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desiderus
2008-12-14, 04:44 PM
Iíve been thinking about getting myself some gear for transferring cassettes. Lately people been helping me out transferring my tapes, but I really would like to get into transferring tapes myself. I was hoping some of you want to exchange some knowledge about transferring tapes.

At the moment Iím looking into getting a new cassette deck for doing my transfer, my old cassette deck sadly enough doesnít work any more. Anyone has some recommendations brands/models. Iíd like to get a good deck, but it has to be affordable at the same time.

I hope anyone has some tips about getting started and is willing to give me some advice getting things arranged.

Thanks!
Des

Karst
2008-12-14, 05:14 PM
I'm using a Maranz set up. It records on a CD-R straight from the tape (not through the amp). Then I take the disc and load it up on my comp.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-14, 08:05 PM
I can't stress this enough - adjusting the azimuth (tape head alignment) is critical for good sound!
I find many tapes need specific re-adjustment for proper transfer. It's not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing!
Whatever brand of deck you get, make sure you have access to the screws that hold the playback head when the tape's playing. Whether there's a tiny hole in the door or the door can be removed or in a few cases I've heard of decks that have some kind of adjuster built-in (very rare!)...

Get a precision screwdriver and listen in mono. Turn one screw (usually left side one) back and forth maybe half a turn each way and listen to the music you wanna transfer. It'll "brighten up" when it's in alignment.

Also, a good soundcard is essential. Stock built-in computer sound is shite, but you should know that already!

Good luck and happy mastering!

jamroom
2008-12-15, 02:46 AM
There was an article posted as a torrent on Dime giving help on azimuth adjustment, including sound samples and photos (by Lars Ekland) a while back. It is no longer up there, but I still have it and could seed it here if anyone is interested?

I will note that I was going to use it, but realised the few tapes I had were all out there already, so consigned them to to the recycle bin...

Audioarchivist
2008-12-15, 03:21 AM
There was an article posted as a torrent on Dime giving help on azimuth adjustment, including sound samples and photos (by Lars Ekland) a while back. It is no longer up there, but I still have it and could seed it here if anyone is interested?

I will note that I was going to use it, but realised the few tapes I had were all out there already, so consigned them to to the recycle bin...

I would say that yes you should post that - some essential info for anyone that's into doing any tape transfers with any kind of worth and listenable sound quality. I've heard some awful tape copies that could've so easily sounded 110% better. It's as simple as turning a screw and listening. It's hard to believe people transfer without doing that. Not doing anything about it is why cassettes get a bad reputation of being inferior to digital stuff when its simply not true!

mike1061
2008-12-15, 09:45 AM
There are a couple of Nakamici cassette decks with an external knob for playback head adjustment. I have a DR-1 and it's pretty easy, you really can hear the differance.
Thanks Mike

desiderus
2008-12-15, 10:28 AM
Thanks for the reactions so far! I might be able to get a Sony TC-K470 (link: http://www.jackvandijk.nl/stereo/sonycas.htm) from a friend of mine.

Would this deck be sufficient enough to use for a nice sounding transfer, or would you recommend me looking for something else?

jamroom
2008-12-15, 01:26 PM
I would say that yes you should post that - some essential info for anyone that's into doing any tape transfers with any kind of worth and listenable sound quality.

After reading through the comments posted on that torrent, I'm not sure I should post it now. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with the advice, but some folks thought there was more information out there on teh interweb. The info file was mainly about adjusting azimuth, though there were many torrent comment posts on various related aspects, including pc hardware, etc. There were also three photos showing the adjustment and two flac files (before and after).

I guess I could post the original text file in a thread here if anyone would like to discuss it further?

rocknroll
2008-12-15, 08:43 PM
a simple way to start out without buying much:
plug the tape deck into the mic jack
with an RCA-1/8 inch Y adapter
and use EAC to record the playback
then Nero WAV Editor to split your tracks
as well as basic fades and edits, etc.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-15, 10:44 PM
a simple way to start out without buying much:
plug the tape deck into the mic jack
with an RCA-1/8 inch Y adapter
and use EAC to record the playback
then Nero WAV Editor to split your tracks
as well as basic fades and edits, etc.

Not into the mic jack, the line in jack! Mic in expects a totally different level signal, and is usually mono in.
Does EAC do recording? I don't think so...
Try Audacity to record in and split tracks. It's free.

desiderus
2008-12-16, 03:16 AM
I might be able to get a soundcard for a decent price, it's the VSL2020 Steinberg.

Specs:

32 ADAT channels - 2 optical ADAT I/O with S/MUX support
S/PDIF I/O - supports AES/EBU and consumer S/PDIF
Analog I/O - unbalanced (-10dBV) Stereo RCA I/O
SuperClock (FS 256) and WordClock I/O with BNC connector
Standard MIDI 5-pole I/O
24 Bit with 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 kHz

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Y80TRCEBL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

I guess this one shouls be good enough to make decent transfers? I'd really like to start this project with some proper gear. I've been looking for some other sollutions as well, like working with the line in jack, but I think I 'll be able to get a much better quality using a soundcard mentioned above.

ps: jamroom, I'd like to see that txt file ;)

Audioarchivist
2008-12-16, 03:57 AM
Unless you're going to hook up to some adat 8 track digital stuff, that soundcard is, well its nice, but how much? You're still going to go in line in from a cassette deck's line out. All that other stuff is cool if you're going to use your computer for multitrack studio recording with an adat or something, but, well, I dunno.

That cassette deck you linked to is alright as long as it's not too worn out already, and of course make sure you can remove the door to get access to the tape head to adjust the azimuth while the tape plays.

I would bet there's better alternatives for sound cards than that one. I'd look into an external stereo sound usb interface of some kind.

desiderus
2008-12-16, 10:00 AM
Unless you're going to hook up to some adat 8 track digital stuff, that soundcard is, well its nice, but how much? You're still going to go in line in from a cassette deck's line out. All that other stuff is cool if you're going to use your computer for multitrack studio recording with an adat or something, but, well, I dunno.

I can get the soundcard for 40,- euro from an friend who bought a new one because this on doesn't work with windows vista, that why I thought it might be an interesting card to buy.

jamroom
2008-12-16, 01:08 PM
Right-o! Here goes. For what it's worth, the following was a text file in a small torrent that was posted on Dime back in May 2006. There was much debate on the thread, especially on the computer interface (quality of soundcard, noise, etc). Feel free to have another debate here.
*********************************************************************************************

TUNE IN YOUR TAPES PRIOR TO DIGITZATION!!
A Play
By Lars A Ekland

There are at least three things you have to know if you want to commit your analog cassette tapes to a digital medium with an intent to share. Well, maybe like four, or five - I dunno, six, seven, ALRIGHT there are too many to mention. So I'll only talk about the most important ones. Yes and the unimportant ones too. Alright settle in the show is about to start:

50 year old Man with ENORMOUS tape collection walks through the front door with his new audio software in one hand and his to-do list in another:

#1. Install audio software on your home computer (like SoundForge, Cool Edit, Adobe etc. Even Nero has one now - i think)

#2. Hook the tape deck up to your computer
a.find the sound mixer
b.get good levels and
c.test test test test test!!

#3. Playback with Dolby OFF and bias to normal (regardless of the type - just do it.)

#4. DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR ANALOG TAPES ONCE YOU COMMIT THEM TO A DIGITAL MEDIUM!

#5. _________

OUR MAN IS PACING THE FLOOR - WHILE THINKING, HE PUTS ON A TAPE TO CALM HIS NERVES:

oh gee, am I forgetting anything. Hmm, I dunno. Why does the tape sound so muddy though. boy if I only know what I was doing. I'm such a wannabe. HEY, WH...

WHAT'S THIS? It looks like the door comes off the deck pretty easy, then goes back on just as easy.

HEY, WHAT'S THIS.. Looks like a playback head (big silver thing in the middle that touches the tape when it plays) and a record head (black thing that touches the tape too but is off to the left)

AND LOOK, SCREWS HOLD THE BLOODY THING IN!!! Say, I ONCE HEARD that if I turn the screw just on the playback head while the tape is in motion, Magic would come out of the speakers. Wonder if there's really anything TO that...

This thing sounds pretty crappy anyway, why not give it a shot... Where's that Precision Screwdriver. Got it. Okay, well there's 2 screws on the thing. Oh theres a spring behind the screw on the left. Better try that one first. turning, turning, wow, it's like .... WOW ... I can hear all the frequencies when I turn it to .. right about ...... THERE. GOD, it's a revelation! IT IS MAGIC.

