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Old 10-04-2021, 07:46 AM
phill168 phill168 is offline
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Default Sound Designer 2 question

I’m currently in the process of digitizing a number of old cassettes with Sound Designer 2. The signal from most of these cassettes is a little low and I have been boosting the gain in the hardware setup by 3-12 dB.

Does anyone know if this will distort the signal? Should I just keep the gain in the hardware setup at 0? Would appreciate any advice or insights. Thanks!
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Old 10-04-2021, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

SD2!!!!
I think the last time I used that program was late last century! So I'm not shure what you mean when you mention Hardware Setup.

Anyway, if all you want is to increase the level of a file so that its highest peak is near maximum, what you want is Normalize in the Audiosuite menu. Set it to something like -1db or -0.5db and there you go.

I read your post again. I think you might be talking about your settings for recording these tapes. Well, just make shure you aren't hitting 0dbfs, and then chop them up and use Normalize on each song later.
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Old 10-04-2021, 03:51 PM
phill168 phill168 is offline
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

Thanks for the suggestion to use Audiosuite to normalize the signal after it's been recorded. I guess my assumption was that the gain boost specified in the Hardware Setup is done by Audiomedia III's AD/DA converter.

Does anyone know if the gain boost in the Hardware Setup is done by the hardware or by software? If it's by software, it would probably be better to leave the gain at 0 to get the raw unprocessed signal and to normalize it after it's been recorded. Thanks again.
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Old 10-04-2021, 09:05 PM
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

It's always best to use proper analog gain staging feeding the AD - perhaps even more important on old converters. The output of the cassette deck is most likely -10db unbalanced. What is the audio interface input? Better to address gain staging rather than normalize up a too low digital conversion. What exact hardware/signal chain is being used?
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Old 10-04-2021, 09:59 PM
Sardi Sardi is offline
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

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Originally Posted by EGS View Post
It's always best to use proper analog gain staging feeding the AD - perhaps even more important on old converters. The output of the cassette deck is most likely -10db unbalanced. What is the audio interface input? Better to address gain staging rather than normalize up a too low digital conversion. What exact hardware/signal chain is being used?

It’s all -10 unbalanced. Audiomedia III PCI card is unbalanced in/out on RCA.

OP, is there a reason you’re needing to use the Sound Designer SW? Can you not use an older version of PT LE? Will give you far more options. It’s been a long time since I’ve used Sound Designer, but I don’t recall it being too feature rich… well, not compared to PT.


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Old 10-04-2021, 10:10 PM
phill168 phill168 is offline
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

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Originally Posted by EGS View Post
It's always best to use proper analog gain staging feeding the AD - perhaps even more important on old converters. The output of the cassette deck is most likely -10db unbalanced. What is the audio interface input? Better to address gain staging rather than normalize up a too low digital conversion. What exact hardware/signal chain is being used?

Yes, you're right. The cassette deck is an old Onkyo consumer model with unbalanced RCA ins and outs. I'm connecting its audio outs directly into the Audiomedia III card with RCA plugs. Because it's a consumer model, there's no volume control on the output, only on the input. Would you recommend boosting the audio signal through another device before feeding it into the Audiomedia card? If so, how would you do it? Thanks.

Last edited by phill168; 10-04-2021 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 10-04-2021, 10:20 PM
phill168 phill168 is offline
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

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Can you not use an older version of PT LE? Will give you far more options.
I'm not familiar with PT LE. What additional options does it have for recording an unbalanced analog signal? Thanks.
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Old 10-05-2021, 01:52 AM
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

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Originally Posted by phill168 View Post
Yes, you're right. The cassette deck is an old Onkyo consumer model with unbalanced RCA ins and outs. I'm connecting its audio outs directly into the Audiomedia III card with RCA plugs. Because it's a consumer model, there's no volume control on the output, only on the input. Would you recommend boosting the audio signal through another device before feeding it into the Audiomedia card? If so, how would you do it? Thanks.
No, no. Keep it simple. The noise floor on that cassette and cassette deck is so high that there is no point in introdusing another factor in the process. Just record it and get the level up later with normalizing as I described. Be careful that you optimize settings as best you can on the deck, tape type, Dolby NR and such.


Added: Maybe a good idea to clead the heads with q-tips and alcohol.
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Last edited by Ben Jenssen; 10-05-2021 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 10-05-2021, 10:06 PM
phill168 phill168 is offline
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

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Originally Posted by Ben Jenssen View Post
No, no. Keep it simple. The noise floor on that cassette and cassette deck is so high that there is no point in introdusing another factor in the process. Just record it and get the level up later with normalizing as I described. Be careful that you optimize settings as best you can on the deck, tape type, Dolby NR and such.

Added: Maybe a good idea to clead the heads with q-tips and alcohol.
Thank you for your advice and suggestions. Yes, that's what I'll do--record at 0dB gain and normalize afterward. I try to optimize the other stuff too, including using good 2 ft cables and of course the settings. But I almost forgot about the cleaning. Would you recommend degaussing the heads too? The sound is actually quite good, considering how old the equipment is. Not sure if I would risk messing it up by doing the degaussing, which I've never done before. Thanks again.
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Old 10-06-2021, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: Sound Designer 2 question

Shure. Degauss if you have the tool for it. Just be careful not to touch the head with the tool. Remember it's magnetic so they attract. But I'd say the cleaning is most important. Don't be surprised if the qtip picks up a lot of dirt.
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