Audacity - Problems digitizing cassette tapes

December 31, 2019 at 17:05:27
Specs: Windows 7, Intel core i5 2410M CPU to 2.30 gigahertz
Hi there,
I’m desperate for someone to help me to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’m attempting to convert some old cassette tapes of my mum singing to digital for my family using Audacity.
I’ve looked at a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject but I seem to be doing something wrong.
I’m not sure if it’s an incorrect setting or two in Audacity which is causing the problem, but I can’t seem to get it to work. I’m using a Grundig cassette player with left and right “Line out” going to a laptop running Windows 10 which has 1 combined jack socket. (headphones and mike)
Audacity seems to be able to pick up my voice from my laptop’s on-board microphone, but when I try to play the tapes through the cassette player, connected via RCA (at 1 end) to jack cable, into the computer via the combined jack socket, it still just picks up the microphone. The signal is not going through the cable into the laptop. There
Just for your information, I have sent some additional photos to show the equipment I’m using, and how it is all plugged together. I absolutely don’t know what’s going on, please help regards, Gin.
PS. I managed to make this work about six months ago, although then, the laptop I was using was running Windows 7 and I was using a different cassette player. (It’s not possible to use this things again as I don’t have them anymore)
https://imgur.com/a/oISQUGD
https://imgur.com/a/oIm2mH6
https://imgur.com/a/mkKOYij
https://imgur.com/a/sfUXJ5a


message edited by ginlane


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#1
December 31, 2019 at 18:07:42
My guess is you need to adjust the setting for the dual-use jack on the laptop. Maybe Control Panel > Sound > Recording tab? Or right click on the sound icon near the clock & select "Open Sound Settings"?

BTW, is there some reason why you're not using the headphone jack from the cassette? I see no reason to use the RCA plugs at all, although it should work.


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#2
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#3
December 31, 2019 at 18:30:35
Hi riider, thanks to getting back to me, I'm using RCA cables because the recorded sound will be of a lot better quality than using the jack, sound window, on the recording tab, and I only have two choices, have a look at the picture I sent. https://imgur.com/a/4vSb5Cn I don't know if these are the correct ones needed? Kind regards Gin

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#4
December 31, 2019 at 20:11:03
I've done a lot of audio recording on computers and trying to get the correct inputs to work is about as easy as herding cats. Not to mention that many times, that input jack only records mono and hoses up the mix.

Do yourself a favor and get one of these. It's an analog to USB digital converter. It will simplify your recordings, you will get two channel input and since it's it's own audio source, no need to try and configure the audio jack input.

It's very easy to set up, no drivers are needed and very little configuration. Plug it in, Windows will recognize it. Go into Windows sound control and set it as your audio input and your done.

I use it all the time for recording external analog in inputs and it works great.

https://tinyurl.com/yxxd9jzz

message edited by THX 1138


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#5
December 31, 2019 at 21:42:24
I had a very similar problem trying to copy messages saved on
my phone to this 2016 Win 10 HP laptop with a single in/out jack
and Audacity. I finally got it to work but the quality was poor, so
I ended up using my secondhand 1997 Win 98SE Dell laptop
with separate mic, line in, and output jacks, and an old program
called Cool Edit.

I might get that audio to USB adapter. But why won't the built-in
audio thingy work? I even bought a cable similar to the one in the
original poster's photo with four contacts on the plugs. For mono
telephone recordings.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#6
January 1, 2020 at 01:52:38
What make/model is your laptop?


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#7
January 1, 2020 at 08:47:52
Hi trvlr. I have a Microsoft surface laptop 2 Win 10 64 bit

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#8
January 1, 2020 at 08:54:27
Please could someone take a look at my audacity & laptop settings and tell me what I need to be selecting for the job See pics included.

https://imgur.com/a/uFMpDXF


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#9
January 1, 2020 at 09:16:50
Please could someone take a look at my audacity & laptop settings and tell me what I need to be selecting for the job See pics included.