Why didn't I know about this before? This crappy muddy tape that I was going to throw away has turned to GOLD in my hands. SOMEBODY was trying to tell me about something called, "Azimuth," just yesterday... I wonder if that's what I just discovered..?? Boy who ever figured this out is a genius. So IF no two decks' playback heads are aligned, or, calibrated to the same standard, then every tape transfer I DO going forward must be done this way!!!

Good God man, why my entire tape collection will breathe new life!!! Oh thank you God of Analog tape, thank you, thank you...... (fade to black)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


in an effort to achieve the highest quality possible with regard to mastering/transferring recorded music from magnetic tape to digital mediums, I have found that many don't know that every cassette tape has its own unique NODE - SORT OF AN ANALOG ADDRESS, if you will. And when a cassette is being played in a different machine from where it was recorded from, the output is going to suffer (99% of the time) until that tape is, "tuned in," to the machine it is being played on. The only answer is to tweak the playback head until it finds the tapes' true node, or embedded "azimuth" setting..

I wish to share my knowledge with the community in hopes that we can all benefit from knowing a technique called, "azimuth calibration." How do I know what I'm talking about?? I have for years found that every cassette tape must be "tuned in" to the machine playing back the recorded information. Because no two machines are calibrated to the same standard. What would sound fine in deck 1 plays back sounding like mud thru a phase shifter in deck 2. WHY?

In the mass production of cassette machines throughout history, the industry has reduced playback and recording head Calibration to a visual level peak, and not a sonic one. In other words, There's no listening involved in the calibrating. The result is a mass of uniquely calibrated machines that have been wrongly trusted by the masses who own(ed) them to play back music that was recorded elsewhere from other wrongly calibrated machines. Why is this a bad thing? WELL, there's good news, and it's just a fix away.

It's much like the way your computer has an IP address, a unique node that lets information find your computer and not someone else's. Cassette tapes with information stored on them are similar in that they will deliver their information CORRECTLY AND WITHOUT ANY LOSS when played back in a machine that has been locked into the address of the information stored. It is easily done with a precision screwdriver, and a good pair of headphones. Headphones increase the accuracy of the calibration.

Some decks have an Azimuth Adjuster. Some Nakamichi decks do. Some have holes in the door allowing a precision screwdriver in while the tape is in play. In the old days, I preferred to simply take the door off. Now I take the door off once, measure the distance from the edge of the door openings to the one screw I'll need access to, go out to the shed, get out my drill and a 15/16" drill bit and put a hole where one should rightly be.

Beginners, I'd suggest simply taking the door off and putting it back when done. Mind, both sides of the tape need adjusting, not just side one.

Once the door is off, put in a tape and press play til there's a full ensemble going. You want a section of music where there are cymbals aplenty. Any early tape of THE WHO has Keith Moon bashing away at the zildjians from moment one. Just Press Play. if the door itself holds the cassette in place (old world equipment) then you might have to tilt the machine up to keep the cassette from coming out of the deck. Most newer machines aren't like this. Most now have just a plastic cover that pops off and on easily.

Play the cassette, listen for cymbals, then take a precision (small small small) Philips head screwdriver to the screw on the left side of the playback head. It's the one on the left if the heads are on the bottom going up as you push play. If they're on the Top going Down as you push play - then the screw you want to turn is on the right. The latter is also old world equipment.

As you turn, listen. If the sound gets muddy, turn back until the sound becomes as clear as it can get. Be careful, this screw can come off so don't turn it SO much in one direction. There's enough thread on the screw where you can exact some pretty liberal turns. But what you want is clarity, and that's not going to be far from where you began. When you do find the most clear and hiss filled position, stop and you're ready to make your digital copy.

You will find that it's kinda like an old analog radio dial. You tune the station in by moving the dial back and forth until you're satisfied the best signal is achieved. If the signal isn't perfect, you can still hear something, but you hear a dull muted muffled something. Same rules apply to turning the screw attached to the bottom of the playback head as a tape is in play. The object is to match the tapes', "azimuth," that was created upon making the recording.

Check this out, I found this Googling the keywords, "Azimuth" and "Cassette:"

from http://audio-restoration.com/cassette.php

"Two major cassette problems were the uniformity of alignment, of the cassette tape path, and head azimuth from machine to machine. To a large degree, the problem of tape path alignment was solved, fairly early in the evolution of cassette tape equipment, by a pair of fixed guides installed on the record/play head during manufacture. This caused the tape to follow a more-or-less fixed path across the surface of the head, keeping the tracks within a reasonable position on the tape being recorded, and ensuring that a tape being played back would also follow the same path.

The problem of head azimuth remains, and although it is largely corrected by more precise manufacturing techniques, and alignment of the head azimuth at the factory, the earlier problems still plague the archivist and anyone trying to transfer original recordings made on the older cassette mechanisms.

This problem will likely never be noticed if the recordings are played back on the machine that made them originally, since cassette recorders, with a few notable (and expensive) exceptions, use the same head for playback as they do for recording. In some cases, there are optimised playback and record heads within the same head casing, but these also suffer the problem of the single record/playback head... mis-alignment will not likely be noticed when a tape is played on the same machine that did the recording.

Results of mis-alignment of this nature, when played on other cassette machines, vary from high frequencies that "weave" in and out, to a generally muffled loss of most high frequency content. In the case of speech recordings, all the fricative sounds (the "K", "F", "S" and such sounds) are lost or severely attenuated, which drastically reduces the intelligibility of speech. A musical recording sounds predominantly bassy with all the treble range missing. Once transfers of this nature have been made, the resulting poor recordings can never be fully compensated for, and return to the original recordings is mandatory to produce an acceptable result."


The following is a bit wordy, but please, this IS supposed to be technical! However, I WILL try to make it... fun!

i was 15 when i figured out how to calibrate azimuth with nothing but my ears. I used a crappy combo unit with turntable, am/fm receiver, and cassette deck all in one - you know the kind, plastic, flimsy, and inexpensive. It was on its way out and my Birthday was coming so I figured what the hey, maybe mom would get me a newer better one. Well, she did. Oh and don't worry, I took the cassette door off of that one too.

I had already figured out how to get the cassette door off, but I didn't yet fully realize what I could do with it off. Sure I watched stuff go round and round as it played and wondered how tape and magnetics worked together. But When i discovered the benefits of turning this tiny screw located on the playback head while a tape was in motion, OHH-LA-LA!!! I would put in my favorite tapes and I'd turn the screw til the sound got muddy, then I turned it til it got clear. (at this time, listen to the tracks included in this folder.) Then I noticed that not every tape in my collection was suited for the last known good alignment. AHA!, I thought. Then I realized that SOMETIMES even a single tape with its 2 sides needed its own separate azimuth calibration setting. WOW!, I thought.


You can HEAR bad head alignment in the playback of so many poorly mastered digital captures (and it's embedded within so many cassette generations of certain 'well known' recordings as well).

SO lets recap what was learned; A. No two tape decks will record information/music/whatever with any sort of universal standard with regard to azimuth calibration, and B even a single cassette can have 2 different azimuth calibrations.

Gee, wonder why that is? Well, that's one of those, "who/where/what/how/why is GOD?" questions isn't it. Yes it is. But sky of blue and sea of green, darn it, that's just how cassette tapes and their parent decks are made - Imperfect from machine to machine, from A side to B side, manufacturer to manufacturer.

SO it's up to us, the tape trading community, to pass along the best of the best quality digital transfers we can possibly turn out. Start by taking the worst sounding tape you own, give the screw a tweak, and listen how water turns to wine (i didn't say WHINE). Listen how Night turns to Day, hear how a flood of mud can be washed away by the brightness of the light that you will clearly sense when you gloriously find that evasive pre-recorded azimuth there embedded in your cassette tape collection. AND remember...

NO TWO TAPES (created in different decks) are aligned to the same azimuth setting.

Have fun rediscovering your collection from just tweaking that little screw (see pictures I've created for help) and I'll see you a happier & healthier in the community of cassette-to-wav traders.

-Eeklair

desiderus
2008-12-17, 06:06 PM
Thanks for posting that information jamroom!

I picked my Sony TC-K470 up today. The tape deck is still in a very good shape and it even has little manufactured holes spared out for azimuth adjusting. I’ll get my sound card in on Saturday, still looking for a good cable though, but I’ll be able to find something good I guess.

