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Tech: Digitising cassette tapes

Dave the Gnome 20 Apr 18 - 05:29 PM
Acme 20 Apr 18 - 06:53 PM
GUEST 20 Apr 18 - 07:46 PM
punkfolkrocker 20 Apr 18 - 09:19 PM
punkfolkrocker 20 Apr 18 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,Mr Red at the library 21 Apr 18 - 05:56 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 18 - 06:05 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 18 - 06:57 AM
Bonzo3legs 21 Apr 18 - 07:27 AM
Acme 21 Apr 18 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Ray 21 Apr 18 - 11:56 AM
punkfolkrocker 21 Apr 18 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Lou Judson 21 Apr 18 - 08:03 PM
Acme 21 Apr 18 - 08:44 PM
Mr Red 22 Apr 18 - 04:00 AM
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Subject: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 05:29 PM

Get it done by a professional or try DIY?

Ideas, thoughts and advice all welcome.

I don't have many but the ones I have were never released on modern media and are irreplaceable.

DtG


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Acme
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 06:53 PM

I've done them on my own, same with VHS tapes. Today I saw an add for a device that you pop the cassette into and it outputs mp3 to your computer, but I think you want a more robust file than mp3 as far as stereo, quality, etc. I just scrolled back through my Instagram - it's called the Mini USB Audio Cassette Tape Converter. The site is casettetomp3.com.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 07:46 PM

If you are a bit of a techie, it isn't too hard to do it at home. You need to have a good cassette player, a line-input to your computer or laptop, and software such as audacity, which is free. You generate large wave files and it's up to you to decide what to do with them, convert them to a less sizable format or not, and how you want to listen to them.

I converted a lot of old reel-to-reel tapes, LPs, and cassettes to WAVE files and then broke them into tracks and converted the tracks into mp3s. Listen to them on my portable player.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 09:19 PM

Informed opinion is that the cheap catalogue cassette to digital converters
are just poor audio and mechanical quality cassette players.

Brand new HiFi audio cassette players are now virtually extinct
unless you can chance upon a new old stock Teac W-890Rmk11.
I bought one of the last in the UK about 2 years ago
for [if I remember]something over £200.
A few months earlier, before they were discontinued, they were a fair bit below £200...

You can still find Teac AD-850 CD & Cassette combo players £350 at Peter Tysons.
But probably not what you want to spend for digitising only a few cassettes.

Which leaves scrabbling about your or your mate's lofts for a high quality golden age player from the 1970s to 1990s,
which would most likely need a refurb and replacement rubber drive bands
and other perishable parts..

Or ebaying an affordable used machine...

Then connecting to line in / Audacity on your PC would be the relatively easy part of the process...

If you did want the faff of higher than CD quality transfers,
you'd need an entry level USB audio interface.
There are some good ones under £100...

I'd simplify digitization and just plug a cassette player into the line in
of a handy mobile recorder, like one of the Zooms which it seems nearly every folkie here now owns.

Basically you've left it a bit late for cheap digitisation.

... and then, is there any guarantee your tapes are still playable...????


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 09:44 PM

I was just checking the specs of the three and a half hundred quid Teac AD-850 out of curiosity.
Hopes were raised when there was mention of recording CDs & cassettes direct to a plugged in USB flash drive.
But from what I can find so far, sound quality is limited to a piss poor 128kbps mp3 only...???


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: GUEST,Mr Red at the library
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 05:56 AM

(converting PowerPoint to Video - in Office 2013 - 2010 does it but not 2017)

If you have a cassette player and suitable output means then plug into the PC and use Audacity. Audacity is free, needs lame-enc.dll for mp3 if you go that route. If trying: it is free you have nothing to loose and getting an outfit to do it for you is still an option.

AND - as I always say "What is the quality of the recording you don't actually have?" - ignore the quality, your only concern is the integrity of the tape on the cassette (which may not have been played in a long time). As long as that does not suffer in any machine that plays it, DIY is a good start. Decide from the results.

