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Old 24th Nov 2022, 1:52 pm   #1
SilverHifiMan
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Default Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

I was wondering what the best way is to convert Tapes to a Digital Format on my PC? They are shop bought Music Tapes from Robert Palmer etc.

In the past I played them via my Thomson Hifi through the PC using Audacity.
This is no longer a option as the Thomson no longer works and there is no repair shops where I live.

I did find a old Sharp QT12 Radio Cassette Recorder that I had. However it seems to have problems with the connection where the power lead goes in. So that is a non starter.

Should i buy one of those gadgets such as the USB Tape Express or just use cables?

Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks
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Old 24th Nov 2022, 3:14 pm   #2
Martin Bush
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

There is a thread here - it touches on some of what you are asking: https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=196049

You will get some good advice from people on here and I suspect some will recommend the Tape Express type machines if it's for a quick and easy transfer.

However if it's pretty standard and easy to find material you might be better off looking for a copy of the tape on CD (depending on how many you have of course).
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 12:38 am   #3
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

If it's commercial pre-recorded tapes, I'd say the best option is to find the same recording on CD. Over the last few years, prices of used CDs have fallen through the floor as people get rid of them and use streaming services instead. You can buy used CDs online from places like MusicMagpie.co.uk , Amazon, ebay and discogs.com for the rarer titles. MusicMagpie currently offers some CD titles at 4 for £5 with free postage. You can also buy CDs for pennies at charity shops and car boot sales, but you'll have to keep looking until the exact title you want turns up. However it can be fun, as along the way I've bought many used CDs that I wanted but couldn't afford back in the day when they were like £13 each.

Of course, some prerecorded tapes were never released on CD or are very rare and expensive. You can buy USB cassette players, but to be honest, most are fairly low quality. Worth considering only if you can get one very cheap or free. They do come up for sale quite often, as people buy them just to transfer a few tapes, then get rid. Review of the ION USB Tape Express here: https://www.everythingusb.com/ion-ta...ver-19275.html

There are also some stereo systems that can record directly from cassette to USB or CD-R/RW without using a computer.

Personally I think you'll be better off with a standard cassette deck, cable and Audacity since you seem to be already familiar with the process. In fact, all you need is a working cassette player. You can ask in the 'Sets and Parts Wanted' section of this forum, or ask for help to repair your broken players.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 7:22 am   #4
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverHifiMan View Post

In the past I played them via my Thomson Hifi through the PC using Audacity.
This is no longer a option as the Thomson no longer works and there is no repair shops where I live.
Are you sure there are no repair shops in Edinburgh that could repair your Thomson? When I searched a bit, I found "Alec's Audio Services", "Loud & Clear", "Retro Reproduction" and others.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 8:29 am   #5
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamid_1 View Post
If it's commercial pre-recorded tapes, I'd say the best option is to find the same recording on CD. Over the last few years, prices of used CDs have fallen through the floor as people get rid of them and use streaming services instead. You can buy used CDs online from places like MusicMagpie.co.uk , Amazon, ebay and discogs.com for the rarer titles. MusicMagpie currently offers some CD titles at 4 for £5 with free postage. You can also buy CDs for pennies at charity shops and car boot sales, but you'll have to keep looking until the exact title you want turns up. However it can be fun, as along the way I've bought many used CDs that I wanted but couldn't afford back in the day when they were like £13 each.

Of course, some prerecorded tapes were never released on CD or are very rare and expensive. You can buy USB cassette players, but to be honest, most are fairly low quality. Worth considering only if you can get one very cheap or free. They do come up for sale quite often, as people buy them just to transfer a few tapes, then get rid. Review of the ION USB Tape Express here: https://www.everythingusb.com/ion-ta...ver-19275.html

There are also some stereo systems that can record directly from cassette to USB or CD-R/RW without using a computer.

Personally I think you'll be better off with a standard cassette deck, cable and Audacity since you seem to be already familiar with the process. In fact, all you need is a working cassette player. You can ask in the 'Sets and Parts Wanted' section of this forum, or ask for help to repair your broken players.
Yep, my local charity shops charge a pound or 50p for CDs, they're overrun with them.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 9:11 am   #6
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

I have the Ion Tape Express and surprisingly it gives pretty good results, although some people are not keen on it.

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=181148

David
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 12:33 pm   #7
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Gribnau View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverHifiMan View Post

In the past I played them via my Thomson Hifi through the PC using Audacity.
This is no longer a option as the Thomson no longer works and there is no repair shops where I live.
Are you sure there are no repair shops in Edinburgh that could repair your Thomson? When I searched a bit, I found "Alec's Audio Services", "Loud & Clear", "Retro Reproduction" and others.
Sorry I am in FIFE put wrong place in lol. I don't drive so it needs to be public transport.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 12:36 pm   #8
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamid_1 View Post
If it's commercial pre-recorded tapes, I'd say the best option is to find the same recording on CD. Over the last few years, prices of used CDs have fallen through the floor as people get rid of them and use streaming services instead. You can buy used CDs online from places like MusicMagpie.co.uk , Amazon, ebay and discogs.com for the rarer titles. MusicMagpie currently offers some CD titles at 4 for £5 with free postage. You can also buy CDs for pennies at charity shops and car boot sales, but you'll have to keep looking until the exact title you want turns up. However it can be fun, as along the way I've bought many used CDs that I wanted but couldn't afford back in the day when they were like £13 each.

