Transfering Music from Cassette Tapes to MP3s
January 21, 2004 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Here's a poser, inspired by this thread: In the late 1980s and early 1990s, my boon friend Jamie Mowder made me a truly incomparable series of audio collages on cassette tape. These labors of love were half-hour-(i.e. tapeside)-long call-and-response marathons of Henry Rollins yelping at Quentin Crisp and Ed Koch with Professor Longhair dressing down Jimmy get the idea.

They're priceless, irreplaceable. And now I want to transfer them to mp3. Does anybody have any ideas as to a reasonably elegant way to achieve this? Posterity will thank you, as will I.
posted by adamgreenfield to Technology (7 answers total)
What about this ? It's TechTV, but that's ok, right? Ok, how about this?

Sounds fairly straightforward. Post a link somewheres if you get the mp3s.. I'd love to hear them.
posted by Hildago at 9:07 PM on January 21, 2004

Response by poster: Oooh, maybe I should've specified: OS X only. However, if I read "your sound card's line-in port" to read "your Mac's miniplug outlet," maybe I'm good to go?

Hooah, thanks.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2004

Adam, please do post them somewhere when you get them. I think we'd all love to hear them! (Let me know if you need hosting help.)
posted by oissubke at 9:55 PM on January 21, 2004

Some Macs don't have a sound-in, only a sound-out jack. (I forget which models.) But USB audio-in devices are not too hard to find.

The basic process is the same though. Get some cables that connect your cassette player to your computer's audio-in connector. Slurp the sound into a .WAV or similar file, just as if you were dubbing tape-to-tape. Then convert that file to an MP3 (iTunes can probably do this last step).

One general piece of advice is that if you plan to put the audio on a CD, and if the tool you're using gives you a choice of sample rates, try to choose 44.1kHz (44100 Hz), or an integer multiple or integer fraction of that. That's because audio CDs use that rate, and doing rate conversions without losing sound quality can be difficult. On the other hand, if your target is an MP3 file, then it doesn't matter as much.
posted by hattifattener at 10:00 PM on January 21, 2004

MS Plus! Digital Media Edition (which is emphatically not worth paying for, any more than any of the other 'Plus!' shovelware they've pushed to the gullible over the years) includes an analog recorder tool for just this sort of thing. It's reasonably useful. I've used it to record from crumbling cassettes some audioletters friends and I mailed back and forth more than a decade ago.

I know you're on OS X, adam, but just in case someone had the same question for WinXP, I thought I'd share.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:07 PM on January 21, 2004

I know there's PlusDeck, though the text indicates it's for Windows machines only. Perhaps there's a comparable product available for the Mac?
posted by Danelope at 10:17 PM on January 21, 2004

adam, I'm planning something similar with "letters" someone "wrote" me on cassette. I have an iBook G4, which means "no audio in jack." Here's the setup that I've been experimenting with:
  1. Griffin iMic to get audio out of the cassette player and into the Mac via the USB port. Highly recommended in reviews and etc., and carried in-store at the Apple Store.
  2. Sound Studio to record the audio stream to AIFF.
  3. iTunes to either encode to MP3 or to burn to CD.
Hope this helps.
posted by JollyWanker at 6:18 AM on January 22, 2004

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