6 Replies Latest reply: May 18, 2013 5:04 AM by MartinR
antiguailse Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I need to digitalize my old reel-to-reel tapes, through the audio input port on the MacPro, but don't know what programs there are, and which might let me do the digitalization best.

Thanks!


Mac Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
  • 1. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    GeekBoy.from.Illinois Level 4 Level 4 (2,775 points)

    Well, "best" is a subjective term.  If you are looking for "best" audio file quality, then you probably want to look for a Pro Audio tool.  You might also want "best" processing time, or "best" cost, or...

     

    My suggestion would be to invest in an audio interface and not to use the analog inputs on your Mac.  I have an old Pinnacle "MovieBox DV" which will take RCA Stereo audio input/output along with S-Video or Composite video input/output and will convert to DV (6-Pin FW-400).  This box gives great SD video and audio conversion for me, and has worked great for probably 10 years.  I would consider using something like that with Garage Band to do your project for a decent audio quality, and a low cost.

  • 2. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,610 points)

    You can record the audio with GarageBand, which comes with every Mac.  Although GB is more intended for music creation with synth instruments, it can record analog audio.

     

    My preferred app for recording audio is Sound Studio 4.  It's available in the Mac App Store.  I've been using it, and earlier releases, for years to record & restore vinyl and tape recordings.   It's easy to use and is a full featured audio editor including a boatload of filters & effects.  I far prefer it to GB for ease of use and the fact that it was specifically designed to record & edit audio.

     

    I run my analog audio devices (tape deck, amp, turntable-thru-amp) into the audio line-input on my Mac.  It has always worked great (on all the Macs I have ever owned) - the audio is clean and I don't see any reason to add the expense and complexity of an external analog-to-digital converter just for audio.  I record to AIFF, stereo, 16-bit  because it's uncompressed, lends itself very well to editing & filters, and you can mark locations to automatically split into separate tracks.   Once you are done, you can always save to AAC, MP3 or other formats.

     

    I also do video editing with DV, but I would never consider using DV as an intermediary for audio alone.  You end up with a video file (this is how DV is designed), and then you need iMovie or another video editing app so you can strip the audio out of the video file.  It adds extra steps and 2 unnecessary conversions  to your workflow.  Better to record direct to an audio file in one step.

  • 3. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    antiguailse Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks very much for all your advice.  I will get Sound Studio 4 and follow your directions, since I have a lot of old LPs too, although the urgency at the moment is to digitalize the tapes.

  • 4. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    antiguailse Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks very much for your advice also. I will invest and try an audio interface if I can't get the results I need with Sound Studio 4.

  • 5. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,610 points)

    Vinyl LPs are often full of clicks & crackles due to the wear & tear of repeated playing (or damage from a subpar cartridge/stylus).   I have had great success restoring vinyl with WaveArts MR Click.  It's a plugin that works with SoundStudio, Final Cut and most other audio & video editing apps. 

  • 6. Re: What application is recommended for digitalizing tape audio files? Thanks.
    MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,610 points)

    Slight correction/detail.  In SoundStudio, you should select the 44,100 Khz sample rate for audio recordings.  This setting matches the quality of CD recordings.

     

    I inadvertently said 16-bit in my previous message; 16-bit = 48,000 Khz sample rate.  I use this when I am specifically recording to use the audio in a video project.  Video prefers 16-bit audio.

     

    For plain audio recordings, stick with the 44,100 Khz sample rate.  That way, if you ever burn audio CDs, there won't be any resampling required during the burn.  There is always some degradation every time audio or video is resampled, compressed, converted or re-encoded.   I  don't know if you would actually hear the difference between 44,100 and 48,000 Khz sampling in most circumstances but I figure it's best to minimize the number of times any audio is resampled, converted or re-encoded.