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OSXpert
OSXpert, Mac Software Engineer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 226
Experience:  2 years as a geek squad computer technician, 5 years as a software engineer and unix systems admin
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I recently found an old family cassette which was an audio

Resolved Question:

I recently found an old family cassette which was an audio copy of some recordings that are over 40 years in age. I wish to convert them to a higher quality digital audio recording. There is plenty of background hissing due to the age and quality of the original tapes. can you tell me the procedure for transferring the audio to my Macbook pro. Also would you think I may be better off using a professional service to improve this tape quality. There are recordings of very significant family value on this cassette and I again wish to improve as best is possible the quality of the audio.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  OSXpert replied 3 years ago.

OSXpert :

Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX are you available?

OSXpert :

Let me know when you're available and I'll give you some help with recording your tapes

Customer :

I am online now are you?

Customer :

shoot me a time when we can chat online...on am on EST.

OSXpert :

I am available

OSXpert :

are you still online?

OSXpert :

Log back in at 4PM EST.

Customer :

Ok...just happens to be 4:00 PM when I checked for any messages from you

Customer :

You online I hope????

OSXpert :

Yes

Customer :

Great

Customer :

Where do you want to start?

OSXpert :

Sorry for the delay in matching up -- that happens sometimes

Customer :

The problem is I do not get any notifications other than your originl responce

OSXpert :

Okay -- but you're seeing these messages from me now, correct?

Customer :

yes

OSXpert :

anyhow -- let's address your initial question...



 

OSXpert :

First, you're probably not going to be able to get rid of that hissing without a software filter in place to filter out those particular frequencies. This can be challenging to do without also removing some of the desired frequencies that might be encountered. That said, if one of your important goals is to eliminate that hissing noise, then I'll spare you the time and hassle and suggest taking the tapes to a specialist...

OSXpert :

When you record these, you are going to have to record the analog audio and convert (your computer will do this using an A2D, analog to digital, converter) it to a digital stream that you can store on your Mac

Customer :

Well it is worth the effort to transfer to my computer so at a minimum I can get the recordings in proper order, they are scambled now

OSXpert :

Sure -- a specialist might have a preference for working with the original recordings or digitals versions, so it may be useful to go ahead and put them on your Mac for now...

Customer :

I have a cassette player and the proper cable with plugs on both end that I hope put it on my computer or is the jack on the mac only for output?

OSXpert :

Nope -- there should be two jacks, one for input and one for output (headphones)

Customer :

Is gargeband the program to use

OSXpert :

Yes -- do you have it installed?

Customer :

I have a Mackbook Pro...there is only one female jack?

Customer :

Yes...but read my last question

Customer :

How do I get the input to work?

OSXpert :

You should have something that looks like this...

OSXpert :

Full Size Image

OSXpert :

Confirm that for me...

Customer :

do I ned to somehow hook it to a USB?

Customer :

Not on my computer?

OSXpert :

Hmmm -- how old is your MBP?

Customer :

I can take a phot...but if you go online to the apple site you will see the number of USB etc.

Customer :

Less than a year

Customer :

13" model

OSXpert :

one second...

OSXpert :

okay, just checked, looks like apple integrated the line in/out port on the 13" MBP -- use the only jack that you have -- it's the correct one

Customer :

Yes...

OSXpert :

Plug your cable into this jack and hook up the other side to the tape player...

Customer :

I just launched Garage band and have a cable running between devices....

OSXpert :

also, open up System Preferences (icon is on the dock)

OSXpert :

Choose Sound->Input

Customer :

got it

OSXpert :

ensure input is set to line-in and not microphone

Customer :

I am looking at systems preferences.....do not see that option

OSXpert :

Which version of Mac OS X are you running?

Customer :

Latest...just am now looking at "Sound"

OSXpert :

Snow Leopard, good. In that case, click the "Input" tab at the top and just ensure the input volume is set near the middle of the slider

Customer :

Everything seems OK...when I turned on the tape player I saw the input level indicators light up

Customer :

but I do not hear anything?

OSXpert :

Perfect, you're all set to start recording...it's okay if you don't hear anything, the computer is "hearing" it if the indicator lights up in the input tab...

