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  1. Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    United States
    Search Comp PM
    I am trying to help someone convert some old cassette tapes to CD. I figured the best way to do this would be to plug the headphone jack of their cassette player into their laptop and use Audacity to capture them.

    Issue is, the audio sounds HORRIBLE on the PC. It's not the laptop's speakers as I tried headphones, and it's not the source as from the cassette player itself it sounds fine. I tried messing with the sound device settings to adjust gain and volume as well as sample rate but it didn't help.

    I assume the laptop's audio input is just poor quality, especially since it's intended for microphones, not music. So I figured a good bet would be to get a USB based audio capture device/sound card.

    So I wanted to ask if anyone had any recommendations. I am looking for something cheap, I saw hundreds in the $10-20 range, and while I know that those aren't going to be the best of quality, again, the source are old cassette tapes that were recorded at home, so I don't really need something of amazing or high-end quality as it would just be overkill and expensive. Is there anything in a decent price range that would take an audio input in stereo for the sake of recording it at decent quality?
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  2. Member
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    Aug 2010
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    Headphone level is MUCH hotter than microphone level. It's apples and oranges and that's why you are getting distortion. You might still need a pad with a USB converter depending on just what this player is putting out through the headphone jack. A cheap converter is probably fine if you don't have picky ears.
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  3. Use Line-In NOT Mic-In. Mic-In is usually mono, provide some voltage to power up Mic capsule and also is very sensitive, frequently also there some form of variable gain to deal with high dynamic of signal.
    So line output from cassette deck to PC line in. Best if you can provide power supply from same point (power bar - PC + deck connected to same power bar).
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  4. Member
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    Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    Use Line-In NOT Mic-In. Mic-In is usually mono, provide some voltage to power up Mic capsule and also is very sensitive, frequently also there some form of variable gain to deal with high dynamic of signal.
    Yes, I know that mic-in is usually mono and more sensitive, the issue is that the laptop has no line-in, only a mic-in.
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  5. Member
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    Originally Posted by Cyber Akuma View Post
    Originally Posted by pandy View Post
    Use Line-In NOT Mic-In. Mic-In is usually mono, provide some voltage to power up Mic capsule and also is very sensitive, frequently also there some form of variable gain to deal with high dynamic of signal.
    Yes, I know that mic-in is usually mono and more sensitive, the issue is that the laptop has no line-in, only a mic-in.
    You could use an inline attenuator to reduce the signal, but for the price of one on Amazon, you might as well get a USB dongle which will give you far better quality.
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  6. Member
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    Jul 2007
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    A quick check on Amazon brought up this device: https://www.amazon.com/Cassette-Converter-Recorder-Convertor-Portable/dp/B07MJ7S5XG/re...106792&sr=8-13. It's not clear from the pics and description, but it apparently sends the audio signal through USB to your PC/Laptop. The earphone jack is just portable use. The reviews are good as is the price, $22.

    This identical one with lower reviews has an a big Q&A section: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADXLBS4/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1
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  7. Member
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    A quick check on Amazon brought up this device: https://www.amazon.com/Cassette-Converter-Recorder-Convertor-Portable/dp/B07MJ7S5XG/re...106792&sr=8-13. It's not clear from the pics and description, but it apparently sends the audio signal through USB to your PC/Laptop. The earphone jack is just portable use. The reviews are good as is the price, $22.

    This identical one with lower reviews has an a big Q&A section: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADXLBS4/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1
    Hmm, I thought those would record to a USB drive or MicroSD card, seems they still need to be connected to a computer to work? In that case, are they no different than just getting something like this if you already have a cassette player? https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-U-Control-UCA202-Ultra-Low-Interface/dp/B000KW2YEI/

    If it's basically a cassette player and that in one, would the one built into that cassette player be any good?
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  8. I highly recommend something like the Behringer UCA202 if you've already got a decent cassette deck with line outputs, or even if you've only got portable cassette player with headphone output -- the sound quality of the Behringer is far and above what you'd get from your onboard audio card. I've got a couple of Behringers I use for video/audio capture and editing, the control and dynamic range of the Behringer, for under thirty bucks, is quite excellent.
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  9. Member
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    I purchased a used Optimus SCP-32 and run it through the front audio jacks in my JVC VCR. I couldnít manage to get it to work until I did this. Of course I have to extract the audio from the AV file but that takes but a moment in an NLE.
    Edit: To clarify... my VCR is attached via usb dongle (vc500) to my PC.
    Last edited by Barrythecrab; 8th Mar 2019 at 12:34.
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