DIGITISING TAPES, OR ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT MATTER.

There was a question here this week from Steenbeck re. how to digitise tapes, I think it was Mnemonic who suggested the ongoing item that’s advertised in the G. [which I seem to recall costs 100 quid plus] There’s a very simple and free way to do it, if you’re a Mac user which I know she is. I’ve mentioned the free version of Wiretap, install that on your desktop, with a stereo miniplug to miniplug cable connect your cassette deck to your computer at the ‘line in’ port on the back, go to the Apple icon, top left, open ‘System Preferences’ and click on the ‘Sound’ icon. A window will open that has 3 options, sound effects, output and input, choose input. You have 3 more options, line in, digital in, USB, choose line in. Start your cassette and adjust the input volume and when it’s set click record on the Wiretap and that’s all there is to it; I’ll be doing some today. You can also input your turntable or minidisc deck or whatever, it’ll work. The one thing to remember is that if you can hear it on your computer, then Wiretap can record it.
One detail: Wiretap has 3 small windows on the front, click the centre one, that opens ‘Preferences’, You’ll see ‘Format’ which will let you select which format to record in, I suggest MP3, but read the specs of the others, if you’re recording for CD you’ll probably want AIFF.
For PC users there are desktop recorders available, I’m not familiar with them but the procedure would be identical to the foregoing

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14 thoughts on “DIGITISING TAPES, OR ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT MATTER.

  1. As I own a Numark USB turntable, I just plug in my cassette deck to the line-in port of the turntable and start recording using the Audacity software that came with the turntable, easy as 1-2-3!

  2. The one I had seen in the Guardian isn’t the £100 plus USB turntable but a £50 converter and software that uses your existing cassette player or turntable. Not having a mac, it seemed a cheaper option than buying the USB turntable (which still wouldn’t help with tapes). If anyone knows a cheaper way to do this with a pc, I’d love to know too because while I’m holding onto the vinyl I’d love to get rid of the tapes and minidisks.

  3. As another Mac user, I have been very happy with the Griffin iMic as a digitiser to put between the mac and a tape deck or turntable. I’ve done about a thrid of my LP & cassette collection, but it’s slow work. I have found a lot of cassettes won’t run properly (it’s often a few years since I’ve used them) – they run erratic and slow and ruin the sound. I gather the lubricant dries out over time, or something. Anyone got any suggestions to cure/overcome this?

  4. Thanks, goneforeign–it was abahachi asking about the cassette to digital transformation, but still glad to hear it’s possible. Although I went to the third floor the other day to find my boys had ticker-taped the room with the tapes from our cassettes.

  5. Glass: That’s a great idea, I’ve never heard of that before but it makes total sense. I have an iMic that I use to convert the iPod into a digital recorder, great at conferences etc.The cassette problem is a fact of life, only thing I can suggest is a fast rewind in both directions before you play it and if it works get it digitised ASAP since the magnetic coating could start flaking and blocking heads.This afternoon I’m going to try to digitise 2 cassettes that I’ve had since 1978, I’m worried!

  6. goneforeign, I’ve looked at PC desktop recorders but they seem to be software and I’d still have the problem of how to connect my existing very elderly turntable and tapedeck to my computer. It predates CDs. Also a lot of them seem to be incompatible with Windows Vista (which I’ve got). That widget in the Guardian still seems to be the best option.

  7. I found that my copy of Loveless had gone walkabout, so I got another one (£3.50, ta) – and consequently have listened to nothing else for the last 2 weeks ~(except Laura Marling) !

  8. I found that my copy of Loveless had gone walkabout, so I got another one (£3.50, ta) – and consequently have listened to nothing else for the last 2 weeks ~(except Laura Marling) !

  9. Mnemonic: They are all software and all you need to connect your turntable is a cable that goes from twin RCA plugs to a stereo miniplug, it’s a standard item. Look at the output plugs on your turntable, they will be RCA [red&white] and get a miniplug cable that will connect. Ask at any electronics store, explain what you want to do and it’ll cost less than $5. The same cable will work for your cassette deck. It doesn’t matter about Vista if your desktop recorder is compatible with PC’s.There are other more complicated ways of doing this that I occasionally use and if you want to get into them I’ll help, they involve recording software like Audacity or Sound Studio, not complex but not as simple as a desktop recorder.

  10. @goneforeign: my iMic is the original round one – you need to plug the turntable/deck into the right hole, and flick the switch to the right setting – it ain’t intuitive, so worth downloading a manual from Griffin’s site if you don’t still have one; and I also find their editing software (Final Vinyl) works a treat (free download)

  11. Glass: Oops, When you said iMic I thought of the little accessory that’s sitting plugged into my iPod since the last time I used it. What I’ve got is a Griifin iTalk, which is a stereo mic that plugs into the earplug socket, it has a socket also to allow a line in and based on your idea I think it should work as a digitiser since it would record whatever’s coming through it. A note to Mnemonic, last night I tranferred two cassettes that were last played in 1978 to my Mac, it went well but in addition to all I said yesterday I had to use Sound Studio to bump up the input level, if you’re interested in that I could cover it.

  12. Have used Audacity myself with desktop and late father’s Hi FI with turntable, works a treat. Would like to recommend Click Repair and DeNoise, two pieces of software that are competitively priced and do a good job of getting rid of the worst of the defects on vinyl and compact cassettes. I hve no financial interest in the software. The designer is a retired professor of mathematics who knows a bit about randomness, which i suppose what noise is all about

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