliable way of playing them back. Fiio says it wanted to faithfully recreate the look and feel of an analog device, and as such, it doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity or any other extras.

That said, you get some niceties: there's a built-in 1800mAh battery, and it charges over USB-C. The CP13 is now available for $109 at Amazon, and it is sold in interesting color options: Red and Silver, Sky Blue, White and Black (what I'm using), and a Transparent model that looks amazing.

Fiio CP13 cassette player with Meteora next to it

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Let's start with the positives: Fiio did an outstanding job with the design of the CP13, and the aluminum chassis means it is highly durable. The unit is smaller than Walkmans of yesteryear, and the design is on the minimalist side; I almost missed all the extraneous logos and branding that was a mainstay on all '90s cassette players.

Fiio CP13 cassette player's controls

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The CP13 just has Fiio branding at the front and back, four buttons on the left — play, rewind, forward, and stop — and a volume knob along with 3.5mm jack and USB-C port at the top. You get a knurled texture to the volume knob that makes it easy to access, and the playback buttons have good tactility. There's a see-through window that lets you view the cassette, and there's a screen protector bundled in the box that can be installed over the glass pane.

Fiio CP13 cassette player's lid indent

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The only issue I have with the design is that the lid is a bit difficult to open. Fiio added an intent to one side, but ideally, it should have added the same on the other side as well — as it is, it takes a decent amount of force to open the lid. That said, there are no issues with the build quality whatsoever.

Fiio CP13 cassette player's cassette head

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Using the CP13 couldn't be easier; just slot in a cassette, and hit the play button. The cassette player works with all cassette types, has a higher voltage 4.2V motor, and uses an entirely analog audio chain. The JRC5532 op amp has enough power to drive just about any headset, and I used the CP13 with the Fiio FT5 and Sennheiser IE600.

Fiio CP13 cassette player plugged in to Fiio FT5

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Coming to the sound, it tends to vary significantly based on the recording itself. I listened to my early 2000s collection of nu metal and alt rock, and while the overall quality isn't as refined, there is an undeniable charm to analog media. The digital rendition of Meteora in my collection sounds noticeably better, but it isn't as much fun as listening to the cassette.

Fiio CP13 cassette player with Meteora artwork next to it

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Of course, a lot of this has to do with nostalgia; I associate listening to cassettes with my pre-teen and teenage years, and that evokes a lot of memories. If you've still got a cassette player from the '80s or '90s that's in a serviceable condition, you don't need the CP13. But if the cassette head is damaged or you need something new to listen to your cassette catalog, Fiio's cassette player is a great choice.

Fiio CP13 cassette player design showcasing window

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

As a consumer product, the CP13 doesn't have anywhere close to the same finesse as cassette players of the past century; the noise floor is higher, you'll need to manually fiddle with the playback speed, and there isn't the ability to record. But as a tool that allows you to play back older cassettes and relive the nostalgia, it is outstanding.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.