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  #1  
Old 08-04-2009, 02:30 PM
earworms earworms is offline
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Default digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Hello there. I am not a very experienced pro tools / audio gear user so I hope someone here might be able to help out.

I have a bunch of old cassette tapes I want to digitize (using a Nakamichi DR-1 cassette deck) via my Mbox 2. What is the right way to hook it all up?

When I play the tapes going through my Linn Intek amp (I connect the deck via the Tape 1 input) they sound great though the speakers, but when I take a feed from the Intek's Tape 1 output into Pro Tools I only get a very low level and the signal sounds dull.

Do I actually need to switch the amp in between or should I just plug the phono outs from the deck into the Mbox's? I have tried this too, but get no signal at all. Maybe I am using the wrong cable? I use a phono to phono lead and convert one side into TRS jacks.

I thought this was going to be a rather simple task, but I just can't get a satisfying signal.

Thanks for any help.
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  #2  
Old 08-04-2009, 04:19 PM
Murt Murt is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

earworms, I would go phono to phono but I'm not familiar with the MBox ins/outs. I'm on MBox2 Pro and I go through through the Aux input (via phono). I digitized a lot of cassette tapes on my non ProTools PC with a box that I bought from Richer Sounds in the UK (if you're from the US I apologize if this means nothing to you) for about £15GB. It's got phono to phono connections and a USB for your PC/MAc so you don't even need to go through Pro Tools, plus you can connect a turntable, minidisc deck, whatever, anything with a phono connection. If you're from the US then you can probably pick up a similar thing over there. My point is I don't think you need Pro Tools for this but if anyone's got a better suggestion then best of luck.
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  #3  
Old 08-04-2009, 04:36 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

While you don't NEED Pro Tools for this, I have digitized plenty of cassette tapes in PT with good results. For patching, I would think cables with RCA at one end and mono quarter inch at the Mbox end would work fine. Once you have the audio recorded, then you can EQ and work in some noise reduction techniques or plugins to put a little polish on the old audio. The disadvantage of PT is the real-time bounce(which will take an hour for a 60 minute cassette). I usually use Wavelab for this. If you are on a PC, you can get Wavelab Essentials(I think around $149) and it will be a valuable tool for all things audio. Mac users may want to look at Bias(or maybe even garageband).
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:04 PM
Murt Murt is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
The disadvantage of PT is the real-time bounce(which will take an hour for a 60 minute cassette
It does take a lot of patience - and keep one ear on the tape deck - it tends to apply its own version of Elastic Audio after a while and not in a good way. I gave up after about a week and only saved those tapes with 'sentimental value'. Music evokes memories. (insert a wistful, ah those were the days smiley here)
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  #5  
Old 08-04-2009, 07:51 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murt View Post
It does take a lot of patience - and keep one ear on the tape deck - it tends to apply its own version of Elastic Audio after a while and not in a good way. I gave up after about a week and only saved those tapes with 'sentimental value'. Music evokes memories. (insert a wistful, ah those were the days smiley here)
Indeed! When I transfer cassettes, I will usually create a bunch of stereo tracks and play the cassette one song at a time and put each song on its own track. Then I figure out the processing that nets the nest result(using inserts) and then process the audio using the Audiosuite version of the same plugin(s).
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  #6  
Old 08-05-2009, 06:25 PM
earworms earworms is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Thanks everyone for your comments.

So, I understand I won't need to switch the amp between the cassette deck and Pro Tools, but should simply patch from the deck directly into PT.

The patch lead I use is phono - phono and I have attached TRS quarter inch jack connectors to the PT end going into the line inputs. Are the TRS connectors the problem here? Do they need to be mono quarter inch jacks?

I want to transfer these tapes in the best quality possible. Any online articles out there say you should just patch from the deck's headphone out into your soundcard in and that does not sound very good to me. Surely the phono outs into Pro Tools must yield better quality?
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  #7  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:30 PM
Craig F Craig F is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

you might get better results setting the mBox to DI in for the higher impedance that the Nak is looking for
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  #8  
Old 08-05-2009, 07:55 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Since the cassette deck is unbalanced out, using RCA to mono quarter inch is the simplest. One alternative that may be better(if you don't mind building custom cables) would be a Quasi-balanced connection. Using 2 conductor cable(like mic cable), connect the TRS plugs normally. At the other end, connect the hot wire to the tip, connect the cold to the RCA case and tape off the shield so it has no connection at the RCA. Probably your adapters are merely shorting the ring and sleeve, which creates the unbalanced connection of a mono quarter inch anyway.
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  #9  
Old 08-06-2009, 05:02 PM
earworms earworms is offline
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Thumbs up Re: digitizing old cassette tapes with MBox 2

Thanks again for all the input here. I have now swapped the TRS jack connectors to mono ones and the connection is faultless now. Good strong signal. Phew....
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