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Sometimes, you do get what you pay for. . .
on March 20, 2017
This is a frustrating product- not altogether terrible, but inconsistent nonetheless. Let's face it, if we're buying and using this product, it means we've got old cassettes that we want to preserve. Old cassettes are generally worn, well-used, temperamental, problematic. Because of that, preservation brings inherent challenges and issues. In one sense, the ION Audio Tape 2 PC is a very economical solution- possibly one of the better or even best options for under $100. That said, here's my experience:
1) The supporting software automatically exports everything to iTunes. If you have a Mac, you have no choice about it. If you have a PC, there are some workarounds, but it's complicated. If you love iTunes, great! If you don't, well. . . you get the picture.
2) There are no easy ways to control the resolution and quality of your imports. My first one sounded terrible- distorted, awful, just plain unusable. I was able to partly fix this by adjusting the gain switch on the back of the unit, but the quality was still terrible. I finally found a workaround that got decent results: I went into iTunes, opened preferences, selected import settings, and set it to "Import using Apple Lossless Encoder / Setting: Automatic." The next import worked well, and in checking, the resolution of the resulting file was the standard 44.1khz / 16 bit resolution found in CDs.
3) This is a pretty cheap build. This isn't your TASCAM, AKAI, or SONY stereo deck of the late 70s, 80s, or 90s. Heck, it's not even the venerable groundbreaking ProWalkman. Unfortunately, that translates to inconsistent performance from play to play. I experienced trouble with tapes (especially well-used or older ones ones) tracking at an even speed. In one case, trying to convert a tape from the B deck produced an uneven stereo spread (everything skewed left) and a 60hz hum. I tried the same tape, same song from the A deck and the converter software produced a really nice file. I can only conjecture, but given the looseness of the tape doors, I'm guessing that the tolerances on this machine are wide enough to lead to higher inconsistency.
4) When you plug the unit into an outlet, it produces a pretty strong hum. . . even when the unit is powered off.
5) If you are a musician or audiophile trying to preserve cassettes with high fidelity, you'll probably be frustrated with the results and by the inconsistency. It's probably better to get a decent vintage tape deck and route the sound to through some kind of analog interface to ProTools or something else.
6) The USB port is in the back of the machine, which is less convenient if you'd like to use this unit in your stereo or studio for cassette playback.
1) This is cheap.
2) The dubs and conversions that I made when everything was working came out quite well. The quality was better and less harsh than streaming the same tracks from YouTube. EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter does preserve the air and analog feeling of the original cassettes. That said, if you're simply wanting to hear a beloved album, you're probably better off with a commercial download.
3) Usable as a cassette player in your home stereo. It can dub cassette to cassette, if you really want to do that.
4) Though I haven't tried some of the cheaper options of portable converters, I'm guessing from reviews that this model is considerably better.
5) If you're not worried about high fidelity or musical quality and you're just preserving lectures, interviews, etc., this machine can do a good job.
6) For all my complaining, it is really easy to use once you've got it set up.