If you look around carefully, you can find reasonable prices on decent condition Tascam 122 decks. 
If you see one that's in good shape for a cheap price, I would say jump on it immediately. Follow me 
along here for a minute or two ...

You buy a small fleet of the Tascams, maybe 4 of them. If you have a large ingestion job, surely you 
can justify the expense of sending them out for refurbs (they usually need the capstan-drive belt 
and the pinchroller replaced, especially if they are first-generation 122's). You may already have 
an 8-channel firewire or USB interface, if not there are now plenty of decent candidates down well 
south of $1K. Now here's where the fun starts -- these Tascams all are able to run at 3.75IPS, which 
means you can do 2x ingestion for anything non-Dolby-encoded (ie most spoken-word and field-recorded 
tapes). Ingest at 88.2/24-bit and then when you halve the pitch you'll still have 44.1/24-bit 
resolution to work with (for DSP, the 24-bits is more important than the sampling rate, particularly 
with frequency-challenged field and voice recordings). This is a pro-grade solution to efficiently 
transferring large piles of cassettes.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:09 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The end of the cassette ? ? ?

> 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
> 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:
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.