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Author Topic: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA  (Read 1817 times)

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Offline BradleyJY15

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Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« on: December 03, 2020, 06:50:51 PM »
I am converting cassette tapes and am not sure the best method.  I have a Marantz PMD-300CP cassette deck.

Option 1: Cassette USB out to computer USB in, using the Marantz EZ Vinyl Tape converter.

Option 2: Cassette RCA out to 1/8" input (channel 5/6) on Sound Devices MixPre-6ii.

I am going to do my own A/B listen test to see if I can hear a difference, but is there a technical advantage to use one vs the other?

It seems like most of it would lie in the AD converter on the cassette deck vs the SD MP6ii.  Only other consideration is I only have a "cheap" RCA to 1/8" cable.

Thanks
Brad
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Offline rigpimp

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2020, 07:00:34 PM »
I use the RCA out on my Nakamichi using a pair of RCA > XLR and use the XLR inputs on my Mixpre.  I'd avoid the USB thing without knowing how it is going from A>D.

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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2020, 07:03:03 PM »
I use the RCA out on my Nakamichi using a pair of RCA > XLR and use the XLR inputs on my Mixpre.  I'd avoid the USB thing without knowing how it is going from A>D.
this

a known known is always better. its unlikely the USB interface is better than the mixpre, which well exceeds the resolution of the tape deck, and should transfer without hiccups in almost all cases

 
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Offline BradleyJY15

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2020, 07:31:25 PM »
Thank you for the responses.

Will any "generic" RCA->XLR cable (from B&H) be sufficient?  Or any brand recs?
« Last Edit: December 03, 2020, 07:33:38 PM by BradleyJY15 »
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Offline BradleyJY15

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2020, 07:36:19 PM »
Also, glad for your recs...I already did some conversions using the RCA->1/8"->MP6 because I did not trust the USB...seems kinda sketch to me...but really never thought about going to XLR. So thanks again.
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2020, 07:39:26 PM »
Thank you for the responses.

Will any "generic" RCA->XLR cable (from B&H) be sufficient?  Or any brand recs?

if you wanted to do rca>XLR (handy to have), monoprice is your jam

for your purposes, with a line level signal, no reason to not use the 1/8" input on 5/6. if you dont have that cable, again, monoprice
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Offline BradleyJY15

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2020, 07:52:21 PM »
Thank you for the responses.

Will any "generic" RCA->XLR cable (from B&H) be sufficient?  Or any brand recs?

if you wanted to do rca>XLR (handy to have), monoprice is your jam

for your purposes, with a line level signal, no reason to not use the 1/8" input on 5/6. if you dont have that cable, again, monoprice

I can always use more cables!  Isn't the XLR a better input on the MP6 than the 1/8" though?  Or are you saying that it really does not matter for what I am doing?
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2020, 08:15:37 PM »

I can always use more cables!  Isn't the XLR a better input on the MP6 than the 1/8" though?  Or are you saying that it really does not matter for what I am doing?

it doesnt matter for what you are doing. for line-level signals. inputs 1-4 have no advantage
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Offline BradleyJY15

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2020, 08:31:34 PM »

I can always use more cables!  Isn't the XLR a better input on the MP6 than the 1/8" though?  Or are you saying that it really does not matter for what I am doing?

it doesnt matter for what you are doing. for line-level signals. inputs 1-4 have no advantage

Thank you!
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Offline IMPigpen

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2020, 10:00:04 AM »
FYI, you can also go RCA to 1/4" into your MP6 combo jacks.  I actually do this for my cassette transfers (Nak->DR70).
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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2020, 03:52:18 PM »
FYI, you can also go RCA to 1/4" into your MP6 combo jacks.  I actually do this for my cassette transfers (Nak->DR70).
This is what I do with my transfers- Naks >> Dr 680
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Offline GroundHog420

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2022, 05:46:07 PM »
Hi there - Yep, I know I'm replying in an old thread - but, the topic seems appropriate, so why not?
I actually saw this thread a while back, but 2020 and 2021 had me scrambling enough as it were, so message boards were kind of a low priority for me at that time, and I missed a lot of conversation, I reckon. Was searching for something completely unrelated today, and this popped up, so I figured, what the heck?

