USB Cassette Decks

Unics

Take a look at that cassette above called “Unics”. I made that sometime in the late 80′s and it has some of the first songs I ever recorded on it. I should have probably spelled it “eunuchs” right? Maybe since I was a geek then too possibly “Unix” was the correct spelling. I’d like to say I was being smart and wanted my own unique band name and way of spelling but you all know I’d be lying to you. From what I remember the music was sequenced on a Yamaha QX7 and the sounds were from a DX7, Electrocomp-101 and some Casio home keyboard. I had a Tascam 4-track and Shure SM58. Do you like the cover I printed on a dot-matrix printer?

So where’s the hilarious audio samples of my old songs? Well if I had a working cassette deck you would be listening and laughing right now. I did save two old decks but both are eating tapes so I don’t dare but the above mentioned gem in them. I could order a head cleaning kit or even possibly find a repair shop to look at a deck. However, there’s a new kind of Cassette deck that just recently became available: USB Cassette Decks.

The Ion Tape2PC and Alesis TapeLink USB are both dual cassette decks with built-in audio interfaces. Take a close look at these two units. They must come from the same Chinese manufacturer right? The Tape2PC is silver and comes with “EZ Tape Converter for free with Gracenote┬« MusicID technology”and has a street price of $149. The black Alesis comes with BIAS SoundSoap (which I have used to good effect in the past) and has a street price of $199.

USB Cassette Decks

So what do you think? Should I clean and repair my old Sony Dual Deck or just grab one of these new USB guys? The advantage of the built-in USB is I can bring it around with me to different rooms without an extra interface and cabling. I do wonder though if these new decks will sound as good as my old Sony.

For more info: www.alesis.com/tapelinkusb and www.ionaudio.com/tape2pc

8 Comments

  1. I suspect a repair will cost more than expected, unless it’s a quick fix, you might even be able to fix it yourself if you open up the unit to see the inside. Still, never know it might break again. So getting an USB cassette deck might be worth it, especially if you will use it for 50+ hours.

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  2. Perhaps not repair the old deck, but certainly you could find a 2nd-hand deck that would be more than up to transferring these to the audio editor of your choice. I, in fact, just hooked up my old Teac deck to my cheesy new Soundcraft mixer (my glorified patch-bay) which has RCA cables and a RIAA switch. Bingo, embarrassing songs from when I was 14 and earnest college mix tapes.

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  3. I’d try and get the old one fixed, since I don’t like sending stuff to land fill unnecessarily. How often are you going to move it about? And if you’ve already got a spare interface it won’t cost you much extra to reuse the older deck.

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  4. Dirty little secret about ion … they’re basically re-branded alesis gear. They’re nice products, I have their e-drums, the brains are an alesis SR-16… So if money’s an issue grab the ion. If the name’s an issue grab the alesis… they’re the same inside.

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  5. Jonathan Gibbons January 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Stay with a quality deck and get one of the nifty RCA-Audio to USB converter boxes you can find. Check out Amazon for reviews of the ION.

    Reply

  6. Have you seen this?

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/drives/7a8d/

    I think you are Mac though, so it may not be for you.

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  7. Fun timing. Having just finished bouncing about 40 old studio ‘master’ cassettes (dot matrix covers and all) to digital I’d say it depends if/what noise reduction there might be on the original cassette – hopefully none. Decoding Dolby B or C recordings made on a different deck without too many artefacts is tough enough; DBX is a nightmare and unfortunately one I’ve had. Throw in head alignments and the fun gets even better. Those USB decks might not get the best from the cassette but depends on how it was recorded.

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  8. I still have the trusty Sony cassette deck that I taped most my tapes on so I’ve used that same machine to record them on my PC. It’s nice to see that the more expensive tapes I used for stuff I deemed “important” held up quite well.

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