Still have a few questions before get things started:
1) Do I need to use an amplifier while transferring?
2) What sort of settings are preferable on the cassette deck for transferring?

Five
2008-12-17, 06:57 PM
okay first off, soundcard is very important... what are you using (also what kind of connnectors?)

Five
2008-12-17, 07:00 PM
also, clean the tapedeck... rubbing alcohol for all the parts the tape touches, including posts except the roller, which needs to be cleaned with 'rubber cleaner' or a tiny bit of lukewarm water (not as good). if you use alcohol on rubber it ages it prematurely (bad). alcohol is good for cleaing all the plastic & metal parts (incl. heads). this is also important, and not too hard (you might have to remove the door... use qtips).

showtaper
2008-12-17, 08:21 PM
Thanks for posting that information jamroom!

I picked my Sony TC-K470 up today. The tape deck is still in a very good shape and it even has little manufactured holes spared out for azimuth adjusting. Iíll get my sound card in on Saturday, still looking for a good cable though, but Iíll be able to find something good I guess.

Still have a few questions before get things started:
1) Do I need to use an amplifier while transferring?
2) What sort of settings are preferable on the cassette deck for transferring?

Just keep in mind that if you are working on a multi-generation tape that most
of the damage is already done. The misalignment on each machine has been
recorded into the next generation and cannot be undone.

Don't expect miracles.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-17, 09:03 PM
Still have a few questions before get things started:
1) Do I need to use an amplifier while transferring?
2) What sort of settings are preferable on the cassette deck for transferring?

1) Only for listening to the signal after coming back out of the computer. Go direct line out of the deck to line in on the soundcard. Test first before recording. Open your audio controls for play and record, and set levels in the computer. Capture with some headroom (don't overload recording levels, but don't have super quiet). You can get close but count on probably bumping them up a bit later with an audio editor. Don't go above 0dB! peaks should maybe be -3dB or so. Count on something going louder than you expect.

2) Play tapes on normal bias setting if switchable, Dolby OFF. Playing dolby on will only dull the sound, as will high bias CrO2 or metal. If there's no switch, cover the holes on the top of the tape shell with scotch tape or something. Don't record over your tapes!

Are these your masters, or are they copies? If they're tape to tapes, unless someone like me copied them, previous azimuth probably wasn't adjusted all that well, and like said, some "damage" might have been done already. If they're masters, unless you've got crappy mics, you should be able to "focus" the sound pretty good! Miracles, maybe not. Decent sound that rivals all the digital stuff - Maybe!

Good luck and keep us posted!

rspencer
2008-12-17, 10:13 PM
If there's no switch, cover the holes on the top of the tape shell with scotch tape or something. Don't record over your tapes!


Do not use tape. Tape is just used to sub for the tabs. If the tabs are still there, break them.

Putting tape on will allow them to be recorded on, not protect them.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-18, 06:10 AM
Do not use tape. Tape is just used to sub for the tabs. If the tabs are still there, break them.

Putting tape on will allow them to be recorded on, not protect them.
I was referring to covering the other holes to get better frequency response, and warning not to record by accident. Let me explain further...

If there's no switch on the front of the deck to select tape type, there's a sensor looking for these other holes. Cover them to playback as normal tape. Playing back as normal bias gives a better high frequency response. Brighter and fuller.
Some decks use the other holes on top of CrO2 or metal tapes :
1) normal bias tapes have only a small hole (well, one for each side of tape) with tabs that you should pop out to prevent accidental recording. They are closest to the outer edges of the top of a tape. Don't cover them unless you want to accidentally erase your tape.
2) CrO2 tapes have an "extended" hole beside the record tab. Again, pop the tabs, but cover the second section of these holes towards the inside of the tape.
3) Metal type tapes have the extended hole beside the record tabs, and also another set of holes towards the center of the top of the tape. Again, if there's no switch for selecting bias for playback, cover the center holes and the inner portion hole next to the record tabs.

I would suggest this method for 99% of tapes, unless there's a huge high frequency response to some tinny sounding master that's too bright. Even then, there's still not much reason to dull down the tape response with these bias settings.

I hope I've cleared up my original meaning. If there's no bias switch, its got sensors looking for those holes. Cover them for better high end response. Don't playback with Dolby. Adjust the azimuth properly. Clean the heads and tape path. Clean the pinch roller rubber assembly with the right stuff. Try and find a tape head demagnetizer - eventually you might need to demagnetize the heads if you playback lots of tape.

Jeez, all this talk about holes, and no girlfriend for me right now. Sad state of affairs...:down:haha

mike1061
2008-12-18, 08:41 AM
1) Only for listening to the signal after coming back out of the computer. Go direct line out of the deck to line in on the soundcard. Test first before recording. Open your audio controls for play and record, and set levels in the computer. Capture with some headroom (don't overload recording levels, but don't have super quiet). You can get close but count on probably bumping them up a bit later with an audio editor. Don't go above 0dB! peaks should maybe be -3dB or so. Count on something going louder than you expect.



That is good advice, also. You do not need an amp, the output is at the correct level already. With the record at a little low tip. you can boost the signal after you get the music on your computer. I think it's audacity, that works well for that.
Thanks Mike

Five
2008-12-18, 12:20 PM
Jeez, all this talk about holes, and no girlfriend for me right now. Sad state of affairs...:down:haha
:lol:

I strongly disagree about playing back chrome tapes in normal mode. it is well worth trying both ways, but in 90% of the cases I prefer the sound of chrome tapes played back in chrome mode. It might be different for you, but be positive to listen to it both ways

zeek
2008-12-18, 01:05 PM
I would advise against playing back all tapes at normal as well. I do a lot of transfers and have yet to get better result playing back the tape on a different type than what it is.

basically, your transfers are only going to be as good as the weakest link in yor chain.

right now I use a nakamichi cr-5a but I'm looking to upgrade to a cr-7a soon. Your azimuth should be adjsuted for every tape, on every tape side. Listen to the cymbals and bring it in and out until you hear the highest clarity in the ring.

I tried sony decks and the ones I played with had a lot of wow/flutter issues. May just have been the ones I used, but I'm a hard and true nakamichi guy now that I own a few and I don't think I could ever go with another tape deck.

Sound cards are extremely important as this is where your a/d conversion is going to happen. Getting a low cost card will give you a very noisy a/d conversion and if the internal card sucks, you'll get digi pops ect. You really can hear the difference between a cheap card and a quality card. I don';t know if your transferring masters or multi gens or how serious you are at getting the most out of your tapes, but I wouldn't skimp for a PC based card if you want to get the absolute most from your tapes.

I don't use a PC based card for my transfers anymore. Right now we use a TASCAM HD-P2 Portable High-Definition Stereo Audio Recorder which works WONDERFuly, but it is pretty pricey. The bonus with this over a soundcard is you have your PC free and you can hook some mics up and use it as a field recorder. If you use a pC based card, get as much ram as you can, and don't run or open any applications while your transferring or you end up with artifacts in your end wave. I'm actually contemplating going from the tascam to a Korg MR-1 which lets me transfer to 1 buit DSD for archiving. These also can be used for field recording too and are considerable cheaper than the tascam.

Thats my two cents for what it's worth. it all really depends on what you want to invest, and what you expect back out. :)

dude87
2008-12-18, 06:09 PM
I strongly disagree about playing back chrome tapes in normal mode. it is well worth trying both ways, but in 90% of the cases I prefer the sound of chrome tapes played back in chrome mode. It might be different for you, but be positive to listen to it both ways

I agree - most people like listening to chrome tapes played back in normal mode because they sound brighter, but setting the right mode will produce a more accurate result.

Dolby B (and C) tend to be a real mess, if you have anything other than a master odds are it's been screwed up along the line.

Five
2008-12-18, 07:22 PM
that's another good one--dolby b, c, or off?

I've tried b & c and hate them both. I heard that sr is good ($$$!)


I guess you could try dolby on/off if you get a master from parts unknown... even then there's the little dolby on/off checkbox in the j-card too. generally tho I'd say stay away, I can hear that shit work its not good (if there's any analog tapers still out there! :eek: ).

Audioarchivist
2008-12-18, 08:55 PM
Playback Dolby OFF.

Dolby basically boosts high signals when recording and cuts them when playing back, the idea being that it raises highs above the tape noise floor when recording and cuts them back when playing back, cutting back tape noise as well when playing back. The problem is it's not very accurate. Better to leave it off at least for playback.

