“ Brand: Envivo / Audio System Type „
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So I managed to get all my treasured bits of VHS onto DVD and then gaffer-taped the old vids together to make large bricks for my granddaughter to play with. Despite the ridicule I received from my daughters, they have turned out to be very useful. One job done.
Now, what about that mountain of audio tapes that I shall never listen to again, but which surely contains little nuggets that I can still embarrass the kids with? I'm thinking of those hairbrush diva moments when they used their pink, plastic karaoke machine to cover something like "Tragedy" (so aptly named) by Steps. But also I'm thinking of the times when I recorded them uttering their earliest gurgles and when they sweetly recorded songs to send to their grandparents. I know, I'm a sentimental old git, aren't I?
What I needed was something that would play the old tapes and then allow me to digitize the bits I wanted onto the computer, probably via USB, so that I could then save it all to CD. Well, would you believe it, Aldi came up trumps again with the Envivo Cassette Converter. It was just exactly what I was looking for, but I was a little dubious at first, because the previous Envivo item I had bought had disappointed me somewhat. However, their USB turntable had been good, and this was a job that needed doing; plus the price was too good not to give a go.
The Envivo Cassette Converter looks exactly like the old walkman style portable cassette player, except there is nowhere to fit a strap of any kind and this has a micro USB port.
There are play, stop, forward and rewind buttons, as well as direction changing, so you don't have to take the tape out to listen to the other side, and a play mode selector, offering a loop option. There is no recording facility, but then that's what I'm trying to move away from, so that's alright. Rotary volume control is on the side and there is a headphone socket, for which they supply a set of phones, which are not brilliant, but good for purpose..
There is a socket to take a DC 3v mains adaptor, but this isn't supplied. They do supply a couple of AA batteries and a USB cable. One of the things I really like about this sort of USB device is that the connection to the computer powers it as well as transferring data. One less plug and lead to mess with, and a fortune saved in batteries.
Also supplied is a mini cd with the software, which is the Audacity program, allowing you to edit the recorded sound and then save it as an MP3, Wav or Ogg file. It comes with an MP3 codec, meaning that you don't have to download any additional files in order to save the recordings as MP3s.
DIGITIZING YOUR OLD TAPES
Using the mini cd provided, install the Audacity software on your computer. It takes about 8mb of memory and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and Mac. Installation is quick and straightforward, with the usual on screen prompts (the manual also helps if needed) and then you are ready to connect your cassette converter to the computer with the USB lead.
The cassette converter opens from the side, rather like an old camera, with a sliding latch release mechanism. Put in your tape and find a section that you wish to record, using an earpiece to listen.
With the Audacity program open, click on record on screen and press play on the converter (or the other way round - it doesn't matter) and when you have reached the end of the section, stop the recording and the cassette. Don't worry if you have recorded more than you needed, because now you can tidy up your recording on screen. There is a visual representation of the sound on screen, making it much easier to find your edit points and delete any bits you don't want. You can even select sections of the recording and save them as separate files if you wish, so in other words you could do one long, continuous recording and chop it up later. Trust me, it is very simple, with enough features to make it useful and interesting, but not so many that it becomes daunting to the non-techies amongst us. The saved files - you'll probably want to "export" the files in the MP3 format - can then be organised and stored on your computer or archived to CD, memory stick, MP3 player, or whatever you use.
I'm glad I overcame my reservations and didn't allow my other recent experience to stop me getting this. As ever with Envivo products, the build seems rather tacky, but the performance is usually very good for the price and this is the case here. It cost me £12.99 from Aldi and it's the sort of thing they bring back from time to time. Actually, (breaking news) I've just been to my local store and they do have some in at the same price. Other online stores do sell them, but I certainly wouldn't be tempted by CoolShop's £29.99 when I can walk into Aldi and buy one for £17.00 cheaper. They will come up on eBay occasionally and in fact there is one on now at the time of writing.
Of course you have to record in real time, but that's unavoidable. The point is that you get to keep those old treasures in a way that you can access more easily and store more safely and economically. The final product seems to lose little if anything in the conversion, so I would happily recommend this.
All I need to do now is to think of a use for all those old tapes. Maybe gaffer them together like I did with the videos? The new baby will need a set of building blocks, after all!