In Search of: Cassette Tape > Digital suggestions.

Discussion in 'Tape' started by Tim 700, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    349
    I need some recommendations on transferring cassette tapes to my computer.

    I want to go lossless, need hardware / software ideas.

    My Grateful Dead collection is starting to get up there in age, want to preserve the 1st generation analog masters I have.

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  2. oldvinyldude

    oldvinyldude AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You can do this pretty easily, or you can get very caught up with getting things perfect......

    The most important element in the chain is the cassette deck. You can just go with RCA cables from deck to stereo 1/4" mini plug adaptor, into computer.

    There are many analog to digital software packages out there. Audacity is excellent and free, but it's interface is a bit daunting. Cakewalk Pyro cost about 40 bucks, and is a simpler interface.

    In either case, you can save as .wav files (lossless), as well as other types such as MP3 with varying amounts of file compression, and FLAC, depending on the software. After that, it just a file on your hard drive. I have a copy of my digital files on 3 different drives, just in case.....

    With the software, you can split tracks, edit gaps in audio, etc.

    Some will advise about additional tweaks to the files, better analog to digital converters than what's built into your computer hardware, etc. It's your choice how much time and money you wish to devote. Like so many other things like this, you can get 90% for X dollars&time, or get 99% for 10Xdollars&time.
     
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  3. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    Thanks, I had a RCA > USB and tried to use it with Audacity, couldn't get it to work, gave up after 5 hours.
     
  4. petehall347

    petehall347 the brandy coffee man

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  5. MRL_Audio

    MRL_Audio AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I use RCA > USB and use Audacity with solid success. Use a similar setup to digitize LP's as well. Takes some getting used to using Audacity but there are numerous sites with tutorials etc.
     
  6. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    I couldn't get it to recognize any signal, tried the tutorials for hours. Need to start over.
     
  7. dhnash

    dhnash Active Member

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    If you are using a USB device as your audio input instead of the line input connected to your computer's sound card, you may need to change what is selected as the default recording device in your Control Panel> Hardware and Sound>Sound>Recording tab so the USB input from your external source will be available as an input to Audacity.
     
    Tim 700 likes this.
  8. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Active Member

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    Location:
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    I like using USB audio interfaces for digitizing analog media. I use a behringer umc202hd and have been very happy. I've also had creative emu, focusrite, and steinberg interfaces. All have been great.
     
    Tim 700 likes this.
  9. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    Just ordered a Behringer UMC 202 HD and corresponding cables. Looking forward to finally transferring some awesome bootlegs, then uploading to the inter-net.
     
    bigx5murf likes this.
  10. dhnash

    dhnash Active Member

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    Were you able to figure out how to setup your system so that Audacity is able to record audio from a USB source? If not, you will need to address this issue with the Behringer UMC 202HD unless you plan to connect its analog audio outputs to your sound card which is probably not ideal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017 at 7:25 PM
  11. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Active Member

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    Location:
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    The behringer unit, once setup becomes your sound card, and is capable of input and output within itself. Audacity will recognize the interface, you just have to make sure you choose it as the recording device. The only thing you really have to mess with are the levels of the input, which the behringer will have a gain knob, along with a pad button (for use with to input instruments directly). You may need to do a few test runs to get the levels right. You will need something to plug an RCA into the combo jacks, I used a XLR female to male RCA cable, into my phono amp output. Audacity is able to auto record once it's set, and auto stop as well.
     
  12. dhnash

    dhnash Active Member

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    Yes, this is all clear to me. The question I had was whether Tim 700 had been able to setup things properly to utilize a USB input as the audio source in Audacity since this also will be necessary for him to use the USB output from the Behringer unit.
     
  13. palsapal

    palsapal Active Member

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    Location:
    nr Southport, UK.
    @Tim: Just had a look at this model. What inputs do you intend to use to connect your cassette? I can only see a pair of balanced inputs. The unit looks like it's for instrument/mic inputs.
     
  14. dhnash

    dhnash Active Member

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    304
    That's a very good question. It seems that all that would be required if Tim doesn't want to use his in-board sound card as an A to D converter is a quality external A to D converter with USB output that would connect between his cassette deck and computer. This assumes that he already has or will be able to figure out how to set things up so that Audacity "sees" the signal from the external A to D converter. Audacity will be able to capture the audio at the bit rate and depth provided by the A to D converter and will be able to save the resulting audio file in a lossless format. This would avoid the need to purchase the Behringer UMC 202HD and the XLR to RCA adapter cables required to connect the cassette deck to it.

    The key question, which to this point is unanswered, is whether Tim has been able to solve the problem of Audacity not "seeing" a USB input signal. If this problem is not solved, it won't matter what external A to D converter he uses.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017 at 9:58 AM
  15. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Active Member

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    452
    Location:
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    They're combo jacks, they take XLR or 1/4". You'll need either XLR to RCA cables, or 1/4" to female RCA adapters and use a regular RCA cable. The outputs are on the rear, and also 1/4".
     
  16. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    349
    I wasn't able to get Audacity to recognize the USB input. I did this a couple of months ago, forget the details, but did everything on their site and on some forums. I remember reading that some USB turntables and tape decks have issues getting recognized. I went ahead a bought the Behringer UMC 202 HD and XLR>RCA cables too. I'm going this route now because my son has wanted one of these for awhile, so I figured I would transfer my tapes then he can use it for Guitar / Vocal recording.
     
  17. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Active Member

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    452
    Location:
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    If I recall the behringer unit doesn't come with drivers or manual. Both are available from their site, but weren't easy to find
     
  18. dhnash

    dhnash Active Member

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    304
    Good luck and let us know how things work out!
     
    Tim 700 likes this.
  19. palsapal

    palsapal Active Member

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    100
    Location:
    nr Southport, UK.
    Tim: When you connect the Behringer just think of it like a tuner, a CD player & a cassette deck plugged into an amplifier. The amp needs to know which source you want to listen to i.e. something needs to be switched.

    In Audacity "Recording device" (Microphone icon) you should see a new source in the drop down list. For my Behringer UCA202, I see "USB audio codec". I can also pick this for the Playback device (Spkr icon) if I wish.

    What sort of connection/cable did you use when you said "I had a RCA > USB and tried to use it with Audacity, couldn't get it to work, gave up after 5 hours." Because RCA>USB is analogue to digital. This needs an analogue to digital converter (ADC) in the chain for it to work. It's like putting water in one end of the pipe & expecting gas out of the other. Some sort of magic must happen ;-)

    Keep us posted so that we can help.
     
  20. Tim 700

    Tim 700 Active Member

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    349
    palsapal, perhaps that's where I went wrong. My tape deck was never in the drop down list.
    Thanks for the Behringer advise, waiting on cables from Parts Express, then hooking up the Nakamichi BX300, downloading some drivers and ready to go.
     
    bigx5murf likes this.

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