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Cassette to CD-R/CD-RW?

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Cassette to CD-R/CD-RW?

Postby Pilgrim on Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:27 pm

I've read most of the threads on the Board that are related after doing a search, but seeing that I have never burned an audio CD of any kind ever (only data CD's), I thought I should ask about this here.

What I want to do is transfer some old audio cassettes which are lectures, no music, to CD's which can be played on a PC and/or a non-PC player. In all the posts I've read, most only say to "use Nero"... but for someone like myself, that information doesn't help much. So, here's what I would like to know:

1) Can I do this operation with what I have currently, which is Nero 6.6.0.15 and Audacity 1.2.4 (not yet installed)?

2) What program do I use to begin with, i.e., transfer the analog data from the cassette to the PC (assuming this is the correct first step)?

3) Once the data has been transferred to my PC, what do I do and what specific program do I use to convert the now digital data (will it be in .wav format)? to a format to burn to CD?

4) Another important part of this project is editing the data transferred from the cassette to my PC. More specifically, most of the cassettes will be 60 minutes total length. Thus I will have to turn the cassette over to play the second side. This will of course result in a "break" in the data. So, I will want to "blend" the two sides together to make the transition into one, hopefully unnoticeable.

Thanks for any help here. And remember, this is totally new for me so I am really wanting some "detailed" instructions rather than a generalization, e.g., "just use Nero". hehe

Jeff
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Postby MediumRare on Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:04 am

You can use Audacity to record the signal and edit it. Hook up the cassette deck to the line-in input of your sound card. Configure audacity to record from that source. Make sure that the sampling rate is what you want (44.1 kHz for audio CD).

Start the cassette playback and start recording with audacity- you have to adjust the recording volume so that no clipping occurs (digital clipping is ugly). Once you have the proper volume, abort the recording, discard the trial file and start in earnest. :D

Audacity records in its own format but has an option to export WAV files. You can also inport these for editing.

Audacity has very powerful filters available (normalization, pop etc). Editing out unwanted portions is easy too.

Once you have the WAV file on your hard drive, use Nero to create an audio-CD. Drag the appropriate WAV file into the compilation. You can adjust the gaps between tracks to 0 if you want the portions to play contiguously.

Hope this helps you!

G
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Postby Justin42 on Tue Dec 13, 2005 11:17 am

What kind of sound card do you have? If you're just using onboard sound (a chip on your motherboard) you may not get very good results. In my experience, while motherboard sound plays back decent (but not great) quality sound, the recording ability is totally horrible.

You may want to look at picking up a sound card.. you may find a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz cheap on Ebay or somewhere (it's old and no longer supported but the drivers are pretty good and the recording quality is excellent IMHO). Alternatively, you could just pick up a Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS somewhere and still be a step up from motherboard sound..
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Postby Pilgrim on Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:39 pm

I've got a "Creative SB Live!" card.
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Postby Justin42 on Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:22 pm

Should be good enough for this, it may have even come with software to help with the process. (although based on its age probably not)

Look for CDWAV, too. It is a tool to split up a single long WAV file into multiple tracks (multiple WAV files to burn). It's totally invaluable for making recordings of concerts and the like, and break them into separate tracks. I think it handles recording now, too.
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Postby Pilgrim on Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:49 pm

MediumRare wrote:You can use Audacity to record the signal and edit it. Hook up the cassette deck to the line-in input of your sound card. Configure audacity to record from that source. Make sure that the sampling rate is what you want (44.1 kHz for audio CD).

Well, I haven't been able to get too far. Image

1) My eyesight isn't very good in my old age and thus I cannot determine which is the "input" on my soundcard. I have 3 options... pink, blue and red. Which one is it? hehe

2) I don't know how to "configure Audacity to record from that source"?? There isn't much of anything in the Manual or Help file that deals with recording from an external source. I'm needing detailed destructions for this.

