Audio Tapes to Hard Drive

Hey guys,

Yes, I know this has nothing to do with video or anything like that, but I’m sure you guys can help me anyways.

I have a bunch of old audio cassette tapes… (over 200), and I want to digitize them in the best quality.

So my main question is: Would the sound quality be better if it was recorded to Audacity via Line In (stereo), or via an external USB audio capture device?

And also, is the quality of the RCA cables (gold plated, etc), the tape deck (Sony, JVC, etc…), and the sound card a big factor on how the final product will turn out?

Help would be much appreciated.

I would try the line in aproach.
I would also make sure the head is very clean on the tape player you are using,
I used Audacity to copy songs from DVD playbacks and I did a couple of test run sound check copies to get the levels set right. You can adjust the record levels up and down so you arent over powering your recordings. I over powered with levels to high on a couple and they came out bad. Any time you try to capture sound with a mike in a room you risk background sounds intruding .

So try the line in approach first, and Clean the tape player head after every so many playbacks to get your best playback. If you dont like it go for a usb solution. I liked the line in approach I got when I recorded books on tape to my hard drive to burn to cds.

I used my Technics cassette player/recorder from my Hifi connected with standard cables to the line input to my creative sound card.
The sound card came with the necessary software allowing me to automatically remove the tape hiss whilst recording to the hard drive.
After that is was so easy to record onto a CD. I have also used the same technique to record some of my LP’s using the record deck together with a compensating pre-amplifier.
The results in both cases was excellent and I would recommend this to any one who is thinking about doing it.
But remember crap in = crap out. The original source must be in good condition played on a good quality deck to give you the result you expect.

is the quality of the RCA cables (gold plated, etc), the tape deck (Sony, JVC, etc…), and the sound card a big factor on how the final product will turn out?

Gold plated cables are usually better shielded so you are less likely to get interference from other cables and power lines. A few years back i had two decks and when listening to one of the tape decks through headphones i would hear a humming sound. After a little troubleshooting i found that one deck was using $5 patch cables. I switched to a better quality cable (no, not Monster Cable quality) and it fixed the humming. As far as the Tape deck quality making a difference, some tape decks have a wider frequency response during playback(better highs and Lows) so, yes there would be a difference. The same thing applies to sound cards, though it’s higher signal to noise ratio through the line-in. For example, if a sound card has a s/n ratio 0f 104 db vs one that has a 90 db there should be better dynamic range. I’m not an audiophile so if any of my info is wrong someone feel free to correct me, though i do think they make a difference.

So recording to line-in > usb device?

I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but I’m trying to do the exact same thing. Only problem is, my laptop doesn’t have a line input. I have a mic input, Firewire port, and several USB ports. Will the mic input work? If not, any suggestions for some kind of USB adapter or converter?