Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

Ideas and innovations in Indian classical music

Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#1  Postby Cheerful » 18 Nov 2011 18:19

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation for me. My "search" results for a prior discussion on this came up nil. I have many many cassettes with gems of songs that are just collecting dust :( . I am looking for a machine that will convert Music from Cassettes to CDs or MP3- I need company for my long car rides! I already benefited from this forum when I was looking for a good quality recorder and we are very happy with our Edirol.

Thanks!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#2  Postby Nick H » 18 Nov 2011 23:25

It has certainly been discussed!

First, you need a primer. You don't need to be a technician, but you need to know as much about what the difference is between a CD and MP3 (it comes down to quality). You need to have an idea what the difference is between "Lossy" and "Lossless" compression. You need to find out why MP3 is good for your pocket machine, but may not be the right choice for your archives.

On all these things, google is your friend :)

One machine you need is called a PC: the other is a tape deck with a "line out" --- or, if you have a hifi amplifier, you need to connect to the "tape out" sockets. The third thing, of course, is the right cables.

There are even cassette players that will record direct to MP3 files, on a thumb drive (or maybe a cable to your computer). If all you want is car or MP3-player music, that may well be good enough. Simple solution, and you can forget about the previous!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#3  Postby vasanthakokilam » 18 Nov 2011 23:46

This one seems to be a cheap option if your stereo system has line out and if you do not want to bother with audio recording software: http://www.amazon.com/Xitel-INport-Delu ... 103&sr=1-1
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#4  Postby Nick H » 19 Nov 2011 01:40

It's just an interface, vk ... you still have to bother with software to do the actual recording.

Most desktop machines will already have a built-in "soundboard," with the requisite connections (although an adapter cable might be needed). Whilst anyone who gets seriously into computer audio wants to upgrade to something better, the built in is a perfectly good place to start, both for recording and for playing music from your PC.

There are many softwares to choose from, but Audicity is both free, and still more powerful than most of us need.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#5  Postby vasanthakokilam » 19 Nov 2011 02:38

Nick: I agree that you still need their software. And it may not be much for someone who is familiar with converting the analog to digital using the soundcard. But this unit seems to be make it easier by reducing noise, removing clicks and splitting the recording into tracks etc. I have not used it myself.

I am a regular Audacity user but it is still uncomfortable to me to connect a cassette player to the back of the computer and use Audacity like program to record and then manage the recorded files. It seems to be a lot of settings and a confusing array of options. I have been thinking about doing that but have not gotten around to it mainly because of the start up inertia since it feels like a big chore. And even if I get it all to work by tweaking all the options, I can not turn it over to someone to continue with the job. The minimal thing one needs to do should be, launch it if it is not running, click on something like 'Start' and then play the tape. In fact, if they can even eliminate the steps on the computer side, it will be better. I am hoping the software that comes with this box will give you fewer and easy to understand options, being a special purpose thing.

Scanners operate that way. The one I have automatically wakes up the software on the system to receive the scanned file and the scanned page shows up when the data is all captured.

There are a bit more expensive boxes in Amazon that eliminates the need to have a computer. That will be much simpler to use. Last year, we converted all our video tapes to DVDs. Not a big deal since we bought a dubbing box. You put in the tape on one slot, a dvd in another slot and hit the big yellow 'Dub' button!!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#6  Postby Nick H » 19 Nov 2011 15:09

I enjoy playing with computer audio (and spend as much on it as many people do on their hifi) so it is a more of a pleasure to me. Also, having a Linux system, sometimes, it can be something of a masochistic pleasure. Don't let me put people off Linux --- mostly stuff does "just-work" like it does with Windows or Mac, but I just happened to have something that didn't, and it took me weeks of frustration finding out how to make it work. Ultimately, no sweat: it is one of my hobbies! But I don't expect others to share the enthusiasm; they don't want that experience, nor should they have to have it.

Of course, some do not even want to have a computer in the house. It is still not compulsory! Of course, if they here on the forum, then they probably do. For someone who just doesn't want to touch the PC-audio stuff, your big-yellow-button box sounds ideal. However, if one has a deskside PC, the only purchase necessary is a cheap cable, and, if one has collected a few hifi bits and pieces over the years, chances are one might even have that already. It is a slightly steep step, from there to digitising one's first tape, but not really such a big one.

