View Full Version : Transfering DATs to My Computer??? Help requested!

David McDonald
2007-02-23, 10:33 AM
Hi guys, I've been taping for 30 years or so. Virtually all of my collection is on cassette or DAT. Everything from 70s radio programs, to 80s audience recordings here in Toronto through to SBD recordings from the '90s (some traded, some not) as well as other shows that I've obtained through trades.

I've been pretty inactive for a couple of years because of 2 small kids at home. And, now that I've gotten into torrents it's about time I started converting my collection to digital files.

Can any of you point me to a FAQ or website that can walk me through what I need to get to dump what I have on tape into my computer, convert it to MP3s and then edit it down to separate MP3s by song?

At this point I'm clueless, do I need an interface? What software (ideally freeware) would you recommend for the conversion and editing?

Once I've got that going I'll start posting a few torrents.

2007-02-23, 11:36 AM
You could do this "on the cheap" by connecting a male-male 1/8" stereo mini jack audio cable between your DAT and your PC (or MAC) sound card line-in. You will need some recording software. I use Cool Edit Pro, which is known as Adobe Audition now - there is a free trial of Audition out there I believe.

Then you just press Play on the DAT and Record on your recording application and adjust the recording level so it doesn't clip (i.e. peak at too high a level) and once the levels are set, restart the recording w/o touching the levels again.

Once you've got it as a .wav, you may want to do some artifact removal if these are audience recordings like removing claps, loud screams in between songs could be cut or noise-reduced to improve the overall sound, and also to get rid of these relatively loud sections so that the music it self could then be normalized (amplified to a peak volume) without these relatively louder noisy sections mucking things up, sonically speaking. Then it's a matter of breaking up your big .wav into multiple .wav files (i.e. tracks) and burning to CD.

2007-02-23, 12:16 PM
You will need a soundcard which can deal with DAT - I use an M-Audiophile USB which is an external soundcard. You can get internal ones too which are a little cheaper. Or, you may already have an S/PDIF input in your PC. If so, then use that (you'll need an S/PDIF cable for your DAT>PC). As for the cassette transfers - I hope someone else will help with what you need to playback the tapes.

If possible, avoid MP3. Your recordings will be much more appreciated on sites like this if you keep them as WAV>FLAC files with no encoding to MP3.

You will also need something to catch the digital signal on your PC itself. Again, there are options available to you depending on whether or not you want to spend any money. I personally use Audacity which is free. You can catch the audio with this and do some mastering too, if you want to. You should also get a CDWave which you use to split a bit WAV file into individual tracks. Again, this is free.

You might want to check out a website called www.taperssection.com There is lots of information there.
You might also want to check DAT heads.

Do you intend to get back into trading DATs?

2007-02-23, 12:47 PM
you don't have to have a "soundcard which can deal with DAT". As long as your DAT has a line-out jack, you can hook that up to any soundcard.

2007-02-23, 12:53 PM
Yes - but that would create an analogue transfer - which would be a shame when trying to transfer DATs.

David McDonald
2007-02-23, 12:56 PM
Actually, as I understand it you're both right...

I can use the line out if I want to use the DAT's analogue feed which should be able to go into virtually any existing soundcard.

And if I wanted to keep it 100% digital I'll need to use a soundcard that can accept a digital feed and then use a conversion program to change it to .wav, .mp3 or whatever format I need to use "after".

you don't have to have a "soundcard which can deal with DAT". As long as your DAT has a line-out jack, you can hook that up to any soundcard.

2007-02-23, 02:29 PM
Yes - that's right.
The digital version will give you the best possible transfer - the analogue will add a level of hiss.

2007-02-23, 04:52 PM
like symon said, go digital if you can...

i like Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) as my audio recording program when transferring shows--its free, has good support, available for both Mac and PC, and has all the "filters" you need [and a bunch you don't]...

cheers to ffooky who posted this a little while ago:
Simplest method using Audacity and xACT:

1. Open your wave, Edit->Move Cursor...->Track Start and hit command-B.
2. Locate all your track splits and mark each one by hitting command-B.
3. Go to File->Export Multiple, select WAV as the export format, Split files based on:Labels, Name files:Numbering consecutively, hit Export.

You'll now have a nice set of consecutively numbered split tracks but they are not cut on sector boundaries. Fear not.

4. Open xACT and go to its fix SBE tab.
5. Add your freshly split WAV's, making extra sure that they appear in the correct order. Ignore the MD5 options, select your output format of choice and hit the Fix button.
6. Admire your handiwork.

fwiw, i would stay away using filters such as noise reduction, pop/hiss removal, etc...until you get into the higher-end studio gear, and have the real know-how to use it, those filters will do more harm than good...

the one thing i do use is normalize, which you'll apply to the whole .wav file [before starting track split above]...if there are any major spikes, you can manually reduce those first by zooming in closely and highlighting the spike, then Effect->Amplify...>and set "Amplification(dB)" to a negative dB amount [start with -2 or so] until it evens out with the peaks around it...be sure to listen carefully tho before keeping the change...once all spikes have been brought down, you can normalize--select the entire wav [OpenApple+A on Mac, or CTRL-A on PC], go to Effevt->Normalize...-> check Remove DC offset and normalize to -3dB->OK..once done you can start splittin tracks according to ffooky's post