Post #521

Audio tape to MP3

28th November 2004, mid-afternoon | Comments (25)

Does anyone out there have a good solution for recording audio tapes onto the Mac as MP3s?

The program I’m currently using, Audio Recorder, is missing a couple of key features:

  1. The ability to detect when the input (tape) has finished, and stop the recording automatically.
  2. The ability to chop the recordings into sections (post-recording) and save them out as individual files.

If anyone could suggest an alternative application that would let me do what I want, I’d be very grateful.


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Comments (25)

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  1. Simon Willison:

    I'm afraid I can't help you on an audio recorder that stops recording once it gets to a silent bit, but for cutting audio up in to different chunks you could try QuickTime Pro - just hit the "upgrade" button the next time it bugs you. That will allow you to select sections of the timeline and copy and paste them in to new files - pretty simple as far as audio editing goes but it will do the job.

    Posted 15 minutes after the fact
  2. Peter Parkes:

    I've occasionally used Felt Tip Sound Studio for a quick editing job - although as far as I know it doesn't allow for automatic stopping.

    It has more features than QuickTime, but costs $30 US more.

    Posted 27 minutes after the fact
  3. Sean Devine:

    Audio Hijack (Pro) should do what you need. It's made by Rogue Amoeba ( The audio post-processing capabilities should help you enhance the quality of sound too.

    Posted 27 minutes after the fact
  4. Tam:

    My question is how exactly do you get the audio into the computer? I've read a couple of articles but they seem to be more focused on what you do AFTER the audio is digitized (how to clean it up, convert it, whatever). I've got a G5 with a HUGE hard drive I'm dying to fill up with music off of cassettes.

    Any suggestions for me? Thanks!

    Posted 45 minutes after the fact
  5. Gabriel Mihalache:

    You *knew* someone would ask: what are you copying? if these are cassettes, it means '80s, early '90s.

    Posted 45 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  6. Brandan Lloyd:

    I just converted two cassettes last week using dBpowerAMP Music Converter (dMC) It is freeware with restricted functionality. It can automatically tell when the song has ended based on the change in volume and then start recording to a new mp3.

    I also used Audacity (a freeware audio editor) to edit and fix up any files afterward. To edit MP3's with Audacity you will need the LAME MP3 Encoder Library.

    I used a male to male 1/8" audio jack that I bought from Radio Shack
    to output from the headphone jack of the cassette player directly into the microphone jack on my computer.

    Posted 1 hour, 13 minutes after the fact
  7. Dougal Campbell:

    I see you've already got some answers. But in case you ever need a Windows-based solution to this problem, I can recommend RIP Vinyl:

    It will automatically start new files based on between-track silence, and consequently doesn't record the silence at the end of the tape. I used this to convert some of my wife's audio tapes to CD, so that she could listen to them in her car (which has CD, but no cassette).

    We recently restored an old turntable to functionality, and we're going to be using RIP Vinyl to convert some old albums (like the original Disney Haunted Mansion story) to CD. One of these days I need to find out if my grandmother still has my the old LPs and EPs that I left at her house all those years ago...

    Posted 1 hour, 34 minutes after the fact
  8. Dunstan:

    Gabriel, I've a fairly large collection of audio books (about 120 of them) as well as lots of comedy tapes. In all I guess I have about 150 'items' I need to copy... God knows how many hours worth that is :o)

    Posted 1 hour, 37 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Gabriel Mihalache
    Inspired: ↓ Seth Thomas Rasmussen
  9. Richard Rutter:

    I've had excellent results digitizing my vinyl to mp3 using Spin Doctor which comes with Toast. The input (via iMic) is out of my amp so the same would apply to cassette.

    Spin Doctor doesn't detect the end of the recording but it does a pretty good job at detecting tracks and also makes really easy to fine tune its track decisions.

    Downside is you have to have Toast. Also ensure that Toast is open when you're using Spin Doctor, otherwise it won't work properly.

    Posted 3 hours, 1 minute after the fact
  10. Gabriel Mihalache:

    1 cassette ~= 1 hour ~= 80-100 MB
    150 tapes ~= 6 days 6 hours ~= 13.18 GB

    Since you already own the original material, it's more than OK for you to search P2P networks for them... maybe you can get around ripping all of those tapes.
    In theory (eye rolling) this is the only reason to have licensed material on P2P network. You might as well take advantange of it. Or maybe your stuff is too exotic?

    Posted 4 hours, 42 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Matthew
  11. Cranium Oxide:

    If you have a Griffin iMic, you could try Final Vinyl.

    I don't know if it works without one though.

