Cassette to digital: How?

I wrote a story about a woman who was one of the girlfriends of Ray Charles for 30 years. Yes, Ray used to come to St. Louis to see her. He liked White Castles and Red Lobster.

She has cassette tapes of him in conversation and wants to transfer them to digital. She’s nice so I told her I’d get some info. So, what is the best way? These tapes are decaying and will be lost, and some of it is him playing the piano and singing, though she can’t release that because all that is copyrighted by his estate. Still, it would be a shame to lose it.

Check this out.

It’s almost $50, but preserving Ray Charles is worth it.

There are lots of similar devices. And my dad runs a stero cable from his karaoke machine to the mic in on his computer, but that doesn’t work especially well, especially if your soundcard is crap like his.

There is this thing as well.

You can’t just plug the audio-in cable from the player into your computer? I mean, you might need an attenuator plug to make it look like a mike, dunno.

Basically every sound card in the world has a line level stereo input. If you have a functioning tape player with either a stereo RCA or headphone out you should be able to connect it to a computer with a $4 cable. Use Audacity or Garage Band to record and export to MP3 or the lossless format of your choice.

But don’t use a headphone out (which isn’t line level) if there’s a line out.

A tape/monitor loop on a receiver includes a line out.

Not to plug our own stuff too much, but the April issue of PCWorld should have a feature called “Digitize your Analog life” all about digitizing your tapes, scanning your photos, and all that kind of stuff. Apparently it’s got some good advice for what to buy and how to use it.

If your friend, Mark, is more comfortable reading this kind of stuff in print, it might be worth suggesting. It’s not really online yet.

Thanks everyone. She’s not PC-literate so someone will have to help her. I’ll let her know what her options are.

I’d think the biggest problem would be eliminating tape hiss, not getting the raw audio onto your computer.

In any case, if this is archival data, encode to FLAC or some other lossless format.

Audacity has something to remove noises like record pops and tape hiss. wiki link. There are lots of commercial products to do this as well, for various amounts of moneys. I’m sure the PCWorld article talks about them…right?

Personally I’d rather use a tape deck, to deal with Chrome/Metal tapes, Dolby B or C noise reduction.

Aren’t there places that do this?

Revisiting this thread because my dad has a bunch of casettes he needs to rip to his computer. He sort of has the hardware part sorted out (line out to soundcard), but is there software that helps manage the file creation, maybe something that detects the gaps and can create separate audio files for each song?

Way back when, my dad used a piece of software called DART (Pro, the paid version) to convert records and automatically de-hiss and, I think, track-separate. Of course, this was seriously like 8-10 years ago, so the software may not even exist anymore.

Adobe Audition is probably overkill, but I’ve heard good things about it.

I used to use Audition 2.x, and its automatic track detection didn’t work so hot. Manually defining tracks worked fine, although there were somewhat counterintuitive twists to doing it. Noise reduction features were quite good.

10 years ago I had a program called Magix or something like that that had better track detection, but no noise removal.

Now I use Audacity but haven’t made tracks in it yet.

Does Audacity do track detection? My dad’s been using Audacity to do his ripping, so he’s at least familiar with it.

It does have a Silence Analyzer, but if memory serves, it wasn’t too fantastic when ripping Kate Bush albums about a year ago. They were pretty dinged up, though, so I won’t claim that the sound quality of the recording didn’t play into its issues.

Thanks, guys. Very helpful.

This morning I placed tracks in Audacity for the first time – good, definitely simpler than Audition for digitizing LPs and cassettes, but I did it by hand instead of trying the silence detector (LP full of carefully paces spoken word with pauses).

I loved Audition back when it was Cool Edit.