Help needed


Yep! Although you'll need 4 things other than your cd burner and cd creation software to do the job:

1. Recording software to capture the incoming audio stream and clean it up if necessary. Some really good ones have been mentioned in recent posts regarding audio file editing. Newer computers sometimes have a program installed that will do the job. If the burner was an add-on, it may have recording software in its bundled package as well. If the sound card has the feature mentioned below, it's software package should have included a program to do this too.

2. External input jack/s on the sound card, either in the form of a 1/8" stereo mini-jack or a pair of stereo coaxial/phono inputs. If your sound card lacks this feature, you'll have to settle for much less professional results (see *End*) or it's time to upgrade your sound card! ;)

3. A stereo audio cable to connect from the cassette deck to the sound card input; either a stereo coaxial/phono type or a 1/8" stereo mini-jack (if the deck and sound card do not share the same type of jacks, a cable to convert from one style of cable to the other is inexpensive and readily available at most electronics stores; or you can buy one cable w/ coax/phono jacks at one end and a min-jack on the other)

4. A cassette deck w/ external audio out jack/s (either a console unit w/ a pair of stereo coaxial/phono jacks or a portable unit w/ a 1/8" stereo mini-jack). If the deck does not have output jacks, see *End* for alternative.

The recording process itself is pretty straightforward:

Connect the audio cable from the deck's output to the sound card's input.

Open the recording software and follow the manufacturer's instructions to select the source (analog audio input) and the quality level of recording that you'd like to make (cd quality).

Adjust the recording sound level (for best results experiment a bit w/ short segments of extreme volume difference). To do this select "record". The software should indicate that it is now paused and receiving the audio signal from the cassette deck, and ready to begin recording once you unpause the program.

Playback a segment of the cassette tape that exhibits the highest volume levels (it is ideal if there are near silences or very quiet portions as well, but this depends on the type of sounds/music that is being played back (eg. symphonic-great differences vs. techno-continuous level). When observing the decibel meters, the loudest portions of the playback should just reach into the plus range above "0" dB which is indicated by the red markers. If the recording level is set too low and the meters never reach this area, the resulting recording will probably sound too quiet and will have alot of hiss when the volume is turned up. If the meters are constantly at or above this level especially during quiter portions, then the resulting recording will probably be very distorted even at low volumes, but especially at high volumes.

Once the level is set to your satisfaction, replay the segment of tape again but this time unpause the software so that it actually records the segment. Then, observe the meters during playback of the recording you've made and adjust as necessary. Again, consult the manufacturer's instructions and experiment for best results (your own ears are always the best judge in the end).

After adjusting the volume level, select record again, unpause to begin recording and play back the tape. You may wish to make individual recordings for each track or make one long recording for the entire side of the tape and then use the software to break it up later. Be warned: the latter can result in a very large file depending on the length of the tape, since it records as a .wav. If the computer is older and challenged in the way of processing speed and/or memory (especially), it may be overtaxed and crash or just take a very looooooong time to initialize the recording once it's finished. The more state of the art the better.

Once finished, you can then use the software to combine/breakup or edit tracks as you wish, remove silences at the beginning and/or end of the recording or in-between tracks and clean up any hiss or popping present in the original source. Again, your results will vary, so experiment w/ a temp file and have patience.

You can then burn the .wav onto a cd, or convert it to an .mp3 first if you prefer.

The alternative method is to use a microphone on your computer to record, selecting this as the recording source, placing it in front of the speakers connected to the cassette deck, and recording "live" if you will. Of course, just as at the parks, your results will vary. :)