Customer :

Dumb question...just because the computer is hearing it how do i record it?

Customer :

What settings do I use on Garage band????

Customer :

????

OSXpert :

Well -- the more I think about it, GarageBand may not be the best choice. Let's download Audacity instead

Customer :

Where is that on the internet?

OSXpert :

Did you see that last message?

OSXpert :

here...

OSXpert :

It's a very powerful, free recording program

OSXpert :

Click the Audacity 1.2.5 for Intel Macs link

Customer :

OK

OSXpert :

Go ahead and install it...let me know when you get that far

Customer :

Got it open

OSXpert :

k, good. First, click Audacity->Preferences

OSXpert :

then Audio I/O

OSXpert :

under recording, the device needs to be set to Built-In Input

Customer :

got it

Customer :

Now What????

OSXpert :

next, click file formats

Customer :

funny just did that

OSXpert :

under uncompressed export formats, set it to WAV (32-bit)

OSXpert :

I assume you want quality here and don't so much care how much hard drive space the files occupy?

Customer :

got it

Customer :

there is an Apple AIFF option also...

Customer :

quality yes

OSXpert :

That's up to you, WAV is going to be considered a more universal format that almost any audio software will recognize

OSXpert :

AIFF is a bit more Apple-specific and might not have as much compadibility

Customer :

will i be abble to plat it on itunes?

Customer :

I go with your suggestion

OSXpert :

Yes, iTunes will play WAV files -- but if the only thing you are going to use these recordings for is playing in iTunes, then AIFF will be fine. I'll leave the choice to you

Customer :

32 vs 16? The tape is probably one hour long....how much space would you guess?

Customer :

I have no problem trying samples of each

OSXpert :

hmm, I'll guess around 700MB

Customer :

NO problemo

OSXpert :

Audacity will tell you how long your disc space will last once you start

OSXpert :

With all that set, click okay to close the preferences window

OSXpert :

then click the red record button in audacity and immediately after press play on your tape recorder

Customer :

done

OSXpert :

do you see the blue waveforms in audacity?

Customer :

It seems to be only catching Left channel...any mono setting

OSXpert :

You should see two separate blue waves...ensure the jacks are plugged in all the way (sometimes you need to push pretty hard)

Customer :

I wish you could see my computer...do you have the program open in front of you?

OSXpert :

I do now...

Customer :

only the upper left track is going red

Customer :

very low DB readings

OSXpert :

turn up the volume a bit, not too much though, ensure that the waves are not clipped at the top and bottom of the recording window. There should be plenty of room above and below them

OSXpert :

Are the monaural recordings?

Customer :

yes remeber that was the 50's

OSXpert :

Okay, there will only be one channel then when recording them. There should be a single blue bar with the wave forms on it

Customer :

I got a sence of how this works but how do I play back...I stopped the recording...but the rewind button doies not work

OSXpert :

you can go to File->Save Project As, give it a name and then play it back in iTunes

OSXpert :

or you can click on the wave with the mouse, that will make audacity seek to that position. Then you can push play to play it back

Customer :

Under a *.aup file format

OSXpert :

That is the extension of the Project in Audacity

OSXpert :

go to File->Export as Wav to create the Wav file itself

Customer :

a bit lost sorry to tell you that..

OSXpert :

Do you see the "File" menu at the top of the screen?

Customer :

let me play with it a bit...it is asking for another program to convert to MP3 Lame????

OSXpert :

no, you don't want MP3 -- it's compressed and will lose some quality

OSXpert :

Click File at the top of the screen

OSXpert :

then click Export as WAV

Customer :

got it to work...I will read up on program and play with settings....

Customer :

thank you

Customer :

You got me to the red zone

OSXpert :

sounds good

OSXpert :

You're having success then I take it?

Customer :

Need to play with the settings etc....very low volume...but i will try samples..thanks for your time

OSXpert :

you bet

OSXpert, Mac Software Engineer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 226
Experience: 2 years as a geek squad computer technician, 5 years as a software engineer and unix systems admin
OSXpert and 3 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you

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