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Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac

Thompson 30 May 15 - 07:28 AM
Will Fly 30 May 15 - 07:34 AM
Thompson 30 May 15 - 07:46 AM
Jack Campin 30 May 15 - 07:47 AM
Thompson 30 May 15 - 09:36 AM
GUEST 31 May 15 - 09:49 AM
cnd 31 May 15 - 03:26 PM
Gibb Sahib 31 May 15 - 03:34 PM
Thompson 31 May 15 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 May 15 - 05:59 PM
cnd 31 May 15 - 06:50 PM
GUEST 31 May 15 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Lou Judson 31 May 15 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 May 15 - 10:59 PM
Gibb Sahib 31 May 15 - 11:10 PM
Thompson 01 Jun 15 - 01:57 AM
vectis 01 Jun 15 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,Ray 01 Jun 15 - 06:37 AM
cnd 01 Jun 15 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Jun 15 - 04:55 PM
GUEST 01 Jun 15 - 05:01 PM
Stanron 01 Jun 15 - 06:19 PM
Thompson 01 Jun 15 - 07:10 PM
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Subject: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 30 May 15 - 07:28 AM

I have a couple of tapes that I'd like to record to my Mac. I thought it was a simple matter of connecting the "phones" socket on the cassette player (an aged Aiwa walkman) to the headphone socket on the Mac, using a sound jack. But this isn't working. The tape is playing, If I connect the cassette player to a speaker with the jack, I can hear the sound. But when I connect it to the Mac, I can't.

In the System Preferences, the only input showing is Internal Microphone. Is there any way to add the sound jack as another input?

I assume that if I can get the computer (MacBook Air, Yosemite) to play the tape I can then use something like Audio Hijack to record it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 May 15 - 07:34 AM

My Mac Book Pro has a mini-jack headphone line OUT socket, and a mini-jack mic line IN socket. Not all Macs, I believe, have both, and it sounds as though your is one of these.

I use a mini jack-tojack cable to connect my Sony Walkman cassette player to the Mac - with Audio Hijack as the inputting program, and everything works fine.

If the worst comes to the worst and you have a problem, PM me and send me the tape and I'll gladly copy it and burn you a CD.

Will


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 30 May 15 - 07:46 AM

I'm an idiot. Of course you're right. I'll have to see if I can do this on my old MacBook which must collapse at some stage, and will only work if it's plugged in.
Thanks for the kind offer, Will Fly, which I'll take up if this doesn't work. It's an old tape of Dominic Behan singing.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 15 - 07:47 AM

You will get a better result using a USB cassette player to create an audio file on the computer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 30 May 15 - 09:36 AM

I would if I had one!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 15 - 09:49 AM

Local Aldi had some last week, even cheaper if I remember rightly.

https://www.aldi.ie/en/specialbuys/hurry-while-stocks-last/hurry-while-stocks-last/ps/p/portable-cassette-converter-2/

Alternatively, this works for me

https://store.griffintechnology.com/imic

The imic also adjusts automatically for RIAA equalization from pre-recorded sources (tape or LP)

Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: cnd
Date: 31 May 15 - 03:26 PM

So, I don't know if this question's been answered yet or not, but I figured I'd drop some expertise here.

I use a gadget called the Behringer UCA-202. All you need is your computer, the UCA-202, a recording program (which I think you already have covered, but if not I would highly recommend a program called Audacity, which I believe is free and offered in Mac and PC) and some stereo cables. Hook the UCA to your computer's flash drive port, and hook the stereo cables to the port on the UCA that says "INPUT." Plug the other end of the cables into your cassette player, in the plug that says "OUTPUT," where you would normally plug it into your receiver. Open your recording program, and you should see a recording option called I believe it's Audio recorder or something like that. Either way, you should notice something new there if you've plugged it in. Just start recording with your program (do this first), and then play your tape, and (if desired), seperate the tracks as desired. Once it's done, stop the program and put your setup back how it was before, so your cassette player is plugged back in to your receiver. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 31 May 15 - 03:34 PM

Go to System Preferences > Sound and switch the setting of you're 1/8" jack from output to input.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 31 May 15 - 05:40 PM

Thanks, lads.
The USB cassette recorder is gone from aldi.ie, it's not even on their Hurry While Stocks Last page (usually a cause of frustration anyway as the things on it are only left in their Ballyhaunis and Kealanine stores). @cnd, your instructions are beyond my current abilities. I'll wait till the next time that offer comes around again on Aldi, maybe - though €20 to record just two tapes sounds a bit mad.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 May 15 - 05:59 PM

This, for me, is a VERY valuable thread.