I recorded my masters with dolby on to saturate the tape masters with highs so they would last through time better. Dull lifeless masters suck. Mine sparkle from the high boost during recording. Then again, I'm not a purist and I'm not scared of tweaking my masters when playing into digital, and didn't always use the best mics when recording - call it high boost when taping with less than stellar equipment...

The best thing is to use your ears and your own judgement on bias playback settings. I think that if used correctly, lightly and SPARINGLY used post-production eq and, yes, even digital noise reduction (perish the thought!) is far more accurate than the average tape deck Dolby and bias settings. My philosophy is to catch as much info from the tape as possible (dolby off bias normal) as full and bright as I can, and then filter it out lightly in the computer if needed.

It helps that I've been at this for 20 years and seem to have the touch needed to not ham-fist it with hammers and chisels. Less is more.

I'm not saying its a quick and easy process, and noise reduction isn't something I use much if at all. It should be avoided. Fine bias adjustment on concert master recordings is just bull IMHO, unless you're masters are from a Nakamichi or something super audiophile. My philosophy is to draw out all the hidden information on an analog tape that could be ignored by blindly filtering highs with those ham fisted bias switches. Every deck is different in those settings, and concert masters aren't usually that high fidelity to rely on the rules of audiophile reproduction.

This advice is not for the average user just starting out. I've only come to these conclusions after thousands of hours of trying and hundreds of hours failing, too. Not to be used by amateurs or the faint of heart! Your results may vary from mine, and it all depends on whether you plan on properly mastering your recordings with some of the digital tools we've been given, or if you're just gonna do a straight transfer as-is, un-mastered.

Don't flame me, please! haha

zeek
2008-12-18, 09:22 PM
personally, I think that when a dolby source is played back without dolby, it sounds very brittle. The dolby encoded does sound a bit dull to me but when weighed with the brittle sound and the hiss factor, I think it's less destructive to playback witht dolby on and edit to fix the problem, provided the deck is properly calibrated. I could bore you with the history of dolby, why it was used so predominetly back when, and how it works, but more than likely boredom would sink in and you would lose interest quicker than, well, you probably just lost interest by reading this far :lol4:

just as an fyi, here is a great deal on a tascam hd-p2. I don't know the seller, I just found it on a craigslist search. If your serious about transferring, this is a good option. they sell new for 800 +

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/ele/962868696.html

edit,

thank you audioarchivist for all your efforts in taping/transferring/sharing for 20+ years. Thats huge man. Many thanks.

dude87
2008-12-18, 11:41 PM
personally, I think that when a dolby source is played back without dolby, it sounds very brittle. The dolby encoded does sound a bit dull to me but when weighed with the brittle sound and the hiss factor, I think it's less destructive to playback witht dolby on and edit to fix the problem, provided the deck is properly calibrated. I could bore you with the history of dolby, why it was used so predominetly back when, and how it works, but more than likely boredom would sink in and you would lose interest quicker than, well, you probably just lost interest by reading this far :lol4:


I agree on the Dolby issue as well, although (as I said above) most people screw with the Dolby settings through multiple generations so it probably doesn't hurt to compare with and without Dolby. When I did analog recording we used dbx units and calibrated record and playback levels.

Five
2008-12-19, 01:13 PM
yeah I agree if you know for a fact it was recorded with b or c or dbx or whatever it will sound best played back in the correct mode... at first more highs sound better, but they're "brittle", as you say.

desiderus
2008-12-19, 03:23 PM
Do not use tape. Tape is just used to sub for the tabs. If the tabs are still there, break them.

Putting tape on will allow them to be recorded on, not protect them.
Thanks guys for all the advise you posted, it's very useful to read through all the different opinions and stuff.

Iíll be transferring masters as well as copied tapes. A lot of these copied tapes arenít circulating any more. Iím not sure if these tapes have been copied properly, but since they are only the few that are still Ďout thereí I just have to go with that.

Iím a bit confused about all the holes and tabs your talking about. (read only/ wright only) Anyone able to drop some pictures to clear things up in my mind?

Thanks again guys!

LeifH12345
2008-12-19, 03:37 PM
http://i39.tinypic.com/34exe1y.jpg

The holes are right beside the tabs to permit or deny recording to the tape.

Normal position tapes have no extra holes, just the tabs.

Five
2008-12-19, 04:20 PM
you only need to mess with those holes if you want to play a chrome/metal tape back using the incorrect setting on a deck that auto-detects the correct setting. so if you're playing a chrome tape in the little window it should say 'chrome' or 'cr02' or something and if its a normal tape (choose any official release lying around) it should say 'normal'. or there's a switch on the front to choose if its not automatic.

is that about as clear as mud? :lol: let us know if you're getting it...

desiderus
2008-12-19, 05:27 PM
I actually think Iím getting the hang of these holes and tabs haha.

I just shot a picture of two tapes, I found out that I only have normal position tapes lying around because none of the tapes I checked have those extra holes. The tape deck I got automatically selects the tape type.

The first tape on the picture shows a tape with the tab intact, so Iíll be able to recorded over this tape. The second tape shows the tabs cracked, with this tape Iíll only be able to read the information on it. Correct? So this means that itís preferable to crack all the tabs if I donít want to accidently loose anything.

Sorry for being such a noob guys!

Five
2008-12-19, 06:41 PM
yes, you're understanding... crack all those tabs, unless the tapes are blank!

now for the next part... the 'hole beside the hole' indicates that it is a chrome tape. if you dig up the cheapest cassette you can find or some official release cassette compare how it looks different from the chrome tapes above. similarly, for metal tapes there's a hole close to the middle (one for each side). more expensive tape decks detect not only the record enable/disable tab (the ones you're breaking) but also use the other holes (or lack thereof) to detect the type of tape: normal, chrome or metal. a special filter is applied to chrome and metal tapes by the player, or on cheaper decks/walkmans you have a two-position switch for either normal or chrome/metal playback. I believe it sounds best to play back the tapes the correct way, but some people feel differently... so you can tape over the 'chrome' or 'metal' holes to temporarily trick your tapedeck into playing it back without using the correct filter (a bad idea 99% of the time imo, but in case you want to give it a shot...)

LeifH12345
2008-12-19, 07:13 PM
temporarily trick your tapedeck into playing it back without using the correct filter (a bad idea 99% of the time imo, but in case you want to give it a shot...)

It definately changes the sound.

I think it's worth checking, but it won't necessarily be better (or worse).

LeifH12345
2008-12-19, 07:20 PM
http://i40.tinypic.com/2hgb5ev.jpg

The holes circled in red are the ones that determine the type of tape (playback). Normal position tapes don't have these, just the tabs.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-19, 07:40 PM
If all you're going to do is play a tape in and track separate it (ie: no remastering) then, yeah, probably best to make the playback sound as natural as possible, and playback with proper bias setting. I still wouldn't use dolby unless the master is very VERY bright and brittle harsh sounding without it.

I however will always playback at normal setting with no dolby to get the most signal to noise ratio as possible, and knock it back in the digital realm where noise is no longer a factor. Any analog signal that's going through any wire will deteriorate somewhat, so if I muffle it with chrome bias or heaven forbid, Dolby, it can let a bad signal get worse. Maximum output without distortion to digital, and let my digital treatment remove that brittleness and in some cases simulate what the dolby does at a smaller degree than it's heavy hit to the highs...

I wouldn't recommend remastering digitally for a noob, so get the tape sounding as good and as natural as you can and just record it and split tracks and torrent it. However if you want to experiment, maybe you'll get lucky!

tilomagnet
2008-12-20, 07:30 AM
Sorry, but a Dolby encoded Chrome or Metal tape played back with 110us and Dolby off is completely unlistenable to me. WAY too bright. Yeah, if you have a slightly muffled tape it may sound 'better' at first listen, but you'll soon grow tired of that awful brittle sound plus you still have the hiss of course.

I have a dozen or so decks (Dragon, CR-7, Revox B215 etc.) and I know that Dolby tapes don't always decode perfectly when played back on other decks, so I understand if someone would prefer playback without decoding (I don't), but this requires massive EQ work in post-production to cut back the high end and to EQ the recording back into a listenable one.

The EQ settings however must be appropriate for the tape type. Type I settings for Chrome tapes is just wrong IMO.

tilomagnet
2008-12-20, 09:18 AM
I still wouldn't use dolby unless the master is very VERY bright and brittle harsh sounding without it.


I don't think it's wise idea to use Dolby and bias settings as an 'EQ substitute' and apply these settings depending on the sound of the recording: "Hmm, this sounds a bit dull to me, so let's leave the Dolby off."

