[LMB] OT: AKICOTL: Digitizing audiotapes/audiobooks

Mark Allums mark at allums.com
Thu Mar 8 07:55:39 GMT 2007

James wrote:
> OK, I've just found a collection of audiobooks on *gasp* cassette
> tape. (I've also got a bunch more of Reader's Chair books on the way).
> Alas, the only tape player is a nice walkman, but it doesn't lead to
> good audio captures (I tried), and manual captures are somewhat labor
> intensive (having to cue recordings up every 1/2 hour gets old,
> quick).
> The reason I want to digitize these is well, I don't carry a tape
> player anymore - my iPod is smaller, holds more music, etc. etc. etc.
> So I'm just wondering what the rest of list uses to convert cassettes
> to digital. My tape player doesn't output enough volume for the line
> input. I have considered a computer-controlled tape player, but it's
> fairly expensive for what it really is -
> http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/drives/7a8d/
> Any suggestions?

Spending a few bucks on a preamp might help.  Check out Newegg, 
Zipzoomfly, Amazon, and J&R Computer World on the Web.  The line input 
works for some applications if you turn the volume up high enough on the 
tape player, 8/10 - 9/10.  Using a stereo tape deck to play back tapes 
will give you a line output.  Get a cheap one at Best Buy for appx. 
$100.00.  Or, sometimes, using the microphone input instead of the line 
in works.

For Vinyl LPs, 45s, and 78s, there are now turntables available with 
builtin preamps and A/D converters that plug directly into the USB port. 
  They run about $150.00.

In other words, what works best depends partly on trial and error, and 
partly on how much money you've spent or are willing to spend.

To avoid some manual labor, you can digitize a whole side of a tape (or 
both sides with auto-reverse), then edit the resulting file into 
individual tracks later with a good editor.  There are good editors 
available open source, or you can buy a commercial one like Sound Forge.

--Mark Allums

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