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  1. #1

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    I have some cassettes of some of my songs from the '90s. I would like to transfer them to mp3. This should be easy but I am having a problem.

    First, some background.
    My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 15 3000. These laptops have only one headphone jack, no mic input jack. The standard workaround is a splitter cable. I have one but that doesn't seem to work. Worse, my laptop's microphone is picking up sound. (I can't seem to make that stop.)

    I want to rip the cassettes to Reaper, track by track, and go from there. But I can't seem to get ANY input from my cassette deck to Reaper. When I launch Reaper, the signal response is all triggered from sound the laptop mic is picking up. (My voice muttering, 'what the heck is going on here?')

    When I go to the laptop's Control Panel, I see no other option for sound input.

    I don't know what to do. I've looked at some YouTube videos but so far, none have proved helpful.

    Any ideas?

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  3. #2

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    Hammacher-Schlemmer sells cassette decks for this express purpose [hammacher.com]. They were on sale for half-price, so I got two. Uses a USB equipped memory stick (not included). Has a mic input as well. I've been going through my stuff for a coupe weeks, now, so I haven't actually converted any so far, but the reviews are good, so there's that. Good luck!

  4. #3

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    I recommend you not use the audio input on the Dell
    even if you get it working , its usually a mono mic input
    and they're noisey for line level anyway
    --------------------------------------
    if you're happy with your cassette deck
    buy a USB audio interface ....

    Behringer are good and cheap

    choose one with the inputs and ops types you need
    I just ordered one of these

    Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD – Thomann UK

    or this has rca inputs
    Behringer U-Control UCA202 – Thomann UK

    have a browse around there .....

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    I recommend you not use the audio input on the Dell
    even if you get it working , its usually a mono mic input
    and they're noisey for line level anyway
    --------------------------------------
    if you're happy with your cassette deck
    buy a USB audio interface ....

    Behringer are good and cheap

    choose one with the inputs and ops types you need
    I just ordered one of these

    Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD – Thomann UK

    or this has rca inputs
    Behringer U-Control UCA202 – Thomann UK

    have a browse around there .....
    Thanks for the suggestion!

    I was looking at those Behringers just now!
    My cassette deck is just a boombox. I never play tapes in it. (Until today, when I wanted to transfer some songs to mp3.) I just want to preserve those songs I have no other copies of. (Though some make me cringe to hear!) I think this interface, or something like it, may be the way to go.

    Because I'll also (later) want to plug my guitar into the laptop to add guitar tracks to Reaper. I have an old Behringer mixer from my 4-track days but it's not USB (and there's no RCA line in on my laptop, so....)

    This is definitely To Be Considered.

    Thanks, again!

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Hammacher-Schlemmer sells cassette decks for this express purpose [hammacher.com]. They were on sale for half-price, so I got two. Uses a USB equipped memory stick (not included). Has a mic input as well. I've been going through my stuff for a coupe weeks, now, so I haven't actually converted any so far, but the reviews are good, so there's that. Good luck!
    Thanks for the suggestion!
    This seems way out of my league. I don't actually have a cassette deck. I don't even have a stereo anymore. I thought I didn't even have a cassette player at all until I noticed a boombox I bought my mom to play CDs on (-she's in assisted living now and doesn't want it with her so it's been collecting dust here with me for over a year) has a cassette player too. Simple headphone out. Nothing fancy, nothing audiophile. I really want to play a half-dozen or so cassettes once each to transfer them to digital.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I have some cassettes of some of my songs from the '90s. I would like to transfer them to mp3. This should be easy but I am having a problem.

    First, some background.
    My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 15 3000. These laptops have only one headphone jack, no mic input jack. The standard workaround is a splitter cable. I have one but that doesn't seem to work. Worse, my laptop's microphone is picking up sound. (I can't seem to make that stop.)

    I want to rip the cassettes to Reaper, track by track, and go from there. But I can't seem to get ANY input from my cassette deck to Reaper. When I launch Reaper, the signal response is all triggered from sound the laptop mic is picking up. (My voice muttering, 'what the heck is going on here?')

    When I go to the laptop's Control Panel, I see no other option for sound input.

    I don't know what to do. I've looked at some YouTube videos but so far, none have proved helpful.

    Any ideas?
    Hey there, Mark,

    If you’re mainly interested in archiving for posterity you can try an adapter cable from your boombox’s headphone jack to your computer’s mic input. I’m no audiophile, but I do enjoy good quality music and the cassettes I’ve copied sound decent to me.