I mean, for 10th gen tapes it doesn't matter really, because all the damage is there already, but when archiving masters one should try to preserve the natural sound of the recording and not a distortion of it. If you playback a Dolby tape without decoding you get a distortion of the real thing, the sound has been boosted throughout the freq range on recording and the boost is not getting reversed on playback. Even if it may sound better to you at the moment it still doesn't sound as it was meant to be.

Then in a couple of years from now you may listen to these non-decoded on a different, higher quality playback set-up and these transfers will sound way worse and un-natural and at this point you'll probably regret the decision to play them back without Dolby.

I've got that 1978 Queen show that you uploaded and while it is definately an overall very well done transferring job (azimuth etc.) and the sound is very clear and balanced, when listening on my decent playback set-up it sounds artificially bright and noisy and gets annoying after a while. It does more or less resemble one those many boot release that someone EQ'ed the hell out of to make a supossedly 'muddy' tape as clear as possible. I hope someday this transfer gets re-done with proper settings.

Karst
2008-12-20, 09:20 AM
What's on tha tapes actually? Studio material or live bootleg recordings? I' say that might make a difference in the transfer settings?

LeifH12345
2008-12-20, 02:48 PM
I that 1978 Queen show

If a tape sounds really good to me, I'll digitize it without any EQ.

But I would rather release an EQ'd version, because then my true master isn't in circulation.

Go ahead and bash me for it, 'cause that will change my mind. :lol:

zeek
2008-12-20, 03:00 PM
so do you make the eq'ed version sound worse than the master? If you did things properly and released it in as good as form as you can, what does it matter if the master circulates :hmm: . Your tapes, your choice. I'm just curious.

The end goal on any of these tapes is to release them in the best possible shape.

desiderus, in the end, I would highly suggest you do the homework, research the stuff thats being discussed, and make the calls yourself. It seems you really care enough about your masters to try to get yourself acquainted with the ins and outs, the extra effort and research will really make the transfers worth while. There has been some sound advice given here, and some that I would pass along if I wanted someone to foob a tape. Sometimes it's better to get it from the horses mouth so to speak.

I have some stuff I can pass along to you if you really want to get down to the nuts and bolts of editing/transfers. PM me if you want it :)

LeifH12345
2008-12-20, 03:11 PM
so do you make the eq'ed version sound worse than the master? If you did things properly and released it in as good as form as you can, what does it matter if the master circulates :hmm: . Your tapes, your choice. I'm just curious.

The end goal on any of these tapes is to release them in the best possible shape.

I make it the same, but different. I don't make it sound worse.

Plus, (and I'm not directing this at anyone in particular) I'm the one that snuck in the gear. Go and tape stuff yourself.

GRC
2008-12-20, 04:02 PM
Sorry, but a Dolby encoded Chrome or Metal tape played back with 110us and Dolby off is completely unlistenable to me. WAY too bright. .....

I agree; if the tape you're playing back was recorded with Dolby, then if you play it back without Dolby you'll get a lot of high-end boost, and a shrill sounding playback.

I'm tempted to suggest; if it was recorded with Dolby, play it back with Dolby, and then if it sounds too dull, give it a bit of treble boost at that stage.

That's me used 1 out of my 2 cents' worth.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-20, 04:40 PM
If its too bright, eq it down yourself, or wrap a quilt around your ears...

I try and make things sound similar to regular cd's these days - overblown peices of brickwalled putred crap! haha

tilomagnet
2008-12-21, 05:27 AM
Well, at least I do actually listen to the shows I download and gave an honest feedback instead of the usual ungrateful leecher bitching.

Audioarchivist
2008-12-21, 07:02 AM
There's a difference listening to a tape without applying any post processing (and I don't mean just EQ) and working some light touch remastering.

There's also a difference between a tape of some cd's or a live tape made without the best recording conditions and less than perfect mics.

Like I said before, I play stuff in very bright to minimize (or to overpower) line noise, etc. and work it back in the computer. I'm not just playing a tape and releasing it just like it sounds without fixing its flaws.

I release things like I'd like to listen to them. I remaster them for myself first and release those versions. I try and make a show sound like it did when I heard it for the first time - live. Live sound isn't the best, and these are not audiophile experiences we're talking about, they're bootlegs.

You should have heard how that Queen tape sounded off the master. Blah. I put out my 1gen tape to tape copy. I was not the original taper. I did make the copy myself. That's a bad example to use as what my method for my masters sounds like. That one's double noisy. Sorry. If you don't like it feel free to delete your copy.

I think if anyone has some infinite wisdom they should be sharing it here, not PMing each other with secret information on "how to really play a tape in" or whatever. I'd like to hear your tricks of the (tape) trade. Maybe you'll change MY mind!

The multi-band compressor is my best friend. I rarely do any eq besides some select mid cuts and low boosts. I don't really go for digi-nr. The mic I used for years had crap low frequency response, so almost none of my masters sound good flat.

These have been my results, and like I think I've said, your results may (and obviously do) vary. None of this stuff is foolproof rules. You can't say you can't ever listen to a tape without bias and dolby set "right" because you've never heard my tapes flat, and you're not taking into account what I do to them in the computer that fixes them more than dolby and chrome will do alone.

tilomagnet
2008-12-21, 11:36 AM
>>I'm not just playing a tape and releasing it just like it sounds without fixing its flaws.


I think that's exactly the reason why we disagree. You're processing your transfers to make them sound as good as possible TO YOU.

When I do transfers I try to preserve the quality of the recording as good as possible. That invloves high-quality gear, azimuth adjustment and Dolby decoding if necessary. I don't try to turn a bad tape into a Millard-like recording. If it sounds bad, well that's how it is. I don't even try to apply any EQ or digital NR to any of my transfers, because it's far too subjective anyway. What sounds good to me today, may sound terrible to someone else or may sound ugly on a different payback set-up.


>>You can't say you can't ever listen to a tape without bias and dolby set "right" because you've never heard my tapes flat, and you're not taking into account what I do to them in the computer that fixes them more than dolby and chrome will do alone.


I've heard too many transfers ruined by mis-use of Dolby (i.e. not decoded). I've several different decks and done plenty of comparisons what a Dolby tape made on deck A sounds like when played back on deck B etc. I've come to the conclusion that I always prefer the decoded over the not-decoded version, no matter what decks are involved.

If a recording got Dolby encoded, the encoding needs to be reversed. Period. What I can see being up for discussion is if it's better to decode on the deck on playback or to reverse the encoding in post production. Since the Dolby encoding is dynamic, it is very hard to reverse the encoding in post production on a DAW. So it's not just cutting back a bit of high-end to compensate for the encoding.

desiderus
2009-01-18, 04:45 AM
Been a while since I started this thread and I wanted to post a little update on the progress. I've got the steinberg soundcad installed in my pc, tape deck in connected to my card, and now I should be ready to start some transferring.

I've got adobe audition available and I'm tryinh to figure out the best settings in audition. Any general settings I should use? Should I use different settings in cause of a audience master recording or a studio demo? What would you guys recommend?

Karst
2009-01-18, 05:32 PM
Generally use the default settings. You can always process afterwards. It'll be trail and error and be prepared to do it a number of times.

paddington
2009-01-18, 07:29 PM
Been a while since I started this thread and I wanted to post a little update on the progress. I've got the steinberg soundcad installed in my pc, tape deck in connected to my card, and now I should be ready to start some transferring.

I've got adobe audition available and I'm tryinh to figure out the best settings in audition. Any general settings I should use? Should I use different settings in cause of a audience master recording or a studio demo? What would you guys recommend?

if you plan for it to be burned to CD, transfer at 2ch, 16bit, 44.1kHz, as that is what it will need to be before torrenting, etc..

unless you aim for an archival-grade transfer.. in which case you' aim for something higher. but then you'll need to downsample for anyone to want it... and the quality of the dithering can adversley affect your audio, making it less-natural than if you;d tranferred at 44.1k/16b/2ch to begin with.

desiderus
2009-01-19, 10:42 AM
I was thinking about transferring to with a bitrate of 48kHz and then down sample it thought. I want to keep the transfers as 48kHz in my archive and use the 44.1kHz files for torrenting etc. Would the downsampeling really dither the quality that much? I see a lot of people first transferring to 48kHz and then downsampling it.

