Hope my turn my cassettes into something less archaic.
December 15, 2011 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any experience of the HY-2010-TP gizmo for converting audio cassettes to mp3s?

I have a few dozen cassettes* that are gathering dust in a box in the basement and I am looking to convert them to a more usable format. I notice a store nearby is selling these devices that do just that; however, the single review on amazon.com is pretty negative. That is a minuscule sample size, so I am wondering if anyone else has experience of this or a similar product which I might want to track down instead.

*Note: live shows I performed or attended, or long out-of-print stuff not released in any format in decades. Please do not tell me to go to iTunes or your favourite torrent site.
posted by ricochet biscuit to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would vote for a high quality tape deck, and a good sound card with line in ports. Connect them together, adjust the levels, and record in audacity. From audacity you can save as mp3. It will cost more, but the result will actually sound like the tape. Maybe you have a musician friend who will let you use their stuff for a weekend or two.
posted by idiopath at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Those Amazon reviews on that thing are terrible. I can tell you from personal experience that cheap portable cassette players suffer from speed problems, alignment problems, and other things that will make the results suck. I would stay away from those and just go buy a cassette deck or micro-system at a pawn shop.
posted by kindall at 11:02 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: First of all, its not an easy task and need a good knowledge of 'sound' The process mentioned by earlier poster is tricky and not that easy so when I was planning to convert my tapes to mp3, I was considering Plusdeck. This is the only product I thought would do the job, if not as good as the method explained earlier.
posted by zaxour at 11:02 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: My solution is GOLDWAVE, but read no further if you have a Mac. I have a Mac myself but have kept my old Windows XP box specifically so I can continue to utilize Goldwave. It's just a superior program for recording from analog sources, then converting them to digital.

There's a bit of a learning curve but I found it far more intuitive and flexible than stuff like Audacity or even Sound Studio (which, last I looked, cost more than double what Goldwave does).

Basically, you run a line from your analogue source into the audio-input on your computer and Goldwave then treats it like an old-fashioned cassette deck would. You set your levels, then press record and it all happens in real time.

Once you've finished recording, you have various options for "cleaning up" your sounds (getting rid of various pops etc).
posted by philip-random at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: It seems like all you would need is a patch cord and a computer with a line in, along with Audacity or similar software.

One possible set of instructions.
posted by mecran01 at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good points, all. I hadn't so much considered the fact that it is ultimately a cheap tape deck with some software bolted on (the place I saw the ad for is a a surplus/overstock place that has remarkably cheap prices anyway). I am about to upgrade my laptop that is so outdated that I have to shovel coal in the side, so I will download Audacity and do it all within the machine.

And Idiopath, I am my own musician friend, thanks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:20 PM on December 15, 2011

I do this kind of thing all the time. Using Audacity to create .wav files which I then burn to CD using a program like Toast or convert to mp3s using iTunes.

Some pointers:

Feed the whole tape in at once and then chop up the long tracks into single songs or units or whatever afterwards.

SAVE FREQUENTLY AND OFTEN. Audacity is great software, but sometimes it loses its mind. More than once I've discovered that my 30-45 minute long master track is gone and I have to spool in from cassette again.

Don't be afraid to get halfway through spooling in a tape and see that the levels are too high (you'll be able to tell because the squiggly lines will be touching the top and bottom of the window) and stop the process and start it over again.

Resign yourself to having a bit of a sound floor to your recording. Cassettes are not silent even when there's no recording there. If you want to get fancy, there are ways to minimize this, but speaking in a very broad sense, you'll also degrade the sound you want doing this.

Chop the tracks as closely to the beginning and ending of the actual sound as you can. If you feel the need to add space between songs, let your burning program do that for you (Toast will insert silence between tracks), or create a bit of silence in Audacity and paste it in as desired.

Don't expect this to be a fast process. It takes time to do it right. But if you take the time, you'll find you have something which is an excellent modern update of your cassette collection and you can finally retire your tape masters once and for all.
posted by hippybear at 5:12 PM on December 15, 2011

Not all computers will directly accept a line level input - many assume that the incoming audio source is a microphone and apply way too much amplification.

I do think that most (all?) recent Macs will correctly handle something like this.
posted by The Lamplighter at 7:22 PM on December 15, 2011

Yep, I used my Walkman with a male-to-male headphone cable into my MacBook's audio port, and the (free!) program Audacity to accept the incoming sound. I saved each side fo a tape to a single, big file, and I am gradually chopping those into song-length MP3 files.

Do a little trial-and-error (with levels, etc.) before you hook up a full tape and wander off.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:59 PM on December 16, 2011

(BTW, your tapes already probably sound awful, so don't bother with high-end hardware. Just consider the inevitable hissing to be a sign of 80s authenticity!)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:00 PM on December 16, 2011

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