Of course, the learning possibility is endless. I remember a Mali concert that was posted here. One of our members did a "clean-up" job on it that was superb. I wish I could do as well as that! As with all skills, it takes more than just spending money on the tools to learn the craft.

With a program like Audacity, there are, for instance, dozens of "effects". One might use two or three. It is exactly like Word, or Excel, and the hundreds of options available: the fact that we don't need (or even understand) many of them does not stop us typing a letter or keeping the family budget. The settings are minimal. Record a song or two, to get the hang of it, rather than wasting an hour on a whole cassette. If the level is too high, the result will be unusable noise: with tape, if the level is too low the result will be unusable too. Digital recording is actually no harder than tape recording!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#7  Postby Shivadasan » 20 Nov 2011 18:19

You can try Philips "RIP ALL" Cassette to CD MP3 coverter. It converts tapes into MP3.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#8  Postby VijayR » 20 Nov 2011 22:32

For whatever it is worth, just wanted to add a small observation here…

While the in-built sound card of your PC is certainly a very good place to start, it can often introduce noise into the audio because the audio signal going into the PC is an analog signal (i.e., through the line in). The underlying reason for this is that the power supplies inside a PC are often pretty noisy and analog signals are very sensitive to power-supply noise.

An external USB sound card (even a very basic one, available in the US for around $10) will help with this because the signal going into your PC through the USB port is a digital signal that is not as vulnerable to the power supply noise issue. The USB port also provides a 5 volts DC power supply to the external sound card, but that power supply is usually much cleaner.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#9  Postby Nick H » 20 Nov 2011 23:03

A good internal card will be quite proof against the "noisy" interior of a PC case. These things are made for studio environments, where the demand is high. The formula that says inside=noisy=bad is, in my not-so-humble opinion (as the owner or a not-so-humble soundcard ;) a myth. The engineers will have taken such things into account.

One grows in these things, by doing it, listening to the results, growing curiosity into the technology, and these things justify a bigger budget if available. A good sound card's output into your hifi (yes, analogue output) should be at least as good as a low to mid-range CD player ---assuming, of course, that one is playing uncompressed or lossless (eg .WAV or .FLAC) rather than lossy compressed (eg MP3 or OGG) at low bit rates.

The built-in sound card is the best place to start. To do better, look at sound cards, internal or external, over $100.

Many people are incorporating their PC into their hifi. Some are even building specific audio-pcs (and home-theatre pcs for the film buffs)for the purpose. Some of those people have rather expensive equipment, and want the best out of their PC. Many prefer to go for external DACs, partly because of the above contention, but I think this is largely a marketing success by the hifi manufacturers!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#10  Postby VijayR » 21 Nov 2011 00:47

Nick H wrote:A good internal card will be quite proof against the "noisy" interior of a PC case. These things are made for studio environments, where the demand is high. The formula that says inside=noisy=bad is, in my not-so-humble opinion (as the owner or a not-so-humble soundcard ;) a myth. The engineers will have taken such things into account.


As one such engineer, I humbly (or maybe, not-so-humbly) disagree. ;) Most PC sound cards are not "good" studio environment sound cards and are just chipset-integrated basic sound cards. For these entry-level sound cards, compared to an external sound card of *comparable cost*, the noise floor is almost certainly going to be higher.

Of course, a studio quality internal sound card will be much better. That is why I only said an internal sound card "can often introduce noise" and not "will introduce noise". :)

Nick H wrote:One grows in these things, by doing it, listening to the results, growing curiosity into the technology, and these things justify a bigger budget if available. A good sound card's output into your hifi (yes, analogue output) should be at least as good as a low to mid-range CD player ---assuming, of course, that one is playing uncompressed or lossless (eg .WAV or .FLAC) rather than lossy compressed (eg MP3 or OGG) at low bit rates.


Sure… I'm with you there. In any case, all this depends on the person listening… For example, 192kbps AAC is the transition point for me where I cannot tell the difference between that and raw audio (in a blind test). That transition point for some of my friends is 128kbps and, for some of them, as high as 320kbps.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#11  Postby Nick H » 21 Nov 2011 02:59

Superb answer. Very nicely put, and I am grateful for your input and experience. I encounter too much dogma ("You just can't because blah blah... ") when, as you so rightly say, the answer is might. I'm sure it would be ideal, when recording silence, to see no movement on the level indicators whatsoever. I'm not sure if that ever actually happens on real pro equipment (?) but it certainly doesn't on my PC, with either interior (RME) or external (Echo Audiofire) interfaces --- but the extent to which this "noise" has to be amplified is pretty enormous if one wants to actually hear it.

