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

Margaret Carew margaret.carew at BATCHELOR.EDU.AU
Wed Oct 17 22:54:14 UTC 2012


I do a similar thing to Claire, using a TASCAM DR100 and a good quality tape deck/amp that I have set up at home. I have realised it makes a big difference if the heads are clean.

I run the cable from the headphone socket on the amp to the line jack on the tascam, set the unit to 'line', play the tape, set levels and then record, as if making a normal recording. The results are good. I've found that sometimes I need to monitor the recording closely, as volume levels vary between recording sessions, and for priority material I've sometimes redigitised to get the best results. This can take time, but can make a big difference to the final result. I'd argue that putting resources (ie. listening time) into careful monitoring is a better investment than sending tapes away for digitising on better equipment.

On a simply practical level one benefit of this setup is that I can digitise tapes on demand while at home working, or cooking dinner etc - there is a possible compromise here between perhaps slightly better results (if I sent the tapes away, paid for the job etc) and having the capacity to digitise tapes when I need them.

Cheers, Margaret
From: Claire Bowern [clairebowern at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 10:54 PM
To: Mark W. Post
Cc: r-n-l-d at lists.unimelb.edu.au
Subject: Re: [RNLD] Digitizing tapes - what's the current best practice?

Hi Mark,
I usually digitise tapes in the field, and for that I use my Edirol R-09 with a Sony cassette player (can't remember the model, sorry, but it was mid-range (about AU$300?) 14 years ago). The headphone out on the cassette player goes into the line in on the Edirol, both 1/8" jacks and I digitise at 44.1 kHz, 16 bit (same as I record my sessions). There are fancier ways but this works and it has the advantage of not tying up my laptop.
It's worth giving thought to the quality of the cassette player as well as the sound card.
There are also machines that will digitise at faster than 1:1 playback rates. They might be worth considering if you have a very big job and if the budget allows.

On Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 3:41 AM, Mark W. Post 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,



Dr. Mark W. Post
Universität Bern
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
Länggassstrasse 49
3000 Bern 9

Tel +41 31 631 37 07<tel:%2B41%2031%20631%2037%2007>
Eml markwpost at gmail.com<mailto:markwpost at gmail.com>
Web unibe-ch.academia.edu/MarkWPost<http://unibe-ch.academia.edu/MarkWPost>

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