So, the recording bit depth is set by default on 32. The best option is to put it on 16 then? Same for 'bounce and mixdown bit dept'? Stereo panning mode is preferred on -3dB center I guess?

Five
2009-01-19, 12:11 PM
the 48kHz>44.1kHz downsamples are not desirable, they normally are due to source DAT tapes recorded at that sample rates or Edirol R-09 recordings (this unit cannot do 44.1kHz), and it is only done to make it audio cd-comatable.

if you want higher than cd quality for your personal archives first thing to consider doing is capturing at 24bit rather than 16bit before considering upping sample rate. 24bit is the limit of the FLAC codec, so if you capture at 32bit you cannot archive as flac without truncating to 24bit along the way or keeping them as MASSIVE wav files. fwiw wavpack has support for 32bit but only when using Adobe Audition (and I have not tested this filter personally).

If you cannot set wavlab exactly to 24bit for capture use audacity. if you do decide to capture at a higher sample rate, use the highest quality setting to resample (preserving pitch). For taking it down to 16bit from 24/32bit consider this: dither is for weenies. The advantage of dither is stopping stuttering during fadeouts to silence at the cost of dulling the entire audio content. I defy anybody to post a 24bit sample plus a 16bit dithered version that sounds better than undithered 16bit version. yes, this might seem radical but try it out, if I am wrong I will eat my words.

similarly, resampling from 48kHz to 44.1kHz will produce a dulling effect, so the question is does it sound more clear recording at 44.1kHz than recording it at 48kHz then resampling to 44.1kHz. conventional wisdom dictates that the shortest path is the best, but try it out.

try it all out, take this advice as a starting point but test everything here to confirm. record at 16bit, 24bit, 32bit, 44.1kHz, 48kHz resampled to 44.1, 96kHz, consider the 24bit FLAC limitation etc etc and draw your own educated conclusions, not just following blindly some things that you read. Then post back with what you find to give us new ideas of things to try, better ways to do things.

dorrcoq
2009-01-19, 03:13 PM
...or Edirol R-09 recordings (this unit cannot do 44.1kHz)...

UHHHHHHH Sure it can

Five
2009-01-19, 03:15 PM
I stand corrected!

fwiw some dats can only do 32/48kHz (no 44.1kHz setting), I've got one like that...

zeek
2009-01-19, 03:49 PM
If you do a conversion without dithering, you run a slight risk of hearing quantization (math) errors. When the division of bits isn't clean, you end up with what are called LSB's (least signifigant bits) or "extra" bits. Dithering allows the LSB's to be dealt with so we don't hear them(honestly, you may not without dithering but if done right, the pro's outweigh the cons, for me).

If you use the right dithering software, it is almost transparent. The amount of "noise" added in to offset quantization errors is at a volume thats basically inaudable by the human ear. I would always dither when changing from a 24 to a 16. I would rather not take a chance. Dithering, for what we do, should only happen once in the whole process. If you use a crappy program, yes, you will hear it.

http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brain/

r8brain free is probably the best free utility to do sample rate conversion and dithering. There are better programs but they get into some serious dough.
You may never have a problem or you may always have a problem depending on which way you go and what hardwaree software yu use. I like to play it safe myself. This is totally different for different editors though so make sure you do your homework.

cicada
2009-01-19, 05:01 PM
I was thinking about transferring to with a bitrate of 48kHz and then down sample it thought. I want to keep the transfers as 48kHz in my archive and use the 44.1kHz files for torrenting etc. Would the downsampeling really dither the quality that much? I see a lot of people first transferring to 48kHz and then downsampling it.

So, the recording bit depth is set by default on 32. The best option is to put it on 16 then? Same for 'bounce and mixdown bit dept'? Stereo panning mode is preferred on -3dB center I guess?

Did your soundcard from Steinberg come with any software (if so, then sweet)? I got Cuebase, which is owned by Steinberg, with my Firebox (Presonus).

I transfer each side of my original tape(s) in 1 file... that is done in 24/96. I keep that in my archives for later. I then can take those files and cut into separate tracks and "mixdown" to 16/44.1 with no issues at all. The nice thing is that the master transfer done in 24/96 is in my archives for future projects and I can still share 16/44. Do the transfer in the highest settings assuming you have a clean way to downsample.

zeek
2009-01-19, 05:08 PM
The nice thing is that the master transfer done in 24/96 is in my archives for future projects and I can still share 16/44. Do the transfer in the highest settings assuming you have a clean way to downsample.

thats it. If any mastering is to be done, I would go bare minimum of 24/48, 24/96 is great, but I wonder why we don't do 24/88.2 since it's a clean division when dithering/src. Sorry, I some how got stuck on the whole dithering thing and forgot that part in my post :cool:

Cicada hit the nail on the head though. You really should go for a higher bit/ sample rate for transfering and mastering and a proper dither down will be transparent.

Five
2009-01-19, 06:57 PM
You really should go for a higher bit/ sample rate for transfering and mastering and a proper dither down will be transparent.
can you demonstrate this? I've read all the stuff that you're saying as well, but in practice no dither is better. if you could post 20 seconds before and after dithering down that sound better than truncating I would greatly appreciate it.

the dither really dulls the sound, and everying but the most vacuum-tight studio recording has adequate noise within to prevent problems.

cicada
2009-01-19, 07:13 PM
Five... I trust your opinion and so do a lot of us here at TTD. The real comparison would be to do two transfers... one xsfer in 24/96 and another xsfer 16/44. Then, I would suggest comparing the 24/96 with the downsampled version. And then compare those with the 16/44. I realize that many of us can't playback 24/96 today... but the tapes are getting old in some cases. How long before we all listen and share 24/96? I feel more comfortable archiving 24/96 on my aging masters. What is your opinion?

zeek
2009-01-19, 08:40 PM
I can do that Five, no problem. Tomorrow when I get to work, I''ll do a partial tune and we can compare.

I'm still not saying every example will sound "better", but I would rather add a little "good" noise than take the chance of quantization errors. To me it just feels like a nominal difference thats worth it's weight.

Five
2009-01-19, 09:57 PM
thanks! I used to preach the gospel of dither until a friend of mine told me to stop using it... I thought he was crazy until I tried it for myself. maybe I was using a bad setting or something. looking forward to checking out your post :thumbsup

rspencer
2009-01-19, 10:00 PM
I'd have to open SF to get the exact wording, but there are different types of dithering. Some better than others.

Five
2009-01-19, 10:52 PM
Five... I trust your opinion and so do a lot of us here at TTD. The real comparison would be to do two transfers... one xsfer in 24/96 and another xsfer 16/44. Then, I would suggest comparing the 24/96 with the downsampled version. And then compare those with the 16/44. I realize that many of us can't playback 24/96 today... but the tapes are getting old in some cases. How long before we all listen and share 24/96? I feel more comfortable archiving 24/96 on my aging masters. What is your opinion?
thank you kindly :redface:

I think you have the right idea. Archiving at 24/96 is the best digital quality we can achieve at this time, altho its been said that korg 1bit technology is beyond all that and who knows what's coming up in the future. Another possibility would be archiving to 30ips half-track analog (!!) since that is as transparent as an analog generation can get and keeps digital right out of it. You always lose something when you convert analog to digital, the copy is close but not quite the same as listening right off the analog master. :cool:

Personally, I archive at 16bit/44.1 or 24bit/44.1 and keep the analog tapes in a cool, dry place. And on special occasions (5+ years or so) I pull out the original masters and give them a spin at full volume--that's what they're for!! I guess I would archive at 24/96 if I was better at keeping track of my digital stuff.

Never playing the masters is like restraining yourself from having enthusiastic sex with your wife for fear of wearing out her you-know-what, then one day you wake up and you're both 80+ years old and her you-know-what isn't anything you'd want to wear out anymore anyways. does that make sense? (did I really just say that? :lol: )

anyhow its a personal decision & there's lots of good info in this thread to make it an educated decision

GRC
2009-01-20, 03:39 AM
[QUOTE=cicada;1072700] ... on special occasions (5+ years or so) I pull out the original masters and give them a spin at full volume--that's what they're for!! I guess I would archive at 24/96 if I was better at keeping track of my digital stuff.

Never playing the masters is like restraining yourself from having enthusiastic sex with your wife for fear of wearing out her you-know-what, then one day you wake up and you're both 80+ years old and her you-know-what isn't anything you'd want to wear out anymore anyways. does that make sense?

Well, to continue the analogy, if your enthusiasm actually wore out her you-know-what every time you participated, I'm sure you'd take more care.