I would suggest evntually posting it to permanent MC archive.

I am not concerned about steero.

Howver, most of my tapes are 20 plus years old. They are oral history.
I accept they may be destroyed in the transfer.
They need to be transferred on their first attempt.

I will use the best device, with the highest rating.

The hardware prices are cheap...from $10....to $40 USD ... as of this date.

THANK YOU for the discussion.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Once converted, I intend to use Audacity


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: cnd
Date: 31 May 15 - 06:50 PM

Are they too complicated, or can you not get the equipment? You can find Audacity for free on mac here, and the device I was talking about is only USD $30-ish, or about 27 euro

You don't have to use that one either--you can use any similar device. I just suggested that one because it's the one I use, and it's worked for me with flying colors. You should be able to find something similar on the shelves of most electronic stores. Just go to the counter and ask for a audio interface converter or something like that. If my instructions were too confusing, I can explain them better.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 15 - 07:15 PM

I used Audacity to transfer some tapes that had been in my truck for years. Some made back in the 80s. Most of them were still good.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST,Lou Judson
Date: 31 May 15 - 08:39 PM

Wow, some misinformation in this thread. Or at least, amateur lack of info. USB cassette players are among the worst things you could use; your walkman is probaly better. Those of us who are audio engineers and make tape transfers part of our professional services look for the best possible playback, and good decks are pricy for good reason - nobody makes them any more and they are wearing out, and are expnsive to repair.

All you really needed to know was how to switch your Mac's jack to input, and it is a teatament to Apple's dumbing down evolution that they don'tsay how to do that in the consumer's operating manual. It is really simple and basic!

Quality pl yback needs a good machine aligned to the tape. I use Nakamichi and Sony cassette decks in tip top condition.

Anyone who has valuable recordings on cassette or reel tapes, contact a profr\essional to get quality transfers to digital files! :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 May 15 - 10:59 PM

Thank you ... Lou. ..

I am hoping that a new transfer machine via USB will avoid the nightmares problem of the past. The issue, for me, was an old player device and a "sticky stuff" that spun around the "drive thimble."

At one point we left the "player" aspect on a high table and spun the tape into a pile on the floor.

Talcum (aka baby powder) did not help.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Your advice for a "professional"....is acknowledged.....however, a Lynux boot retrieved a machine that had been "high-jacked" by a WinDoze" up grade.

The "professionals" ...   from my experience ... know little.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 31 May 15 - 11:10 PM

All you really needed to know was how to switch your Mac's jack to input

Already said that, Lou.

Can elaborate:

1. Open System Preferences. Select "Sound".
2. At the bottom of the window, where it says "Use audio port for:", change the selection from output to input.

I use a regular cassette player as hardware and use the Garage Band software to capture the recording.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 01:57 AM

Thanks very much, lads - I'll try this "change audio port" business.

If there's any question of making this an archived thread, could I suggest that instructions be given for recording tapes to CD on Windows and Linux computers as well?

This forum is probably a world heritage source of unreleased tapes of folk music; it might be worth people recording them to computer and then (in the case of out-of-copyright material) releasing them into the wild via archive.org

As an example of the importance of moving material from an older technology to a newer, may I cite my uncle, who used to do a radio programme on 2RN, the original Irish radio station, in the 1940s or so. He was wheeling his bike out of the GPO after broadcasting one day and saw a pile of 78s lying on the path. He went through it and found various treasures, including one of James Joyce reading from Finnegans Wake. He went in and asked what the pile was for, and was told he could take what he liked, this was rubbish waiting for the bin men. He asked the porter to save the whole lot for him, piled what he could into his bike basket, and hared home for the car. But when he came back, the bin lorry had come and it was all gone.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: vectis
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 04:57 AM

I use an old 'MixMeister' device between players and PC. I input an audio signal from a phono or headphone jack into it and it outputs an MP3 signal into the computer. Clever doohickey which works very well from record players, cassette players and reel to reel tape players.

