Replacing that old cassette

By Ron Weinberg, Tampa PC Users Group

Music CDs have virtually replaced cassette tapes. Many new cars have no cassette slots. CDs are relatively inexpensive and of higher audio quality than most tapes. Converting from tape to CD is probably not worthwhile in most cases. But then again, there are old favorites that may be hard to find in CD format.

Since I had a good sound card (Sound Blaster Audio 2 ZS) with a line-in jack, accompanying software, a CD Burner, and RCA Audio Cables left over from some old equipment, I decided to try. There may be more sophisticated and fully-automated programs, but I decided to work with what I had available.

None of my in-home cassette players or radios however, had proper output ports. Earphone ports were not recommended. This was corrected by borrowing an old Technics cassette tape deck.

To connect the deck to the jack with the cable, I needed to purchase an inexpensive Y-adapter at Radio Shack that accepts two RCA phono plugs and fits a 1/8" stereo phone jack.

The Sound Blaster Card came with a complement of 13 programs from Creative, which allow great flexibility in creating and editing audio. Not being a music guru, I selected the basic Creative Media Source Player, which has a record feature. It creates MP3 files. It was necessary to select the input or Recording Source as Line/CD/AUX/TAD/PC.

Examining the various options of the Creative Media Source Player software, I found an EAX advanced HD Console that has an option to automatically remove unwanted noises in audio, such as hisses, clicks and pops from external sources. I set this option ON using its default settings.

I started the tape deck playing, clicked on Record in the software panel, and the work was in progress. At the end of the first side, I stopped recording and saved the file so as not to have blank space while the tape was reversing or switching to side 2. I manually reversed the tape and repeated the process for side 2. When complete, I saved the second file.

My CD-DVD writer came with Sonicís Record Now Plus, which has an option to create an Audio CD for Car or Home Player. Using that, I burned both files onto the CD and tested it in a boom box. The result was a CD with two audio tracks, fair sound, and poor volume.

Unsatisfied, I rechecked the recording software and found a Surround Mixer Panel that had a Master Control, which allowed me to increase the volume setting. Note that the volume dial on the tape deck had no effect on the resulting volume.

After setting the Master Volume to high, I repeated the copy and burn processes, and the result was a success. u