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#10
January 1, 2020 at 14:29:46
This isn't a typical laptop as they were in the "olde" days... But the mini jack is selctable as audio out or in...

See if this link helps; it mentions changing the use of that mini jack.

i.e. as an input or output... Check solution 3 details.

http://tinyurl.com/snjc2tt

This is another link (M$-land) which mentions recording as well. But I think the first link is likely the one you need?

http://tinyurl.com/y2kzer7h

Macs.use a similar approach; and it's not immediately obvious there either. At least not until you get into the idiot's guide (user manual).

The user manual can be downloaded from here (M$-land) for free; and page 28 is good place to start...

http://tinyurl.com/ruz56z6

There is lot to be said for a decent converter - audio in/out to usb...

Search for this one:

USBGear USB 2.0 Audio Adapter Box with Line Input and Mic Input

I bought one in 2018 (from Amazon) and it works fine.

message edited by trvlr


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#11
January 1, 2020 at 14:45:54
There is lot to be said for a decent converter - audio in/out to usb.

Ok what is this, is this something I should buy?


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#12
January 1, 2020 at 14:52:21
I'd start without one first; as possibly your surface 2 has all you need - using the switchable mini jack as input. The olde KISS principal is often the best; although on occasion an adapter may give you more options/better results - but try the simple approach first.

This link shows how to use voice recorder to record external audio:

http://tinyurl.com/y5j25t7u

Using an usb adapter may require you know how to select it as in input; and also presumes that it will work in win-10; it does on Mac systems which I use these days.


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#13
January 1, 2020 at 14:57:44
Incidentally this link for the manual may be better - at least as I found it using win-10 as part of the search. The previous one I linked you (I simply used Surface 2 user manual) shows win 8.1 on the cover?. Although I suspect there's little difference in the two version?

http://tinyurl.com/vgoq2gr


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#14
January 1, 2020 at 14:59:12
The key issue is to switch the min jack from output to input...; and ensure you have selected it as the recording source.

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#15
January 2, 2020 at 01:36:48
trvlr wrote:

> The key issue is to switch the min jack from output to input...;
> and ensure you have selected it as the recording source.

Both of those are done in the operating system, right? In this
case, Windows 10. Can you say exactly where in Windows 10?
I expect that they are both in Sound > Recording (or by right-
clicking the Taskbar icon and selecting Recording devices.)

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#16
January 4, 2020 at 06:54:39
OP also receiving help at -

https://forums.techguy.org/threads/...

*************************************
Dell Optiplex 780/intel Core2 Quad 3.0ghz/16gb Crucial DDR3L-1600/MSI GT-710 1gb PCIe/SB Audigy FX 5.1 PCIe/CM RS500/R3205-D/Win10 Pro 64bit


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#17
January 4, 2020 at 07:31:22
re' #14/15,,,

Not on windoze these days; but in the past such settings were usually in the sound section. On Macs those settings are in the sound section of system preferences. Since (according to die hard Mac lovers - which I ain't..., I just prefer Mac over windoze) win-10 seems to seek to emulate Mac in some ways - likely there is a similar section there?



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#18
January 4, 2020 at 15:49:59
Hi trvlr , thank you for getting back to me, so you mentioned that I need to switch the "min Jack" from output to input. To be honest I'm not sure what a "min Jack" is?

Just to let you know I'm using a Microsoft Surface laptop 2 it seems to have one hole for the jack which seems to work for both headphones and microphone. I'm certainly not sure how to select this input as a recording source? Please could you give me an idea of how to go about this

Kind regards Gin


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#19
January 4, 2020 at 15:51:59
For your information, please have a look at these pictures https://imgur.com/a/4vSb5Cn they show all the settings including sound settings.

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#20
January 4, 2020 at 16:19:02
That “hole” is the mini jack (socket) where you can plug in headphones or an external microphone.

https://www.wikihow.com/Record-Usin...

