Cassette To MP3

ionThe last 50 years has seen monumental advances in audio technology. In the 1960s, the dominant audio media was vinyl LP records. The 70s saw the rise of the 8-track cartridge and by the 1980s, the compact cassette tape had supplanted both as the bestselling audio format.

The cassette tape allowed people more versatility and freedom to easily perform tasks that would otherwise have been too difficult or expensive before the technology was widely available. Recordable tapes enabled users to capture songs from the radio, record dictations and even served as early form of computer data storage.

Like so many other analog technologies, the age of digital media rendered these technologies all but obsolete. CDs, MP3s, digital downloads and streaming services revolutionized how we consume audio media. In days gone by you had to go to a music store to buy an album. Today, listening to music only takes a few clicks on your computer or taps on a smartphone.

Even though the cassette tape is essentially dead, there are still untold millions of tapes sitting in cardboard boxes and cabinets all over the world. Many of these tapes contain content you just can’t get in digital format. Unique voice recordings, demo tapes, radio broadcasts and more are trapped on magnetic tape and disappear forever when those cassettes are finally thrown out. But there is a way to bring them into the digital era.

Cassette to MP3 converters allow you to recover the audio on your tapes by transferring them onto your computer and converting them into a digital format. This is great if you still have your old cassette collection that you want to resurrect or if you simply want to archive your tapes so you can finally get rid of them.

How It Works

Most of the products in our review come in form of a Walkman-style cassette player with a USB port that connects to your computer. These devices are usually coupled with a software component that you need to install on your system.

Once you have the cassette you want to convert in the deck and connected to your computer, all you need to do is press “play” on your deck and “record” in the software and it will capture the audio as it plays back. After the converter software has captured the audio, you can export it as an MP3. You then can do pretty much anything with it. You can burn it to a CD, sync it to a smartphone, upload it to the internet or import it into an audio editing application for further work.

Converting the audio found on cassette tapes can be a time-consuming process. That’s because it’s not a simple file transfer that only takes a few seconds. Cassette to MP3 converters must record the audio in real time as it plays in the deck. If you’re converting a whole cassette, this can take up to an hour. Then you have to go into the application to listen to the captured content, edit the audio, separate the tracks and a few other things. These are all pretty simple things to master, but it can be quite involved as well. Just know that if you’re converting a lot of tapes, you’re probably looking at a long-term project.

Key Attributes

There are a couple of ways these converters connect to your computer. Most have an integrated cassette deck that allows you to easily slide in the tape you want to convert. Others require you to connect your own deck to your computer via RCA cables. The former has the advantage of being very convenient while the latter allows you to hook up any analog device, like a record player or 8-track deck, and convert audio from those devices as well.

All of the products on our lineup connect to your computer through a USB port. This is the most convenient way to connect, because all computers have multiple USB outlets. Most of the products can draw their power through the USB connection. But there are also alternate power supplies for these devices; some have DC adapter outlets, some also take AA batteries.

The conversion software that comes with these products is critical to their performance. The best cassette converters applications have the ability to automatically detect and segregate tracks on a music album. They also allow you control the volume of the audio as it is being recorded. Additionally, the best applications work on both Windows and Mac.

We found that the following products are the best cassette to MP3 converters:

Tape 2 PC: The reason this product claimed the top spot on our side-by-side comparison chart is due to its dual cassette design, step-by-step directions on how to use the software, automatic track detection and perfect audio quality. It is the only fully functional cassette deck in our lineup. The rest are merely Walkman-style units that don’t have the high-quality components found in this device.

Tape Express Plus: The Silver Award winner is the little brother of the Gold Award Winner. Made by the same manufacturer, it contains many of the high-quality components as its larger counterpart. Unlike the other Walkman-style products on our lineup, it creates high-fidelity sound files that you would be hard pressed to find imperfections in.

Cassette2USB Converter: This product has some unique features that placed it in the top tier of our review. It comes with two separate programs that can capture the sound on your cassette tapes: Audacity and Cassette2CD Wizard. The former is an audio recording and editing program advanced users will appreciate. The latter is simpler program that offers step-by-step instructions to transfer your cassettes onto your hard drive. However, the sound quality produced by this converter leaves much to be desired.

At the end of the day, cassette to MP3 converters allow you to easily transfer songs and other audio onto your computer. The best products make this process as simple as possible, create high-quality sound files and offer applications that are specifically designed to work with the devices they’re sold with.

Sony to stop selling Betamax tapes in 2016

betamaxIf you prefer your music on cassette tapes and save your office work on floppy discs, we have some bad news: Sony is no longer supporting Betamax.

It seems that Betamax never lost its war against VHS, it just went underground.

But now that most consumers have moved on, from laserdiscs to online streaming, Sony has waved the white flag.

The company released a press release in Japanese this week, saying it would stop selling Betamax cassettes in March 2016.

It had a good run. Sony first introduced Betamax in 1975. And who knows, maybe it can always make a comeback like vinyl.

Courtesy: CTVNews.ca Staff

Digitizing Family Movies – How to Transfer Videotapes to DVD

vhsSomewhere in your house is a box or drawer full of videotapes — aging home movies full of birthdays, dance recitals, holiday gatherings, a child’s first steps and other special family moments. You haven’t watched the movies in years but, unfortunately, the years are still taking their toll. Heat, humidity and improper storage cause videotapes to deteriorate, decaying the magnetic particles that represent your precious family memories. By converting those old VHS tapes to digital form, you can effectively stop the deterioration in its tracks. It also allows you to use your computer to edit out the boring and blooper moments, add music or narration, and make extra copies for your family and friends.