3) I did get the "sample rate" correct by selecting "CD Audio" from the menu... I'm assuming that is what you are referring to.

What I am wanting to record is mono voice recordings. There is no music. Is there anything special I need to configure in that case?

Sorry for being so dense. Image
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Figured it out.... but two final questions

Postby Pilgrim on Wed Dec 14, 2005 12:57 am

I was able to figure out that the "blue" jack on the sound card was the "Line in". Next, after trying different things, I was able to actually record something by choosing "Line in" from the dropdown menu. Using "CD Audio" didn't work for some reason??

Okay... so now I can record from the cassette to the PC.

My two Questions:

1) Saving (Exporting) the recorded material to be burned is my first question. I noticed that Audacity has options for both Wave and MP3 format. What is the best one to use? In a test I tried both and the .wav file is nearly 7 times larger than the .mp3 file.

2) Editing the recorded file is my last question. Do I use Audacity to edit the recorded (raw) file? or does Nero have something as good to do this? Do I edit the file after it is exported, e.g., .wav or .mp3?

Thanks!
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Postby Justin42 on Wed Dec 14, 2005 12:21 pm

It has to be set to "Line In" as you're telling the computer which port you want to record through. It doesn't matter that you want to burn to CD, your cassette is plugged into "Line In". You're just telling it where to listen.

You must save it WAV format for best quality. MP3 will compress the audio, which loses quality. It's bigger, yes, but that is OK for this purpose. Once you burn the CD (and if it's important, burn 2 or 3 copies!!) you can delete the files.

I've never used Audacity but I am pretty sure it is a decent audio editor. You can also export to WAV and then you can use Nero (it has a basic sound editor) or the CDWAV program I mentioned before. (it might be a bit confusing until you do this 2-3 times using Nero or Audacity or the like).

Sounds like you're well on your way, though!
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Postby MediumRare on Wed Dec 14, 2005 6:02 pm

Export your recording as a WAV file. Like Justin42 mentioned, MP3 is a lossy compression format (although it is "good enough" for many purposes now).

However, if you want to create a normal audio CD which will (hopefully) be compatible with your stand-alone player, the final file form must be WAV. Nero converts MP3's to "WAV" (really PCM audio) on the fly when creating an audio disc.

If your CD-player can play MP3 files, it may be worth creating an MP3 CD. This is really a data CD with MP3 files on it and it can take ca. 7x as much audio as a standard audio CD. Since you're converting lectures, this may be the way to go- but only if the CD-player can play MP3's.

As to editing: what ever you're comfortable with- there are a lot of audio editors! Audacity is fine and since you're using it for recording, there's no need to switch. Edit in native mode. I also like Goldwave (shareware from Newfoundland :D).

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Postby Pilgrim on Wed Dec 14, 2005 6:13 pm

MediumRare,

Thanks for taking the time to reply and supply me with your wisdom and recommendations. I've successfully recorded my first project and exported it as a .wav file and burned it to CD with Nero. I'm a happy camper. I also played around with editing a test file with Audacity and with Nero Wave Editor and found Nero to be more intuitive and thus easier to use.

One last question, if I may impose upon you or anyone else who would like to comment. I saved my "project" in Audacity as the default ".aup" file with the understanding that I could re-open it at some future date and then re-create (export) it again as either a ".wav" or ".mp3" file. However, after deleting the original exported .wav file and then opening the saved .aup file in Audacity and then exporting it as a .wav file, although it shows as being 242 megs, it won't play, i.e., there is no sound. If I then open this new .wav file in Audacity, it is a straight line???

Am I doing something wrong here? Or, perhaps I'm not understanding something. I was hoping to be able to delete the large exported files and just keep the .aup (project) files and thus save lots of HDD space.

Jeff
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Postby MediumRare on Thu Dec 15, 2005 2:00 am

You seem to be doing very well on your first audio project! :D

The .aup file is just an "administration" file for the project. The actual audio data is stored as a large number of .au files, each ca. 1 MiB big, in a subdirectory with the same name as the project.

