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Converting a mountain of tapes to digital

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Posted on May 12, 2020 at 20:33:18
avbenbaer@gmail.com
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Posts: 4
Location: So. Cal
Joined: May 12, 2020
Hey y'all! I have a MOUNTAIN of old cassette tapes I'd rather not toss in the trash and would like to convert to digital on my own (most preferably WAV and NOT MP3!). Half are my own recordings and half are produced recordings that probably were never made digital.

I have an old ion Tape2PC player/recorder, and I also have a newer small Cassette to PC. After having issues with both of these machines, I since learned that neither of these machines can communicate with my 2013 MacBook Air, because their software is so old that they just don't even register on my computer. What other options do I have at my disposal? I'm not an audio head, so an option that requires something involved will not be an option for me. Also, I'm not keen on sending these all to some company thay does this stuff, only to hear it will cost several thousand dollars. Help!!

 

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RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 12, 2020 at 23:46:10
John Elison
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Posts: 22793
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
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  Since:
January 29, 2004
I doubt you would need a digital resolution higher than 24/96, or possibly even 16/44. The first thing you need is a high-quality cassette player and the second thing you need is a digital recorder. I'll just focus on the digital recorder.

TASCAM makes some excellent recorders that are relatively inexpensive. They record onto SD memory cards or micro SD memory cards. You can copy each side of an LP intact and then transfer the digital copies to your computer by simply removing the memory card from the digital recorder and plugging it into your computer. TASCAM also provides free software for splitting your recordings into individual tracks and relabeling each track. The free software is called TASCAM Hi-Res Editor.

I would recommend checking out Sweetwater for buying a TASCAM digital recorder. Here is a TASCAM digital recorder for $90 that will record at 24/96 onto a micro SD memory card. You'll need to buy a micro SD memory card and an interconnect with a 3.5-mm headphone plug on one end and RCA plugs on the other. Anyway, TASCAM is what I would recommend for an inexpensive recorder and Sweetwater carries the whole TASCAM line.

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 13, 2020 at 01:55:15
avbenbaer@gmail.com
Audiophile

Posts: 4
Location: So. Cal
Joined: May 12, 2020
Thank you, John! Do you think my old Ion Tape2PC would be compatible with the TASC systems?

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 14, 2020 at 11:28:22
John Elison
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Posts: 22793
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
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I have no idea what an Ion Tape2PC is. However, I thought my post was self explanatory. I'm sorry if it wasn't clear and understandable, but I don't know of any other way to explain how to copy cassette tapes to 24/96 digital WAV files. Perhaps someone else can provide a different explanation that's easier to understand.

Sorry!
John Elison

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 14, 2020 at 13:26:53
avbenbaer@gmail.com
Audiophile

Posts: 4
Location: So. Cal
Joined: May 12, 2020
Thank you, John! TASCAM contacted me and said their system was compatible with the Ion Tape2PC converter. I can do it this way, but if I use the speed dubbing option on the Ion machine, the TASCAM recorder cannot process it. It needs to go into a computer, but the rub is that the software the Ion runs on is too old, and so the computer I have (MacBook Air ca. 2013) does not even recognize that something is even being inputted into the machine. I am waiting to hear back from the makers of Ion Tape2PC to see if there is any piece of equipment out there that can handle the incoming data from a speed dub and convert it to a digital file. Otherwise I will be taking months of full-time work to sit there while my tapes are inputting their analog data in real time. Yikes!
Thanks again for your input!

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 14, 2020 at 15:20:27
John Elison
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Posts: 22793
Location: Central Kentucky
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Perhaps you can select only those tapes you plan to listen to again in the future and copy them in real-time using the TASCAM digital recorder. Otherwise, you're on your own because I have no idea how you would digitize tapes at double speed unless you have rather expensive professional recording equipment.

If I were you, I'd copy the tapes as I listened to them. It might take years, but it's the only way I know how to do it. I have to copy my LPs in real-time and it's a tedious and time consuming process. However, that's the only way I know how to do it.

The advantage of copying tapes in real-time is that you can listen to them as you copy them. I can't do that with LPs because it causes acoustic feedback. Of course, I could listen using headphones but if I play my speakers it results in acoustic feedback that gets recorded into the digital copy. That's not a problem with analog tapes.

Good luck,
John Elison

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on May 14, 2020 at 17:52:43
avbenbaer@gmail.com
Audiophile

Posts: 4
Location: So. Cal
Joined: May 12, 2020
Thank you, John! This is just the info I've been trying to hunt down. If that's the case, it will just have to be that longer project that was not anticipated. Then I will get that TASCAM recorder and start grinding away. Thanks again for the great advice.

 

try a CD recorder, posted on May 15, 2020 at 14:12:25
michael22
Audiophile

Posts: 857
Joined: October 1, 2001
I use a Pioneer CD recorder for making transfers from cassettes and reel tapes. It's like copying with a tape recorder, very simple, no interface. I can then make copies from the CD or just play them at home or in car.

These recorders (Tascam, Pioneer, Sony, etc.) are readily available on ebay, and sometimes even in thrift stores. However, I would not recommend the Philips or Magnavox units.

I'd also recommend using a quality cassette player. These, too, are readily available in thrifts.

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on August 7, 2020 at 09:54:05
texana
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Posts: 416
Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: March 3, 2002
I too want to digitize a boat load of analog recordings. I don't think this unit can handle line-level analog input. Appears the in-put is for a microphone extension cord.

 

RE: Converting a mountain of tapes to digital, posted on August 9, 2020 at 20:17:43
John Elison
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Posts: 22793
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
Well, all you have to do is go to the TASCAM website and look at the specifications until you find a TASCAM digital recorder with a line input. The TASCAM DR-40X appears to have a line input.

 

struggling to enter the digital age..., posted on August 11, 2020 at 09:23:09
texana
Audiophile

Posts: 416
Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: March 3, 2002
I, too, benefited greatly from this post! Many thanks to Avbenbaer and John Elison. I was not aware of the "hand-held digital recorder" market until this post. I did a lot of homework on the features of the Tascam line, the Zoom's, and Sony. The unit I feel will best meet my needs is the Sony PCM-D10, which I ordered from Sweetwater last night. I feel like a kid waiting on Christmas.

 

RE: struggling to enter the digital age..., posted on August 11, 2020 at 15:36:25
John Elison
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Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
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Did you check out the TASCAM DR-100 Mk III? What did you find with the Sony that was worth $200 more?

Thanks!
John Elison

 

RE: struggling to enter the digital age..., posted on August 11, 2020 at 20:44:55
texana
Audiophile

Posts: 416
Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: March 3, 2002
Sure.
Most things being equal, as far as sound quality, I would have been happy with the Tascam, but a few extras pushed my choice to the Sony.
1. Mic / line switching for both XLR and 3.5 mini jack inputs
2. 16GB internal memory and SD card up to 256GB
3. Battery life from 32-44 hours plus USB power input
4. 2 second start up time
5. Input volume control dial numbered for quick reference
6. Bluetooth playback
7. Includes smart phone app for basic functions as a remote control

These may not add up to $200 but I have also owned many Sony products with zero defects, and the
Bluetooth function will be nice while driving the car, with USB power.

 

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