Questions & Answers

Convert cassette tapes to digital

0 votes
asked Aug 7, 2020 in Studio One 4 by ZiggyDude (1,020 points)

I have a bunch of cassette tapes that I would like to save.  Live shows, old original work, etc.  I looked about and on the "Old Forum" there was talk about plugging the tape line outs into the AudioBox inputs (24c for me).  I guess that would be an RCA to 1/4" conversion.  Can you do that w/o distortion - is the tape deck too hot??

And of course the last mile.  Once I have done that - then what?  Just make a project and an aUDIO TRACK - I guess that would be two mono tracks.

Thanks in advance

- Ziggy -

5 Answers

+1 vote
answered Aug 7, 2020 by matthewritenburg (17,280 points)
selected Aug 8, 2020 by ZiggyDude
Best answer
Your cassette deck RCA outputs are line level so they are perfectly matched to the 1/4" inputs on your Audiobox 24c.  You shouldn't need to boost or cut the input level.  Just keep it at unity gain unless the signal on the tape is a bit hot.  Record company released cassettes have a manageable level.  Home recorded tapes, mix tapes, live shows, etc. could have a hotter signal so if you have to, you can cut the signal a little on the input channel in S1.

I record stereo mixes into a stereo track, but you can record into two mono tracks if you prefer.  Stereo tracks are a little easier to manage, edit, export, etc.  You can run a whole side of a cassette into a single stereo track then place slices between the songs.
0 votes
answered Aug 12, 2020 by colinotoole (16,340 points)
Hi. Might I suggest the use of 'Audacity' for the initial recording? It is really handy for this sort of thing and has a second-to-none noise reduction feature if you need it (which is highly likely with tape). You can then save as a wav file and load that into S1 to do whatever you need to do.  I guess it might be unconventional, but I use Audacity alongside S1 quite often including converting stacks of old cassette tapes as yourself. Hope this helps. Cheers.
0 votes
answered Aug 18, 2020 by ZiggyDude (1,020 points)
My thanks to both.  What I did was plug the RCA outs of the tape deck to the inputs of my 24c.  That worked well.  I learned that I had to record VERY low levels or I got a raspy hi end distortion.  I suspect the Dolby boost might have been the culprit of that.  

So - after building - I now have a wave file in Studio One.  I then leveraged some very intuitive and easy audio editing tools in Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13.  They are designed to quickly change large audio tracks.  I made a copy of the wave file in S1 and imported that into MS13.  I suppose I could have done the same in Audacity.  I just have not used that for a while - but I did a lot of .MOV files of the band and MS13 worked well for that.  So, I was familiar.
0 votes
answered Aug 19, 2020 by colinotoole (16,340 points)
Nice one. Glad it worked out for you {thumbs up}.
0 votes
answered Dec 11, 2021 by paulhorsley (140 points)
Hey ziggydude

When you say that you connected the rca outputs from your tape machine did you put left into one input and right into the second input then just pan the two tracks left and right in Stuidio One? Or did you use a reverse splitter to merge the two tracks 1st into one input?