Personally, I've been using this method:

1) cassette deck > Edirol R-09, via RCA
2) Edirol R-09 > PC, via USB

It sounds like this might be similar to the Monoprice or Tascam Dr-680 methods mentioned earlier.
I'm not familiar with those units, but it also seems like it would be about the same with just about any digital recorder, perhaps?
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Offline jefflester

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2022, 07:23:26 PM »
Hi there - Yep, I know I'm replying in an old thread - but, the topic seems appropriate, so why not?
I actually saw this thread a while back, but 2020 and 2021 had me scrambling enough as it were, so message boards were kind of a low priority for me at that time, and I missed a lot of conversation, I reckon. Was searching for something completely unrelated today, and this popped up, so I figured, what the heck?

Personally, I've been using this method:

1) cassette deck > Edirol R-09, via RCA
2) Edirol R-09 > PC, via USB

It sounds like this might be similar to the Monoprice or Tascam Dr-680 methods mentioned earlier.
I'm not familiar with those units, but it also seems like it would be about the same with just about any digital recorder, perhaps?
Monoprice sells cables that are mentioned in the topic, the cassette deck in the first post is a Marantz. Your approach is certainly the right way to go, and is equivalent to the DR-680 approach. The Marantz deck in the first post is a <$200 deck with a built-in A/D and a USB port to be hooked up to the computer, so there are some limitations and unknowns there. It does have an output gain control to optimize signal level to the computer, but is limited to 16-bit/48kHz. It certainly works, but a better cassette deck would be better.

Bottom line:
Use the best cassette deck you can (cleaned, demaged and azimuth adjusted) > line output > line input of your digital recorder of choice at your choice of bit depth/sampling freq. 16/44.1 is certainly adequate for this purpose, but 24/96 works too and is perhaps better for any mastering work that needs to happen in your DAW software. There's gong to be minimal differences in the recorder, though one could get into the fine details of A/D conversion and XLR vs. RCA vs. 1/4" vs. 1/8" connectors.  The biggest delta will be the cassette deck and how well it reproduces what is on the tape.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2022, 07:25:55 PM by jefflester »
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Offline GroundHog420

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2022, 07:42:51 PM »
Hey there - Thanks for the additional info and comments!
I have a handful of various Nakamichi decks I've been using, including a 480Z, LX-3, MR-2, BX-300. At some I will end up with problems if I'm can't find more places to keep these serviced, but I guess I'm good for a while. The only reason I bother to mention the different models, is that I've noticed that certain decks seem to favor certain decks, so I try a few decks before sticking with one for the actual transfer process. As for XLRs vs RCA, I did initially try some custom RCA > XLR cables, but I generally need those for my lathe-cutting work, and to be honest, I really wasn't hearing - or seeing - any notable difference that could be relegated to the cable. So in the end, I figured the RCAs worked just fine.

My own weird little quirk, I guess, is that I've been transferring at 24/48. To be honest, for the average recording, I think 16/44.1 would be just fine. Back when I was sharing files via bit-torrent sites, I bumped it up to 24/96, mainly due to how many people are fond of "re-mastering" or just generally re-working other folks' recordings - I figured, what the heck, might as well give 'em some extra headroom and frequencies to play with. But then, most of the time people complained about the size of the filesets, and combined with the fact that these weren't really studio-quality recordings to begin with, I made the concession to back off to 24/48. Still a bit of room to rework, and a bit more compatible for mixing with video, as I do that a bit.

But yes, I completely agree - the deck is what really does most of the heavy lifting or these transfers. Still, for *most* of these kinds of things, I personally feel that a Dragon might be overkill, not to mention they can be a bit touchy at times. Still, it is interesting to note that not every tape seems to perform best in just one deck. For instance, I've even done some A/B comparisons in the past, and the Dragon did *not* always produce the best results. It usually comes down to one or two decks in the end, and sometimes I almost wonder if our cats might be better equipped for this kind of thing than I am.

