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Converting from one format to the other

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:50 pm
by c hristian
That's right, convenience is king, as I say. So I'm CONVERTING!! DON'T TRY and STOP ME!!!

Now, who is gonna help me? The best, most efficient way to convert all these cassette tapes I have to CD?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:21 pm
by That Was Jonathan E. Then
It's a strange thing, but I've found that cassettes are actually very durable. I play tapes from nearly thirty years ago in the car and many, not all, sound pretty good. Of course, eventually they suffer from a variety of defects.

But, from your point of view, the important thing to remember is that you're never going to really be able to improve on the original sound quality of the cassette. I remember being told back in the day, when I got lots of review copy cassettes, by a promo person that I was lucky to get them because the advance promo copies were of considerably higher sound quality than the eventual commercial releases. So bear in mind, as you digitize, that your original source may not be very high quality. Of course, if you're using tapes you made yourself from good sources and with good equipment, you may get a very good transfer.

One of the things I've been meaning to do, but haven't gotten around to, is digitizing some of my old mixtapes — so I can't really give any first hand advice about what to do. However, I have digitized a fair amount of old vinyl using Peak LE and SoundSoap and I think that is a much overrated software package. Bloody expensive and not very easy to use and not designed for MP3 file format.

Rogue Amoeba at

http://rogueamoeba.com/

have a much cheaper package of Audio Hijack Pro and Fission available that others seem to like more. There's a free trial version to decide if it might work for you.

Good luck.

Re: Converting from one format to the other

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:51 am
by Ian A.
c hristian wrote:The best, most efficient way to convert all these cassette tapes I have to CD?

Probably using sledgehammer to crack nut, but I run 'em into ProTools LE via MBox, tweak the EQ, maximise levels, top and tail, and write off as .aif files ready for CD. The authentic distorted ghetto-blaster sound of over-recorded West African market K7s in living digital - the artists and producers would probably have fits (to cross ref to another thread) but that's the way they sound "right", just like you sillybillies and your preference for graunchy vinyl I suppose. I get the point . . .

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:04 am
by joel
It's a manual process, since whichever route you take you will have name and "mark" each track (yes, each and every one) separately.

The cheapest way would be to take an analog line out from your current cassette player and attach it directly to the analog "line" input on your PC (assuming it has one - most PCs do IME). This would most likely require you to buy or make :-) an RCA --> 3.5mm TRS cable of an appropriate length.
Next you'll need some software. I use Bias Peak on the Mac and Sound Forge on PC, but that's because my company pays for them. The cheap - free - and effective solution is audacity. Coupled with the LAME encoder for MP3 this is a very useful bit of software.

The least painful method might be to get one of the CD222 series CD/Cassette decks from TASCAM
This allows you to dub either way... and has a sensor that can detect silences. Be careful, though, as the silence may just be silence within a song rather than silence between songs. IIRC these record to vanilla red book CD audio format, so you'd then have to rip your rip to PC and rename, mark tracks in Audacity in order to listen on iPod etc.

If you really want to dicover your inner geek, you could get an outboard USB ADC like this from TASCAM and connect your cassette player to your PC through it. A required for option if your PC doesn't have an analog line in. Don't install anything but the basic hardware drivers on your PC and use Audacity to record / mark / edit etc. The benefit of this is potentially higher quality analog to digital conversion, and of course extra geek fashion points.
Alternatively, get yourself one of the new breed of compact, super high-quality digital recorders such as this little wonder from from KORG which can record at up to DSD (frankly not worth wasting with Cassettes), but which can also record at 16 or 24 bit up to 192Hz or direct at 329kbps MP3. You'd need a fairly non-standard cable to connect this to your cassette deck (RCA --> 3.5mm TR), but the KORG is seen as a USB storage device by the PC, so getting the recording to your desktop is drag and drop simplicity. Again use Audacity to edit and name tracks (and of course EQ them or add effects if you want), though this can be done on the recorder, it is painful in the extreme. The Korg can also be used to make real, live stereo recordings...

HTH

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:44 pm
by Neil Foxlee
Small problem - that Korg costs a cool £450 or so...

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:42 pm
by Ian A.
Neil Foxlee wrote:Small problem - that Korg costs a cool £450 or so...

I just bought, on pro recommendation, a Marantz PMD620 - they're haveable for around £250 in UK, plus card.

C30C60C90...gone?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:49 pm
by Paul S
One way is to buy one of those USB turntables, which if it's the same as mine will have an input for a tape deck. (Check before buying, as there are some cheaper ones that don't) Then, simply plug in the cassette deck, play the tape and use the free Audacity programme that comes with it to edit the recording. Cost about £119, you can also use it to convert your vinyl and use it as a normal deck. I've done it and it's relatively painless.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:12 pm
by c hristian
the crucial part for me is the tape deck. this is what i need to focus on.

any thoughts on this :


http://www.americanmusical.com/item.asp ... dium=feed&

or this?


http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail. ... 93&pnr=M53

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:22 pm
by joel
Neil Foxlee wrote:Small problem - that Korg costs a cool £450 or so...

In my defence, suggestion #1 is to try a $10 cable and the free Audacity software (it's free, really free).
The second is a Cassette --> CD-R deck that will make the CDs at the touch of a button or four. If Christian has a lot of cassettes to copy, this may be the way to go.
Something like a Korg is an extravagance (DSD is way OTT for copying cassettes), but only one of many high-quality - cheap for what you get - mobile recorders now on the market. In rip-off Britain, it apparently costs about twice what it does here FWIW.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:34 pm
by c hristian
no matter what though, bottom line is that since it is analog, you have to play things all the way through, at a regular speed. no high speed dubbing options, correct?

wait a minute wait a minute, I seem to remember a high speed dubbing option somewhere... maybe in one of the links i gave out..

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:03 am
by joel
c hristian wrote:the crucial part for me is the tape deck. this is what i need to focus on.

Try one and see how well it works for you.
There are plenty of battleship decks from the 70s, 80s and 90s around for about the same or less (this for $50...) should the USB deck not be good enough.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:06 am
by joel
c hristian wrote:no matter what though, bottom line is that since it is analog, you have to play things all the way through, at a regular speed. no high speed dubbing options, correct?
Correct. High-speed is for tape-to-tape dubbing.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:51 pm
by Martin_Edney
c hristian wrote:wait a minute wait a minute, I seem to remember a high speed dubbing option somewhere... maybe in one of the links i gave out..


Strictly speaking you could probably use this to play your cassette at double speed, record that on your PC, and then use appropraite software to halve the speed of the digital recording, to get you back to square one.

However this is a BAD idea, as the double speed playback will cause quite a bit of what's on your tape to be too high pitched to be digitised, and so you'll lose a lot of your music (especially high frequencies such as cymbals, hi-hats, etc.)

Stick to digitising your tapes at normal speed.