    My father-in-law was an old time fiddler who passed away in 1985. About 2 years ago my wife found some of his cheapo cassettes and asked me if my gizmos could somehow get the sound of his voice and fiddle onto her imac. I played them on my Tascam cassette player and recorded the headphone output. Not bad. She was happy.

    If you have a friend with a better cassette player than your boombox you might try that.

    Good luck.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion!

    I was looking at those Behringers just now!
    My cassette deck is just a boombox. I never play tapes in it. (Until today, when I wanted to transfer some songs to mp3.) I just want to preserve those songs I have no other copies of. (Though some make me cringe to hear!) I think this interface, or something like it, may be the way to go.

    Because I'll also (later) want to plug my guitar into the laptop to add guitar tracks to Reaper. I have an old Behringer mixer from my 4-track days but it's not USB (and there's no RCA line in on my laptop, so....)

    This is definitely To Be Considered.

    Thanks, again!
    ok Mark , understood ....
    I’ll let you know
    how the Behringer interface works out for me ....
    my one has guitar inputs line inputs and Mic input with phantom power

    very handy ....

    to transfer the cassette
    just use a 3.5mm jack to 2 x 1/4” jack lead into the line inputs
    (have a mini screwdriver handy to
    tweak the azimuth on the cassette deck)
    bon chance

  9. #8

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    Ebay has cassette decks that record directly to USB flash drives. Just plug in a flash drive, play the cassette, and it records directly to it. That would seem to be the easiest way to go. Or they have them that just have USB out, which you can connect to a computer and use software there. That's more trouble, but probably more versatile.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by eddiebobcat View Post
    Hey there, Mark,

    If you’re mainly interested in archiving for posterity you can try an adapter cable from your boombox’s headphone jack to your computer’s mic input. I’m no audiophile, but I do enjoy good quality music and the cassettes I’ve copied sound decent to me.
    Thank you for the suggestion.

    The problem I'm having is with my laptop's input. There is no mic input. I have a splitter cable but it doesn't seem to work. In this case---with these cassettes---I'm not looking for the best quality. Just preservation. But that route doesn't seem to work. I think I'll need an interface between the cassette deck and the laptop, one with a USB.

  11. #10

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    The Dell specs say that the headphone jack is also a mic input. I don’t know how that works but I assume if you plug the correct connector into it, it detects and uses it. But in any case it’s usually not much good feeding a headphone out signal into a mic input, they will be completely mismatched and sound bad.

    USB interface is definitely the way to go, especially if you already have Reaper and would also use it subsequently for recording your guitar.

  12. #11

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    I just bought a Berringer Xenyx 302USB to be able to use my condenser microphone as a USB input.

    It looks like it could work for your application.

    I did have to go into settings and select the Berringer instead of the computer mike.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    The Dell specs say that the headphone jack is also a mic input. I don’t know how that works but I assume if you plug the correct connector into it, it detects and uses it. But in any case it’s usually not much good feeding a headphone out signal into a mic input, they will be completely mismatched and sound bad.

    USB interface is definitely the way to go, especially if you already have Reaper and would also use it subsequently for recording your guitar.
    Thanks, Graham. I think you're right.
    I have a splitter cable which is what has been suggested about getting line input into a Dell laptop (with only a headphone jack). But the laptop doesn't recognize a TRRS 3.5 mm plug as an audio input device. (Same with a standard 3.5 mm headphone style plug.) It doesn't recognize it and thus doesn't give me the option of selecting THAT input rather than the laptop's built in mic. I've looked around and discovered this is an issue for other Dell users, many of whom seem to just get a USB audio interface and move along.

    And that's what I will do too. Something I can use with the guitar as well. (And a vocal mic.)

    Lots of choices, and many seem to be on backorder at Amazon and Musician's Friend. Not sure when I'll be able to get one into my hot little hands.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuitar View Post
    I just bought a Berringer Xenyx 302USB to be able to use my condenser microphone as a USB input.

    It looks like it could work for your application.

    I did have to go into settings and select the Berringer instead of the computer mike.
    Yes, I think that would work.
    I have a small Behringer mixer from decades back but it has no USB, so I can't connect it to my laptop as is.
    I'm wondering if with a simpler USB interface I can run my mixer into it and then from that to the laptop.

    But this goes onto my list of possibilities. Thank you!

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Yes, I think that would work.
    I have a small Behringer mixer from decades back but it has no USB, so I can't connect it to my laptop as is.
    I'm wondering if with a simpler USB interface I can run my mixer into it and then from that to the laptop.

