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Scratchy playback problems with Audacity

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Scratchy playback problems with Audacity

Postby Wakenaam on Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:53 am

Friends: I am trying to convert my oldies music on audio cassettes on to CD's using Audacity v.1.2.4 software. My problem is my playbacks sound scratchy and tinny through the speakers. I tried to adjust various settings but little improvement. Did anyone travel this way before who can offer any advice as to the optimum settings for cassette-to-computer-to-CD conversion? Thanks for any help.
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Postby Justin42 on Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:16 pm

There are a few possibilities.

What kind of sound card are you using? If you're using onboard sound it's quite possible that your recordings will sound like crap. Onboard sound is barely adequate for reproducing sound (what most people do: play MP3s, games, etc-- where non-audiophile quality is perfectly fine). Since not as many people record, it's really REALLY bad for that. You'll most likely need to get an additional sound card to really do good quality recordings.

That said, sometimes (for some reason) recordings STILL sound bad on the PC but great when burned to a CD and played back. Have you done any test burns of your recordings to see how they sound?

I'm not sure what you've been adjusting (other than input volume)-- I'd just make sure the recordings stay within a decent level but I wouldn't tweak anything except volume.

Here are my thoughts:
1. Get good cables (to go with your good sound card ;) ). I don't mean $50 3' Monster RCA cables but some decent mid-priced cables.

2. Be sure you're recording at 44.1khz, 16-bit stereo. Besides being the CD standard, it is a fairly easy setting for a computer to record. A lot of software/hardware defaults to 48khz or some other setting for "improved quality" but it's all for naught since you have to resample down to 44.1khz for CD use, and unless you have a really nice audio editor with a GOOD resampling tool, it'll hurt the quality. (I haven't tried Audacity, I really should, I've heard good things)

3. If it's still not working to your satisfaction, you may need to mess with some more arcane stuff, like IRQ settings (if you get an external card), defragmenting the HD, etc. Real time recording is really sensitive to any issues with your PC-- anything that can cause the PC to "get distracted" (spyware, fragmented drive, etc) can cause glitches/hiccups in the recordings.

Hope this helps get you started..
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Postby Tinle on Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:13 pm

"Friends: I am trying to convert my oldies music on audio cassettes on to CD's"

Many ordinary PC soundcards, especially the "on-board" sound chips just aren't really up to the task of good sound recording. They tend to have a high amount of noise, which makes recording difficult.

I have had excellent luck with the InPort by Xitel.com. It is an external USB audio interface. It digitizes your analog sound to CD quality standards outside of PC case, avoiding the electrical thunderstorm inside a PC. It provides a high quality, beefy 30 foot (yes 30') patch cord with gold plated terminals to go between your stereo and its external box, a provided USB cable takes the digitized sound from the box into your PC. Two effective, but basic, provided softwares first record the sound into WAV files, and then break up the overall file into individual song files if you choose.

Works with phonographs, tapes, FM, whatever that can come out of your stereo setup on line level RCA type jacks, such as "tape out" or "Aux".
With 30' of provided cable, no problem that my stereo is in one room- the PC in another.

At about $65, it has made moving phonograph records to CDs practical and straightforward for me.
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Postby burninfool on Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:54 pm

"What kind of sound card are you using? If you're using onboard sound it's quite possible that your recordings will sound like crap. Onboard sound is barely adequate for reproducing sound (what most people do: play MP3s, games, etc-- where non-audiophile quality is perfectly fine). Since not as many people record, it's really REALLY bad for that. You'll most likely need to get an additional sound card to really do good quality recordings."

I have to disagree,my onboard audio for both motherboards has been great(one is VIA and the other SoundMax),I had a $50 Hercules soundcard but it introduced a hum so I got rid of it.I would recommend trying another app such as CDWave,if that doesn't help then I would update the audio drivers or buy a new soundcard.
Also try burning an audio CD and listen on your home system because you can't go by what your PC speakers produce.When recording analog make sure the level never gets to 0dB(100%) because clipping will occur.And finally there's the "garbage in...garbage out" rule,if the source sounds bad then there's little you can do to make it better.
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Postby hoxlund on Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:15 pm

just to let you guys know

if you want to upgrade sound card, next week best buy has the audgy x-fi regular:

http://www.soundblaster.com/products/pr ... duct=14066

for $99 after instant $33 rebate
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Postby Wakenaam on Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:39 am

Thanks a lot for all your responses guys. Gosh, I didn't realize there was any until I actually visited the forum as I was waiting on e-mail notification for replies. I will certainly act upon your suggestions and give feedbacks. Thanks again!!!!
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Postby Wakenaam on Sun Apr 02, 2006 9:56 am

My Friends: The sound card is an ESS ES1869 and I updated the drivers. During recording the sound is great through the computer speakers. But on playback it sounds scratchy and there are hiccups. I played around with some settings but still the same. I am just wondering if I can go to a site which tells me how to optimise the settings to obtain reasonable quality sound on playback. Thanks for any help.
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Postby Justin42 on Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm

There really are no "settings" -- there's not an "add clicks and noise" setting you need to declick or something. :) you just pick what you want to record, be sure it's 44.1khz/16bit stereo, and you should be good to go.

Have you tried burning that to CD to be sure what you're hearing through the PC is really how it's being recorded?
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Postby hoxlund on Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:10 pm

please just ditch the onboard, you'll be soooo much happier
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