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Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Even though I don't plan to digitise all my tapes I like to have the option to do so. I found the Griffin iMic which has a line-in option, which leads to my first question, because most have a microphone in but no line in. How important is this in a practical environment?

Also are there alternatives? What should I look out for? (Features)

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #1
If you are recording from any kind of tape player you DO NOT want to use a microphone-in connection on the ADC. Only a straight line in, or one with an analogue front end containing an analogue level control, has a chance of reasonably capturing the best signal.

There are no other significant considerations for the ADC (anything but the cheapest junk will do a good job) but there can be a number of complications/requirements for the tape playback device. These days, however, just finding something that will play tape at all can be enough of a challenge.

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #2
Thank you. I have bought a Technics RS-TR474 tape deck from around 1995 a while ago, even brought to a electronics stores to do some repairs and I think it is sufficient for my purposes. Listening to old tape, sometimes to self-recorded ones, or even digitise them via an ADC.

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #3

I've done many hours of what you propose using the built in codec on my Gigabyte motherboard. Gigabyte claims 108 dB
signal to noise. I can tell you with certainly it's higher than 80 without any special effort. For capture I use Audacity. For
processing/editing I use Adobe Audition 3 (old but trustworthy). The main 'gotchas' with analog recording into the PC is ground
loops (hum/noise) and overload of the front end before the level control. Overload is rarely a problem coming from consumer
line level units but needs to be kept in mind.

16 bit 44100 sample rate will be fine for your tape deck



Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #4
I use a Terratec iVinyl, which has a line in option as well as its phono stage, so I can use it for recording from any analogue source. Works fine, although I'd ignore the bundled recording software and use Audacity instead.

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #5
It seems the iVinyl was discontinued or never available in Germany. I found the Sound Blaster X-FI HD or ESI U24 XL which both fit my needs. Some reviewers on a popular mail order site claim that the Sound Blaster likes to break down after less than a year. Which is odd I think.

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #6
Quote
It seems the iVinyl was discontinued or never available in Germany.
You didn't say anything about vinyl.  

If you want to record vinyl, what equipment do you have?   If you have a line-output (or tape-out or headphone-out) you can use the same setup as you're using to digitize tape. 

The Behringer UCA202 is a popular/inexpensive interface with line-inputs.  The UFO202 has switchable line/phono inputs.   The biggest downside to the "cheap" Behringer interfaces is (like regular soundcards) they don't have an analog recording-level control.

You can find lot's of higher-end audio interfaces* with switchable mic/line inputs.    (Try places that sell sound & recording equipment for musicians (such as like Musician's Friend here in the U.S.)).    Interfaces with phono inputs are more rare.      

Quote
Even though I don't plan to digitise all my tapes I like to have the option to do so.
If you want to keep them, of course it would be a good idea to "back up" digitally.   The tapes can age, wear-out, or just "go bad", and as you know cassette players are getting harder to find.  (Turntables are still widely available but nobody is making VHS machines anymore.)


* P.S.
I'm not saying you need a higher-end interface to record line-level signals...  Just in case you want something like that.  These are mostly for recording from good (stage/studio) microphones.    (Stage/studio mics are not compatible with consumer soundcards or laptops.)  


Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #7
Thanks, I meant the Terratec iVinyl which @JabbaThePrawn mentioned. I used to own a record player but not anymore. I only have a tape deck which is connected to my stereo amplifier. "Musician's Friend" has a privacy issue.

I will look into the Behringer ones as well.

Re: Griffin iMic or similar hardware for recording from tape

Reply #8
Thanks, I meant the Terratec iVinyl which @JabbaThePrawn mentioned. I used to own a record player but not anymore. I only have a tape deck which is connected to my stereo amplifier. "Musician's Friend" has a privacy issue.

I will look into the Behringer ones as well.
I've had the Terratec for over a decade, and while I know it has been discontinued, I'd assume they have some more recent models on sale that do exactly the same thing.

But it still works just fine, for both line-level and phono recordings, so I won't shop around for a replacement 'til it stops working.

 
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