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  #1  
Old 2010-04-08, 02:14 PM
John Cole John Cole is offline
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Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Hi all,

I'm just beginning a project to transfer my audio cassettes to digital and have been told that using Audacity is the way forward.

No matter what I do though, I can not get anything like a reliable signal from the stand-alone cassette player (Marantz) into the PC. I'm connecting using an audio cable from the two audio out jacks and then into the mic jack of the laptop. The signal that comes into Audacity is virtually off the scale in terms of the input meter and I don't seem to be able to find any way of regulating it.

The settings I have in Audacity using Windows 7 are as follows:

Recording > Device - Microsoft Sound Mapper - Input
Recording > Channels - 2 (Stereo)

Quality > Default Sample Rate - 22050Hz
Quality > Default Sample Format - 24-bit

The source tape I'm using is a low-gen audience tape and I've tried creating an audio CD from it on a stand-alone (Marantz) burner and the resulting CD sounds great with nowhere near the db count that I get on the Audacity input meter.

I've also tried taking the signal from the stand-alone CD burner and get the same result. I also tried muting the PC speakers in case there is any issue there and it makes no difference.

Is there anything I need to disable to then prevent any other sound corrupting what's coming in to the PC?

Should I be connecting from the tape deck in another way? I only have two output jacks and a headphone jack on the unit.........

Is there a setting in Audacity that limits the db count of the input signal?

Can anyone point me in the right direction? The aim here is literally to just transfer what I have from the source tapes on to the PC and then store it digitally with the aim of eventually putting some of the material on here for all to share.

All help much appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 2010-04-08, 02:22 PM
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direwolf-pgh direwolf-pgh is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

if you cable an EQ between the tape deck and sound card input you could easily lower/raise db into the laptop input.

I've found laptop sound cards really vary in quality..but it seems you have a newer HD audio

just a 2 thought
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  #3  
Old 2010-04-08, 03:03 PM
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Drgiggles1 Drgiggles1 is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Instead of sticking it into the mic jack try the line in jack of the laptop.
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  #4  
Old 2010-04-08, 03:19 PM
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Fried Chicken Boy Fried Chicken Boy is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drgiggles1 View Post
Instead of sticking it into the mic jack try the line in jack of the laptop.
Agreed, if you have a line input. Another thing to note is that quite a few, but certainly not all, mic input jacks on laptops are mono, not stereo. Would be a good idea to determine that first.
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  #5  
Old 2010-04-08, 08:54 PM
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mrbenson mrbenson is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

I use the headphone jack (line in) on my laptop. One thing that has been helpful for me is to adjust the gain in Control Panel. Your input signal may just be too hot for Audacity. You should be able to make a significant adjustment to your Windows audio properties.
Do you know how to do that? If not, I can give you more specific instructions.
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  #6  
Old 2010-04-09, 04:46 AM
John Cole John Cole is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Mr. Benson, that sounds exactly what I need then. Just had a look in Control Panel but can't see myself where to make the change - could you advise?

The laptop is a Sony Vaio using Windows 7 and there is no line in jack other than the mic one.
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  #7  
Old 2010-04-09, 09:42 AM
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Look for a PCMCIA or ExpressCard slot on your laptop, and then buy a real audio card for it. That's the way to go.

Examples:
I don't know that I'd suggest the USB2 audio sticks. Most of them are generic, and probably no better than what's in the laptop already.

My laptop has integrated SoundBlaster card, multi in/out, it's nice.

This is a pretty nice mixer: Behringer 802 8-Input Mixer ($60 shipped)

And then if you can budget for software, I'd suggest Sound Forge Audio Studio 9 (the $55 consumer version) over Audacity. I like some of the filters in Audacity, but Sound Forge is more powerful. If the budget isn't there, then Audacity is okay, amongst the free options.

A good audio workflow is cheap these days.

I remember starting with digital audio in the early 90s, when 16-bit cards cost a fortune, and the software was DOS-based and somewhat difficult. Filters were more of a wish-list than anything else.

Things have changed a lot in the past 20 years.
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  #8  
Old 2010-04-09, 10:14 AM
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Homebrew101 Homebrew101 is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbenson View Post
I use the headphone jack (line in) on my laptop. One thing that has been helpful for me is to adjust the gain in Control Panel. Your input signal may just be too hot for Audacity. You should be able to make a significant adjustment to your Windows audio properties.
Do you know how to do that? If not, I can give you more specific instructions.
isn't a headphone jack line out?
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  #9  
Old 2010-04-09, 12:49 PM
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mrbenson mrbenson is offline
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Re: Using Audacity To Convert Audio Cassette To Digital

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cole View Post
Mr. Benson, that sounds exactly what I need then. Just had a look in Control Panel but can't see myself where to make the change - could you advise?

The laptop is a Sony Vaio using Windows 7 and there is no line in jack other than the mic one.
Ok, yeah sorry to be confusing about the jacks--use the Mic jack. Go into Control Panel>Sound>Recording>Microphone>Properties>Levels

Then you can adjust boost. If you need more help, let me know. I am running Win 7, and that is what works for me.
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