A more knowledgeable friend took off the reel to reels for me before I emmigrated because we only had one chance of getting the audio off. Quality is very good and I reckon The cassettes will be equally simple, just time consuming.

Probably the cheapest option if you have loads of stuff from different original media sources as I have.

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 06:37 AM

I've started to archive my vinyl collection and use an Artproaudio Phono Plus preamp with a 2015 iMac. For between £70 and £80 you'll get a state of the art preamp which can be powered via its USB output. It will cope with an input from a cassette/tape deck and has switchable RIAA EQ so its just as good for turntables. The other advantage is that it has a variable input gain which you don't get with some high end sound devices (e.g. Apogee).

Rather than Audacity, as everyone seems to recommend, I'm using an application called Vinyl Studio within which you can split your recordings into tracks, clean up scratches and surface noise etc and transfer the results into iTunes, burns CDs etc etc all non-destructively. For around £25, its a steal. I've no complaints about it and still finding things it can do.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: cnd
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 06:38 AM

Linux is above my pay grade, but Windows is as simple as the Mac way. I'll break it down into easy-to-read steps, since no once likes reading a big block of text.

1) buy (if not owned) an audio signal converter. For example a Behringer UCA-202, or similar device. I honestly can't find anything as good or similar for nearly the price, aside from other Behringer things with small differences
2) take your tape deck (whatever you use to play cassette tapes) and wire the "OUTPUT" section to the UCA's "INPUT" selection
3) open/download and open Audacity or a similar recording program on your computer. In Audacity, there should be a picture of a mic (I might have an old version, so new ones may be different), and a drop-down tab. From that tab should be an option called "USB" something, depending on the name of your device. Select that one
4) Start playing the beginning of your tape, and hit the red circle universally known as "record." You should start seeing blue lines
5) One recording starts, slide the input volume slider (speaker shape on the far upper left) to a lever so that the blue shapes appear a reasonable size
6) OPTIONAL STEP: Listen to the recording so far at your normal computer volume and see how it sounds. If you don't like it, raise or lower the volume. If you do, restart.

These instructions work on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Also, here's instructions for installing Audacity, though I'm sure there's a million online for that.

1) Go to their website and download it. Here for Windows, Here for Mac, and Here for Linux.
2) Once you've installed Audacity and made it a Desktop icon, etc, it should tell you you need to download LAME for MP3. LAME can be found here, though I don't feel like breaking it up for you

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 04:55 PM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 05:01 PM

Dear cnd,

I am lost....Linux is FREE.
How can it be above your "pay grade?"


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Stanron
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 06:19 PM

Thompson posted on

01 Jun 15 - 01:57 AM

"could I suggest that instructions be given for recording tapes to CD on Windows and Linux computers as well? "

It's more to do with the sound card or sound chip your system uses than the operating system. I don't know Macs much but I'm getting the impression that there is only one jack socket and it's function is set by software.

Most systems I have used have three sockets. If I recall correctly they are headphones, microphone and line out.

I'm currently using Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon. Nice system, free. the closest I found to my old XP.

For sound recording and editing I use Audacity. It's a straightforward program, also free, and you should be able to work out how to use it by experimenting.

The signal you get from a microphone and also in earphones is analogue. It is a fluctuating stream. For a computer to process this signal it has to be converted to a digital form. The digital form is organised numbers. In order for the digital signal to work in headphones or a line out it has to be converted back to analogue. Your sound card or sound chip has these analogue to digital and back converters built in, and these days they can be expected to work to CD quality and above. An MP3 file is a compressed, therefore smaller, file which for some people looses quality. For an awful lot of people today MP3 is good enough.

Macs are well known for hardware brevity. They were the first computer to come without floppy disk drives. Shocking when it first appeared but quickly became the norm. Only one jack socket seems a bit stingy, considering how expensive the machines are.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording a cassette tape to a Mac
From: Thompson
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 07:10 PM

Stanron, the old Macs had DVD recorders inbuilt and had sound input and output jacks. The MacBook Air models have no DVD and just have a jack for speakers.


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