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Converting Audio Cassette Tapes

I have been spending time converting some old audio cassettes these last few months. It takes a long time, but I’m discovering some old music that I didn’t even know I had. Some of it, I can’t believe I ever bought. My basic reasoning is that I’ve spent a lot of money on music in my lifetime and a lot of that was on audio cassette. Just like ditching some of my old CD’s after digitizing into iTunes, I decided it was time to dig into the cassette box and start doing the same thing. I don’t even have a cassette player in my apartment, but I do have one in my car still. I have decided to keep a little more than a dozen. Big albums from my youth that I felt like keeping. Like Van Halen’s 1984. I have that on CD now, but I wanted the cassette. That was the first cassette I bought with my own money and I bought it the same day with Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil. Man, I remember playing them on my stereo and walkman and being extremely excited that day. Anyway, I decided to keep a few of them. I’m thinking putting them in a box or something to display. Like , look kiddies, grandpa used to listen to these and didn’t have an iPod growing up. That kind of thing.

Anyway, the process is kind of time consuming, but fun. The recordings into iTunes could be better, but they work. I mean these are songs that I don’t feel like purchasing in iTunes, but would like the option of keeping the music in my library of tunes.

I’m using CD Spin Doctor, which is a Roxio product. I’ve got my parent’s old stereo cassette deck which they weren’t using. I hooked that up to my trusty iMac and recording into CD Spin Doctor through the line in port on the Mac. Then after importing into CD Spin Doctor, I can adjust the track lengths and add track names. I add some De-Hisser to get rid of most of the cassette tape hiss and pops. After that, I can easily send it to iTunes and encode it as AAC files. Brilliant! I find the quality acceptable. It doesn’t sound as good as an iTunes download or a CD rip, but it’s acceptable. I did try a few experiments and for 2 or 3 recordings I adjusted the stereo configuration and added filters in Final Cut Express, but ultimately, it didn’t sound that great either. 

In the end, I’m just happy to listen to some of this music which I haven’t heard in ages and some of it isn’t available in iTunes. Like Mike + the Mechanics Living Years record. A bonus, is recycling these tapes at my recycling center and getting rid of some clutter. Always nice to do that. 

I’m off to do some more. Next up is MC Hammer’s classic Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em.

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