Hi there - Yep, I know I'm replying in an old thread - but, the topic seems appropriate, so why not?
I actually saw this thread a while back, but 2020 and 2021 had me scrambling enough as it were, so message boards were kind of a low priority for me at that time, and I missed a lot of conversation, I reckon. Was searching for something completely unrelated today, and this popped up, so I figured, what the heck?

Personally, I've been using this method:

1) cassette deck > Edirol R-09, via RCA
2) Edirol R-09 > PC, via USB

It sounds like this might be similar to the Monoprice or Tascam Dr-680 methods mentioned earlier.
I'm not familiar with those units, but it also seems like it would be about the same with just about any digital recorder, perhaps?
Monoprice sells cables that are mentioned in the topic, the cassette deck in the first post is a Marantz. Your approach is certainly the right way to go, and is equivalent to the DR-680 approach. The Marantz deck in the first post is a <$200 deck with a built-in A/D and a USB port to be hooked up to the computer, so there are some limitations and unknowns there. It does have an output gain control to optimize signal level to the computer, but is limited to 16-bit/48kHz. It certainly works, but a better cassette deck would be better.

Bottom line:
Use the best cassette deck you can (cleaned, demaged and azimuth adjusted) > line output > line-in input of your digital recorder of choice at your choice of bit depth/sampling freq. 16/44.1 is certainly adequate for this purpose, but 24/96 works too and is perhaps better for any mastering work that needs to happen in your DAW software. There's gong to be minimal differences in the recorder, though one could get into the fine details of A/D conversion and XLR vs. RCA vs. 1/4" vs. 1/8" connectors.  The biggest delta will be the cassette deck and how well it reproduces what is on the tape.
Hey man, that common sense shit won't fly around here, we're from Portland, we're edgy & different or something  ???
she kept playing with the balls for around 2 years after i thought i had seen it all from them.

Offline jefflester

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2022, 08:08:37 PM »
... sometimes I almost wonder if our cats might be better equipped for this kind of thing than I am.
These guys seem to have it under control.

DPA4061 HEB/AT943 -> CA-UGLY -> R-09
Samson C02/Superlux S502/iSK Little Gem -> DR-680MKII
AKG CK63 -> AKG C460B -> DR-680MKII
AKG CK63 -> nBob actives -> Baby NBox -> R-09/DR2d

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Cassette Transfer: USB vs RCA
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2022, 10:01:09 PM »
Funny, since 2020 I joined tapeheads.net and have had all five of my Nak's refurbished. (2 480's, and 2 LX-5's and one 680ZX) Also obtained a 582Z for a friend and decided to buy someone on this board's AD2k and now use it between whichever Nak I think sounds best. (Agree with groundhog420 here, different masters sound :best" from different decks).
And, since the AD2k has digital output, I am going into a PMD 661 digit in for the bit bucketing. I also use 24/48 unless it is for someone who requests I take it off at 24/96. My reason is storage size having close to 11 TB of files now.
Hi there - Yep, I know I'm replying in an old thread - but, the topic seems appropriate, so why not?
I actually saw this thread a while back, but 2020 and 2021 had me scrambling enough as it were, so message boards were kind of a low priority for me at that time, and I missed a lot of conversation, I reckon. Was searching for something completely unrelated today, and this popped up, so I figured, what the heck?

Personally, I've been using this method:

1) cassette deck > Edirol R-09, via RCA
2) Edirol R-09 > PC, via USB

It sounds like this might be similar to the Monoprice or Tascam Dr-680 methods mentioned earlier.
I'm not familiar with those units, but it also seems like it would be about the same with just about any digital recorder, perhaps?
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

Mics:         AKG460|CK61|CK1|CK3|CK8|Beyer M 201E|DPA 4060 SK
Recorders:Marantz PMD661 OADE Concert mod; Tascam DR680 MKI

 

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