Converting tape to digital: why can't I hear anything?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by LittleVee, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. LittleVee macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Hi all

    Any comments/advice gratefully received as I'm trying to convert my old cassettes dug out of the loft to digital but seem to have hit a snag! My bro's done the odd one onto CD for me but I've got loads, he's based a long way away, has small children, etc, so I don't want to bug him.

    I have a working tape player with a working headphone out and an iBook G4: in between these, there's a double ended mini-jack cable, and a m-audio transit USB audio interface (advised by guy in music store as no line-in on the iBook).

    I've installed the transit, selected it as the Input in System Preferences/Sound and left the Output as Built-in Audio. With it all connected up, I play tapes and can see a fluctuating Input Level so I'm assuming something's getting through, but I can't hear anything at all even with all the volumes whacked up.

    Can someone tell me why, how to fix it and how to then record through GarageBand or Audacity? I'm no techie, but I can usually get the hang of most things and this is really frustrating me.

    Feel free to point out I'm being completely thick somewhere along the line...
     
  2. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #2
    Each app has it's own input settings. Check all the preferences.

    For example, in GB:
     

    Attached Files:

  3. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #3
    it's about reference levels

    your tape deck is most likely operating at -10 dBV, while most pro gear operates at +4 dBu. some gear has a -10/+4 switch, but i don't see on one the transit.

    when i do cassette dumps, i run the analog signal through an RNP and boost it 18 dB (sometimes 24, depending on the source material). but i have a home studio and happen to have one of these lying around.

    you need something similar, a mic pre with a line input. otherwise, as you've seen, your level is going to be unacceptably low.
     
  4. LittleVee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    Thanks for the suggestions, guys.

    Fiddled around, checked every preference I could find for inputs, outputs, playthrough, etc and still couldn't hear anything.

    Then I thought "what the hell" and "I wonder", set everything up, pressed play and clicked record (in Audacity). Hey presto, I could hear what was being recorded! It does mean a few false starts for each track, setting levels and such like, but better than nothing.

    My first tape has been recorded, chopped up into separate tracks and imported safely into iTunes.

    Now I know it all works, I just have to decide how much I want to get to grips with edit/clean up in Audacity - the test was a stereo tape of an old mono original with a bit of hiss on the empty channel (worst on my favourite track, natch) - so I could be here for the long haul...

    Vee
     
  5. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #5
    So -- how much did all the gear you needed cost you? I've got a few old tapes I'm thinking of converting, but it might actually end up being cheaper just buying them again on iTunes.

    I do already have a tape player with audio out, but that's it.
     
  6. LittleVee thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    Hi

    The only things I bought were the m-audio transit and the double-ended jack cable, which together cost me about £60 (around $110), although prices for the transit can vary enormously.

    In the UK, that equates to only about 75 iTunes tracks, or maybe 6/7 albums. I've got way more than 6/7 albums that I just can't get again or have to be sourced from (expensive) specialist sites, so it should be worth it. The jury's still out on the sound quality though...

    Anyway, if I get good I can charge friends a couple of quid to do their tapes, or just flog the kit on when all done.

    Vee
     
  7. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #7
    Thanks for the info. It'll probably be cheaper for me just to buy the tracks I want. Better quality too.
     

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