Digitising cassette tapes

Doug Marmion dem at COOMBS.ANU.EDU.AU
Wed Oct 20 05:02:57 UTC 2004

Hi Anna,

(Frank Davey's post came in just as I was about to send this but  I
thought I'd go ahead anyway as I make a few different points)

Yes, digitising onto DAT is one option, but it might be problematic
because you still  haven't got it on a computer (which, presumably, is
where you want your digital audio to be, eventually). DAT tape is not very
robust (less so than ordinary cassette tape) and shouldn't be trusted to
last a long time, so it's important to get the data onto some more durable
medium, and to have multiple copies of it. DAT recorders have a port
called an SPDIF port for outputting the actual digital signal so if you've
got a computer with a SPDIF port then you can plug your DAT recorder
directly into your computer and move the data across. The only computers I
know of that have SPDIF ports as standard are the Macintosh G5 desktop
computers, but there may be others. There may also be convertors available
that adapt from SPDIF to USB or firewire but I haven't looked into it.

Another way is to use an A/D (analogue/digital) audio processor. You can
easily buy these, at various levels of quality, and digitise your analogue
cassette tapes onto your computer yourself. I should note here that audio
experts I've spoken to recommend against digitising via any computer's
built-in sound card as this means the process happens in a very
electrically 'noisy' environment---it's best to use a separate piece of
hardware. I have an Onkyo MSE-U33HB audio processor which is very good,
but unfortunately it's not available in Australia. But there are many
other options, from cheap up to very expensive---there's a useful
discussion of this, with comments on lots of different hardware, at
http://www.macintouch.com/usbaudio.html (it's probably a bit out-of-date
now, but it's a good starting point).

Of course you should send your original tapes off to AIATSIS at some point
to be digitised at very high quality and properly archived. If you don't
mind what could be a fairly long wait for your materials to come back on
CD (there's always a queue) this might be the easiest way to get your
digitising done.


On Mon, 18 Oct 2004, Anna Ash wrote:

> Just wondering about possible options for digitising cassette tapes. We are
> considering using our DAT recorder but I believe this may reduce the
> quality. Where possible we do request CDs from AIATSIS. Any suggestions?
> Anna
> --
> Anna Ash
> Linguist
> Many Rivers Aboriginal Language Centre
> C/- Muurrbay
> 465 Bellwood Road
> Nambucca Heads 2448
> Ph. (02) 65685695 Mob: 0404456992
> Fax. (02) 65694295

More information about the Resource-network-linguistic-diversity mailing list