What You Need

The basic requirements are easy — a computer and a camcorder or VCR which can play your old videotapes. Other important items you’ll need include a device to get the video in and out of your computer (video capture), the software to edit it, and a DVD-burner to copy the video onto DVDs.

Video Capture Hardware
Transferring videotape to DVD is actually pretty easy to do yourself, but will require some special hardware. Depending upon your computer setup, you may already have what you need. Three major options for transferring footage from old videotapes to computer include:

  • Transfer footage via a video card
    To transfer video footage to your computer you’ll need the right cables and hardware. If you have a newer computer, you may already have what you need. Check the back of your computer and follow the cord coming from your monitor. If you see multicolored (red, white and yellow) plugs on the same card, then you’re in luck. With a RCA A/V (audio/video) cable you’ll be able to directly connect your video camera or VCR directly to your computer. If your video card also has a round S-Video jack, use a S-Video cable in place of the yellow RCA video input for superior video quality. If your video card doesn’t have RCA input jacks, you can also choose to replace it with a new video card.
  • Transfer footage via a video capture card or device
    A cheaper and often easier alternative to replacing the entire video card in your computer is to add a video capture card. You’ll need an empty PCI slot in the back of your computer to install one. Alternatively, there are some which will plug into an available USB slot, which is easier than having to open your computer to plug in the card. Video capture cards usually come with software on CD which will walk you through the steps of transferring video from your VCR or Camcorder to your computer.
  • Transfer footage via a video capture card
    If your computer doesn’t have a DVD burner, then the best solution may be to purchase an external DVD recorder. These connect to the computer via a USB port and have built-in video capture technology, allowing you to capture video, edit it, and burn it to DVD with a single device.

Digital Video Software
In conjunction with the hardware, you’ll also need special software to capture, compress and edit the video footage on your computer. The digital video software assists you with capturing the video from your video camera or VCR, and also allows you to cut/edit the footage or add fun special effects such as narration, transitions, menus and background music. In some cases, digital video software may have come with your video capture card or device. If not, there are a number of free video editing programs, such as Windows Movie Maker, that can perform some of these functions. If you want to get fancy, then programs such as Adobe Premiere ElementsCorel VideoStudioApple’s Final Cut and Pinnacle Studio make it easy to get your movies on DVD with professional results.

Plenty of Hard Drive Space
It may not sound like a big deal, but the hard drive on your computer will need a lot of free space when you’re working with video – as much as 12-14 gigabytes (GB) of space for every hour of footage you import. If you don’t have that much space to spare, consider purchasing an external hard drive. You can get a 200MB external hard drive for less than $300 — enough room for plenty of video, plus a place to backup your photos, genealogy and other files.

Working with such large files means that you’ll also need a powerful computer. A fast processor (CPU) and plenty of memory (RAM) will make it much easier to transfer and edit video.

Transfer & Edit Your Video

Whichever video capture option you use — a special video card, a video capture card or a DVD recorder — the steps for capturing and editing the video from your camcorder or VCR are basically the same:

  1. Make the connections. Connect the cords from the output jacks on your old camcorder (if it plays videotapes) or VCR to the input jacks on your video capture card or DVD recorder.
  2. Capture the video. Open your video software and select the “import” or “capture” option. The software should then walk you through the steps necessary for recording the video to your computer.
  3. Save the video at the highest quality possible. Old videotapes are already of poor enough quality, without further degredating the footage more than necessary during the compression process. If you’re short on space, then capture, edit and burn small sections of video at a time. Once you’ve burned the resulting video to DVD you can delete it from your hard drive, freeing up space for more video transfer.
  4. Edit out unwanted footage. Once you’ve transferred the video to your computer you can edit and rearrange the scenes into a nice finished product. Most digital video editing software will have already automatically separated your raw video footage into scenes, making it easy to shuffle things around. Now is also the time to delete the boring stuff and edit out dead time, like the 20 minutes of footage you took with the lens cap on! Generally this process is as easy as drag and drop. You can eliminate choppiness in the final product by adding cool transitions from scene to scene, such as fades and page turns. Other special features you may want to play with include titles, photos, narration, menus and background music.

Create Your DVD

When you’re satisfied with your edited movies, it’s time to transfer them to DVD. Again the software will walk you through the steps. Just as with import, you’ll probably be given a choice of quality settings. For the best image quality limit the video you save on a single DVD to an hour or less. Choose a high-quality DVD-R or DVD+R disk (not the rewritable version) on which to burn your video. Make at least one backup copy as well, maybe more if you plan to delete the digital video from your computer’s hard drive.

Other Options for Transferring Video to DVD

If you don’t have a computer, there are options available for transferring video to DVD, sans PC, using a DVD recorder unit. If you want to do any editing before burning to DVD, you’ll need a DVD recorder unit with a hard drive. Fancy editing is still best done on a computer, however. Alternatively, you can pay a professional to convert your VHS tapes to DVD, although this service doesn’t usually come cheap.

Of course if you don’t have the equipment, or don’t want to purchase it for a project you will only need once, let us do it for you. Our prices are very reasonable and we don’t charge tax.

Digitizing Family Movies – How to Transfer Videotapes to DVD.