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Tech: Cassette tape to whatever

gnu 11 Aug 12 - 08:45 PM
Beer 11 Aug 12 - 10:15 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 12 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,Tony 11 Aug 12 - 10:41 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 12 - 10:47 PM
pdq 11 Aug 12 - 10:47 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 11 Aug 12 - 11:33 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 12 - 11:51 PM
Beer 12 Aug 12 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 12 Aug 12 - 12:13 AM
Mark Clark 12 Aug 12 - 12:44 AM
Deckman 12 Aug 12 - 01:08 AM
JohnInKansas 12 Aug 12 - 03:52 AM
Ole Juul 12 Aug 12 - 06:41 AM
Arkie 12 Aug 12 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 12 Aug 12 - 10:08 AM
Deckman 12 Aug 12 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Tony 12 Aug 12 - 10:52 AM
gnu 12 Aug 12 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 12 Aug 12 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 12 Aug 12 - 11:34 AM
Arkie 12 Aug 12 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Punkfolkrocker 12 Aug 12 - 11:49 AM
michaelr 12 Aug 12 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,BobL 12 Aug 12 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,hevans1944 12 Aug 12 - 05:35 PM
michaelr 12 Aug 12 - 08:18 PM
Ross Campbell 13 Aug 12 - 01:13 AM
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Subject: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: gnu
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 08:45 PM

So, I bought an Ion tape to PC coverter. What a piece of crap. Took it back to the shop and got my $ back and bought a 1/8 jack to jack cable for $20 (1/4 of the price). Hooked up a cheap cassette player headphone jack to the line in on my PC and BOB'S YER UNCLE!!! I got Steely Dan and Tommy Makem and a shitload of all types of music going to CD (Jethro Tull dubbing as I type this) that I can play in my truck. I have 3000+ tunes on tape and LP. Never mind the fancy crap... a $20 (FULL price at a specialty shop so you can find it cheaper) cable and Bob is singing in fine voice.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Beer
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 10:15 PM

felicitation mon ami.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 10:28 PM

A lot of my cassettes squawk, and they did so from early on. The so-called "prerecorded" tapes work much worse than the ones I recorded myself as copies from vinyl. Can I get these cassettes to work smoothly just once, so I can convert them to a digital format?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 10:41 PM

Have you cleaned the heads on your tape deck?
(with Q-tips soaked in 90% isopropyl alcohol)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 10:47 PM

Hi, Tony -
I cleaned heads religiously when I used cassettes. The squawk seems to come from the plastic cartridge itself, and transfers into the recordings I've made.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: pdq
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 10:47 PM

What do you mean by "squawk"? Is it electrical in nature or mechanical?

It is a bit tejus, but you can take a quality case, the type which has screws holding the halves together, and feed the tape from a junky pre-recorded cassette into it. A pencil should work to spin the bobin. Try one that you can afford to lose first.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 11:33 PM

Graphite - scrape an h2 pencil lead into the two wheels - or purchase a small squeeze bottle for three bucks.

Sincerely, Gargoyle

Now if I can only get my 4-track player to "un -gum " the roller wheels and stop eating the "Best of Cream " or the sound track to Easy Rider... I will be a most happy fellow. (Say three times...as fast as you can... "Him smart fellow...he fellow smart....")


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 12 - 11:51 PM

It's a mechanical squawk. I've tried the trick of putting the tape into a quality cassette case. That works, but my fingers are not nimble enough to do it very well.
Ticks me off - the record companies used such cheap materials, and charged such high prices.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Beer
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 12:03 AM

I just attained a demagnetizer. You plug it in and pass it over your cassette heads and it is suppose to do the trick. i doubt it but what the heck.
I bet there are some folks out there that still love the 8 track and are sorry they stopped producing them. Well i must have well over 500 cassette's and with all the new tech. this is the one i still love.
Getting old i guess.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 12:13 AM

There was a brief period in the early to mid 80s
when pre-recorded cassettes improved in quality.
Better materials and tape oxide formulations..
and more affordable advanced technology cassette decks.
Industry was keen to market them as a viable hi fi alternative to vinyl.
Even some of the more teen oriented portable boom boxes
were capable of decent quality playback.

