21 May 2010

Rise from the ashes

A while ago, while cleaning out a storage closet, I came across a couple of boxes filled with cassette tapes. I’ve been slowly converting them to mp3 files over the last couple of weeks. Almost every time I comment on Twitter of Facebook about digitising old cassette tapes, someone asks how I’m doing it. So maybe this will be of interest to a few blog readers...

It’s pretty simple: it’s just a tape deck with a USB interface and a bit of software. The software “EZ Audio Converter” is pretty simple, which is both blessing and curse. There’s about one important option for recording: automatically separate tracks or not. It does a fairly good job of recognizing tracks for basic rock and roll songs, but not great for things like spoken word recordings. sometimes you have to go in and use another audio editor to split tracks.

You can’t pick the audio format (you will get mp3 and you will like it!), no fiddling with equalizer settings, and it assumes you have iTunes software.

There are other ways of converting cassettes to digital audio files, but some of them require you still have a tape deck, and I imagine a lot of people got rid of theirs sometime around the turn of the century. This one is nice because it’s a all in one package.

I also have a USB turntable for digitising vinyl from the same manufacturer. I haven’t used it yet, because it requires more table space, and I haven’t found a place to put it.

I have gotten spoiled, though, by ripping CDs. You can rip a 70 minute CD in a few moments, but with tapes and vinyl, you have to play the whole thing through at regular time... It’s also fun to look at some of the graphics, particularly for cassette singles (which were short lived, ephemeral things).

It’s nice to get back some music that I thought I’d never hear again. Obscure Canadian pop from the heyday of MuchMusic or The Q. Except maybe in a dodgy YouTube video that you can’t put on an first gen iPod nano.

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