This converter transfers your old cassettes to MP3


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/25/this-converter-transfers-your.html


#2

I just bought this (elsewhere, not the BB store) and can confirm it is very good. Don’t need to install the software on the disc. If you have Audacity use that, if not just download it.


#3

There must be better ways of doing this. The advertised software only runs on Windows & Mac apparently, and why would we want to convert from one obsolete format (cassette) to another (should-be) obsolete format (mp3; seriously, look at FLAC for lossless and opus for lossy).


#4

I don’t understand why every cassette-to-digital converter I’ve ever seen only converts to
mp3.

I understand cassettes are low resolution. But what if I want to capture all of that low resolution? And what if I just don’t want to deal with mp3?

At least give users an option for .wav, .aiff, something.


#5

I don’t have a tape collection of any merit-- but, if I did, dolby noise reduction, and the ability to playback metal and Chromium Oxide tape might be high on my list.


#6

Audacity is available for Linux and with that you should be able to convert it to the format of your choice. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be able to that in Win or Mac as well.


#7

There are. It involves a usb midi interface/audio inputs/. Those allow you to connect in any audio source using a variety of audio specific connectors. You can get cheap ones for around $25. Though it seems easier to find ones built for 1/4" for instrument cables in the cheap end rather than things like the rca, bare cables, or 3.5mm often used on the cheaper/consumer equipment you’ve probably got in the basement.

All you really need is a functional audio input. And you may already have one. My motherboard’s on board audio card seems to have an rca input suitable for connecting my turn table (haven’t tried it). And nearly every PC has a microphone Jack that can be used. Though 3.5mm isn’t that great of a connection for this.

Because these are cheap commodity consumer products. And they ship with a similar grade of software. Super simplified stock software intended to be used by some one who doesn’t know much what they’re doing.

You don’t have to use it. These are basically just a knockoff Walkman with an integrated USB device for audio out. It should work with any audio software that can detect the device. You may not even need to install separate drivers these days.

Like a couple other people have said audacity works good and it’s free. And you can spit out whatever type of file you like.


#8

In my experience, Audacity + tape player + line in on your computer works perfectly well for this. (If your tape player doesn’t have a line out or RCA out, use the headphone jack and some tweaks for volume to make sure there’s no distortion.)

VCR conversion is much more of a PITA in my experience.


#9

This thing is a cheap toy and if you want toy results with a lot of hiss, go for it.

$30 will also buy a used 80s cassette deck, which you can hook up to the line input of any old computer any give you vastly better sound quality.

If you have a larger number of old casettes, the biggest factor in converting those is time and that you need to manually put in every tape. So if you have a large number of cassettes, getting a player with auto reverse is going to cut that time in half. If you have several hundred casettes, a five casette changer like the Sony TC-C5 (used value around $149) will allow you to record your collection in 5-10 hour batches. I just recently bougth one to convert over 700 cassettes and got the task done in 3 months… (put in 5 cassettes before you go to work and 5 before you go to bed and you’re done…)

Regarding Software, Audacity is fine for quality, but not for ease of use. One major disadvantage is that audacity doesn’t directly record to a file, instead you need to finish the recording and then save/export it. This takes way too long. (OK, if you just want to convert a few cassettes, not OK if there’s a big box full of them)

On windows, there’s a freeware called no23 recorder, which is perfect for the recording task - and you can later use audacity to clean/cut up the recordings. It can record to mp3, but also to uncompressed WAV and should work with any hardware, including this toy recorder. So if you already own it, this might be a better software for you.


#10

In reality, the MP3 is going to be fine for the majority of people who just want to copy their cheap old ferric tapes to their computer for nostalgia. Quality is going to be marginal anyway.

If you’re an audiophile, this is something that’s not going to even be on your radar, as I doubt that it can play Chrome or Metal tapes properly, and they’ve likely long since converted anything of value.

It’s probably a better, cheaper idea, as others have noted, to go pick up an nice older cassette player at a thrift store and just play them into the computer using a dubbing cable. Saves a conversion step as well.


#11

Yeah the inputs necessary for older vcrs aren’t quite as easy to come by cheaply or get going with your PC. You usually want a discrete graphics card any kid of video work. And video software doesn’t really like anything without time code, or VCRs that aren’t que-able decks. Its a massive pain in the ass.

In either case I’m not sure why it seems to be so much of a thing. Unless you’re talking about something rare, or something you’ve made yourself. The the time it takes and the marginal quality that comes out of it isn’t really worth it given the costs of digital versions of these things these days.


#12

If you have home made cassettes with stuff worth saving.

If you have albums on cassette, then unless they are something really rare, you can usually get a used CD of it for a buck or two. Which you can then rip to your preferred format and quality with better sound quality, zero hiss, and less valuable time wasted.


#13

There are. If you still have a regular tape deck or walkman, just go from the headphone jack in it to the line in jack on your computer and use Audacity to record. 8bitguy and techmoan have a video that shows a lot of the reasons not to use one of these. Honestly though unless it’s the content on the tape is rare such as a live bootleg or out of print album, it’s probably easier and will give you better results just to download the album again.


#14

This. I buy a lot of demo tapes from touring bands and I have a lot of friends with vinyl and cassette collections so I do a fuck ton of tape ripping. If you’re gonna do it, do it right, especially for stuff that people have paid to have recorded professionally.


#15

If you still have your old tape deck with a head phone jack, you can just run it from your tape deck to the mic input of your sound card. Then use your favorite software to record it. I can’t remember what I have used in the past, but there are many free ones out there.


#16

This is a problem?

Oh, come on. MP3. It’s nearly universally used and we’re talking about converting from cassette-quality. Lossless quality is just going to create huge, uselessly high-resolution files.


#17

It’s a problem for me since I don’t use either of those operating systems.

But mp3? If you’re still using mp3s, you’re probably the sort of person who still uses cassettes anyway…oh, I just answered my own question, never mind.


#18

I’m talking about an output format besides mp3.

I would love to have a simple cassette-playing device that outputs into a different format. I’m pretty sure all it would take is different firmware on the device, or an additional tenth of a cent chip that I would gladly pay an extra $5 for.

Obviously the people making these things don’t see it as important. I think that’s a mistake. There are a lot of people interested in audio who would like to use more than just mp3’s, and they are missing that market.


#19

Repeating myself, but take any tape player with an output jack, jack it into your sound card/computer, and there are a plethora of programs that allow you to import in what ever you want.


#20

Yes, you are repeating yourself. :slight_smile: I already understand how to do it myself.

I am commenting on what I consider to be a useless oversight and missed opportunity with a commercial product.