Making "24 Bit Remasters" out of cassettes

Discussion in 'Tape Recorders' started by ky2k5, May 13, 2005.

  1. ky2k5

    ky2k5 Guest

    After reading up on 24-bit recording, I became compelled to re-record my old 4-track cassettes from when I first started with recording, and a few albums I bought on cassette into digital. I recorded them before onto my desktop computer's built in Avance97 audio card, in 16/44.1, but I could tell a noticeable difference between the .wav file and the source tape. It just didn't have the same punch as the tapes, and seemed to have an unreasonable amount of hiss.

    I already have a Lexicon Omega Recording Studio (a USB interface), which can record up to 24 bit/48khz, but it doesn't have RCA inputs, so I pretty much decided to buy an Audiophile 2496 or whatever it's called. But luckily I stopped by Radioshack and stumbled across some RCA-to-1/4 jack adapters, and picked up a couple, and plugged them into 2 line in's on the back of the Lexicon, creating 2 RCA inputs. It works great, and I've read that moving from 16 to 24 bit recording is a much bigger improvement than 48 to 96 k anyway, so I figured I'd save the $100. I can definitely tell a difference between 16/24 bit, and I can hardly tell the difference between the tapes and the digital versions, even after exporting the 24/48 wave file (after exporting THAT out of Pro Tracks Plus) into 16/44.1 in Audacity with shaped dither.

    But I'm fairly new at this, just about to graduate high school, so I've got a few questions though about my method, just to make sure:

    1) I've read some folks say that it's bad to record at any sampling rate other than multiples of 44.1. Am I making a mistake by recording at 48k? If so, is it enough to warrant going back and recording at 44.1k?

    2) I usually have volume on the face of the Lexicon turned all the way up on the two cassette channels, with the output of my Fostex X-12 around half, adjusted a bit to avoid clipping. Am I thinking this the right way? I'm assuming I'll lose the least tone if the input of the Lexicon Omega isn't turned down at all, since it won't cut anything, or at least as little as possible.

    3) Does Pro Tracks apply dither whenever you export to a .wav file? I'm hoping no since Audacity (an awesome free audio editing program that I use to mix down to 16 bit/44.1k) does this.

    4) I'd hate to hear bad news after spending $300 on the Lexicon last fall, but I'm curious. Is it true 24 bit? I know that very few 24 bit cards actually achieve all 24 bits, but is it at least good? Guess it's kind of technical since I'm happy with the results, but I couldn't resist.

    Any suggestions anyone would like to add would be greatly appreciated! I don't know anyone personally right now who knows anything about digital audio recording, so I figured this was the best place to go.
  2. cmcc

    cmcc Guest

    RE: analog recording:

    Have you ever tried using a BBE sonic maximizer?
    You will be amazed at what it will do for your tape recordings/source.

    The link below is for the plugin if/when you use your computer and software, but there are also hardware versions too.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    If the recordings you have done at 48k sound good to you, I see no reason to re do them.

    Technically speaking, it is better to record at 44.1 if that's where you are going to end up at .

    Usually 3/4ths of the way up on a knob or fader is where you are at unity gain ....

    Normally, I would discourage the use of anything like a BBE Sonic Maximize, Aural Exciter etc. .... as those things just create distortion or realign or boost the high end ... but in the case of doing cassette transfers, a BBE may be just what the doctor ordered. But look for a used one on the cheap (under $75). There are plenty of those things around in the corners of studios not in use any longer ... there's no reason to pay top dollar for a new one.
  4. ky2k5

    ky2k5 Guest

    So should I have My Fostex X-12's (4 track cassette recorder that I'll be playing back the track's on) faders for the tracks playing, and output level both at 3/4ths, and then adjust the knobs on the Lexicon Omega accordingly?
  5. p0llen_p0ny

    p0llen_p0ny Guest

    What you're doing now seems alright. Although I would have done it at 44.1k / 24bit. The slight improvement of sound you get by recording at 48k is hardly worth it. Especially considering that you'll have to convert to 44k. Then again I'm a bit of a purist and like as few digital manipulations in my music as possible. For me, what it comes down to is not what sounds better, but what sounds natural. Trust your ears.
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Yes, you're on the right path, and if you're hearing better sound now, all the better.

    I agree that if you're going to end up making CDs (And not audio tracks for Video), then you'll want to stick with 24/44.1, 24/88, etc. Any perceived "gain" in sound quality at 48k will be negated when you gearbox down to 44. Save yourself the trouble and just go with 44 in the first place.

    The BBE sonic maximizer has become a source of embarassment for many old users nowadays. (I never used it, but lots of my friends did, and swore by it at the time.) I'm told it's great for enhancing "Thin" sounding material, esp cassettes and the like. If it's honestly helping your sound, stick with it. If not, keep it out of the signal chain.

    The rest (Gain structure) you'll sort out with your ears - sounds like you already have.
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