Then CD happened.

I've just taken possession of 2 huge crates of a deceased relatives
very dusty MOR music cassette collection.
No charity shops will be interested these days;
and for the moment I'm very reluctant to just dispose of them as rubbish...
But neither am I that motivated to dig out a working cassette player.

I've got enough boxes of my own cassettes stored at my mums house
that I haven't bothered with for over 10 years.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 12:44 AM

I think gnu hit on the best solution if you don't happen to have a recording interface such as a PreSonus Firebox or the USB version lying about. A recording interface will have a better analog to digital interface than your computer's sound card but if you don't use your computer for recording and have no other need for a recording interface, go with gnu's solution.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 01:08 AM

I'm approaching the five year mark in my archiving project. It's entailed organizing, documneting, and converting over 700 audio recordings to CD's. These span the distance from the mid 1950's to the 1980's. This collection will be released to the public in the next few months in collaboration with the U.W. (University of Washington, USA).

In my thousands of hours of digitizing work, the system I've found that works best for me, be it R/R tapes, or cassette tapes, is to play the original recording into my "Marantz" digitizor, model # CDR631. This machine allows me to "tweak" the recording as I need. I can boost the volume, diminish the volume, create "breaks" during live concert recordings, etc.

When done, this machine spits out a very high quality CD with which I can then work to build the final archive.

I hope this helps ... bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 03:52 AM

A recommendation frequently seen in past geological ages, but that I haven't heard recently was that sometimes "tape noise" is caused by excessive or irregular tension in the tape. It can also occur if a tape has been "on the shelf" for a while and the layers of tape in the reel are even slightly stuck to each other.

The recording medium is "bonded" to the carrier film, and as with any complex material, long term contact between "layers of stuff" can cause slight sticking. In the case of tapes, the pulling apart isn't likely to harm the tape but can cause some variation in the tension as the "sticky spots" are pulled into the feed.

When left "wound up" in the spool, the carrier film can also change its length, usually be shrinking slightly, so that the tape may be significantly more tightly wound if it's been sitting for a relatively long time.

A suggested possible, sometimes partial, cure was to just fast forward the tape to the end and then rewind before you start any critical listening or copying from them. For a tape that hasn't been played for a while, sometimes a couple of cycles of "retensioning" the tape this way will reduce the noise in the output signal.

The case material can also warp, or sometimes may have been a little crooked from the start, but since the part of the tape where the "listening" is done is in a fairly long free-running length of "just tape" the signal you get from it can be good even if the case itself squeaks and squawks with mechanical noises, a long as the tape itself moves at a regular speed past the heads. The cassette physical noise may be annoying when listening to a tape, but shouldn't be picked up in the signal that you record on a new medium - usually.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Ole Juul
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 06:41 AM

JIK explained all this, but I'll do my wording nevertheless, because this stuff is very important to understand if you want to use tape.

Reel to reel should (and normally is) stored "tails out", which means you wind it before playing. It also means it is stored at a proper (and even) tension which doesn't damage it and that is why it is done that way.

Cassettes are a special case in that they're always ready to go. However, if they've been wound via the fast wind, they are often very uneven. In fact sometimes so uneven you can see it. To play these best, it is a good idea to play them once through without listening, and then play them for real after that. The reason is that when they are wound at the slow, guided, and even, pace of 1 7/8" things line up better and the tension is even. Doing it this way can sometimes avoid mechanical noises. For those who didn't get the idea from Joe, those mechanical noises are often coupled to the output because it vibrates the tape.

Regarding the suggestion of using a head demagnetize. That is not relevant to the discussion at hand, however you should not operate a tape recorder for very long before using one. Heads get slowly magnetized and you lose the high frequencies permanently if you don't demagnetize the heads.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Arkie
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 09:57 AM

It also helps to have software that will remove hiss and other tape noise and clicks and vinyl noise if recording lps. I had a digital copy of an old tape that I wanted to use on my radio program but the track was loaded with clicks for some reason. The spikes showed up vividly in Audacity. Just for the heck of it I ran it through my little recording software and pulled it up again in Audacity. All the spikes were gone except for two which could be removed manually.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 10:08 AM

2 quick points before I go in the bathroom...

