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ARSCLIST  February 2013

ARSCLIST February 2013

Subject:

Re: Digitizing 10,000+ audio cassettes

From:

"Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 21 Feb 2013 15:32:14 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (95 lines)

Hi, Joel,

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).
http://familyoralhistory.us/news/view/transcription_or_dictation_will_hal_open_the_pod_bay_doors
> 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.
http://richardhess.com/notes/category/computer-data/data-storage/
> 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 
option).
> 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
http://richardhess.com/notes/category/audio/cassettes/
> So let me just say one more time, thanks to everyone.
You're welcome!

Good luck with it!

Cheers,

Richard

-- 
Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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