    But this goes onto my list of possibilities. Thank you!
    Yes you can do that with this type of interface
    Behringer U-Control UCA202 – Thomann UK

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    Yes you can do that with this type of interface
    Behringer U-Control UCA202 – Thomann UK
    I ordered one. Technically, I 'reserved' one as they are on back order (Musician's Friend) and I won't be charged until they have it in stock to ship. So I'm not sure how long it will be before I have it. But I'm a-gettin' one.

    Thanks for the helpful advice.

  17. #16

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    Hey don't you have that thing for recording onto your phone with a guitar and aux input? Maybe I'm confused here... but you could use the aux input for your boombox and record it to your phone, then transfer the files.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I ordered one. Technically, I 'reserved' one as they are on back order (Musician's Friend) and I won't be charged until they have it in stock to ship. So I'm not sure how long it will be before I have it. But I'm a-gettin' one.

    Thanks for the helpful advice.
    great ! don’t hold your breath mine’s taking ages ....

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    Hey don't you have that thing for recording onto your phone with a guitar and aux input? Maybe I'm confused here... but you could use the aux input for your boombox and record it to your phone, then transfer the files.
    Well, Lawson, I never thought of that. Thank you for the suggestion!
    I will give that a whirl later and see how it goes.

    But I will still need a USB interface for my laptop so I can plug in my guitar and record into Reaper. Also, I have an old mixer (pre-USB) that I want to plug into the laptop too and will need an interface for that.

  20. #19

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    Transferring cassettes to mp3: Houston, we have a problem-dii-bmp

    Someone beat me to it,
    but looks like you got it.

  21. #20

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    I suspect there's a way to wire a jack so that it is detected as an external mic, but I don't know how to do it.

    If you want to record guitar in to reaper, one good way is with an audio interface like the Focusrite 2i2, which sells for about $110.

    Reaper, on my Dell laptop, recognized it instantly. It has been a pleasure to use. Pretty much transparent. That is to say, it feels like it becomes part of the computer. I plug into it, start playing and I can see it in Reaper. Plug my headphones into the Focusrite (or plug it into an amp and speaker) and you can play back from the computer into it. Seamless.

    The only thing I'd add is that how ever many channels you get, you may end up wishing you had more.

    But, while sheltering in place and contributing tracks to tunes which are being assembled elsewhere, two tracks is more than enough.

    Reaper seems to work great, with none of the latency headaches I had a couple of years ago using Ableton Live.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 06-01-2020 at 06:39 PM.

  22. #21

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    Still waiting for Musicians Friend to ship my Behringer U-CONTROL UCA202 USB-Audio Interface

    Today is the day I was most recently told it was scheduled to ship. No update yet. Order still "processing."
    Ordered it in late May
    Long wait.
    As Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part."

    Hope to have it soon....

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Still waiting for Musicians Friend to ship my Behringer U-CONTROL UCA202 USB-Audio Interface


    Today is the day I was most recently told it was scheduled to ship. No update yet. Order still "processing."
    Ordered it in late May
    Long wait.
    As Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part."

    Hope to have it soon....
    i got my Behringer interface after about 3 weeks wait from Thomann
    i have to say it exceeded my expectations , it sounds great .
    might be worth shopping around now Mark
    maybe other suppliers will have stock ....

    For Ex (maybe it won't help you in the USA)
    but Thomann has these in stock at the moment
    Behringer U-Control UCA222 – Thomann UK

    edit
    btw I changed my order to one of these ....
    Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD – Thomann UK
    Stereo mic /line/ inst inputs , separate main and headphone volume knobs
    love it

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    i got my Behringer interface after about 3 weeks wait from Thomann
    i have to say it exceeded my expectations , it sounds great .
    might be worth shopping around now Mark
    maybe other suppliers will have stock ....
    Checked with Musicians Friend this morning (7/15) and the scheduled shipping date is now 7/24.
    I notice Amazon is now asking $98 for what most others ask only $38 for. Hmmmm, not going to go that route.

    It seems to be on backorder everywhere I look (at the price I wish to pay).

  25. #24

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    Still waiting. It was supposed to ship to ME last Friday but has not yet. I'm not sure they have received their most recent shipment yet. Next one would be 3 August. Ugh.

  26. #25

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    Well, the longer you wait the closer you are to the day you'll receive it.

