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Playing/Recording from Cassette to Computer - Please Help!


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Hi everyone,

 

I just bought the Sound Blaster X-Fi USB card (adapter), and I am trying to play/record cassette tapes on my laptops (Lenovo Edge14/Lenovo T520 - W7).

 

I have connected the Tape Out RCA on my cassette deck (Technics) to the microphone jack on the Sound Blaster (SB) and the sound is totally distorted. It doesn't matter what level I put the microphone volume at using the SB Console - it's distorted. I also tried to connect through my component stereo (Tape Out on my amp/tuner to the SB microphone jack), and head phone jacks (from both the tuner and the cassette deck) to the SB microphone jack - I get no sound whatsoever using any of these methods. I have tested all the cables/adapters I am using an they all work.

 

 

 

Please help.

 

 

 

If there is no way to do this without distortion using the SB - I would rather know now. I will keep it for other reasons anyway but I need to find a solution to this.

 

 

 

Thanks very much in advance for any advice assistance you can provide.

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I have connected the Tape Out RCA on my cassette deck (Technics) to the microphone jack on the Sound Blaster (SB) and the sound is totally distorted.

 

This one? This device seems to have a combined RCA input for line and microphone. There is probably a setting in the driver to switch between both modes. Don't use the 3,5 mm jack, I don't think it will be able to deal with the higher voltage from a line connection.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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This one? This device seems to have a combined RCA input for line and microphone. There is probably a setting in the driver to switch between both modes. Don't use the 3,5 mm jack, I don't think it will be able to deal with the higher voltage from a line connection.

 

Thanks for your response.

 

No, I wanted that one but they were out of stock - so I got the cheaper one. Big mistake I guess.It only has a line in microphone interface and no way to switch modes.

 

I have been doing some research and realize I need something to sit in the middle between the deck and the card. A 'DI' box (?) or small mixer (Beringer) perhaps.

 

Do you know if either of those would work?

 

Thanks again for your help.

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You need to use a line input rather than mic input...

 

Can you maybe provide a link to the SoundBlaster device you have?

 

As a trial, does your computer have a line input (on its motherboard?)

 

For a low cost device, I would recommend the Behringer UCA202 or possibly step up to EMu 0204 USB.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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You need to use a line input rather than mic input...

 

Can you maybe provide a link to the SoundBlaster device you have?

 

As a trial, does your computer have a line input (on its motherboard?)

 

For a low cost device, I would recommend the Behringer UCA202 or possibly step up to EMu 0204 USB.

 

Eloise

 

It this one - Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Go! Pro USB Sound Card | Creative Labs Online Store - it's not even listed on the offical Creative site.

 

Neither of my laptops has a line in on the motherboard. Figures, eh? Actually, if either had one, I would have tried this a while ago.

 

The Behringer device seems like the solution - although I would prefer to have a better sound card that would handle this issue and provide more capabilities as well. I plan to get back into doing midi stuff in the near future - something tells me this card will not give me the function I need.

 

I guess I really didn't think this through very well.

 

Thanks again.

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Laptops usually have inputs labeled mic. Plug in a cable and some pop up a window asking if it is line or mic.. On others you have to go to audio settings properties where you set mic boost on our off. Set it to off. You should be able to record fine at that point. Have not seen a laptop without that in more than a decade. Many smart phones and tablets could be used to record as well.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Laptops usually have inputs labeled mic. Plug in a cable and some pop up a window asking if it is line or mic.. On others you have to go to audio settings properties where you set mic boost on our off. Set it to off. You should be able to record fine at that point. Have not seen a laptop without that in more than a decade. Many smart phones and tablets could be used to record as well.

 

Hi - no, nether of my laptops has a mic input - I always thought I could just get a sound card and presto! Man, was I wrong.

 

I checked the mic boost, it is not enabled. Thanks for the suggestion though.

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I have been doing some research and realize I need something to sit in the middle between the deck and the card. A 'DI' box (?) or small mixer (Beringer) perhaps.

 

DI interfaces are mainly used for symmetric /asymmetric conversions. What you need is simply attenuation. I am completely at a loss what the usual signal level at a mic input should be. I also only have a very vague idea about the output level of your CC recorder, so I can only guess that 10 dB might be needed.

 

Both of your laptops have the usual problem, they only have the headphone /mic combination port, so you are stuck with the Soundblaster device.

 

You could buy an attenuator, but they are mostly XLR, here is one with RCA on Amazon. Another option would be to make your own adapter cable, including attenuation.

 

It might be better to sell the Soundblaster and get something that has a better fit for your use case. Eloise has proposed Behringer interface. I use something from Cakewalk (UA-25 EX) with my desktop PC, The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 can sometimes be found for a decent price.

 

Edit: I see that Eloise had the same idea.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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DI interfaces are mainly used for symmetric /asymmetric conversions. What you need is simply attenuation. I am completely at a loss what the usual signal level at a mic input should be. I also only have a very vague idea about the output level of your CC recorder, so I can only guess that 10 dB might be needed.

 

Both of your laptops have the usual problem, they only have the headphone /mic combination port, so you are stuck with the Soundblaster device.

 

You could buy an attenuator, but they are mostly XLR, here is one with RCA on Amazon. Another option would be to make your own adapter cable, including attenuation.

 

It might be better to sell the Soundblaster and get something that has a better fit for your use case. Eloise has proposed Behringer interface. I use something from Cakewalk (UA-25 EX) with my desktop PC, The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 can sometimes be found for a decent price.

 

Edit: I see that Eloise had the same idea.

 

Thanks - I found some used 2i2s on ebay - I just want to be sure they will work. So, I would go RCA out from the deck and use 1 inch adapters into the line or instrument inputs on the 2i2 - does that sound like it would work?

 

Cakewalk - my goodness. I created over 200 songs on a Roland MC50 micro-composer years ago and I thought Cakewalk would just be a similar but enhanced version. It took me a day to figure out how to copy a measure - lol.

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Mic boost is going to be at least 40 db. So that much attenuation will be needed.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Thanks - I found some used 2i2s on ebay - I just want to be sure they will work. So, I would go RCA out from the deck and use 1 inch adapters into the line or instrument inputs on the 2i2 - does that sound like it would work?

That should be right yes... RCA to 1/4" jack for (each of) left and right.

 

A good (free) and pretty simple recording software is Audacity which you may find preferable to Cakewalk.

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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That should be right yes... RCA to 1/4" jack for (each of) left and right.

 

A good (free) and pretty simple recording software is Audacity which you may find preferable to Cakewalk.

 

Eloise

 

OK-thanks Eloise - I am actually using Cakewalk to work with my old midi files. The micro composer (Roland MC-50) I created them on wasn't very user friendly, but once you figured it out, it was easy to use. My learning curve now to use Cakewalk is daunting to say the least. ;)

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I wasn't aware that Cakewalk is also in the software business ;-) The cables should look like this:

 

L1030319-1.JPG

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

Link to comment
You need to use a line input rather than mic input...

 

Can you maybe provide a link to the SoundBlaster device you have?

 

As a trial, does your computer have a line input (on its motherboard?)

 

For a low cost device, I would recommend the Behringer UCA202 or possibly step up to EMu 0204 USB.

 

Eloise

I second that suggestion. The Berhinger UCA202 is perfect for what you need to do. It's cheap (About $30 US) and easy to use. It converts audio to 16-bit(and up to) 48KHz USB. The EMU is similar but costs more and I don't see the need for you to spend that extra money as the unit is overkill for ripping Compact Cassettes. However, if you plan to do high-res rips of reel-to-reel master tapes, or perhaps even LPs at sometime in the future, then the EMU product is probably a better long-term investment.

George

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