Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


iPod song of the week – your cassettes

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On May 20, 2007
At 1:40 pm
Comments : 17

It’s a JBall tutorial! So what happens when you own your favorite songs on cassette or LP but not CD? Maybe they’re not even available on iTunes or Napster or your favorite download service! Are you doomed, DOOMED? No, of course not, you can import your cassettes and transform them, as if by magic, into an mp3 that can be played on your iPod or computer or brown Microsoft player.

While I am typing this, as it happens, I’m listening to the groovy sounds of the iPod Song of the Week as it flows melodiously onto my hard drive. Gosh, it’s nice. But how am I accomplishing this? I’m using a paid program for Macs called WireTap Pro ($19, totally worth it) but if you’re on a PC you can use Audacity which is free. Mac users (including me) can use Audacity to edit the silences out (or, you know, the first note of the next song if you’re not quick to the stop button) which is what I did. Here’s our song o’the week, for the first time revealed graphically.

(click to enlarge)

So all you need is what I have here:

  • ancient walkman or tape player
  • cord pictured here (if you are using a stereo system you’ll need a Y-cord, aka RCA to headphone cable)
  • cassette

You just need to attach the cord to the line-in jack on your computer, press play on the tape, record on your software, and voilà. It’s my understanding that some additional thing is required to deal with the sound on LP’s but I could be wrong. That will be my next project! Or, someone can answer that in the comments. If you like a different software better, feel free to suggest that too.

(PS, if you’re someone I speak to via Skype, I can now record our phone calls too! But I won’t, I swear on my Aztec Camera cassette.)

Oh right, the song. It’s, uh, good. No, I kid, Aztec Camera was mostly one Scottish guy, Roddy Frame, and he wrote what I love best: catchy, well-crafted pop music. There’s a song I like even better than this one but that tape seems to have disappeared. I suppose it’s amazing I still have this one, really.

Aztec Camera – Oblivious
Not available on iTunes or Napster. Weren’t you reading? That was the point. But you can stream it on the iSotW page. Notice the perfect start and stop editing!


17 Comments for this post

  1. Celia says:

    Is Audacity pretty idiot-proof? I keep asking a friend of mine “if he knows how to edit audio files,” which I know he does, so it is code for “if he will please edit an audio file for me.” But he is (perhaps deliberately) obtuse and keeps telling me to download Audacity.

  2. Becca says:

    Well, it’s hard to say. I’m one of those people who never reads manuals and just plays around until she figures things out, hitting “undo” many times along the way. I’m always available for GTalk sessions, though, should you have a problem.

    Or, you know, I could edit it for you if you’re writing that in code.

  3. kb says:

    how Ironic … I’m spring cleaning this weekend and I just looked into a box filled with cassettes from the late 80s. I had thought I’d just dump them off at Goodwill, but now you’ve given me hope. I *can* hear Richard Marx’s “Hazard” again! (oh wait, that’s on iTunes … ) Skid Row .. oh, ditto … the Mavericks … Michael W. Smith … Expose … Dan Hill …

    ok, I guess I can chuck this pile of cassettes.

  4. Celia says:

    No, Becca, it wasn’t a hint, but if we lived in the same city it would have been. I don’t really want to learn to fish.

    KB, I had the same experience when the same not-so-helpful friend tried to explain to me how to hook up my turntable to my computer to digitize my LPs. (Never mind my turntable isn’t hooked up to my stereo and doesn’t have a functioning needle.) I discovered I only wanted maybe 3 tracks per album and for 3 bucks I could just buy them. Tagged and without pops and skips.

  5. Becca says:

    KB, as Celia says, it’s worth it to buy if you only want a few tracks. However, if you’re talking 3 tracks on each of 20 different albums, you may want to re-think. I’m importing a Psychedelic Furs cassette as I type this!

    Celia, ah, I thought you already had them as one large track waiting for editing. If you need someone to do the physical stuff, I’m not your woman, alas.

  6. Celia says:

    Specifically, what I need is to cut down some backing tracks for my daughter to use for auditions/performances where the full track is too long. So I have the tracks already. But I’m sure this is one of those things that it very difficult to do until you’ve done it half a dozen times and continue to do it with some regularity, and then it’s pretty straightforward. But I don’t see it as something I’ll use enough to reach the point where it’s not difficult for me.

  7. Becca says:

    I swear, I’ve divided and cut up tracks thirty times today. I’ll e-mail you.

  8. KP says:

    Entertaining *and* informative. Thank you JBall!

  9. RN says:

    Thanks for this post.

    I need to find my bootleg Dead tapes.

  10. Becca says:

    You’re very welcome, KP.

    RN, think like a stoned person and I’m sure it will come to you.

  11. kb says:

    what format do you end up with? What extension does the file end up with?

    Because if you can end up with an AIFF file, then you can do a lot of editing in GarageBand. GB can do almost everything the pros need.

  12. kb says:

    oops, forgot one more thing. I really *would* like to stream a couple of homemade cassette tapes to my computer. Like the tape of me winning money from the radio station when I was 18. Stuff like that.

  13. ck says:

    My god. How long has it been since I’ve heard that song?? Thanks for reminding me of Aztec Camera.

  14. Becca says:

    Kb, from which, Wiretap Pro? I have it set to mp3. I’ve finally got a handle on editing through Audacity, but other Mac users, heed kb.

    Oh, and I have a cassette of me talking to Matthew Sweet on Rockline. Must dig that up! Thanks for the reminder.

    Anytime, ck, now if only they’d get their stuff released to iTunes.

  15. TM says:

    That song so fucking dates us.

  16. Becca says:

    I gave up any hope of anyone thinking I was 23 when I did a tutorial on converting cassettes to mp3.

  17. Lydia says:

    Ah, Rockline. I remember laying in bed on Sunday nights listening to my favorite bands on that show.

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