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Need a quality, but reasonably-priced, Analogue to Digital converter

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March 16, 2012 1:46:13 PM

I have a 4-track tape and I need to convert the analogue stuff to digital. The problem with the cheap USB capture devices is that they also capture digital noise or noise from the soundcard – I can deal with tape hiss, but as the analogue recording volume was pretty low any added noise will be audible. I’d be grateful for any advice on reasonably-priced converters that do the job without any deterioration in audio quality.
June 30, 2012 10:25:58 PM

claychilde said:
I have a 4-track tape and I need to convert the analogue stuff to digital. The problem with the cheap USB capture devices is that they also capture digital noise or noise from the soundcard – I can deal with tape hiss, but as the analogue recording volume was pretty low any added noise will be audible. I’d be grateful for any advice on reasonably-priced converters that do the job without any deterioration in audio quality.


Your soundcard should not be noisy. That said you have 2 inputs and using the line will be better than microphone. Also making sure you have a 1K ohm to 10K ohm source feed (from the 4 track) to the line input will help ensure the best signal to noice and avoid 'card noise' .

For 4 tracks you may have sync problems and I can't say how to fix that
if it requires 2 'takes' to get 4 channels. You'll have to take a chance and
just do it.. later you can sync them.


The simplest way is to buy a standalone recoder, if there's a line output use a patch cord to the input of the recorder and press record. You said
4 channel but if you have to record 2 sessions into a stereo unit at least
they're recoverable because they'll be easy to resync later.

ZOOM H2 is for live recording but has a line input and similar units sell for
$100 or less used.. and their price seems to keep going up even for used.
I bought mine last year for $80 and the cheapest for the same now is $110 used on Ebay. They record 4 channel from microphones on the unit but I don't know the details about their line in abilities.



I don't know if you have 2 tracks of stereo or a real 4 trak tape which you
need to preserve. If it's stereo then you could get a good quality dub by
recording on to the HIFI stereo track of a VCR tape.

This page gives you some background why that thought came to me.
http://richardhess.com/notes/formats/magnetic-media/mag...

As I recall many VCR's added a digital audio track in additon to the old, normal, audio recording to be available with video. That signal to noice was over 80 dB and was digital. Every listen I did sounded very good

In 2000 I bought tapes and a VCR to back up audio that I had. It's
still a useful and viable choice.

Tape with HIFI audio worked the same no matter the tape speed.

e.g
You have a $10 vcr and some clean non-damaged tapes. A bulk eraser is required.

A tape cleaner to physically clean the surface of tapes that may be dusty is all I invested in for $20. VCR may sound 'old' but it still packs the punch for the audio ability.

Wtih regard to sync:

Because their speed control is, I think, crystal controlled you
could get excellent sync even if you put 2 trks on to 2 separate tapes.

Later sync'ing them onto digital when you have the ability might be just a matte setting the time offset.

As far as I know there was no digital output of VCR HIFI recordings until you
bought the higher end PCM type records (which did not do video)
The page explains a lot.




It's worth knowing aobut no matter what you choose if audio is your way of
life.
Be well.

They're

Off the subject.. if it's old magnetic tape you know you get 1 chance to
copy it if you 'bake it' first. That's according to a friend who's owned a recording studio for 30 years.

!