transfer audio cassette to my mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by alainr, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. alainr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #1
    I have about a dozen audio cassettes from 1978 to early 80's with some valuable memories.--and lots of blank time on them too.
    I want to transfer them to either digital files or a cd whichever is easier to do.

    1. How complicated is it to transfer for a non techie? or can you recommend a company that will do this?

    Can garageband do this? is it easy to do?

    i saw mixed c omments about Audacity.
    Mossberg in the WSJ recommended peggybank in 2013 but the reviews are horrible about service and quality now.

    If i want to edit out the silent parts, is there a simple way to do it for a non techie?

    I have a mac with Maverick.
     
  2. loby macrumors 6502a

    loby

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #2
    Funny, I have been transferring about 50 tapes over this last month into digital and I am doing one right now as I write this.... :cool:

    Tapes from the 70's & 80's will begin or have already begun to deteriorate and will need to be transferred if you still want them for the future. If people who have old tapes do not do this now, they will lose their precious memories. If anyone has tapes from the 70's through the 80's, they need to do this now, or goodbye tapes.

    When I first started doing this, I saw that some of the tapes have already or were in the process of loosing it's audio and going fast, and is why I have been hurrying to get this done over the month. Of course it depends on how they are stored, but generally, age is "killing them". Even some old CD's that were originally said to "Last for 100 years" are starting to go as well...

    I have been using Audacity and it is great for this task. Yes, Garageband can do it, and any other Audio Recording software, but Audacity seems to be the easiest with less hassle for this task.

    You will need to purchase a Cassette player that has a USB connection for the easiest transfer, but you can use a regular player with an 1/4" audio chord out of the headphone port if needed. I purchased a Cassette player with an USB out on Amazon for about $25-30 if needed.

    Easiest way to do it is install Audacity plug in your cassette player, hit the play button on your cassette player and click the record button on the software and you are good to go.

    Once it has recorded, go to the effects section found in the tool bar and scroll down to "Normalize" and hit "ok". This will bring up the levels to a good listening level. If you want to get fancy, you can play with the effects and use them to get some of the noise out, speed up a little some of the slowness in playing speed that happens sometimes to the tape as it gets older, and/or EQ it to sound better.

    To edit out things from the audio, just highlight what you want to get rid of and hit delete and you can edit out things quickly.

    Then go to "Edit" on the task bar and select "select all audio" and export it out. It will export it out as a large .wav file, but you can add/download a plugin from AudioCity's site I think (or search internet) for a plugin for .mp3 to use to export out as an .mp3. I use another audio converter for this task instead of a plugin.

    That is the basics and should work for general use. Have fun! :)
     
  3. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #3
    What kind of Mac do you have?

    I ask because if you have one with "Line" input, then your task will be easier than if you have one with only "Microphone" input. It's a question of levels -- a cassette recorder is going to put out Line level.

    If you have a Line input, you can get a RCA-->miniplug adapter (very inexpensive) and go right into your Mac, and the Mac will do the digitizing.

    There are outboard USB audio interfaces that can do the job also (take in analog audio, send digitized audio into the Mac via USB). You probably wouldn't want to buy one, but have you asked around among people you know, to see who's got something you could borrow? You could be surprised.

    I had many hours of old cassette recordings to transfer, and I used a digital field recorder to make the transfers. I ran line level into the recorder, and the recorder did the digitizing. Then I popped out the SD card from the recorder and transferred the audio files to my Mac.

    Once on the Mac, I used Amadeus Pro instead of Audacity, although I had both. Amadeus Pro has a much simpler user interface -- if all you're expecting to do is cut out blank sections, then you don't need a very powerful editor. Don't get me wrong - Audacity is great, and free, and powerful, but I think the UI is overly complex for a novice who just needs to get a simple job done.

    I know nothing about Garage Band but surely it can do the same thing.

    Editing out silences is easy. The audio file is a file like any other, in concept -- you can modify it and write it back out again. You bring it into the app, mark the beginning and end of what you want to cut (typically by clicking on the track with your mouse), highlight it, and in most cases command-X will cut it out and the app will slide together what you've left alone . . . and you go on through the track cutting out. Then you save -- ideally you save with a new name, so you still have your original (in case you made a mistake). That's really all you have to do.

    Later, or never, you can learn how to equalize or otherwise shape the audio you have. But making straight cuts is very easy.

    Edit: I assumed you had your own cassette recorder. If you don't, then what loby suggests is the best solution -- get a recorder that connects via USB. Easy. Simple.
     
  4. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Location:
    Yes
    #4
    I did this about 10 years ago. Used Audacity. There was some fancy software out their at the time that claimed to auto separate tracks and such. It was more of a pain than it was worth.
    Just set up your tapedeck, get the level about right, and record 45 minute tracks, one for each side of a 90 min cassette.
    Save the tracks in Audacity's native format.
    Keep some scotch tape on hand for splicing. Those tapes are old, they get brittle. You also might need to rewind a few times to get the tape tension down to the point where whatever player you're using can play them without warbling. Don't try editing while Audacity is recording, it'll get confusing and bad things can happen. Just spend a few days doing nothing but digitizing.
    Once you've got all the tracks (24 in your case, for your 12 casettes) Open them one at a time, and hack out the parts that don't have anything interesting recorded on them. Save.
    Once you've done that with all the tracks, you can either do a little noise reduction and frequency response massage on each of your 24 files, or split each file into logical subfiles, i.e. songs if these are music tapes, and do whatever massaging needs doing on them individually.
    Finally, export from Audacity to whatever final format you want.