I've been learning a lot, recently, both about the basics of sound, and the differences between what we hear, what we think we hear, what is real, and what isn't. It is fascinating stuff, and one has to be prepared to actually let go (in a healthy way) of absolute belief in one's own senses. I now, with respect and accepting that they are sincere, utterly disbelieve some of the things that I hear from "audiophiles" (hey, perhaps they aren't really saying it! ;) --- and I apply the same sort of (hopefully healthy) scepticism to my own experiments and observations (such as ... I can now hear the vocalist in this concert, but no-one went near the mixing desk, or moved the mic, so it must be my brain that adjusted).

I haven't listened to the "built-in" in my current PC ... but I'd be surprised if it wasn't a lot better than the one I started my PC-audio journey with, and possibly better than my first add-in card. For the casual recorder/listener, they have come a long way.

About compression, I'm not at all sure how much I can hear, because, except at low bit rates, it seams to me to be the cumulative effect of listening (rather than specific can/can't hear) to compressed (as in MP3; as so often happens, the world has probably not chosen the best method available) music or speech. It results in a kind of fatigue, getting fed up, wanting to switch off, sometimes even when I'm enjoying the content (Hello BBC Drama!).

At the moment, I'm trying to work out if I can, or can't, hear the difference between 41.1Khz and 9600. I have age-related hf hearing loss: I may never know if there is a difference or not!

But, for those who are not in the least interested in this stuff, I've got no problem if they just want to stick a tape in a machine, and get a thumb-drive full of MP3. Convenient --- and almost certain to be a heap better than those machines that copy from one cassette tape to another!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#12  Postby vasanthakokilam » 21 Nov 2011 03:36

Vijay, Nick: Good points. The computer based solution is what I would refer to as the 10% solution.. That is, it gets into such a tech geeky direction that it is useful for only 10% of people. ;) There is a job to be done by mostly non-tech people and we need to hire the right tech product that scales across a wide variety of expertise levels. So, Nick's last paragraph makes sense.

Even if one person in the family is tech-comfortable, you should be able to hand over the copying job to someone non-tech in the family, explain the procedure in 15 minutes and expect them to follow that procedure without making mistakes. Otherwise, it is a big tech-support nightmare.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#13  Postby Nick H » 21 Nov 2011 14:27

Actually, it is as techie as a person wants it to be! Or as simple...

Think of programs like Word and Excel (especially Excel) with their endless menus, functions and formulae --- and yet people (including me) still write letters and keep the family budget.

You can show someone a tape recorder, and say, see this meter? if the sound falls below this level, you won't hear it, if it goes into the red it will sound bad; turn that knob to adjust the level. If it is a reel-to-reel, it is harder to explain how to thread the tape, which, itself, is not quite as difficult as using a sewing machine!

You show someone sound recording/editing software. You tell them that if the sound touches the 0dB line, the recording will be spoilt. They turn a knob to adjust that level --- or move a slider on the screen. Pretty much the same as tape, with the added advantage that you can see if it is all going wrong immediately. All the editing functions are analogous to editing text (select, cut, copy, paste, delete) and all the File Open/Save/Save/Save as/etc work, again, in the same way as for documents.

In terms of physical connections, connecting the PC is no different to connect an CD player, tape deck, amplifier, speakers. Anyone who can do one can add the other.

There you have it: in less than 15 minutes!

Now, ask me what a Decibel is --- and I will blush and refer you to VijayR! :).

Most people who are using this forum are going to be comfortable with computers. Sometimes they might be a little concerned about doing something a bit different with their computer, so the first step is to point out that it is not actually that different!

Take a hall full of rasikas. It is a music form, like jazz, that tends to attract fairly intellectual people (one or two of us prove the exception, of course!) and even among the elder people in the hall, we can find retired engineers, doctors, professors and even physicists. Recording sound on a PC is not, as they say, rocket science :)
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#14  Postby Cheerful » 21 Nov 2011 20:52

Wow- this thread has been active while I was away! Thank you so much to all the Rasikas who have contributed so much to this discussion......... I am definitely a non-techie (or a techie wannabe!)....... so I will go over each and every post to help me make up my mind which kind of product to buy.......

