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Here's how to convert tapes to digital

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • August 23, 2013 - 1:38 PM

Q: What is the easiest and, of course, cheapest way to convert my audio musical tapes to a CD?

A: The easiest way requires a Mac computer. I will provide an overview for both Mac and Windows so all readers will be able to benefit.

The Griffin iMic is an inexpensive, easy-to-use USB audio converter. You can connect it to a cassette deck or portable cassette player with a stereo RCA or a miniplug cable. The iMic sells for $40 or less. This will import the music to the software of your choice on either a Mac or a PC.

If you are a PC user, you also can get a USB cassette-deck converter on Amazon for about $17. It looks like a Sony Walkman but connects via USB and transfers music to the computer.

If you are a PC user, you need to decide whether you’ll get better quality from using your existing tape deck with the iMic vs. the simplicity of the portable converter. If you have a good cassette player or even something high-end like a Nakamichi or a Revox cassette deck, you will get better sound quality by using it with the iMic.

Once the music is imported into the editing software, it will be one long audio stream. You have to split and rename the tracks song by song, clean up the sound quality if desired and then organize the music in your library for eventual transfer to your iPod or to CD. It’s here that a Mac has a big advantage.

You can download Griffin Technology’s free Final Vinyl for Mac software to accomplish this task. It’s much better than any free program available for Windows. Final Vinyl excels at transferring vinyl records but does a fine job for other audio sources, too.

Learn more about iMic and Final Vinyl at www.griffintechnology.com.

Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder that works with Windows. The learning curve is much higher than Final Vinyl, but it gets the job done. You can download Audacity at audacity.soundforge.net.

New headphones

Q: I want to upgrade to new headphones with better bass and comfort. I can spend about $200 at most (preferably about $150). I’ve been looking at the Audio-Technica ATH M-50s and Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro. I mainly want a thumping, detailed bass that doesn’t mess up the mids and highs and can be worn for three hours straight without hurting my ears.

A: Either one of your choices would work well. I’d also check out the Ultrasone HFI-580 for $189.

As for hurting your ears, I think you’re referring to physical comfort. I’d be more concerned about your eardrums and eventual hearing loss if you are going to be playing that thumping bass loudly once you get your new headphones. Please be careful.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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