Monday, July 12, 2010

Multitrack Tape to Computer Audio

Support Q&A 
Question: What do I need to record mixdowns from my multitrack Tape recorder to my computer to burn DVD's or put on Myspace?

Recording from a Multitrack Tape recorder to a Computer for burning to CD's or uploading to the Internet.

Is your current sound card of good enough quality to capture the recordings from the Tape Deck, or do you need something better? Most built-in sound cards are pretty bad and will effect the distortion and noise levels of your recordings. Of coarse this is the least expensive way to get things connected and start recording.
Cables and adapters:
Most Multitrack  Tape Recorders have XLR or 1/4" mixdown outputs, although some use RCA connectors in addition to, or instead.

Stereo 3.5mm to dual 1/4" cables
3.5mm to Stereo RCA cables
1/4" to RCA patch cables

If you were to get an upgrade audio interface, would you want to use USB, Firewire or an internal PCI card?
An internal PCI card is harder to install, of coarse but you get lots of sound quality per dollar. Firewire is usually considered second best, but not all computers have firewire, so that can be a problem. The only way to add firewire is with an internal card. USB audio interfaces can be USB 1.x or USB 2.0 compliant. The more I/O on the box the more you'll need the extra speed of a USB 2.0 device.

Examples of Audio Interfaces:

M-Audio Fast Track USB
M-Audio Mobile Pre USB

M-Audio FireWire Solo
M-Audio Firewire 410
Presonus FireStudio Mobile

M-Audio Audiophile 2496
M-Audio Audiophile 192

All these interfaces come with "Light" versions of software that should handle any kind of basic recording from Stereo Sources like tape decks.
Most Multitrack Tape recorders also have pre-mix outputs for each channel. If you want to capture all of those tracks discreetly, so you can mix and manipulate tracks individually on the computer, then you need a more expensive audio interface with four or more Inputs and Outputs.
Note: The amount of Inputs and Outputs advertised for audio interfaces is very often confusing and misleading. Check to make sure the interface actually physically has the number of inputs and outputs of the actual type you need!

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