I want to comment on the several questions and comments which I've
received over the last day.
I am certain these are the only tapes as they were held by the radio
talk show host himself.
These tapes precede the days of podcasts, etc. If any other tapes are in
existence, neither he nor I would know where they could be.
And yes, my mistake, my audio interface is a MOTU UltraLite Mk3 hybrid.
The nature of these tapes are radio shows and lectures, largely.
Preserving cassettes is not in the cards for me. These cassettes are
going to go bad, if some haven't already. And the ability to move back
and forth through a specific recording is so much easier after the
recording is digitized.
I have to confess, I'm caught off guard a bit by the recommendation for
24/96 files for voice recordings, although given the cost of storage,
it's probably not that big of a deal to go with that bit and sample
And as for intellectual copy laws, given that the author of the material
has given me the right to copy the material, I'm at least partially
This project has more to do with having an extensive library of material
available to myself and the author than anything else. If he chooses to
try to sell any of these recordings to the public, I'll let him deal
with whatever legal ramifications there are to doing that. Whatever
minimal risk there is for me otherwise, I'm willing to do deal with.
My big question is, what is the easiest way for me to learn to use a
software package like Samplitude (recommended by Richard Hess)? I've
seen an instruction manual or two for these types of programs and
they're massive and seem very complex. Given that for now I'm just
interested in recording (not editing) material, I'd hope there's an
easier way for me to get familiar with these products.
Thanks to everyone again for your incredibly detailed and thoughtful
messages. It's very nice of all of you to take the time to help me as
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Richard L. Hess
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 2:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [GRAYMAIL] Re: [ARSCLIST] Digitizing 10,000+ audio cassettes
Please see comments in-line.
On 2013-02-21 1:10 PM, Joel Alperson wrote:
> These tapes in most cases are the only recordings which exist.
As others have said, are you certain?
Another thought is that perhaps an archive would be interested in them?
One thing comes to mind that KPFK in LA has broadcast a whole bunch of
philosophy over the years but I don't know how much has been preserved
in the Pacifica Archive and how much was preserved externally. When I
lived in LA, I recall many late-night broadcasts of Alan Watts (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts ) in the 1980s and 1990s (after
his death). It was my impression that they were being broadcast from
duplicated cassettes. I am assuming this is something similar in
concept. I have a big project in house (for too long as there are issues
with it) of a major Roman Catholic theologian which I really need to
finish. They are most patient, but part of it was bigger than originally
presented and the metadata on the reels is less good than hoped.
> The reasons for digitizing are, one to preserve them as some are over
> 30 years old.
This seems like the correct approach. I would not trust these tapes to
be easily playable (from the tape and the machine perspective) in the
next two to three decades. Right now there are competent choices
available. I received a tape transferred in MP3 format on one of the Ion
or similar machines to clean up and it cleaned up well...it was spoken
word. I disagree with a previous statement concerning just archive the
cassettes. The material will become less and less accessible and who
better to do this than you who has the motivation, interest, and caring
to want to see this done.
> Two, to more easily listen to search through them.
Still takes oodles of time to search. Develop a controlled vocabulary
and whenever you listen note the time (and don't trim the heads after
logging the time).
> And finally, to ultimately digitally transcribe to text the
> recordings at some time in the future, although that's a far less
> important goal for now.
I still hear mixed reports on this. Someone I know is trying to use
Dragon Naturally Speaking, but has not started yet. This is an
interesting discussion by a friend of mine (caution, very slow loading
here and I've just written her about it).
> It seems to me that using an outside service would be tremendously
> expensive, certainly well into five figures if not more.
I was thinking just nudging into seven, but could probably do it for six
figures, but it means growing my business larger than I want and hiring
employees which I don't want.
> And I have the advantage of not having a hard deadline for this work
> meaning if the job takes me several years to complete that is far
> better than leaving the tapes to deteriorate without preservation.
If you're doing it on the side figure a few years no matter what. It
gets old. Tirage is good, if not triage, start with the oldest first.
> For now, deleting silence at the beginning or end of the recordings is
> not critical. Just getting the material digitized is my priority.
That's a good move, just recall you'll need more than a little storage.
NAS units are good. At least two, with backups to a third set of USB
2.5-inch Hard Drives is how I convince myself it's safe.
> I currently have an M-Audio Ultra Lite Mk3 audio interface.
You mean MOTU UltraLite Mk3, right? Is it the Mk3 or the Mk3 Hybrid? (I
don't know the precise difference, actually.)
MOTU UlraLite Mk3 Hybrid has six line inputs and two mic/instrument
inputs. The safest thing to do is to use up to three cassette machines.
It would still only work in real time as getting faster than real time
players is difficult unless you go get the UK high-speed stuff.
> The big questions for me then (I think) are what software to use and
> some step-by-step instructions as to how I connect several audio
> cassette recorders to the audio interface and on operating the
> software I would use.
You could use any software that could record multiple stereo WAV files.
I use www.samplitude.com and it is pretty good. The newest version
allows easier naming of multiple files from the mixer interface (with an
> I'm sure there are questions I don't even know to ask.
Many of them might already be answered in my blog at
www.richardhess.com/notes/ Perhaps starting with this which is a dump on
everything I have tagged cassettes
> So let me just say one more time, thanks to everyone.
Good luck with it!
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
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