[RNLD] Digitizing tapes - what's the current best practice?

Paul Trilsbeek Paul.Trilsbeek at MPI.NL
Wed Oct 17 12:18:00 UTC 2012

Hello Mark,

I would recommend buying a good quality USB audio interface with two line level inputs. I don't know what your budget is, there are very good interfaces for around 600-800 euro (e.g. Sound Devices, RME, MOTU or (if you're on a Mac) Apogee) and there are adequate ones for 150-300 euro (e.g. M-audio, Edirol, Presonus, Tascam). Some of these will provide unbalanced 1/4 inch jack or RCA inputs, which suit the output of most cassette decks. Some provide balanced XLR or 1/4 inch jack inputs, which suit the output of a few high end professional cassette decks but can also accommodate unbalanced RCA outputs (best by using a proper cable to go from unbalanced RCA to balanced 1/4 inch jack or XLR, see http://www.rane.com/note110.html )

Recording at 24 bit 96 kHz is overkill for audio cassette tapes in my opinion. Their dynamic range and frequency response are well within what you can already capture with 16 bit 48 kHz recordings, if you adjust the recording level properly.

Best regards,

Paul Trilsbeek
Archive Manager
The Language Archive
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Wundtlaan 1
6525XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Tel. +31 24 3521203
Fax +31 24 3521213

On Oct 16, 2012, at 9:41 , 10/16/12, Mark W. Post <markwpost at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi All -
> We're about to embark on some pretty extensive cassette tape 
> digitization over here, and I'm wondering what people feel is the 
> current best practice. We plan to digitize to a PC (not to CD or DAT), 
> and are prepared to pay for additional storage capacity to record at 
> 48/24, or possibly at 96/24 if it turns out to really be worth it. What 
> I'm mainly wondering about is hardware. I often hear about getting a 
> "good sound card", but I'm not exactly sure what variables to keep in 
> mind. I'm aware that nowadays some people are using external "sound 
> cards" with USB interfaces, and that they offer different sampling 
> depths etc. But I'm not sure whether there might be less obvious 
> variables (for example, might they vary in frequency response, like 
> microphones? I have no idea). Also, I'm aware that there are units like 
> the Tape2PC that try to do everything for you, but the units I've seen 
> are so cheap that it makes me suspicious. And I'm also thinking about 
> cabling, and wondering whether there's a better way than squeezing 
> everything through a 3.5mm pin (I've seen that some "external sound 
> cards" have RCA inputs, which must be better?).
> Has anybody been doing this sort of work recently, and if so, would you 
> mind sharing your strategy?
> Thanks very much in advance,
> Mark
> -- 
> Dr. Mark W. Post
> Universität Bern
> Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
> Länggassstrasse 49
> 3000 Bern 9
> Switzerland
> Tel +41 31 631 37 07
> Eml markwpost at gmail.com
> Web unibe-ch.academia.edu/MarkWPost

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