Tape2USB

My equipment to convert cassettes to MP3, died an unfortunate death. I bumped the extention cord that it was plugged into and it crackled and refused to play the tape anymore. That was it’s whole job. It was a pretty feature rich device and I was devastated. I had only coverted about 8 tapes, most of which were family tapes. My daughter as a baby babbling, a Christmas message tape, and my treasured Buddy Guy bootleg from R & R Station 10/18/91. More on that later.

I was all set and ramped up to convert my friend Jeff’s tapes, and some of my own that I had borrowed and was only halfway done with the very first when it died.

R.I.P. Grace Tape2USB.

This sidelined the project for a month, but on a whim I checked Best Buy last week to see if they had one. I had some Reward dollars to spend. I found one for $19.99. I used $15 in Rewards coupons and paid $4.99 for it.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Agptek+-+Audio+USB+Portable+Cassette/Tape+to+MP3+Switcher+Converter+with+Headphone/5159381.p?id=1218617085298&skuId=5159381&st=cassette converter&cp=1&lp=9

My hopes were not high that it was going to work as well, I mean, it was like 40 bucks less than my Grace rig. It couldn’t be as good right? I was just hoping for adequate. It arrived Friday night. Apparently Image is the brand name.

This morning I took it for a spin.

It is very very small compared to the giant Grace rig, barely larger than the tape in it’s case.

USB connection for power (optional batteries) and it has a headphone plug for monitoring.

Stop/REW/FF and DIR buttons on the side and a slider for reverse auto play. Nice.

There were some helpful tips in the instructions on how to set Audacity (the recording program that I was already using with the Grace model) specifically for the USB device that I don’t think I was using before. Hmm..

I plugged it all in and recorded a “vocal letter” tape that I had recorded for Jeff.

Results?

Very good actually. This 20 dollar unit did great! My Tape # 76 is now digital.

That was a high dollar Memorex MRXI tape. Notice how I checked noise reduction NO.

This was a tape of my college dorm friend Dan Reichert and I doing nothing special and talking to Jeff. Quite the historic piece now. All my suitemates are on here for a minute or two, but Dan and I really hammed it up.        Hi Rocket, wherever you are.

The complete cover:

Then I went on to re-record my Buddy Guy bootleg.

This bootleg is a whole story of its own.

I brought in my portable recorder and big mic and Dalton and I were right at the rail surrounding the stage. We were so close that Buddy shook sweat on us. It was my first really successful recording of a show and it happened to be an amazing show on top of that. Buddy was on FIRE. He was touring his “Buddy Guy – Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues” CD and he and the band were tight! You can hear Dalton and I singing along here and there. Some songs the crowd sang for Buddy. He also was having feedback issues in the beginning and requested “someone see what that noise is”… someone in the crowd yells out “FEEDBACK” and Buddy quips “I know it’s feedback but I want my feedback to come when I want it.” This brings whoops and screams from the crowd and he only gets hotter from there.

This was the first tape that I digitized with the Grace rig. I had a whole photo shoot while I was doing it. They looked like the one above with the part of Audacity running. Here is the cover that I made though. I got a copy of the paper that the show was reviewed in and created an iconic cover for my favorite bootleg of all time.

The insert was the review from the paper.

They even mention the sound problems in the view. Funny. It wasn’t a problem for Buddy.

The Audacity copy using the Image rig… success.

So, now I have 2 digital copies this show. At some point I’ll compare the 2 and keep the best quality version for the archives.

The third and final test of the Image rig was of a favorite tape FROM Jeff entitled “Lost In My Mind” Tape # 12. This one, for all of side A is Jeff pretending to be a radio DJ and playing songs for me. It’s awesome and I wanted to get this one digitized before it wears out. It has had a lot of play time.

That is Jeff’s drawing of me on the left and him on the right.

Top quality Scotch tape.

Results. Another success!

So, for you tapers out there, the Image rig, for a mere 20 bucks… SO worth it.

I have to get this pile done and returned to Jeff.

Then I need to do Jeff’s tapes that he has sent to me, about 50 or so… then I have 150 or so bootleg tapes in the basement that are slowly deteriorating that need some electronic TLC .

I’m going to need a bigger external !

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