Converting Cassettes to Digital Files

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Schut, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Schut macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    #1
    I've been tasked with converting some cassette tapes to digital files.

    I am wondering what type of interface would result in some good quality transfers. I have a mac pro and a decent cassette deck. Is there anything I should look at that will do the job for under $200?

    thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. ashjamben macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Location:
    Shanghai, China
    #3
    that article is the easiest way to do it, that's exactly how i convert all my vinyls.

    but, to get a better quality sound any usb/firewire audio interface with (im guessing your cassette has RCA outputs) RCA inputs.
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    Any audio interface that has two "line in" inputs (for left and right channels) will work. Most Macs already have the audio interface so all you need is a cable. The quality will be pretty good. But if you want a truely profesional conversion then you want an external audio interface with adjustable gain controls. $200 is a reasonable budget for that and you might have $50 left over.

    As for software Garage Band is not bad and it's big advantage is that you already have it on your computer. GB will let you edit then export to MP3 or whatever you need.
     
  4. JDUKE macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    #5
    removing hiss from casette conversions

    any tips with Garage band on removing unwanted "hiss" noise from a bad dolby setting on the original recording while in Garage Band
     
  5. Alan S macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #6
    Any updates.

    I'd like to revise this thread. I've got about 162 audio cassette tapes that are great lectures that I'd like to convert into digital files and hear on my iPod. These tapes are about 500 hours of audio. So, I'd like to know the most efficient way to convert them. Ideally, you would just put the tape in the cassette player and then walk away. Then at some when you return to the computer you can just turn the tape over, or put in another one and start the next recording session.

    I've seen instructions on doing this, but it seems that the work-flow requires you to always be hovering around the computer, and has many manual steps. Is anyone aware of an efficient work-flow to convert the tapes? I'd like to hear from anyone that has done this.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    Yes, buy a 16 channel Firewire audio interface and 8 cassette tape players. But I don't think you'd want to pay for that.

    There really is no reason to stay around an watch while the tape runs. Set you watch to alarm after an hour. Later you might have to trim off a bit of silence from the end of the recording where the tape ran out.

    One good thing to have is one of the tape machines that automatically "flips" the tape. My old Sony dual cassette machine can be programmed to do that. I think auto-flip was a common feature. The tape is not physically flipped so it was a cheap feature.

    You don't need 48Khz samples and 24 bts for a lecture but if you intend to post process the audio files to remove noise and make the speach more understandable to the more bits you can record the better. There are tricks you can do to remove uncorrelated noise from two stereo channels. You would want a very good digital sample. But maybe a simple raw transfer is good enough? But the way I think is that "I'm only gong to do this once..."
     
  7. Alan S macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #8
    Nope. ...

    This is what I want to avoid. I want to be able to flip tape then walk out the door to work. Then at lunch time, flip tape and head out the door back to work. Then at dinner time flip tape and eat dinner. Flip tape and go play soccer. It will not work if I'm chained to the watch/desk/house. It must be a background task.

    The most important thing is an easy workflow. It cannot be wait around for tape to finish, and no post processing the file.


    Good point. My old cassette player did that. Too bad I gave it away.

    With 162 tapes, if I could do 4 per day just as a background task then it would take about a two months to get them all transferred.

    These are lecture I bought, so I'm not worried about background noise. No need for stereo, it is the content not he audio quality I want.


    Has anyone created a work-flow like this?
     
  8. deej999 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #9
    If you ideally want to use a timer - record feature then Garageband will not be the best option. It will record way after the tape finishes and you will need to trim the silence. This is easy to do but for 160+ tapes a lot of extra work.

    Audio Hijack Pro can record from any source. So you can record only the input from an audio interface. If you get email notification sounds from Apple Mail it will not record that for example. Other advantages include a timer feature, it is apple-scriptable and it can be set to stop recording when it reaches a certain amount of silence.

    I think it can record direct to mp3 and if you don't need to edit them in Garageband of the free Audacity later it can send them directly to iTunes.

    No need to record at higher sample rates than 44.1 (Cassettes are 22kHz anyway). But 24bit depth may be useful is there is high background noise and you need to edit out noise later.

    They have a 10 minute per recording demo to try out -
    http://www.rogueamoeba.com/audiohijackpro/

    deej
     
  9. Alan S macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #10
    Thanks I'll give this a try.
     
  10. sumvell macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    #11
    i have gone through this thread and have a problem.
    I have a 2010 MBP. i want to convert some cassettes to digital format. Tape recorder has a stereo jack as the only output.
    i have tried a
    1.TRS cable(http://www.americanmusical.com/ItemImages/Large/p28562.jpg)
    as well as
    2. TRRS cable (http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/images/trrs-jack2.jpg)
    to connect the tape recorder to the mac. however audacity or garage band just does not record what the tape is playing.
    any solutions as to what i am doing wrong?????
    thanks
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #12
    Are you sure your Mac even has an audio input? Some have out only.
     
  12. sumvell macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    #13
    I tried recording voice using my iPhone headset with mic. It got recorded pretty well. So just not sure why the sound output from tape is not recording. Btw, I have checked the tape output also and it's also working.
     
  13. sumvell macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    #14
    thank you everyone. figured it out. simple setting change to chose the line in instead of the output in system preferences did the trick. sometimes we look for big things when doing simple things first would solve the problems....:)
     
  14. ambernb82 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    #15
    What is a good way to copy a voice from a cassette into IMovie

    I am making a movie of my Grandpa during WWII and I have his voice telling the stories on a cassette tape and would like to put it into the movie because he has passed away now. Any good tips on how to get it from a cassette player to my computer?
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    FIRST step, #1 importance is to obtain a high quality cassette tape player. Don't use one of those cheap portable units. Get something made for "Hi Fi". Decent units are not expensive and you can even find them in thrift stores. Test any "new to you" player with tapes you don't care about. Check that the unit does not damage the tapes

    These players all will have a pair of "line out" jacks. Get an audio interface with line level inputs. Some Macs have this built in. If not you will need a USB audio interface. Get the right cables.

    The external interface is best because it will have a hardware knob to adjust the gain. Turn the gain up until it clips then back off until it does not clip.

    Use software like Garage Band to record the signal in the line-in of the audio interface.

    After you have the basic capture you can try and apply any of the "effects" that you think might be best. Perhaps you bee some "EQ" or you need to draw in to volume automation
     
  16. Sackvillenb macrumors 6502a

    Sackvillenb

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Location:
    Canada! \m/
    #17
    Noise gates should be the simplest way, and should be pretty effective... depending on the nature of the hiss...
     

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