USB LP decks are well known, but they can't help you digitise all those old cassettes you've got stuck in a box in the loft - or even on your living-room shelves. This gizmo can, though: a USB-connected tape deck. Ion Tape2PC USB cassette deck Ion's Tape2PC: tune in to your old tapes Made by Ion, the company behind the USB …
This is getting silly!
Why not just take the output of any legacy source you like and run it into your PC's line in? Admittedly, a phono amp is required for turntables, but anything that already kicks out line level signals via RCA/phonos or whatever can be hooked up to a PC without the need to spend a ton on a dedicated deck with a universal USB audio interface sellotaped to the side!
How about a mindisc which converts the binary on the disc to analogue via the DAC that feeds a USB audio interface that sends it to the PC? Just so we can get all those old Minidiscs on our PCs?
Wax cylinder phonograph USB recorder anyone? Cup and String USB interface?
I agree Oliverh
Good thing I'm not waiting for the 8-Track version... No carts to digitize!
Seriously, Why Audacity? There's too much latency between the signal reaching the digitizing circuit, and it finally showing on the application window. Plus the application is too crash-happy on either of my platforms (both Mac & PC) for serious use.
I think one of the later minidisc player/records can output a digital file.
It is much easier for me to transfer my audio cassettes to MD then MD to PC!
Here's why Audacity .....
Audacity is used because it is Open Source (GPL) and therefore cross-platform. It works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris and BSD -- all from one tar.gz file. This simplifies the logistics (you don't need to put umpteen different pre-compiled binaries on the CD, just the Source Code tarball) -and- the technical support (it looks and works the same way on every OS). For automated track-splitting on non-Windows platforms, you should investigate Gramofile ( http://www.opensourcepartners.nl/~costar/gramofile/ ) -- and don't be put off by the thought that it hasn't changed much in years (nice to run something with a version number past 1.0 occasionally!). But it's actually not that hard to do track-splitting manually in Audacity, as long as you've a fast processor and plenty of RAM.
Many PCs don't seem to have an analogue line input anymore, just the (low impedance, high-sensitivity and -- the real show-stopper -- mono) mic input and a headphone/speaker output. At any rate, even if you do have a line-in port, the sound quality from a sound card built into the motherboard will suffer because the A-to-D converter is sharing a power supply with the noisy computer, and is highly sensitive to noise carried on the power supply lines; and because noise can also be picked up by inductive and capacitive coupling from the various high-frequency signals on the motherboard. A PCI sound card might well have some extra filtering to guard against this, but will still never be perfect. An external A-D converter with its own power supply, remote from the digital circuitry, should theoretically have the best noise immunity. (Of course, if they build it with lousy components, it will still sound lousy.)
Strictly speaking, you don't even need an RIAA preamp for vinyl records. If you've a mixer with high-sensitivity, high-impedance inputs and tone controls on each channel, you just need to boost the bass and cut the treble. This is actually how I've done my most recent analogue rips.
No doubt this will double the amount of email from Maplin, who already seem to consider the USB turntable (and the external hard disk du jour) as the ideal purchase for anyone - and even claimed it was a special offer when it wasn't.
And don't get me started on the Dixonisation of their sales approach in-store...
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