Customer Reviews: ION Audio Tape 2 PC | USB Cassette Deck Conversion System with RCA & USB cables
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on November 27, 2007
Before I purchased the ION I read many articles on the Internet about how to transfer my audio cassettes to CD/iPod. I was overwhelmed by the technical terms, so I thought the ION would be the answer to my dreams: an easy, trouble-free solution. I assumed, that the ION (at it's steep price) would give me all I needed for simple, stress-free transfers.

I was wrong. The ION is a bad-investment for a number of reasons:

1. The ION is huge.
2. The software included with my ION was defective (Chinese characters appeared when I tried to load the application) -- and although the folders opened in English, they still didn't load.
3. The recording software for MAC users is available FREE on line.
4. If you have an old tape deck, or any cassette player with audio-out ports, you can go to Radio Shack (which I just did), buy a standard issue "Y" connector (1/8" stereo plug on one end and a white (male) and yellow (male) plug on the other end and (voila) you are done -- you now have precisely what the ION gives you: all for about about $15.

Believe me, I am no computer/tech genius. I'm a forty-something mom. But buying and plugging in the "Y" connector was super easy.

The ION merely gives you an old-fashioned, basic cassette deck, basic software (and, in the case of Audacity, something that is free from the Internet) and a USB connector (which does exactly the same thing as the $15 Radio Shack Y-connecter).

After that, you are on your own. I found the steepest learning curve was figuring out how to use the audio recording software. When I was stymied by the defective ION software, I discovered Garage Band was already on my iMac -- but I have since downloaded and use Audacity (on both my husband's PC and my iMAC).

The ION directions are so basic as to be nearly indecipherable. And as far as the Audacity software goes, the ION literature says something like: if you've never used audio recording software stick with the EZ converter software (which I believe only works on PCs).

Please also note that the ION literature doesn't tell you the next most important step you must take to make the ION work (goodness knows how any of the other reviewers were able to use their ION w/o a good working knowledge of their computer and/or audio recording. In short, you must go into your Control Panel (PC) or System Preference (MAC) and make sure you change your sound input option to in-line audio port (if using a Y-connector) or USB (if sticking with the ION).

Buyer Beware: think twice before you click to buy the ION. If you have a cassette player (or access to one) with output audio ports (most have them), you can buy the Y-connector and download the software for free.

To Amazon's credit, it appears they will refund my money and cover the cost of return shipment because of the defective software contained with the ION I purchased.
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on October 21, 2007
I have several old cassettes made during my childhood that I really wanted to preserve. I found the ION Tape2PC USB Cassette Deck and thought it looked like a good solution for converting those cassettes onto CD. The device was easy to install and easy to use as well. I don't know how to do anything "fancy" with it and just basically let it do it's thing, which has been good enough without using all the fancy options. I am impressed that the sound quality turns out better than if I just played the cassettes on a regular cassette deck. My cassettes are very scratchy sounding because they've been played over-and-over through the years but the ION Tape2PC is able to filter a little of that scratchy sound pretty well. I am happy with my purchase and I didn't need any special tools or anything to install it.
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on December 11, 2007
I feel obligated to review this item since I bought it and returned it after being unsatisfied with the sound quality. If you're like me, you're trying to get your tape collection onto your computer. I was looking for the best sound quality first, and if possible, an easy way to make the transfers. The Tape2PC didn't do either.

My recommendation is to buy yourself a new dual tape deck that offers auto-reverse and relay play. Most new decks have both features, including the new Sony deck I bought.

The Tape2PC boasts that it comes with Audacity audio software, but you can download Audacity for free (just google it). Hook up the tape deck to your computer's line-in jack using an RCA to 1/8" adapter. 99% of computers already have a line-in jack and the ability to record with relatively little white noise added. The Audacity software is easy to use and will let you convert files to MP3 or WAV. If you're comfortable using a computer, the entire process will be easy for you.

Reasons to buy Tape2PC:
Tape2PC is good for beginners who don't know much about computers. The included software has a wizard that walks you step by step through the process. It will help you name the files and even help split the tape into separate tracks, provided you sit through the whole process and click a button at the exact moment you want to split the tracks (who has time for that?)

It auto imports files into iTunes, and from there you can sync to your iPod easily.

Reasons not to buy Tape2PC:
Number one reason is quality. I thought a USB device would eliminate interference and hums and lead to the best sound quality, but it was less of a factor than I originally thought. The key is the tape deck itself. The Tape2PC deck is a cheap deck at best and even if the USB connection adds no noise, the sound from the deck is lousy to start with. It's mostly noticable on the high-end frequencies - they sound muffled or missing altogether.

The Tape2PC is a dual deck, but doesn't have auto-reverse. That means you need to come back to the computer every 25-45 minutes after one side as been recorded, flip the tape over, and start recording the other side. On the other hand, a dual deck with auto-reverse and relay play means you can load up 2 tapes, and have both sides play in sequence. Set your computer to record and come back and hour or two later (or 200 minutes later if you have 100min mix tapes, for example). You can split the tracks manually in the audacity software after the fact. Most computers nowadays can handle recording 200 minutes without running out of disk space.

Lastly, using the built in Tape2PC software was sort of a pain because it requires iTunes to be installed and it always converts files to MP3s at a low bit-rate. I wanted to convert them to WAV files (i.e. lossless format) and to do that I couldn't use the included Tape2PC software. I was required to use Audacity, but again that's free so what's the advantage to buying this Tape2PC system?
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2007
I have a number of irreplaceable cassette tapes that I've been trying to figure out how to convert to CD for the past few years. I'm on a Mac and pretty technical but nothing I've looked at previously seemed quite right. I had looking into the Crossly all in one but that didn't have very good reviews and I looked into the iMic but it seemed a little complicated.