That's the situation we're in with a lot of tape masters - to play them is to actually find the oxide dropping off the tape, leaving the master in a worse state than before. So in my case, the older reel-to-reels get played when they're getting transferred, and at no other time.

Archive to 30ips reel-to-reel ???? Have you SEEN the cost of reel-to-reel tape recently?

zeek
2009-01-20, 10:17 AM
I couldn't get the attachments to stick so heres a link to external download.

https://www.yousendit.com/download/WnBUYURIQzNtUUdGa1E9PQ

This source started as 24/48. I used r8brain pro to do the src to 24/44.1, then I used Izotope ozone 3 to dither with the mbit + option down to 16. the other was simply saved with no dither as a 16/44.1 in my editing software. See what you think.

dorrcoq
2009-01-20, 03:25 PM
analog master. :cool:

Never playing the masters is like restraining yourself from having enthusiastic sex with your wife for fear of wearing out her you-know-what...

yeah, that kind of stuff should definitely be saved for the mistress.:D

Karst
2009-01-20, 08:49 PM
If you cannot set wavlab exactly to 24bit for capture use audacity.

Ah. I've done this in the past. Make sure that you lots and lots of space allocated to audacity when you do this. With me it froze up a good few times. There is nothing worse then being half way though a transfer and the whole thing collapses.:cool:

desiderus
2009-01-21, 05:42 AM
Thanks so far for all of your comments and sharing your opinions on the best way to capture the audio files. I guess the safest way would be to make a 24/96 transfer to start with. I have some master recordings that Iíll have to restore to the original taper in matter of time, so I guess making a 24/96 would be the safest solution because I wonít be able to retransfer it after a few years (when maybe 16/48, or any other capturing mode, would be old fashion)
Which programs are preferred for the down sampling, so Iíll be able to share those recordings? Iíve got wavelab 5 and audition 3 on my pc so far, but I saw zeek mentioning some other programs as well.
Iíve got a last question on adjusting the azimuth. Iíve got my cassette deck hooked up into my soundcard and Iíve got my soundcard hooked up into my amp. Would you prefer to directly adjusting the azimuth on the amp (leaving the soundcard out) or wonít it make much difference? I guess going directly to the amp would be the best.

zeek
2009-01-21, 06:35 AM
Do you maen listening through the amp to adjust the azimuth? I always go straight into the tape deck headphone jack to adjust azimuth. I don't know that it matters a ton if you have accurate playback and a good ear, but I like to go straight to the component I'm dealing with.

For ease and consistant quality. I would use r8brain free(link above). It dithers and does src in one fell swoop. Izotope ozone 3 (if you have it for wavelab) is also a really good option using the mbit + setting, but it's not free. The src and dither options that come with wavelab are pretty lame for current standards and will give you sub par results compared to the two mentioned above imo.

Good luck.

GRC
2009-01-21, 07:24 AM
Seconded - headphones on the cassette deck to adjust stuff

AAR.oner
2009-01-21, 09:07 AM
Archiving at 24/96 is the best digital quality we can achieve at this time, altho its been said that korg 1bit technology is beyond all that and who knows what's coming up in the future.

uh Five, aren't you forgetting about 24/192 ? ;)


i've been curious about that 1Bit technology for the past year...if you know anyone using it, PM me...i'd be interested in hearing their take on it...just waitin on them to drop a 4ch recorder and i'll be lookin to upgrade

weedwacker
2009-01-21, 09:48 AM
uh Five, aren't you forgetting about 24/192 ? ;)


i've been curious about that 1Bit technology for the past year...if you know anyone using it, PM me...i'd be interested in hearing their take on it...just waitin on them to drop a 4ch recorder and i'll be lookin to upgrade

It is not at least for pcm audio. The reason being is this once you go above 96000kHz samplerate all the soundcards that can do higher add noise into the signal. Each card is different on the how, where and how much but to my knowledge none of them can sample without adding extraneous noise into the signal at 192. There is a reason why high end stuff like pro tools doesn't support 192 samplerates. You also have the law of diminishing returns kicking in at this point since the there is no perceptable difference when listening to something at 96 or 192. It maybe a more accurate reproduction of the original analog signal but the trade off is double the filesize with no audible advantage. If you want higher than 96 then the way to go is dsd encoding like what is used for sacd.

AAR.oner
2009-01-21, 10:16 AM
werd, i'm not saying to use 192, just makin a crack at my buddy Five...i honestly feel even 24/96 is overkill for non-studio ish, but to each there own...

like you said, DSD and other 1-bit formats seem to be the future of digi recording, at least at the moment...we'll have to wait and see but its still digi--i'd be luggin 2in reel-to-reel to tape shows if i could afford it! :lol:

trustthex
2009-01-21, 10:43 AM
on the topic of dithering... i did not at all like what dithering in audition did to my masters. it added noise or something, maybe it was the plugin i used, i don't know....


i only use r8brain, it just sounds so much better.

Five
2009-01-22, 01:17 PM
thanks zeek for the samples... I still have to pour over them in more detail & do some testing with r8brain vs audacity for resampling & dithering. main thing I'm realizing here is that the dither in Audacity is plain crap and that is at the root of my assumptions.

zeek, would it be possible for you to also share the source 24/48 file that you used to make your comparison? I'd like to try resampling and dithering it in audacity and see what a difference there is...

Aaron: did you know goldwave can do 64bit ? :lol: :lol: is there any hardware that can support it, I wonder? :lol:

zeek
2009-01-22, 02:06 PM
Here ya go,

https://www.yousendit.com/download/WnBUK0d0NmM5RlpMWEE9PQ


Thats the 24/48.

A good rule of thumb for dithering/sample rate conversion software. if it's fast, it's not being done properly. Goldwave has one of the noisiest :)

Sample rate conversion is another beast all together. heres a cool comparison site if your interested in the mechanics of different software.

http://src.infinitewave.ca/

dorrcoq
2009-01-22, 03:15 PM
I used Goldwave for dithering at one point, but it was crap.

zeek
2009-01-22, 09:15 PM
If your serious about doing things to their most, this is a great deal

$400

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/ele/1003574252.html

I don't know the seller, it's just hit off an RSS feed so do your homework, but $400 for that card is a pretty good deal. They sell for $800 to $1200 nes, unopened :)

trustthex
2009-01-23, 01:07 PM
so this ableton live 7 program is the best then, its spectrals are off the map compared to anything else. r8brain looks pretty clean, if thats what we are going for?

Five
2009-01-23, 02:05 PM
I would guess that ableton live 7 is optimized for electronic sounds, thus it performs very well on things like sine waves and such but not necessarily for traditional music.

r8brain free appears to throw everything out of phase (see the 'pulse' test) I'll double-check that with my own tests later...

zeek, thanks for the original :thumbsup btw how to compare the original test sample with the results on that site? generate your own at 48kHz? any tips on reading those graphs is appreciated thx.

AAR.oner
2009-01-23, 02:12 PM
i use ableton...although great for electronic music & live sequencing [which is what it is geared toward], i've never found it to be lacking when it comes to "traditional music" or multitrack recording...used it a few times to mix live recordings i've made, and i find its EQ/compression/etc to be more than satisfactory for the task

just a fwiw

zeek
2009-01-23, 02:12 PM
If you go down to the "help" icon, it gives a good breakdown of the graphs. It gets a little complicated and they probably do a much better job than I would :)

desiderus
2009-02-09, 05:43 PM
I've been trying out transferring some tapes lately, but I've ran into some problems. I'm getting very low peaks (~ -15dB) and I can't adjust my tape deck or soundcard to add more gain. My tape deck hasn't got an adjustable master level, and I've set the analog mixer completely open in my soundcard mixer. I can't adjust the soundvolume in my control panel for the recording equipment. For some reason it stays blank.

Any ideas how to solve this problem? I rather not add that much gain post transferring and I was hoping there could be some sollution to add gain while transferring. I'm using wavelab 5.0 right now and I don't think it has an option to add gain while transferring. Are there any programs available to add gain while transferring?

I hope someone is able to help me out!

zeek
2009-02-10, 12:48 PM
looking at your soundcard, not really familiar with it

here is the manual

ftp://ftp.steinberg.net/Download/Hardware/VSL_2020/Manual_vsl2020_en_2463K.pdf

Look at page 9, it looks like there is a master volume control clear to the right, do you see that on your sc console?

showtaper
2009-02-10, 03:09 PM
Do you have onboard (motherboard) sound? If so, you may want to turn it
off (if possible) in BIOS.

