Top positive review
163 people found this helpful
LOL - Audacity needed :)
on October 1, 2011
Well, the device works and was very easy to set up. It's a tape player with USB output, which is recognized as a generic USB sound device and available for software which would actually grab and produce files. Software is included.
The manual shows screenshots of Audacity and lame.dll, which suggests that this is what's going to be installed with the CD. I already have Audacity so I didn't even have to use the CD, but I must say Audacity is an open source tool for audio recording and editing. It's quite a geeky tool, which is the reason of my big LOL re product :) and also a reason for -1 star. Go Chinese manufacturers! Yes to teaching general public users geeky tools! :) Of course the very use case of "just recording and saving as mp3" is straightforward enough and is documented in the manual, but if you want anything special, like cutting your tape into individual songs or normalizing the volume, expect some patient time to learn Audacity. Yes, it's relatively easy to do in the tool if you know it, and it's a great tool, but it's aimed for advanced users, it's not "push a button get result thing".
RE quality: I am using it for converting tape-based audiobooks, and I am generally happy with the quality. It adds a tiny level of background noise, but you couldn't expect more of a cheap tape player.
Caveats which may be not obvious to people with "it should just work" kind of expectation:
1. You'll be able to save each side of the tape into an mp3 file, with some five minutes of manual work for each file (select non-empty part of recording and trim, click export selection to mp3, wait till the file is saved - a few mins, and also turn over the casette).
2. The tape is *played* through computer, so you're converting it in realtime, not any faster. Btw, Audacity allows you to playback what you're recording (an option in preferences), but I think it's off by default, which may make it harder for this use case.
3. I didn't try continuous mode, but I tried to let it play in the reverse direction. Somehow I couldn't get it work right in a minute, so I just decided to manually flip sides and not trust multi-directional playing. Not sure if it works actually.
4. If you want to cut tape into songs, prepare for manual work, comparable with the length of the tape.
5. Maximum volume actually causes distortion to the sound wave - maybe that was one of the reason of quality complaints from other commenters. I had to spend 10-15 minutes playing with volume control and ended up using it at about 2/3rd of the volume, and then I did select all use "amplify" feature in Audacity to normalize. The good part is that volume control is physical knob, so you only do it once, and use it for multiple tapes.
Bottom line, for an advanced user without high expectations, it's a fine device, definitely great for price.
For a beginner user, it may work smoothly, but I also can easily see how he can run into trouble and would have to spend time figuring things out. Wouldn't recommend it to a non-geek friend, just to save myself from a chance he'd be calling me with questions :)