When I read about the Tape2Pc I was very hopeful. I've had it for a few weeks now and it was very easy to set up. If you're on a Mac you'll have to go to the Ion website to download the EZ Tape Converter and Audacity soft wear, the included CD is supposed to be for PC or Macs but the files are .exe which Mac's can't use.

I decided to try the EZ Tape soft wear as I don't have time at the moment to mess with the files and was hoping that it would be simple, and it was! Just Open the program, click a few buttons and press play on the Tape2Pc deck and you're recording! *Important Mac note - before you start, you need to go into your sound playback file and choose: USB audio codec - this is the opposite of what they say in the booklet. It's mentioned on the Ion forums too.

The sound quality is wonderful - seems the same as on the cassette. You do need to stay nearby your computer when your making the file because if the CD has tracks that you'd like to keep separate for your CD, you need to press a 'track' button between each one, then you need to press 'finish' when it's over. After that it automatically uploads and converts the tracks into your iTunes (or any other CD burning program you choose).

Finally an easy way to convert your cassettes - thanks Ion!
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on November 29, 2007
I recently returned an ION Tape2PC deck to Amazon. It was the worst product and experience with a product's manufacturer I've had in a long time.

Amazon, good to its word, accepted the return and quickly credited my account (ION should learn Customer Service from Amazon.)

My deck seemed to have some kind of odd circuitry problem. Every so often it created loud interference during recording. I isolated my iMac and the ION from any and all interference in the room I was in, meaning no Wifi, no wireless connections open, blackberry in a different part of the house, cordless phone unplugged. I disconnected and reconnected everything. I rebooted the iMac. I tried different cassettes (all commercial grade). Nothing worked.

I called ION Customer Service. After three attempts, each with a hold time of more than 15 minutes, I called back and spoke to the receptionist who told me there was only one tech support person. When I mentioned I needed to speak to someone or return my product to Amazon, the receptionist essentially said to go and return it - just the friendly, helpful customer facing employee you want to encounter.

The software was not very good. The EZ Tape Convertor requires real-time attention to capture individual tracks. The included CD had no Mac software though the website did. Audacity is far better but requires a learning curve. What is really annoying is that before purchasing this deck, I actually spoke to someone at ION who told me the software could discern track breaks and therefore I did not have to watch it - which is why I made my purchase.

The deck itself seems of insubstantial manufacture. The USB port is great and that's the only reason to even remotely think about buying this deck.

The documentation that came with my deck referred only to turntables.

All in all, a substandard - in my opinion - product from a company that does not seem to value the customer or the customer's experience.

I'm going to take the suggestions of others here and buy a proven brand and some RCA-to-line/in jacks and use Audacity (free) or Garage Band.

Do not buy this deck.
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on January 5, 2008
A good "tape to MP3" converter should do the following things:
1) convert the ENTIRE tape (both sides) to 192 kbit (or higher) sampling rate mp3 or to a lossless format (such as ogg, wave, flac or mp3pro etc.) without human intervention.
2) normalize input and remove distortions using appropriate software (such as free Audacity)without human intervention
3) recognize silence after each song, and create a new mp3 song. This feature is a must.
4) preferably do all of the above "stand-alone" without a PC by writing all tracks to a cd or a dvd.

ION fails miserably in the first three feature requirements.
As other readers point out, my "regular" JVC cassette deck and PC (with Audacity installed) are enough to do a better manual job of converting. It is just quite time consuming, and ION does not change that.
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on October 17, 2007
My unit came in late (backorder) but once I had it, it was easy to connect to my pc. I have already copied audio tapes to CD (32 and counting). It is a product I've been "searching for" for a long time. I would recommend it to anyone interested in saving audio tapes to CD (or MP3). Because I have Vista on my pc, I had to go to the Ion site and download another version of the software but that was not a problem.
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on December 26, 2007
The Amazon product description is misleading - "Normal and high speed dubbing for cassette to MP3 conversion" is not true. The only way to record is at the normal play speed, so conversion is very time consuming. Also, the machine does not have an auto reverse so you have to flip the cassette tape.

There are two software packages included but neither are particularly user friendly and included documentation was very limited.

All in all, a very disappointing purchase. I am returning my unit.
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on March 20, 2008
Its Horrible.

1) You have to have iTunes installed
2) Its commandeers the audio drivers in Vista
3)YOU have to click to tell the software where the track changes are
4) YOU have to enter the song information

To all those people giving this a 5 star review: If you just want to record a cassette to your PC hook up your walkman to the line-in port. Works just as well.

The software is worthless.
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on June 20, 2008
Despite some of the other reviews here expressing difficulty in using this device, I found the process completely problem free. Literally within 2 minutes of having it out of the box, I had it hooked up to my macbook and was digitizing my old cassettes. You can listen to your tapes through the speakers in your computer as you record and you just have to hit the "new track" button in between songs and it creates a new file for you to name when you are finished. The majority of my tapes sounded great as I was converting them to MP3. Unfortunately, playing the newly created digital files was extremely disappointing. The sound quality is absolute crap. I fiddled with the gain settings and recording levels and could find no improvement. My 20 year old cassettes sound far better on their own. If anyone knows of a product that is this easy to use but that actually creates listenable results, please send me an emal.
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