So if you deleted this subdirectory, the information may be gone. (I'm not sure because I haven't seen this behaviour myself). In my case, these files total ca. twice as much as the corresponding WAV file (probably because of the 32 bit encoding). So a WAV file may be a more economical way to store the information (you can always import it for editing).

If you want to make some corrections to your audio CD, you can "grab" (extract) the audio back to your hard drive as a WAV file. There are various tools for doing this. My personal favorite is Exact Audio Copy. Of course you won't be able to add anything to this from your (now deleted) orginal recording.

But in general, if you want to keep the original recording available for further processing, you'll have to live with the large files (700-800 MiB per full CD).

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Postby Pilgrim on Thu Dec 15, 2005 2:08 am

When I saved the project, I saved it to a designated folder in "My Documents", i.e., "Audacity Projects". In that folder I have the ".aup" file, which is 137 KB. And, there is a sub-folder with the file's name, e.g., "filename_data", which contains 474 objects (all .aup files) and is 5.78 MB. When I open the main ".aup" file (audacity project file) in Audacity, it appears to be fine... i.e., there is "sound" showing in the graphic. I then export it as a .wav file and looking at the file in Explorer it shows it as being a .wav file and 242 megs. But when I open (play) the file in WMP, it is "dead"..... no sound. Okay... so I open this .wav file in Audacity and it is nothing but a straight line????

What am I missing here? I seems reasonable to think that one could take the ".aup" file and export it at will as a .wav or .mp3 file and it should play, right?

Jeff
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Postby MediumRare on Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:27 am

pilgrim wrote:And, there is a sub-folder with the file's name, e.g., "filename_data", which contains 474 objects (all .aup files) and is 5.78 MB.

The total size of the files in the subfolder is too low- it should also be several hundred MiB- 578 MiB would be more normal!
pilgrim wrote:When I open the main ".aup" file (audacity project file) in Audacity, it appears to be fine... i.e., there is "sound" showing in the graphic.

When you play this file within Audacity does it sound like what you're expecting or is it silence as well? If it plays back OK in Audacity, the information is still there and the export isn't working properly.

It's a bit difficult for me to look into this right now- I'm at work and will only get home after 10 pm (in ca. 12 hours: office Christmas party today). I'll have a look then, but can't promise anything.

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Postby Pilgrim on Thu Dec 15, 2005 12:06 pm

MediumRare wrote:When you play this file within Audacity does it sound like what you're expecting or is it silence as well? If it plays back OK in Audacity, the information is still there and the export isn't working properly.

When I open the "xxxxxxxxxx.aup" file in Audacity and play it, there is no sound even though graphically it looks to be fine.

Perhaps I shouldn't be wasting my time saving projects, hehe. For storage, perhaps I should just export the recording as a MP3 file and save myself both much space and aggravation. Like I said, the data on the cassettes I am wanting to convert to CD are all lectures and there is no music involved. I don't imagine any loss of quality with using MP3 format will be noticeable. Another advantage is that if I export as them as MP3, I can surely get a lot more than one lecture on a CD. Image The only disadvantage I can foresee would be that one would need a device that played MP3 format other than their PC if they wanted to listen to the CD e.g., in their car or on their home stereo.
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Postby MediumRare on Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:53 am

Look like you somehow managed to corrupt the .au files. :o I'm sorry, I can't help you much to that issue.
Pilgrim wrote:perhaps I should just export the recording as a MP3 file and save myself both much space and aggravation.

Sure- that's a very viable way if you can play them everywhere you like. :D
MediumRare wrote:If your CD-player can play MP3 files, it may be worth creating an MP3 CD. This is really a data CD with MP3 files on it and it can take ca. 7x as much audio as a standard audio CD. Since you're converting lectures, this may be the way to go- but only if the CD-player can play MP3's.


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