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Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...

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Brad Goodman
Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...
on May 27, 2005 at 1:13:28 pm

Greetings, and thank you for taking the time to read my post.

I have a basic cassette tape with several radio commercials I did many years ago. I would now like to get them in any kind of digital format, MP3, WAV, AIFF ... anything.

I bought a Sony dual cassette deck that has basic RCA input/outputs and I have the XL1 and ZR400 cameras, plus I have Director's Cut that I use to digitize VHS tapes.

According to the ZR400 manual, all I have to do attach a line from the output of the cassette deck to the AV line on the ZR400 and record through VCR mode, but nothing happens, no sound records. I went into the menu for the camera and tried different audio recording settings (there's only two, the other being AV->DV which sounds exactly like what I'm looking for and this isn't even mentioned in the manual). I've tried digitizing the audio through Director's Cut into both the ZR400 and FCP 4.5 on a G5. Nothing.

I guess I just don't understand the process. If anyone could lend a bit of advice, I would surely appreciate it.

Thanks very much in advance,

Brad


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Matte
Re: Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...
on May 28, 2005 at 12:53:24 am

Connect the RCA outputs from the cassette deck to the DV camcorder's Red & White RCA audio outputs (they will "become" audio inputs during this process).

Switch the camcorder to the "VCR" mode (NOT camera mode).

Do NOT connect the camcorder to the computer (no FireWire connection at this point).

Put a blank DV tape into the camcorder.

While still in the VCR mode, go into "record" on the DV camcorder and play the audio cassette.

You can monitor the audio recording on a set of headphones plugged into the camcorder's headphone jack.
If you don't hear audio in the headphones, the camcorder is not going to be recording any audio.

There is a slight chance that your camcorder will not go into "INPUT" mode without a VIDEO signal to go along with the audio. (You'll know this before you make any dub if you hear no cassette audio coming from the camcorder's headphone jack.
If this is the case, just feed the video out from any VCR tuned to a TV signal (or the video out from another camcorder) to "wake up" the recording camcorder's "INPUT" mode.

After you've recorded the audio cassette to the DV tape, rewind and then connect the camcorder to the computer via FW.

Capture the DV tape (audio only) to the computer and you can convert it to any other kind of digital media you'd like.
The DV tape can be also be saved as another high-quality "digital" backup for your old analog cassette.



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Brad Goodman
Re: Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...
on May 28, 2005 at 8:23:37 pm

Thank you for your reply. But seems I still can't figure this out. The ZR400 does not have red and white inputs, though my XL1 does. However, as I said, it still doens't work. I get a message from the XL1 saying to check DV device. The ZR400 just isn't recording.

I do have both cameras in VCR mode. As I said in my first post, I've did everything exactly according to the manual. I've dubbed DV tapes with my XL1 before using this same process. When I set the XL1 to regular DV recording mode, I actually get a signal from the tape deck, but the noise level is so bad that it is virtually unusable.

The cassette deck only has two sets of RCA plugs: one labeld out, the other in. I have tried connecting the XL1 yellow video cable to a TV while also trying to record the audio from the cassette deck via the VCR mode, but that didn't work either.

I'm sure I have all the necessary equipment, just not the know-how. Very frustrating!!!!


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Matte
Re: Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...
on May 29, 2005 at 12:13:23 pm

[Brad Goodman] "The ZR400 does not have red and white..."

Well, yes it does, you just don't know where to look ;-)

Most small camcorders' A/V -OUTPUTS- are contained in a single mini-jack instead of separate RCA (or other) jacks (like on your XL1).

So they come supplied with "A/V -CABLES-" that connect to that single mini-jack.

These cables have a mini-plug on one end (camcorder)... and three RCA Plugs on the other: Yellow (video), White (Channel 1 Audio) and Red (Channel 2 Audio).

So, using this A/V cable is how you connect your output.

NOT all camcorders HAVE the capability of
recording external analog audio and video sources onto DV tape (but some do), and during the process the OUTPUTS "turn into" INPUTS.

If yours CAN do this, you'd perform the procedure I described in the first post.
--------------------------------------------
Part 2 "The XL1" (or XL2)

The XL1 DOES have the ability to record external analog audio and video sources onto DV tape.

[Brad Goodman] "the noise level is so bad that it is virtually unusable."
The reason is that you have the audio inputs set to "MIC-LEVEL" you need to go into the XL1 menu and find the setting that makes the audio inputs 'LINE-LEVEL" (the cassette deck's outputs are LINE-LEVEL).
Here's a quote from the user manual:
"Using the AUDIO 1 RCA jacks
1. Change the audio mode in the menu.
2. Slide the INPUT SELECT switch to AUDIO 1.
-This assigns the AUDIO 1 RCA jacks as the source for the audio input.
3. Open the camera menu and select VCR SET UP.
4. Select AUDIO 1 IN, then select a mode.
- LINE: To record sound from a VCR, CD or other line in devices."

Connect up (plug in headphones to make sure the audio sounds good) and record.


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Dan Mills
Re: Converting analog audio cassette to digital anything ...
on Jun 14, 2005 at 1:46:30 pm

Man, I wouldn't use your XL1 at all. Why are you? Why don't you just go straight from your cassette deck to your built in audio sound card on your pc? All you need for software is something like Cool Edit Pro. There are shareware versions for free down;pad at download.com. just runa search for Cool Edit Pro.

Then, hook a simple dual RCA to mini plug from cassette deck to computer. Cool Edit is a sound recording program and wav editor. Basically, you'll just have to hit record fro there. You may have to adjust your input levels in your sound controls, but this is a very simple way to record cassette tapes.


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