Digitising audio cassettes in bulk!

You might have thought that SimplyDV was actually a videotape transfer facility, and you’d be right. Well, sort of.

A captured audio tape's waveform on the PC workstation

Old audio tapes carefully digitised to 16-bit WAV or AIFF file formats or MP3 for archiving

Yes, it’s true. SimplyDV was established as a means of transferring customers’ videotape recordings to DVD and other digital formats. However, a couple of chance requests by customers in 2012 led to SimplyDV offering professional audio tape cassette and reel-to-reel transfers in Milton Keynes, too!

It started back in August 2012 with a couple of requests for reel-to-reel tapes to be transferred to CD. Our 1/4″ Revox B77 audio tape recorder has enjoyed a life in professional studio environments but as a result of most studios now recording and editing digitally, there’s no need for good old analogue tape recording and playback hardware any more. Well, sort of!

Creating an MP3 digital audio archive of research recordings for The Open University in Milton Keynes

So, after completing a couple of smaller assignments, we were then asked if we could do more and on a larger scale. Then, back in February of this year, we were approached by an academic faculty at The Open University here in Milton Keynes to undertake the transfer of over 500 research recordings that have been made on audio-cassettes since the late 1970s right up to the mid-2000s. The recordings aren’t needed for production use – the decision was taken to digitise them in such a way that they can be archived onto high-capacity disc drives and servers in order to make them accessible to researchers and academics. We recommended MP3 as the file format best suited to archiving (filesizes are relatively small) and also because the playback quality is still very good.

Image of audio cassette loaded and playing in a high-specification audio cassette recorder

Audio cassettes and reels digitised to CDs, computer file and MP3

Two audio capture workstations dedicated to the assignment

So that’s the job that’s keeping SimplyDV busy! In fact, we have assigned two audio capture systems to the job – one Windows PC based and the other on Apple Mac – in order to get it all done by the end of May.

All this has prompted a review of our audio facilities, and we’re in the process of building a dedicated audio capture suite specifically set aside for this purpose – so if you’re looking for any amount of audio tape cassette or reel-to-reel transfers you know where to come!

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