    I'm know feeling I need a spare... if my audio interface goes out I don't want to have to wait so long.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Well, the longer you wait the closer you are to the day you'll receive it.

    I'm know feeling I need a spare... if my audio interface goes out I don't want to have to wait so long.
    I was talking with my wife last night and she said that I have a birthday coming up (early October) and she has no idea what to get for me, so I should come up with some ideas.

    I'm thinking of this: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlet2i2G3--focusrite-scarlett-2i2-3rd-gen-usb-audio-interface?mrkgadid=3343941294&mrkgcl=28&mrkgen=gpl a&mrkgbflag=0&mrkgcat=studio&recording&&acctid=217 00000001645388&dskeywordid=92700046938543061&lid=9 2700046938543061&ds_s_kwgid=58700005283383056&ds_s _inventory_feed_id=97700000007215323&dsproductgrou pid=777509253062&product_id=Scarlet2i2G3&prodctry= US&prodlang=en&channel=online&storeid=&device=c&ne twork=g&matchtype=&locationid=9012035&creative=359 712374850&targetid=pla777509253062&campaignid=1465 808290&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIr_nw0eXw6gIVEJSzCh3Hdw0CE AQYASABEgLlGPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    A Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 3rd gen.
    Would be funny--but not THAT funny---if I would up getting this before I got the other one. But these aren't currently on backorder (I don't think).

  28. #27

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    Yep, those are maybe the most popular of all interfaces. In stock it says.

  29. #28

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    I have the 4i4 3rd gen. No issues.

  30. #29

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    A friend just asked help with this same question just yesterday on Facebook. This product was recommended to him by a well-known musician: https://www.amazon.com/Reshow-Casset...aWNrPXRydWU%3D

    $35. Looks like a Walkman. Plugs straight into your computer via USB.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Thank you for the suggestion.

    The problem I'm having is with my laptop's input. There is no mic input. I have a splitter cable but it doesn't seem to work. In this case---with these cassettes---I'm not looking for the best quality. Just preservation. But that route doesn't seem to work. I think I'll need an interface between the cassette deck and the laptop, one with a USB.
    This may come in handy at some point;

    Sorry! Something went wrong!

    It's a simple USB sound card.

  32. #31

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    Does the link work? It say's "Sorry! Something went wrong!" but it seems to work..
    Weird.

  33. #32

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    The link works, that wording comes up every now and then, and can be safely ignored.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B View Post
    A friend just asked help with this same question just yesterday on Facebook. This product was recommended to him by a well-known musician: Sorry! Something went wrong!

    $35. Looks like a Walkman. Plugs straight into your computer via USB.
    I'm looking at this.
    The USB interface I ordered back in May is still not in. (Though I was just told it should be in Monday, 3 August. Of course, I was recently told it would be on in 23 July and that didn't happen.)
    For one thing, I have a lot of cassette demos of my old songs. But I also have several other old cassettes that I wouldn't mind transferring to mp3. For $35, it seems worth it to me.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I'm looking at this.
    The USB interface I ordered back in May is still not in. (Though I was just told it should be in Monday, 3 August. Of course, I was recently told it would be on in 23 July and that didn't happen.)
    For one thing, I have a lot of cassette demos of my old songs. But I also have several other old cassettes that I wouldn't mind transferring to mp3. For $35, it seems worth it to me.
    The external sound card I mentioned in post #30 converts stereo headphone out to mono in. The output is stereo though. They can be less than $10. It simply bypasses the internal sound card on computer and provides 1/8" mono in and 1/8" stereo out.

  36. #35

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    There are many USB sound cards available, many for very little money. I have a Xonar that I like a lot, with 3.5mm headphones out and 3.5mm microphone input. I don't often use the microphone input, but it's a piece of cake to run a stereo cable from anything that has a standard output to it. I once used an HDMI splitter to get analog audio from my computer to an amp, but I've been using the Xonar for some time, and prefer it. The only downside is that it uses a USB port, and those can become limited in number as one adds devices, but I have a powered USB3 hub to provide enough ports. I also have a no-brand switchable interface, that allows it to be used as analog input or output through a USB port, cheap on ebay and it works well enough. It uses RCA connectors instead of 1/8"/3.5mm. Lots of options are available to suit whatever type connectors you need to use, and most amazingly cheap but of acceptable quality. All only a click away.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    The external sound card I mentioned in post #30 converts stereo headphone out to mono in. The output is stereo though. They can be less than $10. It simply bypasses the internal sound card on computer and provides 1/8" mono in and 1/8" stereo out.
    Mark probably need stereo in ....