I bought a Walkman that converted for 15 GBP. It actually relies on a special version of Audacity that recognises the USB and puts it on the timeline. The Audacity version comes with the Walkman. Came from China on E-Bay. Quality? - see above, but as good as a cassette can be IME.

Set the sample rate to 44KHz (or 48 for video use) - and 192K bit rate for MP3 is good for music, 128 for speech. Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 06:05 AM

I've done hundreds over the last few weeks
It's really down to using quality equipment and a decent sound editing system - I've always found Adobe Audition (early version 1.5) the most usable)
Audition was downloadable as a freebie not so long ago Dave - if not and you are interested) PM me
Of the hundreds I've done I've had no problems once I've dealt with the surface hiss
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 06:57 AM

Ment to say anybody - don't use thos Aldi/Lidl cheapo digitising cassette players - they stretch the tape
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 07:27 AM

If the cassettes contain commercially released music, there is a very good chance that you will find it on free Spotify, then you can play said music on your PC, record with free Audacity, split into tracks and save to (I would suggest) flac lossless format. This way any problems always associated with cassettes' noise reduction systems simply don't exist.

If however the cassettes contain other material such as live gigs, radio programmes etc, then I would add to the advice given above by suggesting that the cassette player is set with noise reduction off, then apply Audacity hiss reduction to the PC copy afterwards.

When copying my live recordings from cassette, I record to wav on a Tascam DR-05 digital recorder at 48k/24 bit to give extra headroom, then transfer to PC by USB and tweak in Audacity CC. It has an "adaptive noise reduction" function which when combined with a little "exciter" gives excellent results.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Acme
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 11:32 AM

I have several of my father's excellent Sony cassette players and can plug them into my computer with RCA jacks or with mini stereo jacks. I need to get around to doing it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 11:56 AM

I've been using VinylStudio to digitise LP records for some time but it would be just as easy to use it to digitise cassette tapes. Once your material is in there, you can use it to split and name the individual tracks, remove rumble/hiss etc, normalise the stereo image and burn to CD or send MP3s to iTunes etc. etc. I've no complaints about it.

I use it on a MAC so you might have to check whether they (Alpine Soft) do a version for other platforms.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 11:59 AM

I have 2 of my Dad's Teacs from the early 1980s back at my mum's house..
But neither have been switched on for approx 20 years..

Pot luck if they will work any more...???

There are youtube videos on "How to" service and replace perished rubber & foam parts & capacitors for tech minded folks..
..and still a few older repair men advertising their services online..

2nd hand serviced and working old cassette decks on ebay are getting more expensive now
as hip trendy young folks jump on the retro cassette fashion revival...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: GUEST,Lou Judson
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 08:03 PM

As a professional sound person, doing both live sound and transfers to digital, I say you can do it however you wish, but there are some important things to consider:
Proper playback is the most important thing, and (especially with older tapes) aligningthe head to the tape can be the thing most often unkown. If the head of the playback deck doesn't match the one that was used to recordit, the teble will be affected and the sound muffled to some degree. I use Makamichi decks with variable azimuth alignment, and adjust it to each individual tape before ruinning the transfer. This can make a huge difference in the sound quality! Even a good deck that runs well can be misaligned compared to the cassette.

There are many other factors that can make it better or worse, and as a professional it pays to do it as well as possible. ALWAYS the most important factor is the best playback you can get.

Of course I'd say take it to a pro, but details do matter! And cheap machines will sound cheap, and if you plan to digitize and listen to it a lot, do it well from the start!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Acme
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 08:44 PM

My dad made his recordings on the Sony equipment I have here - so Lou's information lets me think that it should play back okay (Dad was an AV librarian back when this was a new thing - now digital librarians are commonplace). He was trying to work with the best equipment he could get.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Digitising cassette tapes
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 04:00 AM

One consideration in asking a professional outfit to do it is that they may decline if it shows any sign of copyright. Even if they can copy right


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