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Old 09-13-06, 09:35 PM   #1
c-moon
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Help converting cassette to mp3

I have lots of cassettes and albums that I want to convert to a digital format. The problem is that my computer only has a 1/8 inch line in plug that yields an awful hum and whine in any recording. What are my options? I would prefer something external, if I can get it, but if that can't be done, I might be willing to open the case and install something.

I see a few different devices that have standard RCA inputs and then plug into your computer via USB. THe ADS Instant Music device gets awful reviews though. I saw another model at Circuit City for about $60, but I can't recall the name brand. Does anyone have experience doing this that could recommend the best method / device?

Thanks
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Old 09-13-06, 11:59 PM   #2
DVD Polizei
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Just buy a decent audio sound card at your local PC shop or online at Newegg or something--if you have the PCI space slot for it. Or maybe try a longer 1/8" cord because you might be way too close to the PC which is creating the interference. Be at least 4 feet away from the PC when recording from a cassette deck.
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Old 09-14-06, 05:15 AM   #3
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I agree - get a sound card. You can get one very cheap - less than $10 if you look.

Depending on the noise you are getting, it might also be possible to edit it out using sound editing software (which you are probably using anyway to seperate/join what you record into chunks you then convert to mp3). Even the LAME mp3 command line encoder has some tools to let you take out high frequency/low freqency noise, which actually worked really well on something I recorded from an Atari 8-bit computer.

You might also play with the volume levels on the input device using the Windows volume tool. In Options->Properties select "recording" radio button. Make sure that the "line in" volume level is way down low - I mean just a tiny bit above the bottom. If it is too high, I get a lot of clipping which results in noisy, muddy sound.

You might also want to see if your cassette player or the cord are the problems. Plug in your setup directly into the powered computer speakers and see if you get the noise then.
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Old 09-14-06, 07:59 AM   #4
c-moon
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Thanks for the advice guys. Is there a particular sound card that you can recommend?

Also, when I look at the volume properties for line in and mic, the volume sliders are grayed out and I cannot adjust. I can't find where I can enable them.

Initially I was getting very distorted recordings, so I connected the cassette deck to my minidisk deck, then my minidiisk to the PC. I found that when I pressed record on the mini disk and adjusted the record level, I could control the levels being fed into my computer.
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Old 09-14-06, 11:07 AM   #5
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I recommend the M-Audio cards as I've had very good luck with them and their specifications (as well as real-world quality) is very good.

http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=...=pciinterfaces

The Revolution 5.1 would work for your purposes.
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Old 09-14-06, 07:12 PM   #6
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I can second the suggestion for the M-Audio, my brother gave me his old Delta44 with a breakout box. You can pretty much plug in any source whatsoever and get perfect sound. I use this to record all of my dance vinyl and my old club mix tapes from the early 90's. You can fine tune all the settings and input levels for each individual channel. Much better than using a 1/8" jack or sound card, I've tried that and the result was quite disappointing.

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Delta44-main.html
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Old 09-14-06, 07:37 PM   #7
c-moon
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The sound card in my PC is a Realtek ALC 883. I can't understand why the line in and mic volume sliders are grayed out. Also, I can't access any advanced controls either. The PC is a Compaq sr1950nx that I have not ever cracked open. I can't figure out how to enable the volume settings
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Old 09-14-06, 08:24 PM   #8
DVD Polizei
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Realtek ALC 883? I thought that was a chipset. Which would explain why you have no line in and mic because there is no input.
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Old 09-14-06, 08:34 PM   #9
c-moon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Realtek ALC 883? I thought that was a chipset. Which would explain why you have no line in and mic because there is no input.

I found that information on the Compaq website and I am pretty ignorant about sound cards. I am sure you are right.

My PC has line in and mic inputs, but do you think it is impossible for me to adjust input levels with my configuration?

Onboard audio:
Built-in Azalia 8 channel audio
Realtek ALC883 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC


http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/d...name=c00683208
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Old 09-15-06, 01:16 AM   #10
DVD Polizei
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Well, if your PC has inputs then I wouldn't say it's impossible. Have you gone into the BIOS to possibly enable the inputs? Maybe have to enable the inputs within the BIOS. Otherwise, it wouldn't hurt emailing tech support about it. I'm sure they have a quick fix answer.
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Old 09-17-06, 12:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c-moon
I have lots of cassettes and albums that I want to convert to a digital format. The problem is that my computer only has a 1/8 inch line in plug that yields an awful hum and whine in any recording. What are my options? I would prefer something external, if I can get it, but if that can't be done, I might be willing to open the case and install something.
I built a desktop centered around an MSI RX480 Neo2-F (budget ATX mainboard), and I have used the onboard sound to digitize dozens of analog recordings (cassette, LP and 45-RPM) with excellent results.

I don't get any trouble with noise because I use a shielded Monster miniplug-to-twin-RCA adapter to connect the line in on the PC to the VCR 2 output on the receiver. Note that if you want to digitize turntable signals, either your receiver must have a built-in pre-amp (like mine does) or you will have to use a standalone unit (several hundred dollars).

When digitizing, I first use Nero Play Audio to generate raw PCM files (WAV format), and afterwards use Nero Wave Editor to clean them up (remove crackle and pops) and then split them up into individual tracks suitable for CD burning. Finally, to convert the PCM files to MP3, I use Music Match Jukebox; it allows for such niceties as renaming the files and properly populating the internal track info.

It can be a lot of effort, but it's the only way to get digital versions of many old recordings (like the soundtracks for Sixties B-films like Wild in the Streets and Albert Peckingpaw's Revenge).
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Old 09-18-06, 11:16 PM   #12
c-moon
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Just a follow up ...

I decided to try Xitel's Inport, which has RCA connections and then plugs into the PC via the USB port. The recordings are coming out clean and strong now. I am very satisfied with this device.

This was after spending about 2 hours on an online chat with Compaq / HP tech support where they walked me through several things to try, but never got my Line-in volume sliders to be un-grayed out. Finally I quit trying after they suggested a "non-destructive" recovery. I didn't like the sound of that and wasn't willing to go through it if there was another way.
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