  38. #37

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    There are many models that have stereo in.

  39. #38

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    Mark has already ordered an interface that I bet will sound great and it's only $35.

    Over the years I've used four different audio interfaces including two that I plugged a mixer into the mini jack of the basic interface that comes with an everyday computer. They all sounded really good.

    One of the members of the Cakewalk forum posted recordings of the same material from several interfaces of various price points and let the members blindly evaluate the quality. Folks couldn't tell the difference.

    From the epic yep thread on the Reaper/Cockos forum, yep said:
    Take a great-sounding CD and record it through your soundcard. Play back the recording. If it still sounds great, then you know that your soundcard is capable of rendering great-sounding recordings. No more blaming the interface.*

    Next take the same CD and play it back through your monitors, recording the playback with your favorite mic (this is actually how the earliest records were duplicated). Still sound good? No more blaming the mic, cable, or preamp. If it doesn't sound good, then go back to the above post and make sure that your monitors and room acoustics are up to snuff. Even the lowly SM57 should reproduce a pretty accurate picture of whatever you point it at.


    If you cannot get a good capture with what you have, then it's time to try and wring out the signal chain for the weakest link. But since I suspect that most home recording rigs will more or less pass this test, I'm going to set that part aside for later.


    *Please note that none of this is to say that preamps or converters or mics don't matter. Better tools make things easier. But merely adequate tools can still build a great project. The pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, and John Hammond's brilliant recordings of the Benny Goodman Orchestra were all created without tools that modern craftsman take for granted.

  40. #39

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    No word yet from Musician's Friend about the digital audio interface I ordered back in May. They were supposed to ship it to me today....

    Anyway, I did get a "Super USB cassette capture" that looks like a Walkman. (Doug B suggested it above. See link there.)
    I figure if I get the few cassette demos I have left transfered to mp3, this will have been a worthwhile investment.

    Question: how to get THAT music (an mp3 file) HERE, so others might here it? Is that what Soundcloud is for?

  41. #40

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    Latest update from MF re: DAI: 13 August. (They change expectations in 10-day increments. I'm not holding my breath.)

    Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the USB cassette capture. I've now converted several old demos both mp3 and WAV files.
    But how to post them here????

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Latest update from MF re: DAI: 13 August. (They change expectations in 10-day increments. I'm not holding my breath.)

    Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the USB cassette capture. I've now converted several old demos both mp3 and WAV files.
    But how to post them here????
    Create a Soundcloud account (it’s free), upload them to soundcloud, then for each song copy its Soundcloud page url here.

  43. #42

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    Or you can just attach them to a message, by using the attachment button, the one to the right of the smiley button. Open the attachment dialog, select your mp3 file(s) and post. Doing it this way does require the reader to download the file instead of just playing it in the browser, though.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Or you can just attach them to a message, by using the attachment button, the one to the right of the smiley button. Open the attachment dialog, select your mp3 file(s) and post. Doing it this way does require the reader to download the file instead of just playing it in the browser, though.
    That is why something like Soundcloud is preferable if you want more people to hear your tracks. Some people do not like downloading files, and on some devices such as iPad, it is not always possible to download them anyway.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Create a Soundcloud account (it’s free), upload them to soundcloud, then for each song copy its Soundcloud page url here.
    I did that. I'm sure it works fine---I've seen enough examples hereabout---but when I tried this yesterday the file was not saved. I was pushed to purchase a subscription. Which might be a good idea but I balked. I'll want to look into this more carefully soon.

    Today, I just made a video in my Windows 10 Photo app. It's audio with a single photo title card. I'll post that below.

  46. #45

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    "Sellin' Me Like Jelly", a homemade demo from the '90s. Using a BOSS DR-5 for the rhythm section. My Strat and voice hog the foreground. (Evidently my noise gate was in the shop. ;o)

    A rock song. Not jazz. No jazz licks either. I had read an article in the paper about some bands who had had some success but found themselves in great debt to their record companies, who then decided to tell them what they should do next. One band mentioned in the article was Scandal, best known for "Goodbye To You." I forget the others. Anyway, I wrote a song about it...



  47. #46

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    It should be easy enough to post videos like that on YouTube, and link that here. Perhaps easier than SoundCloud, but I've never used that so I don't know for sure, but I know it's easy to upload to YouTube.

  48. #47

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    Another update on the digital audio interface I ordered from Musicians Friend back in May: still not shipped. Dang.

    One of these days...