    If all you have is something like "The Best of the Cowsills", or old Chris de Burgh, you're far better off just buying a digital copy. OTOH, tapes of old "Students for a Democratic Society" meetings are well worth the effort needed to manully recover.

    As already mentioned tapes degrade over time. If you want to save this stuff, the time to digitize it was a decade or more ago, but much is probably still recoverable. The best way to do it is by hand, and by the person who knows what they want to keep.
     
  5. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #5
    Right on! I was with the SDS back in the day, and yeah -- tapes of some of those meetings would be interesting.

    The tapes I digitized were from 1972, and I did the job in 2012. Almost all of them were OK, but I'd say that I had to crack open half of them and put the tape in new shells and, yes, do some Magic Tape splicing. They were originally recorded on a first-generation Sony recorder, the kind journalists used back then. Mono. The recording site was in the rainforest of west-central Bougainville Island, back when I was an anthropologist doing fieldwork.

    Here's one of them. I didn't do much equalization. It gets better about 2 minutes in.

    https://soundcloud.com/dmwiasinet/manapes-lhort-lnake
     
  6. alainr thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #6
    line input necessary?

    Monokakata said i need line input.
    What is it? would a 2 year old imac have it?
    Do i need it w/the usb connection?

    thank you all for you quick and helpful answers!

     
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #7
    If you have a player with a USB connection, or you can get yourself a USB audio interface, that's all you need.

    What from I can find out, if your iMac belongs to the generation that doesn't have an optical drive, then it doesn't have audio input either.
     
  8. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #8
    The above answers have given you options, but no one has asked you what equipment you already have.

    Do you have a cassette player? Does it have an audio OUT (or headphone) jack?
     
  9. Partron22 macrumors 68000

    Partron22

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    #9
    Which Mac? Some have audio inputs, some don't.
     
  10. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    Warrington, UK
    #10
    I use Audacity to transfer cassettes and vinyl to my Mac. I don't use it that often, so the only problem I have is remembering how to split the recording into the separate tracks. :eek: Other than that, it's fine.
     
  11. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #11
    Go into the :apple: menu, select About this Mac. Click on System Report then look in the audio section. If the Intel High Definition Audio section lists a Line Input, you have it.

    I'll concur with the Audacity suggestion, I've used it also.
     
  12. alainr thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #12
     
  13. oscar99 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    #13
    Using a MacBook Pro (mid 2010) and a cassette player with headphones out going into mac book and nothing comes through to audacity, Quicktime or iMac recorder app. Any ideas?
    Gh
     
  14. Tech198 macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #14
    i would never use the headphone jack to report to the mac 3.5 to 3.5 cable

    I tried this when i was doing cassettes and the u had too much noise.... quiet audio...

    If tape recorder only has headphone out, i would get a recorder that has USB port... Even if i could use headphone jack regardless, u'r want best quality u can get with analog tapes, otherwise allot of cleaning up will need to be done after, which would take considerable more time, and not even sure if would still be perfect.

    You may need to do some clearing up of noise anyway if it's bad. but with USB it will be better. Better to save yourself the trouble in the first place, than make it worse..
     
  15. MarkC426 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    Check the settings in Preferences/Sound in the input tab are set to Line In, and the input volume is active.
     
  16. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

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    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    Warrington, UK
    #16
    Check the volume on the cassette player.
     
  17. Undecided macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #17
    I just got tasked with a big family project that involves this so this thread is timely. Luckily, I have an old 80s (or so) boom box, with line out. I guess I'll connect it to my 2015 15" MBP (that has line in, right?) with RCA -> 1/8" and use Audacity. Do I need to adjust the volume on the boom box? I suspect not.
     
  18. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    Warrington, UK
    #18
    No, it doesn't. Have a look: you only have a headphone socket. You'll need a USB line in connection. One of these will be fine.
    https://griffintechnology.com/intl/imic
     
  19. Undecided macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #19
  20. markfc macrumors 6502a

    markfc

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  21. akidd macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Location:
    Tunbridge Wells, UK
    #21
    If you have an iPhone, you could play the tapes and use the iTalk app to record them, and then upload it to your Mac. Large files though but v good recordings. Get the Pro version, as the original cuts off after about 20secs. Or it used to the last time I had an update.
     
  22. graley macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Location:
    Australia
    #22
    --- Post Merged, Sep 5, 2016 ---
    I use a Griffin digitizer. A little grey box that accepts 3.5 mm audio input analog and outputs to digital. But it is old, like me, so might not be around any more. But its worth a search. Cheap too
     
  23. Undecided, Sep 5, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016

    Undecided macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #23
    But if I plug in headphones, in the sound control panel it switches from internal mic to external mic (with type microphone port) and I can in fact record from the headphone mic.
     

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