1] noise & click removal software needs to be used sparingly
on lowest auto settings, or ideally very carefully on manual.,
to avoid unpleasant digital artifacts and tonal degradation.
Obviously, it's wise to keep a safety copy of the original digital transfer sound file
without any noise reduction applied.

2]Fast forward & reversing tape on elderly poorly maintained machines
can be like playing Russian Roulette.
Be prepared for tape chewing and mangling.
The safest but most time consuming alternative is patiently and carefully
winding the cassette spool with a suitable sized pencil or biro.
Tapping the case on a table and gently winding sufficiently with a biro to take up slack
before playing was another useful tip from a byegone era...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 10:47 AM

I certainly agree with a comment that Joe Offer made regarding the cheap materials that went into the cassettes back in the 70's. I recently archived a series of superb concerts performed in Seattle in 74 and 75. EVERY ONE of these cassette had failed ... the tape had become unfastened to the end of the spool. This required me to learn how to open the case, and re-position the guide and re-fasten the tape. This is NOT an easy task. If you try this, I suggest you first put all your fingers through the pencil sharpener first .... bob


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 10:52 AM

I remember that, what punkfolkrocker said, tapping cassette cases on the table. He can't hear me now, he's in the bathroom, but I remember I used to do that if the tape was stuck in one place and the tape drive motor wasn't strong enough to get it moving. After a few hard raps and a spin with the pencil it would play normally.

A tape deck with a stronger motor might have forced the tape to move, resulting in a squeaking sound, eh?

I remember, too, in line with what several people have said, that the tapping and spinning was usually only needed with pre-recorded tapes and with some cheap blank tapes that I bought before finding out how much mechanical trouble they caused. After that I only bought expensive blank tapes and LP's.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: gnu
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 10:59 AM

punky... cassette players are cheap. $50 for a player and a cable will do for making CDs for a truck. I just happened to have a CD/tape/radio player that was used very little since it was bought for $20 about ten years ago.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 11:08 AM

I'm back..

Whilst sitting and cogitating in a similar posture to Rodin's "The Thinker"...

the idea struck;

anyone considered clamping a biro in a power drill*
and rigging up a stand for controlled tape winding/rewinding ???


[* might probably find a suitable shape/size drillbit accesory in the toolbox ?]


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 11:34 AM

Hi gnu, I take your point cheap players may still be available.

I've gradually given up on cassettes
despite owning several large space consuming boxes
cluttering both my house and my old mum's.
Truth is I've amassed too much music on CD & digital Flac file
to find time or motivation for cassette transfer.

The only thing I need to remember to do before it is too late
is finish transferring some fragile & damaged cassette master tapes of my old Band's
studio sessions & gigs.

Did it using a standalone Pioneer CD recorder about 5 or 6 year ago
and ought repeat the procedure to higher bit rate files
now I have decent soundcard & USB preamps.

My last remaining high quality cassette machine is a Sony WM-D6C pro walkman
[yes that one bootleg fans...]
but it's not been powered up for a long time,
so hoping nothings seized up or failed ???


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Arkie
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 11:38 AM

Appreciate punkfolkrocker's comments on use of software to clean and enhance soundfiles. I am concerned about the cure doing more damage and have saved the originals. But I have seen improvement in tracks that have been doctored and cleaned.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,Punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 11:49 AM

Hi Arkie, you may be aware of an online 'underground' community of amateur enthusiasts Audiophile Vinyl rippers.

These guys use scarily expensive high end Turntable gear,
seek out the best available pristine LP pressings
and work in near operating theatre clinical dust free conditions..

The most respected rippers have developed judicial when necessary use of noise cleaning software
into an artform.

Their standards and end results are arguable better than commercial CDs
released from needle drop transfers
when original master tapes have been lost.