Likely you haven’t selected the correct input for/within audacity.

See if this youtube video is any help. You need to locate the recording section and then select the external input (which is that mini jack input when correctly set - either in windows 10, or possibly in Audacity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWk...

Have you worked your way through the links, manuals posted earlier, which include the Voice Recorder application use?


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#21
January 4, 2020 at 16:23:16
It may be that you will need to use a usb to rca adapter, as Audacity will likely find that easily. Presuming so, the internal microphone will be “off” as it were when recording.

But first see if you can get it to work via the mini jack input?

This is another adapter I have tested, and it works fine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B...

It’s also a little cheaper than the one I posted earlier

message edited by trvlr


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#22
January 5, 2020 at 06:32:42
Trvlr, that's the exact same one I posted earlier.

Ginlane, using this device is really the best way to go. It's very easy to setup and will save you a lot of headaches.

message edited by THX 1138


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#23
January 5, 2020 at 10:09:32
That’s two of us at least who like it...

Audacity ought to find it ok (as a source in audacity itself) if my recollection of trials on a Mac are correct.

Macs make it easy to switch the mini jack port as either input or output; but it seems current windoze doesn’t?


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#24
January 5, 2020 at 10:23:36
I tried once to record through it but was disappointed with the results , and I couldn't get a stereo signal, just mono.

Audacity should be able to see it, I use Adobe Audition and it works great with that program.


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#25
January 5, 2020 at 10:38:46
Hi trvlr and THX 1138, thank you very much for your advice.
If I seem a little confused it’s because of the process I’ve been through. You see I digitised a few tapes around six months ago using my old Samsung laptop which was running Windows 7. This laptop had two separate jack holes, one for speakers and one for microphone. I used a tape deck and connected it with RCA cables at one end of the cable and the other end of the cable being a jack.
If memory serves me correctly I plugged the jack end of the cable into the speaker jack hole, and everything worked fine.
Fast forward six months, and I’ve updated that Samsung laptop to Windows 10, I now also have a new laptop, a Microsoft surface laptop 2. I cannot seem to be able to make the magic happen again like I did six months ago with either of these laptops using Windows 10.
I think I remember having to have the microphone in Audacity set to stereo mix when I did it six months ago. Now the Samsung laptop still has stereo mix but the Microsoft laptop does not and it is not possible as far as I can tell to make it available. I think I remember someone telling me it’s been superseded by something called Windows WASAP (or maybe I’m getting things mixed up)
Anyway this is the reason why I’m wondering whether it’s due to having Windows 10 installed because 7 worked for me.

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#26
January 5, 2020 at 10:42:28
Anyway I bought this the other day and am waiting for it to arrive.

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B000KW2YEI...


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#27
January 5, 2020 at 12:20:25
may” need an usb C to usb A adapter?

I think your Surface 2 has the irritatingly small and less robust usb C ports? The usb/audio you’ve ordered comes with larger usb end - the type A connector?

That aside the usb adapter itself does work, and allows a few options...

Let us know how you get on?

Incidentally where are you located? I note your order is filled via Amazon Germany?


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#28
January 5, 2020 at 12:26:36
Thanks, I'll let you know how I get on. I'm a Brit living in Innsbruck

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#29
January 5, 2020 at 13:23:31
Ski country... if there’s still snow there...

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#30
January 5, 2020 at 13:25:09
Oh a ton right now :)

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#31
January 5, 2020 at 14:17:22
Enjoy!!! But watch out for Sean Connery and Barbara Bach schussing down on a cello...

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#32
January 5, 2020 at 21:06:02
Hi ginlane I understand your frustration. Windows puts out updates all the time and this may be where your problem comes from. It's possible they updated drivers that caused the audio behavior to change and not work the way it previously did.

That being said, you will be happy with your purchase. I've been using mine for about 4 years now and have not been disappointed.


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