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Old 2013-01-05, 05:27
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PeteBr PeteBr is offline
 
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Transferring cassettes into digital format

Hello All,

Any tips or best-practice suggestions on how to transfer old cassette recordings into digital files (WAV or AIFF I suppose)? I know professional transfer often involves baking analogue tapes. Would that be necessary or possible in this case? How would I go about doing that?

And what about cassette players: any recommended machines? Would the type of player make a great difference, or would anything be alright as long as it was clean? What's best for cleaning the playing head on a cassette player?

I've got a lot of old stuff on C60 and C90 cassettes, such as recordings of live gigs and quick recordings of song ideas on acoustic guitar with vocals. I plan to share some of the files with mates in far-flung places and I thought I might be able to bring the gig files into Reason to clean them up a bit first. How could I use Reason to make them sound their best? - noise reduction, EQ, limiting, er ...

As you can see, I've got lots of questions but little idea! So, if anyone has any ideas or experience of doing this I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks in advance,

Pete
  #2  
Old 2013-01-05, 05:45
slipamickey slipamickey is offline
 
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For tracks from albums, etc., if you use iTunes Match you can get higher quality versions.
I use Audacity. Record via line in. Split up songs. Organize into album.
Then... http://www.macworld.com/article/1163...atch_fast.html
  #3  
Old 2013-01-05, 05:45
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charlycharlzz charlycharlzz is offline
 
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yhea man buy this thing , I think it comes with some kind of software to clean audio 2 http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/tape-2-pc
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  #4  
Old 2013-01-05, 08:34
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platzangst platzangst is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteBr View Post
I know professional transfer often involves baking analogue tapes. Would that be necessary or possible in this case? How would I go about doing that?
Do NOT bake cassette tapes. NOT EVER.

"Baking tapes" is something that is done on professional master tapes - on metal reels - in order to alleviate a problem with the oxide coating "letting go" of the actual tape. This is one of those things that nobody foresaw happening until it was too late: some formulations of magnetic tape aged badly, and many batches of pro-quality tape have been plagued with this problem. Baking a tape is something that should only be done as the final archival step; that is, you bake the tape, transfer it to as best a digital copy as you can manage, and then hope you never have to try to play the original tape ever again. (You can bake a reel of tape in a conventional oven at some low setting, if you have to.)

But the reason you can't do that with cassettes is that they rest in a plastic container, on plastic reels, and just as they'd warp if you left them in the sun in a hot car, baking in an oven would wreck the shell. I'm not even sure the tape itself could survive. There's also the issue of tape speed. Cassettes travel along the heads at a rate of 1 and 7/8 inches per second. The average pro-level quarter-inch width master tape reel plays at a speed of 15 inches per second, some even 30 ips. At those high speeds, minor dropouts are almost undetectable, but at cassette speeds, even a small dropout can mean a major audio gap.

So if you happen to have a cassette where the coating is letting go, you're probably just screwed right off the bat. If you are of the finicky, tedious, and detail-oriented type, you might be able to somehow disassemble the shell, detach one end of the tape from a spool hub and then carefully reel it onto something that could take the heat, bake it, and then tediously reassemble the tape. But you had better really need that recording for as much work as you'd be putting into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteBr View Post
And what about cassette players: any recommended machines? Would the type of player make a great difference, or would anything be alright as long as it was clean? What's best for cleaning the playing head on a cassette player?
It really depends on what kind of equipment they were recorded on in the first place. You probably don't need to drop a grand on a used Nakamichi Dragon if your original tapes were recorded on some fifty-buck boombox.

You will, however, generally get better results with better equipment. They even make decks specifically for your purpose, such as this Tascam deck that has a CDR drive built right in:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CC222SLmk2/

--but of course, you have to want to pay $600 for that one. Teac had a decent rep for tapes, you might look them up. I prefer some older Sony decks, but if you're going for vintage and used, you'll probably wind up also investing in a good service/repair shop, as many older decks need things like belt drives replaced, motors calibrated, etc. etc.

Cleaning tape heads can be done with a cotton swab and a bit of isopropyl alcohol. A lot of points in a player can be cleaned with alcohol - capistan, guides, but not the rubber pinch roller. Use only soapy water on that. Depending on the age and condition of your player, you might invest in a demagnetizer, too.
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Old 2013-01-05, 09:38
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Benedict Benedict is offline
 
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Hi

I just wrote this article on recording vinyl to digital so most of it applies to cassette.

http://benedictroffmarsh.com/2012/12...al-cd-mp3-etc/

For a deck to record from then it depends on the quality of your tapes and the need for quality on the transfer.

If you need something decent then either a real Hi Fi store and an entry level audiophile unit or used in good condition. I think you'd need to be pretty keen but I understand as I have some rare things on tape.

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Old 2013-01-05, 09:54
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Dogboy1973 Dogboy1973 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
I just wrote this article on recording vinyl to digital so most of it applies to cassette.

http://benedictroffmarsh.com/2012/12...al-cd-mp3-etc/
Nice article
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Old 2013-01-06, 02:34
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Thanks

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  #8  
Old 2013-01-12, 08:55
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PeteBr PeteBr is offline
 
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Hey everyone, sorry for the late reply and thanks for all your input and detailed suggestions. I read them all with interest. Reading through your comments I started itching to spend, spend, spend, but in the end I accepted that the original recordings were higher in sentimental value than audio quality so I've gone for the cheap option, using equipment that I already had - a cheap cassette player via Balance.

At the risk of infuriating the drummer I've reduced a bit of tape hiss using the Low Pass Filter in the SSL mixer. Why would that infuriate the drummer? I'm sure, if I told him, he'd hear the cymbals had lost all their ring.

Thanks again,

Pete
  #9  
Old 2013-01-05, 15:40
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QVprod QVprod is online now
 
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I actually had to do this a few months ago for a client. They hired me to backing tracks and sent me the songs on cassette. A bit of a pain in the neck but the solution for me was just to make a stereo recording from the headphone jack of an old cd/cassette player. I used a 1/8" cable from the headphone jack split into two 1/4" jacks going into my interface. Didn't necessarily sound the best but then again they weren't the best recordings either. Assuming your recordings are relatively clear and not overpowered by tape hiss this method might be fine. Alittle noise reduction or gating might help remove some (but not much) tape hiss but a bad sounding tape however will just be that. maybe thats where baking might come into play.
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Old 2013-01-13, 03:41
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dvdrtldg dvdrtldg is online now
 
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I can recommend NAD equipment - well-built, reliable gear. They're best known for their stereo amps (and rightly so) but my NAD cassette deck is still killing it after 20 years, just never missed a beat. You can pick up second hand NAD gear for pretty reasonable prices.
 

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