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At 10:01 AM 2008-07-31, Trey Bunn wrote:
>I've seen some USB cassette decks before, but I wondered about the
>quality of them.

Hi, Trey,

I'm hoping for reports. So far, the only thing I've seen that looks 
like a review is in Technologies for Worship Magazine (TWFM) and it's 
for the UK-made high-speed USB unit. Let's start by saying this 
digitizes at 22.05 ks/s so it's got half the bandwidth of a CD. As I 
stated in my earlier post, it appears meant for spoken word and I 
wouldn't even consider it for music.

At least in my mix of work, quality music cassettes amount to less 
than 1% of what I do. It's almost all spoken word. If it is music, 
it's poorly recorded family music. The saddest thing is when a 
composer or his child comes to you with a cassette that's the only 
known copy of the parent's work and then you find out it's got 
distortion, etc.

When I speak to groups of archivists, I like to play an excerpt from 
an organ recording I made of Jean Langlais at the Church of the 
Heavenly Rest in NY City. I made it with a pair of AKG C-451 mics on 
a Nakamichi 550 portable on Maxell tape. I transferred it about five 
years ago on a Nakamichi Dragon. Sounds quite excellent.

Yes, there is a different interpretation between Nakamichi and 
Philips as to the published standard, see
http://richardhess.com/notes/2006/05/17/cassette-equalization-the-4-db-ambiguity-at-16-khz/

So, while cassettes can sound surprisingly good when you use 
expensive machines (my Sony TCD-5M just got the best transfer of an 
endless loop cassette for a client because the Nakamichis wouldn't 
play it and the cassette itself recommended that it be run flat), 
most of the cassettes out there were recorded on bargain-basement recorders.

I think we need to define what the goals of the transfer are. I 
suspect the Graff unit provides good intelligibility of the spoken 
word which is very different than high fidelity music.

As far as the CONSUMER USB machines, if TracerTek is selling them, 
they might be a small step above what you're thinking. TracerTek 
tries to find good quality products for their clientele who they 
think of as audiophiles (and address us thusly in their emails).

I don't know if the USB cassette machines are any worse than any 
other cassette machine you can purchase new today. You know where 
I've put my money and time...6.5 Dragons with one coming someday as 
payment for a project I'm working on. The 0.5 is a brand-new (NOS) 
mechanism to replace one that might fail in one of my machines.

Cheers,

Richard


Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.