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Old 05-23-2020, 07:41 AM   #1
G-Raps
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Recording cassette tape audio to a Lenovo laptop


Hi All,

I have a Lenovo W550s laptop with a combination headphone/microphone 3.5mm jack. One can use a headset to do gaming or videoconferencing with a headphone and attached microphone.....or, can plug in an omnidirectional microphone to record audio from external sources, I believe. The laptop also has two stereo microphones on the top of the display screen for videoconferencing or gaming.

I would like to use the jack to record audio from a portable cassette player, using stereo audio cables. Instead of using the built-in, two stereo microphones on the laptop, I would like to use the 3.5mm jack to the cassette player audio out port. Can this be done in Linux ?

I tried to map the audio stereo cable from Audacity's recording input, but don't have the right selection. There is default, pulse, and then HDA Intel PCH: ALC3232 Analog (hw:1,0) as selectable options. Are any of these the input to record from the 3.5mm jack ?
 
Old 05-23-2020, 09:02 AM   #2
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Line output from the cassette player and microphone input signal levels are not compatible although some laptops might be able to automatically switch input levels. I don't know if Lenovo's have this capability. As far as I know the input is still mono and you need the correct 3.5 TRRS plug.

What you probably should get is a USB audio capture device. A quick search on Amazon did not find anything of reasonable cost that I would consider has good linux support.

Last edited by michaelk; 05-23-2020 at 10:52 AM.
 
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:43 PM   #3
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Other options to record the cassette

Thanks michaelk for your input. I have a few other ideas to capture the audio from the cassette, which may be cost effective. I could use a y-adapter plug from the cassette player to get stereo signals to the laptop, but the input plug to the laptop would be a USB kind of connection. I could also drive to a friend's house with a music studio and just use the equipment there, but then I'd have to social distance and ask for permission and so on to use them.

Maybe the most cost effective method would be to find a quiet room and use the laptop's stereo microphones and play the cassette on the cassette player, while recording the speakers. That would be almost optimal ! Then, post-process the audio capture on Audacity with the built-in algorithms and filters.

Any other ideas for the audio capture ?
 
Old 05-23-2020, 11:33 PM   #4
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CNET -- The cheap way to convert LPs, audio cassettes to digital
I would like to know how you do this, too!
Keep us posted, plz.
 
Old 05-24-2020, 12:12 AM   #5
EdGr
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Ask your friend if you can use his equipment.

You want to use a desktop PC which has a line input on the sound card. You also want to use a quality cassette deck (those are no longer made).
Ed
 
Old 05-24-2020, 05:11 AM   #6
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It really comes down whether your laptop's sound card has some sort of line in input. If it does it's relatively easy to capture the audio. If not - a distinct possibility on a laptop - then a (cheap) USB sound card might be your best bet.
 
Old 05-24-2020, 06:24 AM   #7
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While the most cost effective method is using the built-in microphones it may not produce the best quality. You don't know what type or frequency response etc. You can't fix what isn't there.

Using your friends equipment is probably the best in terms of quality.
 
Old 05-24-2020, 07:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sp331yi View Post
CNET -- The cheap way to convert LPs, audio cassettes to digital
I would like to know how you do this, too!
Keep us posted, plz.
sp331yi: I've been using Audacity for a while, and while the application is great with post-processing sound files, it is still reliant on the sound card that it finds. This is great for good sound cards, but with cheap ones (or limited sound cards or sound chips with minimal features), a USB sound card is better.
 
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:35 AM   #9
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"back-in-the-day" it was virtually standard for laptops to have a PCMCIA slot. Had one of these - Creative Labs PCMCIA Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook to use laptop for sound "equipment".

If you have a slot I bet you can find one reasonably priced on ebay.
 
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Old 05-26-2020, 01:57 AM   #10
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There are two approaches to digitizing cassette tapes. The first is to buy a cassette player or combination media player that includes a CD burner or USB sound card with software for recording to a computer mcdvoice

Last edited by Galloways; 05-26-2020 at 11:38 PM.
 
Old 05-26-2020, 06:07 AM   #11
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Alternative sound connection for recording

Another picture is emerging: I noticed that there is this product available in Best Buy, a VHS to DVD converter unit from Vidbox. It's on retail for about $60, and can be used to convert VHS video tapes to DVD or even to mp4 files.

The Vidbox box consists of a signal converter and various input options, including S-Video input and the standard video-left-right audio plugs, also referred to as a yellow-white-red cable. One can plug a y-adapter from the cassette player to the Vidbox, then plug the micro USB cable to USB port to a laptop or desktop unit, then use the accompanying Vidbox software to record audio (or a video tape). The connection would be great !

The current version is supported by Microsoft Windows, and the software is for Windows 7/8/10, but I haven't tried wine with the software yet. There may be support in MacOS as a result, and Linux distributions with the latest wine _might_ work.

I have included pictures of the Vidbox here.

http://grapilon.com/Vidbox/20200526_...idbox_unit.jpg http://grapilon.com/Vidbox/20200526_..._to_laptop.jpg
 
Old 05-26-2020, 10:06 AM   #12
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You would have to assume the software will record just audio if a video signal was not present or be able to simulate a video signal from a VCR or other device. Then extract the audio channels from the MP4.

If the device requires the installation of a Windows driver I think you are out of luck regardless if the program will run under wine.
 
Old 05-26-2020, 01:25 PM   #13
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1. that won't play audio cassettes
2. those devices are overrated IMO. What you really need is a "Line in" type input (assuming your current cassette playback device has a "Line out" type output.
So, rather spend less money on a USB sound card and get better results (I think).
 
Old 05-26-2020, 04:43 PM   #14
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Not sure if it helps, but I bought a cheap USB sound card for about $10 and it works great with various Linux distros - I got it because I inherited an old server with no sound card. Anyway, I do a lot of audio work and having the interface with the inputs really makes a difference - I have cassette, Minidisk and various other older media that go through this. I find that a high quality Sony Walkman can work fine, as well as a proper cassette deck (that you get from ebay or similar).

I have had no problem using a Walkman, connected to a USB soundcard and recorded with Audacity.
 
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Old 05-26-2020, 08:31 PM   #15
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@djk44883 -- Thanks! Ordered one yesterday!
 
  


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