Q: Could you please let me know the easiest and, of course, cheapest way to convert my audio musical tapes to a CD? I have a big collection of those tapes which I want to restore on CDs.
A: The easiest way requires a Mac computer. I will provide an overview with both Mac and Windows so all readers will be able to benefit from this column.
The Griffin iMic is an inexpensive, easy-to-use USB audio converter. You can connect it to a cassette deck or portable cassette player with a stereo RCA or a mini plug cable. The iMic sells for $40 or less. This will import the music to the software of your choice on either a Mac or a PC.
If you are a PC user you can also get a USB cassette deck converter on Amazon for about $17. These converters look like a Sony Walkman, but connect via USB and transfer music to the computer. If you are a PC user you need to make a judgment call as to whether you will get better quality from using your existing tape deck with the iMic versus the simplicity of the portable converter. If you have a very good cassette player or even something high-end like a Nakamichi or a Revox cassette deck you will get better sound quality by using your high quality player with the iMic.
Once the music is imported into the editing software it will be one long audio stream. You have to split and rename the tracks song by song, clean up the sound quality if desired and then organize the music in your library for eventual transfer to your iPod or to CD. It is here that a Mac has a big advantage. You can download Griffin Technology's free Final Vinyl software to accomplish this task, and it is much better than any free program available for Windows. As you may guess by the name, Final Vinyl excels at transferring vinyl records, but does a fine job for other audio sources, too. You can learn more about the iMic and Final Vinyl at www.griffintechnology.com.
Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder that works with Windows. The learning curve is much higher than Final Vinyl and I have never much cared for it, but it gets the job done. You can see and download Audacity at http://audacity.soundforge.net.
Q: I am looking to upgrade to new headphones with better bass and comfort. I can spend around $200 at most (preferably around $150) and have been looking at the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s and Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro. I mainly want a thumping, detailed bass that doesn't mess up the mids and highs and can be worn for 3 hours straight without hurting my ears.
A: Either one of your choices would work well. I'd also check out the Ultrasone HFI-580 for $189. As for hurting your ears, I think you were referring to physical comfort. I'd be more concerned about your eardrums and eventual hearing loss if you are going to be playing that thumping bass loudly once you get your new headphones. Please be careful!
Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadviceblog.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.