After doing so, reinstall the software for your card, and then update from the
manufacturer's website, if available.......

showtaper
2009-02-10, 04:38 PM
if you plan for it to be burned to CD, transfer at 2ch, 16bit, 44.1kHz, as that is what it will need to be before torrenting, etc..

unless you aim for an archival-grade transfer.. in which case you' aim for something higher. but then you'll need to downsample for anyone to want it... and the quality of the dithering can adversley affect your audio, making it less-natural than if you;d tranferred at 44.1k/16b/2ch to begin with.

Instead of downsampling, why don't you just capture it at several different rates??

Most consumer software sucks at sample rate conversion & dithering.......

GRC
2009-02-10, 04:54 PM
Instead of downsampling, why don't you just capture it at several different rates??

Because it would eat at least double the hard drive space that a single capture would....?

showtaper
2009-02-10, 06:52 PM
Because it would eat at least double the hard drive space that a single capture would....?

I thought we were talking quality here......

Storage is cheap. I'm slowly transferring several thousand analog masters
(audio and video) and am sampling at several rates and depths......

zeek
2009-02-10, 09:30 PM
I thought we were talking quality here......

Storage is cheap. I'm slowly transferring several thousand analog masters
(audio and video) and am sampling at several rates and depths......

If you have good software, why would you do this?

Not only do you have to transfer multiple times, you also have to edit multiple times and if your transferring straight to 16/44.1, you would be forced to edit in 16 which is potentially way worse than dithering and src would ever pose. Depending on your post processing, you may be doing more harm than good.

Why not just spend the money and get r8brain pro and izotope ozone mbit + ? I edit the 24's, then do the sample rate conversion and dither down an whala, it's done. If done right with the above, it's almost totally transparent. I can see where your coming from, but I think, depending on what exactly your doing in post processing, your logic may be a little flawed. If your seeding raws, your way makes perfect sense though.

showtaper
2009-02-11, 03:05 AM
If you have good software, why would you do this?

Not only do you have to transfer multiple times, you also have to edit multiple times and if your transferring straight to 16/44.1, you would be forced to edit in 16 which is potentially way worse than dithering and src would ever pose. Depending on your post processing, you may be doing more harm than good.

Why not just spend the money and get r8brain pro and izotope ozone mbit + ? I edit the 24's, then do the sample rate conversion and dither down an whala, it's done. If done right with the above, it's almost totally transparent. I can see where your coming from, but I think, depending on what exactly your doing in post processing, your logic may be a little flawed. If your seeding raws, your way makes perfect sense though.

Since I'm archiving, there is NO processing involved. Most of my recordings
don't require any. Good mics + good location + good recorder = good recording.

Downsampling will never be as good as a direct capture at the desired rate.

I have multiple computers, I do most of my captures in one pass.

I don't seed my masters, I've seen enough damage from the well intentioned
"professional re-masterers" out there.......

zeek
2009-02-11, 06:30 AM
Since I'm archiving, there is NO processing involved. Most of my recordings
don't require any. Good mics + good location + good recorder = good recording.

Downsampling will never be as good as a direct capture at the desired rate.

I have multiple computers, I do most of my captures in one pass.

I don't seed my masters, I've seen enough damage from the well intentioned
"professional re-masterers" out there.......

If no processing, I won't disagree with you, capturing in the end bit and sample rates is great. With some folks that remaster not doing good work, I'll also agree with you.

r8brain pro(or even free) and mbit plus dither, I still say your hard pressed to hear a difference caused by the software the you wouldn't hear due to the change in sr and bit depth alone though. Technology has come a long way in the last few years.

Limulus
2009-02-11, 04:06 PM
what about creating and uploading a "good" sample file in here? a sample which has good dynamics, soft and loud parts etc.
we could run tests on our own equipments by recording that on cassette and re-capturing it with different equipment for comparing the quality to the original "share-sample" in a topic here?
would like to see such a project, we would need some discussion in how to do that (sample) exactly and stuff...

GRC
2009-02-11, 05:02 PM
I thought we were talking quality here......

Storage is cheap. I'm slowly transferring several thousand analog masters
(audio and video) and am sampling at several rates and depths......

Well, I'm glad you're in a position to spend on storage without a second thought, but not everyone is necessarily in that position......

showtaper
2009-02-12, 10:05 AM
Well, I'm glad you're in a position to spend on storage without a second thought, but not everyone is necessarily in that position......

If you're in a position to spend money on a computer, the internet, a taping
rig, etc, a few bucks for a couple of large hard drives shouldn't be a huge hit.

Cut out the Starbuck's for a couple of weeks and you're there........

GRC
2009-02-13, 11:28 AM
Starbucks? What's that?

showtaper
2009-02-13, 01:14 PM
Starbucks? What's that?

I hear tell it's an expensive coffee shop.....

Never been in one, that's why I can afford all those extra TB hard drives.......

mojofilter02
2009-02-16, 03:44 PM
I've enjoyed reading this thread. I'm glad that the experienced recordists are teaching people how to adjust azimuth and why. It's been my pet peeve for years.

I popped in here to say that if you're using Adobe Audition 3, it now has an automatic phase correction function, and it will fix azimuth problems on digital recordings of tape transfers. I don't know how they made it work, but it's freakin' fantastic. I may be working 'way into my retirement to fix recordings I have that are currently out-of-phase due to azimuth miscalibration before transfer. The first time I fixed up a mono recording that was out-of-phase, the program had paid for itself. Man, I love technology!

PG1Tapes
2010-12-13, 10:47 PM
I did this recently with a tape. Granted, the tape had a few flaws on it, but overall I thought it turned out good. I'll post if you'd like. I have a Sony Stereo with a cassette player on it. I popped in the cassette, turned the volume to 10, and plugged direct into my sound card. Make sure that the gain boost on your computer is all the way down. Record and the lowest audible level, you can make it louder later. Next, I recorded into Audacity 1.3 BETA and exported as 16-Bit PCM. Pretty simple.

Audioarchivist
2010-12-15, 03:24 PM
I have a Sony Stereo with a cassette player on it. I popped in the cassette, turned the volume to 10, and plugged direct into my sound card. Make sure that the gain boost on your computer is all the way down. Record and the lowest audible level, you can make it louder later.

WTF??? Do you use the headphone out for that mess? You're supposed to turn it to eleven, dude!
"It goes to 11!"

There's your Spinal Tap quote of the day.

Aren't your transfers audibly clipped and distorted? Turning any analog device to 10 will fry the analog signal. Analog clipping sucks, too, man!

Get a deck with a line-out. Record to line-in on soundcard. Levels should be medium to high but of course not clipping, and needing to boost levels later sucks. Record at higher sample rate and bitrate if you're going to need to do any messing around in the computer. Master transfers done at 16 bit are "acceptable" of course but so much better quality to record say, 24 bit 96 khz, and to do any editing and "mastering" at that rate then downsample and dither for the CD-ready 16/44.1 market.

PG1Tapes
2010-12-15, 06:10 PM
It's not clipped. However, the tape I used was an extremely quiet recording, which probably explains it.

Five
2010-12-15, 07:39 PM
the decks I've used the volume control on the tape deck doesn't affect anything. the output is just one fixed level.

so to gain stage the operation wiggle the volumes around in windows mixer (that little speaker in the bottom-right of windows) and wiggle the volume around in yer wav recorder until you find the best sound. [[EARS people! ;)]. some soundcards have their own volume controls separate from the windows mixer (eg E-MU stuff, M-Audio etc etc) just find it. only audacity has an 'input record volume' setting that I can recall right now, so this one fader is crucial.

standard practice is to set it where the peaks are not far from the top but 100% for sure not touching. this is an analog practice it is worthwhile to also compare some lower-level captures for sound quality... sometimes its a lot less harsh for some reason I can't figure out!!

boosting in post always harms the sound a little bit. moreso in 16bit than 24bit but most traded tapes have the levels set as I described above. distortion is worse, of course.

ps don't overplay the tape if you can help it, it wears off the highs!

PG1Tapes
2010-12-15, 07:56 PM
don't overplay the tape if you can help it, it wears off the highs!

I'm pretty sure the tape I transferred to digital had the hell played out of it. I just know, as it's been with my family for around 20+ years...

Five
2010-12-15, 07:59 PM
not optimal for sound quality, but a sure sign that this recording needs to be preserved for some more listening! :thumbsup:

nothing much to be done about it now, anyways :lol: