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Has anyone used VAC and Xitel Inport to transfer micro cassettes into digital wav files?


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Hi,

 

I am only a newbie and I know nothing about the jargon of audio world. I just have some cheap & out-of-date equipment to work things out for now. :) Thanks in advance for all of your input to my ambition.

 

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My project is to convert 40 some old micro cassettes into WAV files.

 

Hardware:

Xitel inport (RCA-USB) stereo recording device between microcassette player and my laptop.(Win7)

 

Software (strange combination, but it works! :) )

1. LPrecorder

2. VAC (virtual Audio Cable)

 

What I'll do:

play cassette -> as input to Xitel/INPORT -> as output to laptop USB port -> as input for LPrecorder -> output as WAV files

 

Any low tech and/or low cost alternative suggestions are welcome if you have actually done similar or same kind of transfers. Thanks a lot.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16275[/ATTACH]

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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If there is no reply... here is more question that might get some replies?

 

in setting the Virtual Audio Cable options, I can set the sample rates, buffer sizes, and bits per sample, etc. Can anyone share some lights as what might be a good combination for 'recording/transfer' cassette (mainly conversation voice between people and there are background noises as well) if they are real cables recording live voices in their audio machines? Or, maybe I should look for my answers else where because this forum is probably mostly useful at the high-end products, not producing them? (thanks anyway!!)

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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I assume by microcassette you mean the old analog tapes smaller than regular cassette tapes. I assume you have a player to play back the tapes. You really could simplify it somewhat. Your computer likely has a line in plug for the soundcard. You may need an adapter to fit a 1/8 inch stereo plug to a pair of RCA cables (assuming your player uses that for output).

 

You can use any number of free software programs for recording. A good one is Audacity. Should see your analog input on your computer soundcard and record the result in at least 16 bit 44 khz which is plenty for your purposes. You will need to adjust volume level on the microcassette player and/or input on the sound card.

 

It might help to say what kind of computer you are using. Mac, Windows or Linux. If you are using Windows Sound recorder which is included may be all you need. Connect the RCA, to the soundcard as I mentioned above. Play the cassette after starting sound recorder. You will end up with wav files when it is all said and done. Save and edit them as you wish.

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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I assume by microcassette you mean the old analog tapes smaller than regular cassette tapes. I assume you have a player to play back the tapes. You really could simplify it somewhat. Your computer likely has a line in plug for the soundcard. You may need an adapter to fit a 1/8 inch stereo plug to a pair of RCA cables (assuming your player uses that for output).

 

You can use any number of free software programs for recording. A good one is Audacity. Should see your analog input on your computer soundcard and record the result in at least 16 bit 44 khz which is plenty for your purposes. You will need to adjust volume level on the microcassette player and/or input on the sound card.

 

It might help to say what kind of computer you are using. Mac, Windows or Linux. If you are using Windows Sound recorder which is included may be all you need. Connect the RCA, to the soundcard as I mentioned above. Play the cassette after starting sound recorder. You will end up with wav files when it is all said and done. Save and edit them as you wish.

 

Thank you for your answer. My laptop runs Win 7. Yah, you are right about all what I have - those 'micro' cassette analog tapes (about 1/4 size of a regular cassette tape), my player is a Sony microcassette player (those tapes were recorded by the same machine.)

 

I have MAC as well (4 of them, various models). However, since I don't know much about recording/streaming(?) on MAC, I could only stay with laptop using Adobe Audition (like Audacity, I think)

 

I have 1 more question if you don't mind --- how trustworthy is a laptop's sound card's output through software (Audition or Audacity, etc) manipulations? Aren't those software taking the sound input via the sound card first? If the sound card is not so good, then how can a software make it good with higher bits per sample or larger buffer sizes settings, etc? I know this probably doesn't really matter to what I'm doing now, I am just curious and have some doubts, too. Thanks a lot for your time.

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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Your suspicions are correct in that no amount of software can fix a poor soundcard's capturing of input. I try to think of it as a camera taking a picture of a picture. You could use a 10 megapixel camera to photograph a 1 megapixel print and you will not get better results than the 1 megapixel print. What you will get is a larger file. This can be a good thing for "mastering" if you are going to manipulate the captured sound with effects as higher bit rate is better for adding the effects. I usually record in 24/96 WAV and then after applying filters/effects downsample the file to 16/44.1 FLAC as I cannot hear a difference in my own vinyl rips.

 

For recording microcassettes this high bit rate really doesn't matter as they don't have much fidelity to begin with. The act of recording high end sources and capturing their fidelity is difficult to say the least. While something like a USB capture device makes logical sense they often do not do the best job of capture. I myself had good to great (not spectacular) results using a USB sound blaster X-FI device and the program Magix Audio Cleaning Lab. Their are many different methods available some people use professional sound cards while others use standalone audio CD burners and then rip the disc. The key here is to do everything possible to keep the bad noise out and the "good noise" in the audio signal. In many ways a good reel to reel is simpler and arguably better sounding YMMV:)

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Thank you for your answer. My laptop runs Win 7. Yah, you are right about all what I have - those 'micro' cassette analog tapes (about 1/4 size of a regular cassette tape), my player is a Sony microcassette player (those tapes were recorded by the same machine.)

 

I have MAC as well (4 of them, various models). However, since I don't know much about recording/streaming(?) on MAC, I could only stay with laptop using Adobe Audition (like Audacity, I think)

 

I have 1 more question if you don't mind --- how trustworthy is a laptop's sound card's output through software (Audition or Audacity, etc) manipulations? Aren't those software taking the sound input via the sound card first? If the sound card is not so good, then how can a software make it good with higher bits per sample or larger buffer sizes settings, etc? I know this probably doesn't really matter to what I'm doing now, I am just curious and have some doubts, too. Thanks a lot for your time.

 

You could run Audacity on Mac, there is a version for it. Adobe Audition if you have it is certainly more than sufficient.

 

Yes, the sound card will have an ADC (analog to digital converter) which will be the limit of how good a recording you get. In the case of these microcassettes, chances are any of your computer sound cards are more than good enough not to degrade sound to any real extent. Built in sound cards typically have two shortcomings. A poor clock with more jitter (though not enough to matter for microcassettes), and they are noisy. Laptops often are quite noisy and desktops vary some, but also are fairly often noisy. Noise is a relative thing and neither likely will be an issue with microcassettes. 16 bit recordings can have a noise level more than 90 db below full output. Many poor sound cards will have noise only 75-80 db below full output. In such a case there is little point in going 24 bit, though it certainly hurts nothing. 24 bit theoretically could get you noise -144 db from full output though rare indeed are the electronics that do better than 120 db. Higher sample rates like 96 khz or 192 khz get you more wide band frequency response. Instead of 20 khz limit like 44 khz and 48 khz you could get frequency response to 40 khz and 80 khz respectively. Again not a concern with microcassettes.

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. 

Link to comment
Your suspicions are correct in that no amount of software can fix a poor soundcard's capturing of input. I try to think of it as a camera taking a picture of a picture. You could use a 10 megapixel camera to photograph a 1 megapixel print and you will not get better results than the 1 megapixel print. What you will get is a larger file. This can be a good thing for "mastering" if you are going to manipulate the captured sound with effects as higher bit rate is better for adding the effects. I usually record in 24/96 WAV and then after applying filters/effects downsample the file to 16/44.1 FLAC as I cannot hear a difference in my own vinyl rips.

 

For recording microcassettes this high bit rate really doesn't matter as they don't have much fidelity to begin with. The act of recording high end sources and capturing their fidelity is difficult to say the least. While something like a USB capture device makes logical sense they often do not do the best job of capture. I myself had good to great (not spectacular) results using a USB sound blaster X-FI device and the program Magix Audio Cleaning Lab. Their are many different methods available some people use professional sound cards while others use standalone audio CD burners and then rip the disc. The key here is to do everything possible to keep the bad noise out and the "good noise" in the audio signal. In many ways a good reel to reel is simpler and arguably better sounding YMMV:)

 

Wow... Thanks for your analogy of megapixel print. I understand it better now. In my case, those 26 years old microcassettes are like pictures taken out of space. I will set the settings 16bits/44.1. And, transfer tapes from analog to digital really wastes a lot of time since I don't have any other way to expedite the process. I now know how archeologists feel when they have to dig inch by inch before they can walk away with their prizes.

 

The USB sound blaster and Magix combination is interesting. I haven't been recording any serious sounds in recent years. Thanks for the information. I will definitely check them out when I record more projects and the sound card is so compact! Just curious if this sound card works well with regular mic or condenser mic? I still have the presonus 1394 and Shure XLR mic, and a Sony phantom powered stereo mic (now they are collecting dust) in my home studio. Unfortunately, my new laptop doesn't have firewire input any more. Need to find out if it's better to get a converter (usb-firewire) or simply use the headphone output as my laptop's input? I think the former should be a better choice to avoid hums?

 

Thank you again. I really learned a lot from your post.

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

Link to comment
es. 16 bit recordings can have a noise level more than 90 db below full output. Many poor sound cards will have noise only 75-80 db below full output. In such a case there is little point in going 24 bit, though it certainly hurts nothing. 24 bit theoretically could get you noise -144 db from full output though rare indeed are the electronics that do better than 120 db. Higher sample rates like 96 khz or 192 khz get you more wide band frequency response. Instead of 20 khz limit like 44 khz and 48 khz you could get frequency response to 40 khz and 80 khz respectively. Again not a concern with microcassettes.

 

 

Thanks for the information. I never know even bit settings could affect noise level. (thought only the hardware causes it). High frequency should definitely deliver clearer sound. I remember when I recorded in the studio, my voice sound much richer/better/cleaner than the DIY at home with all the possible software settings (with not so high end equipments) trying to mimic the studio's settings. There is so much to learn in this sound recording world. It's much easier just to sit back and enjoy all the laboring from the sound engineers. :) Thank you so much for the knowledge. Really appreciate it!! Learning is fun.

A good song finds me even during my sleep.

Thank God for my aging ears. I now can filter out blah blah blah and tune in blue blue blue...

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