Personally I think you'll be better off with a standard cassette deck, cable and Audacity since you seem to be already familiar with the process. In fact, all you need is a working cassette player. You can ask in the 'Sets and Parts Wanted' section of this forum, or ask for help to repair your broken players.
There is about 100 Tapes so I would rather not spend money on the CD version unless I have to. I have got replacements for some of them from Charity Shops.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 12:58 pm   #9
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Most laptops have pretty decent built-in soundcards now. Ignore anyone who tells you that they're not 'audiophile' quality, as that will be irrelevant for a format that gives ~60dB signal-to-noise ratio.

My advice would be to find a late model cassette deck such as a Yamaha KX-393. They made thousands and Richer sold loads. It's not uncommon to find these in a virtually unused state. My partner had one she bought in '98, and when I tested W+F it gave the factory spec.

The last OEMs standing in the cassette game were Sony and Yamaha. Sony belts often turn to goo, but the Yamaha ones seem pretty good. Audacity is a great, free program for the laptop. KX-393 + laptop will give results that a pro with a Revox / Nak deck will struggle to beat on pre-recorded cassettes (pre-rec tapes were rarely paragons of audio quality - as a rule, rolling your own on chrome / metal tape gave better results).

Whatever you buy, make sure to play a few worthless tapes extensively before anything that has value to you. As Ted wrote in the Tape group here a day or two back, modern cassette machines really are vastly inferior to what came before in the 80s and 90s. The only one worth looking at is the Teac, which offers modest performance for a £400 price tag. The Yam 393 will likely outperform the Teac, at about a 1/4 of the price.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 1:42 pm   #10
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

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Sorry I am in FIFE put wrong place in lol. I don't drive so it needs to be public transport.
OP's location updated.
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Old 25th Nov 2022, 9:26 pm   #11
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

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Originally Posted by SilverHifiMan View Post
Sorry I am in FIFE put wrong place in lol. I don't drive so it needs to be public transport.
When I got a tape deck repaired at Richer Sounds I posted it to them. If you can get to Edinburgh, there are always a number of cassette decks for sale at the Elm Row/Leith Walk charity shops in my experience. If very desperate you could have one of a couple of working decks I need to pass on.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 12:02 pm   #12
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Do you have a Hi fi system with seperates? The cassette players are usually just sent to the recycling centres since there is so little interest in cassettes these days. If you look on Gumtree you should be able to find one of those. That would give you a high quality source for converting the analogue signal in some way.
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 9:56 am   #13
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

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Originally Posted by DMcMahon View Post
I have the Ion Tape Express and surprisingly it gives pretty good results, although some people are not keen on it.

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=181148

David
In the linked Thread I referenced that the Ion Tape Express only digitizes the files to uncompressed Wave (.wav). One drawback of this is that if you subsequently want to copy the new files to a CD, then because the Wave files are full size you are not able to copy a large number of files unlike a compressed file format such as MP3.

But easy using one of the many file conversion programs to convert the Wave files to smaller compressed file format.

David
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 10:21 am   #14
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

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Originally Posted by DMcMahon View Post
In the linked Thread I referenced that the Ion Tape Express only digitizes the files to uncompressed Wave (.wav). One drawback of this is that if you subsequently want to copy the new files to a CD, then because the Wave files are full size you are not able to copy a large number of files unlike a compressed file format such as MP3.

But easy using one of the many file conversion programs to convert the Wave files to smaller compressed file format.

David
If you are creating an audio CD then I think you need the wav format as you do each one.
The end goal is to play the files using Audacity so it can be used to do such conversions if a compressed format is wanted.

One issue might be how long this is going to take, when I had my colleciton of Kodachrome slides digitised I paid my son-in-law to do the scanning.
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 1:01 pm   #15
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

Yes good point.

Many modern CD players will play data/mixed data CDs such as MP3 music files.

David
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 12:15 pm   #16
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

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Old 29th Nov 2022, 3:31 am   #17
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

I use a Technics cassette deck that I bought in the mid-80s just before CD's became the norm. I then used the deck to record SW broadcast stations before I bought my first computer. Lately I've been playing back a multitude of the old cassettes into my soundcard with Audacity, converting them to MP3 and then loading them onto an 8Gb SD card to play through my VHF FM transmitter to any receiver in the house. Up to 800 singles on one small SD card! I also transfer the MP3's to CD to play on the car stacker to alleviate the drivel!
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Old 29th Nov 2022, 11:03 am   #18
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Default Re: Best Way to Convert Tapes to Digital.

I live in Edinburgh and have a Sony radio/CD/cassette that I was going to take to a charity shop. It has a 3.5 mm headphone socket that you could connect to your PC. You are welcome to collect it from my house. As far as I know it is fully working and complete with mains lead and remote control.

I've just tried it with a tape and it works fine with stereo headphones.

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