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I know that devices exist which can convert cassette tapes into MP3s via USB.

I have hundreds of tapes which I'd like to convert.

Are there any devices which can do this in a batch style - i.e. put in multiple cassettes, start it running, and come back later to multiple MP3 files?

Update: I should have mentioned that these are church sermons, rather than purchased music. So the tapes are the only originals; and quality isn't as important as it would be for music.

Also, it's the batch aspect which I'm particularly asking about, to attempt to avoid (if possible) manual tape insertion/extraction for hundreds of tapes. I'm aware of devices such as the ION USB tape converters.

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This would be worth it if there is sentimental value in those recordings... otherwise it is probably faster and cheaper to simply re-purchase digital versions of music. –  M. Dudley Nov 8 '10 at 1:20
    
Not to mention, the quality would be better. –  Force Flow Nov 8 '10 at 1:47
    
Depends on whether that music even exists in a (legal) digital version... :P –  JanC Nov 8 '10 at 1:49
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3 Answers 3

I would recommend one of two ways:

1: If your tapes contain rare or special recordings:
Get this $130 USB tape deck and rip your tapes to your computer. (Note: there's a $100 USB turntable available as well.) Consider using this $35 preamp and noise filter if needed. Plan on spending many long evenings filled with tape swapping and mp3 editing.

2: If your tapes contain currently available mainstream music:
Realize that the above effort is just too much compared to what you get out of it. Spend a while listening through your tapes and make notes of what music you really want to keep, then purchase those songs digitally (Amazon, iTunes, whatever).

3: If you have lots of time and just want to hook up your old tape deck:
In response to the good comment: I've tried some tape ripping earlier which was simply done by hooking up a normal tape deck through the computer's audio-in and recording into a cd-ripping program named "Exact Audio Copy" which also has a line-in recording option. That might be the cheapest way of them all, but also rather time consuming because EAC's ability to automatically split tracks has its limitations depending on the tape's audio quality.

I would choose option #2 unless your tapes contain unique material. This is something I need to do myself, too. So many old recordings from my youth, listening to the radio... oh, the memories :-)

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+1 for good answer, though there might be cheaper options especially if that two-deck unit can't record off both tapes to USB at the same time. For instance you could get two if more of amazon.com/Audio-Portable-Tape-Player-Headphones/dp/B0038OLL2Q for $44 (there are similar prices for the same item elsewhere too) and run that many copies of Audacity to record several tapes at once. 48KHz stereo recording at 32bit/channel is ~3.75Mbyte of raw data per second so you should be able to three or four recording sessions without worrying about USB bandwidth or disk I/O contention. –  David Spillett Nov 8 '10 at 11:55
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You can probably find a service that will do that for you for a fee (although again, I'd consider buying the digital format of that music).

I do not think you'll find a mass conversion machine, since a lot of manual work is involved in playing a cassette (placing it right side in, playing, stopping, rewinding, ejecting). A mass device will require an assembly line to repeat those analog operations.

Furthermore, due to inconsistent silent gaps between music segments, the ripping may end up yielding cut songs, or songs with long silent periods.

As a final thought, it seems like you're trying to bridge technologies separated by 2 generations (with CD in the middle) - it's just not worth it.

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I have run into the same question myself and the answer depends on how audio each you are - I'm a sound tech on the weekend. The only way I have found to do multiple cassettes simultaneously, is to use multiple cassettedecks and a multitrack soundcard such as a delta 1010 if your budget is tight and multitrack software like Adobe audition. With two pro decks or four consumer decks and a 1010, you could do 4 cassettes at a time, but unless you have nothing better to do with you time, you will probably be better off using a third party service to accomplish the task.

A couple of years ago, the going rate was around $5 a tape. I don't know what the rate is now.

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