So yeah, that kind of software can be an essential tool
even though too many recent Big Record Lable CD remasters have given it a bad reputaion.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 02:54 PM

Weird - I was first to post to this thread, but my post has disappeared...

My question: What exactly is meant by Line in on the PC? What symbol is that input marked with? On mine, I only see a Mic input, marked with a little microphone symbol.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,BobL
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 03:42 PM

Some computers, and most if not all sound cards, have separate Mic and Line inputs. Symbols vary. On some of my gear they're colour coded: pale green for headphone / line out, pink for mic and pale blue for line in.

If you have only a mic input, hook it to the cassette headphone output with the volume turned down really low.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: GUEST,hevans1944
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 05:35 PM

Shortly after the PC became popular with enthusiasts, sometime in the early to mid-1980s if I recall correctly, there came a plethora of "sound cards" such as Sound Blaster featuring "line in" "line out" and "microphone" jacks. More modern PCs have these same jacks built into the motherboard as part of an integrated sound system. Depending on the application software, the jacks may be programmed to serve different purposes, such as (for a 6-channel audio) a bass or center speaker channel instead of microphone in, front channel speakers instead of line out, and rear channel speakers instead of line in. However, assuming the alternate definitions are not active:

The "line in" jack accepts a high-level audio signal, typically generated from a tape deck or other analog audio equipment, and presents it for digitization by the sound card or integrated sound system on the PC.

The "line out" jack provides a high-level analog audio signal, provided by the sound card or integrated sound system on the PC, when you play digital content with a media player. That would be something like an MP3 file or any other digital audio file for which your PC as a CODEC installed. This signal is appropriate for connection to an amplified stereo speaker system.

The "microphone" jack is a low-level analog audio input typically derived from an external microphone. It functions identically to the "line in" signal input except it accepts and digitizes a lower signal level. In other words it is more sensitive than the "line in" signal input.

Sometimes the jacks are color coded: pink for microphone, light blue for line in, and lime for line out on my ASUS P4B266 motherboard with integrated sound system. The line out jack often has a loudspeaker symbol next to it. Best way to find out which one is "line out" is to connect an external amplified speaker system and try each jack until you find the one that plays content from your PC media player. Use appropriately low volume-control levels while doing this.

Some internal audio CD drives provide a stereo analog output that connects to the sound card with a little three-wire cable. This allows audio CDs to play directly through the external speakers connected to the line out jack. It may also facilitate ripping music from audio CDs. The comment has nothing to do with the OP's question. I just threw it in there for "completeness."

By suitable of adjustment of the signal levels (think 10 kilo-ohm potentiometer) you can use the "microphone input" jack the same as the "line in" jack. The analog-to-digital converter on the sound board, or on an integrated digital sound system, has a maximum input signal level that will in turn result in the maximum digitized "word" the PC is capable of storing and manipulating. Higher input levels produce exactly the same maximum digitized word and therefore the audio information content is lost. An audiophile purist will call this "clipping" and it is undesirable anywhere except for heavy metal stage performances.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Aug 12 - 08:18 PM

Thanks for that info, and I'm sorry to be so uninformed, but... in my youth, stereo cables required two connectors. Are these mini inputs on PCs stereo? What sort of cable/plug configuration do I need to get a stereo signal into/out of one input/output?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Cassette tape to whatever
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 13 Aug 12 - 01:13 AM

I presume the two connectors you are thinking of would be RCA Phono jacks/plugs. The socket on your computer is probably a stereo mini-jack type. The cable you need looks like this:-

http://www.majadu.co.uk/35mm-stereo-mini-jack-to-twin-rca-phono-cable-lead---015m-15cm-299-p.asp (different lengths of lead available)

Or if you already have phono leads providing output from your stereo, an adapter might do the job:-

http://www.dv247.com/pa-systems-and-live-sound/stagg-twin-female-phono-rca-to-stereo-mini-jack-adaptor-2-pack--92286

Shop around - these things can be had very cheap, or you can go to the big electrical retailers and pay serious money.

Ross


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