Converting My Analog Past to the Digital Present

In a previous post I waxed nostalgic over all of my old albums, cassettes, and VHS tapes that live in the land that technology forgot. Is it possible to convert some cherished analog audio cassettes to a digital format? The answer is “yes” and everything I need to know is on the Internet.

My Google search, something like “convert tapes to digital”, yields pay services that will do it for you and all-in-one gadgets that convert tapes to MP3 files. Scrolling down I come to links for several how-to articles and videos on You Tube. This article and accompanying video by Donald Bell on C-Net were most helpful: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-turn-a-cassette-tape-into-mp3s/

First and foremost, Bell points out that you don’t need to convert anything that’s commercially available. It’s much less painful to just replace it with a download or a CD. This piece of advice helped me reduce the number of tapes by at least half. The portion that is left is comprised of bands I played in, original songs and keyboard music, and other “unpublished” works.

Bell recommends using Audacity which is available for free download. Detailed videos on how to use Audacity are available on You Tube, however all of the configurations and settings needed for tape conversion are provided in Bell’s step-by-step tutorial. I followed his instructions to record several songs in one Audacity project file, insert label markers for each song, and then export to multiple high-quality WAV files. Like Bell, I used iTunes to convert the WAV files to MP3. If you aren’t too concerned with generating higher quality WAV files, you can export MP3 files directly from Audacity and skip the conversion step.

The best part of this project is being able to share these audio moments from the past with friends and family, especially those who played the music with me!

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