Audio Cassette to CD or Memory Device

posted 30 Oct 2015, 04:59 by Ray Barber
Strange as it might seem, this can be more complicated than transferring video tape. The output of the tape player needs to be matched to the input of the recording device. The headphone socket pushes out too much power for the microphone socket on a computer and there is a big impedance mismatch, so the chances of getting a true, distortion free recording are pretty slim. There are some cheap devices out there, that connect to the USB port of a computer and use a free piece of recording software called Audacity. I've found it quite difficult to get the record levels right and the cheap player is not very stable, leading to a lot of "wow and flutter" because of the fluctuations in tape speed.

Assuming that you have managed to set it all up you have to record and save each track separately, unless you are happy for the CD to be one continuous track. In this case, you lose the ability to select which track you want.  Audacity does allow you to record the whole tape and then save each track but that's almost as painful.

At Spa Video Memories, we take a different approach. We use a professional Tascam Portastudio tape deck, which has lots of knobs and sliders. We take the line output from the deck into an audio digital recorder line input, which is perfectly matched. The audio levels are then set and the recording started. Once completed, the digital files are transferred to an editing station and the individual tracks are assigned and checked before burning to an audio CD, that will play on and CD player or computer. Alternatively, the tracks can be saved on to a memory device as MP3 files.

There are copyright issues regarding music cassettes and to be honest, if it's available to buy on CD, then that's your best route. However, if it's your own work there's no problem. If the material is no longer available on CD and you own the original cassette, then, whilst it is still technically infringes the copyright, nobody is likely to question it.

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