    Posted 5 hours, 2 minutes after the fact
  12. Seth Thomas Rasmussen:

    Dunstan, what kind of comedy?

    Posted 6 hours, 26 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  13. Gavin:

    Hi Dunstan,
    for the recording part have a look at Audiocorder for OSX:

    The program is shareware (it adds a message at the start of each recording) but inexpensive.
    It is not pretty to look at but you can set a sound threshold and duration. When the sound level drops below the preset level for the set time it stops recording. When it rises again it starts a new recording in a new file. You could use it to detect different tracks or the background rumble of the tapedeck.

    Audacity works fine for free but has a bit of a learning cuve. SpinDoctor is easy to use but make sure your computer has enough grunt! FinalVinyl will only work if I have my iMic plugged in.

    Posted 7 hours, 58 minutes after the fact
  14. Dunstan:

    Straight comedy:

    Tony Hancock.
    Steve Coogan.
    Dad's Army.
    Billy Connolly.
    I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.
    Yes Minister/Prime Minister.
    Alan Partridge.
    Bob Newheart.
    Rowan Atkinson.
    12th Man.

    Comedy fiction:

    Douglas Adams.
    P.G. Wodehouse.
    Evelyn Waugh.
    Oscar Wilde.

    Posted 8 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Gavin
  15. Gavin:

    Someone remembers Tony HHHHHancock! That is a great list you have there -- though I wonder how much of it is lost forever (other than private collections)

    Posted 8 hours, 34 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  16. Javan:

    Check out Audacity. It's free, simple, and should do everything you're looking for except for the auto-stopping bit.

    Posted 9 hours, 59 minutes after the fact
  17. Matthew:

    In the UK there is no fair-use rights. Hence you cant legally backup CDs, games, programmes etc, which I guess includes the "Ive bought a copy already so I dont need to buy another"
    It sucks but I dont suppose theyll be checking everyones computers.

    Posted 21 hours, 38 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Gabriel Mihalache
  18. Sinisa:

    Someone might find this thing useful.
    This gadget is a definitive winner for that matter;-)

    I've tried the same thing with some of my bootleg recordings (none of those is on P2P, I'm pretty sure) and ripped material sounded great at the end.

    It's a bit expensive but it does look cool and retro AND does the job right:)
    Good luck!

    Posted 1 day, 22 hours after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Andrea Piernock Barrish
  19. Andrea Piernock Barrish:

    Sinisa, that is the coolest thing I've ever seen. Well, maybe not ever, but it's definitely going on my Christmas wish list! I've got stored in my closet a bunch of mix tapes from high school that friends and I made, heavy nostalgia value. It would be awesome to get those on CD or MP3.

    So far I've been experimenting with the windows media plus software my husband got a while back, just to see how the cassettes would sound. Good to read a few other suggestions.

    Posted 2 days, 6 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Sinisa
    Inspired: ↓ Sinisa
  20. Sinisa:

    I agree Andrea,
    but like I said, It's a bit expensive but kinda cool to have :)
    Now all of my demo tapes and precious bootlegs (just like You said, heavy nostalgia value) are in .ogg or .mp3 and I can enjoy them on my PC or my RCA MP3 Jukebox.


    I've always had problems with normalizing the audio from those tapes and so far the best solution for me was to run all the .wav's through 'normalize' on GNU/Linux.

    Now I'm looking into doing the same thing with my video tapes but that's different topic unfortunately :)

    Anyhow, I'm glad You liked it Andrea.

    Posted 2 days, 21 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Andrea Piernock Barrish
  21. Elliot:

    Since no one else mentioned it, and I find it works great, Amadeus II has the ability to record for a specified amount of time, and I think it can be set to identify the ends of tracks. Since tapes are usually of a standard length, it seems this and an iVoice would do nicely.

    Posted 1 week after the fact
  22. Orion:

    Hey - not sure if anyone has said this or not but if u have access to a PC, try

    I had the same problem a while ago and i bought one from ebay (but sold it since). Its quick and painless.

    Posted 1 week, 3 days after the fact
  23. Gordon:

    I like using GarageBand to do the capture and edits, then send it to iTunes and burn from there. GarageBand has a little learning curve, and getting good recording levels is the hardest part, but the advantage of this approach is using stable software that most people already have.

    Posted 2 weeks, 6 days after the fact
  24. David:

    Check out
    They don't have Mac support at the moment, but they say they might add support for Linux and MacOS in the future.

    Posted 1 month, 1 week after the fact
  25. John:

    try cool edit pro Vr. 2.0
    I work in radio and this is all you will ever need for your audio requirements

    Posted 3 months, 2 weeks after the fact

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