Thanks again!

But feel free to keep contributing to this thread........ I hope to learn a lot!
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#15  Postby Nick H » 21 Nov 2011 21:19

Well, I think we have given you nice choices, varying from pushing a button, to using your PC to do the job in a fairly simple way ... all the way to becoming an enthusiast :)
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#16  Postby VijayR » 24 Nov 2011 19:23

Nick H wrote:Now, ask me what a Decibel is --- and I will blush and refer you to VijayR! :).


Nick, you flatter me... Wait! Decibel? What on earth is that? :)

Nick H wrote:Take a hall full of rasikas. It is a music form, like jazz, that tends to attract fairly intellectual people (one or two of us prove the exception, of course!) and even among the elder people in the hall, we can find retired engineers, doctors, professors and even physicists. Recording sound on a PC is not, as they say, rocket science :)


Very true. Sometimes you even have "not elder, not yet retired, engineering professors" in the audience. Hint... hint... :)
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#17  Postby Nick H » 24 Nov 2011 19:52

Indeed!

among the elder and the younger are the most amazing people
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#18  Postby viswanathmysore » 24 Nov 2011 20:40

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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#19  Postby Nick H » 24 Nov 2011 21:49

My consumer mind says maybe not.

What really worries me is that I cannot find any reference to the "bitrate" used when recording to MP3. Even the user manual does not mention it (unless it did so very quietly!

So, even though it looks neat, this shopoholic probably advises leaving it on the shelf.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#20  Postby vasanthakokilam » 24 Nov 2011 23:27

Nick: I do not see what bit rate it records either. There are a couple of mentions in the non-recording contexts along the lines of "128kbps bit rate or higher is recommended for MP3 files." and "MP3 bit rate (data rate): 32-320 kbps and variable bit rate" ( what formats the player supports ).

Hopefully they followed their own recommendation and record tapes in at least 128kbits. It also supports ripping audio cds, and so at least 128kbps will be the minimum expectation. If not, they will be slammed and shamed out of existence out in the internet. It is Philips after all, they have a brandname to protect and it is a brand Indians trust a lot ;)

It seems to do a lot more than just ripping audio cassettes. So, if someone is interested in a box just to rip cassettes this may be an overkill and hence overpriced.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#21  Postby Nick H » 25 Nov 2011 01:05

Since the iPod has become the measure of musical expectancy, a lot of people accept low-bit-rate MP3 as just the way music is!

Apart from these doubts, it would be a nice consumer unit. I forget now, but I think it burns CDs as well? ideal for someone who wants that music for the car, which is where Cheerful's requirements started.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#22  Postby varsha » 25 Nov 2011 07:19

My consumer mind says maybe not.

1.The best in the business rating comes after thousands of hours of musical conversion using these machines . by a large number of enthusiasts.
btw it is the only one which can do the job - anywhere in the world .
at the flick of a button , rip a cd , record from fm or convert from tape . at 5000 rs it is a cool purchase .

Let us get practical and stick to the original posters request for recommendations for
****
I have many many cassettes with gems of songs that are just collecting dust :( . I am looking for a machine that will convert Music from Cassettes to CDs or MP3-
****
Here is a sample for the person trying to make a choice

http://soundcloud.com/varshaxl/phillips

2. while agreeing to all the issues of bit rating . fidelity etc etc - these have less practical significance when it comes to the genre we are discussing - indian classical music on old tapes
http://soundcloud.com/varshaxl/phillips2
another example here.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#23  Postby Nick H » 25 Nov 2011 14:06

At rs5,000 it is hard to argue with, and also hard to expect too much.

If I have to choose between not listening to music because I can't afford "audiophile" equipment ( much of which is pure hype, if not robbery) and, just ...listening to music? The answer is obvious

And, like I said, for producing CDs for the car, at a press of a button --- ideal.
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#24  Postby Nick H » 25 Nov 2011 18:35

Actually... as you have one: would be interesting for potential purchasers to know what bitrate it uses?
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Re: Machine to convert Music to CD or MP3

#25  Postby varsha » 25 Nov 2011 20:30

128 kbps
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