Copying one recording from multiple options

(Note: I am using Audacity 2.2.2 with Windows 10.)

I am 72 years old and brand new to Audacity, so please bear with me…

Background: When I was a teenager in the early 1960s, my father used a Wollensak reel-to-reel stereo tape recorder to capture my high school basketball games that were broadcast via the local radio station. Typically 2 separate and complete games were recorded on each side (i.e. 4 total recordings: Games 1A and 1B on one side, Games 2A and 2B on the reverse).

Problem: When attempting to “copy” Game 1A onto my computer via Audacity, I can “hear” the original desired broadcast on my tape player while I simultaneously “see it” recording onto Audacity. HOWEVER, when I “play it back” on the computer, I “hear” Game 1B. Likewise, while trying to “copy” Game 2A, I also “hear” it on the tape recorder, but when I “play it back” on the computer, I “hear” Game 2B instead. Hmmm.

Adding to this confusion, if I attempt to “copy” either Game 1B of Game 2B, I can still “hear” the appropriate one on the tape recorder, but nothing seems to record nor can I “hear” anything when I attempt to “play it back” on the computer.

Question: If possible, can someone please explain in layman’s language how to resolve this presumably simple issue? THANX.

P.S. My username is supposed to be “Oregon rube,” not “Oregon rub.” Oh, well.

Correction: Under added confusion, I MEANT to say “if I attempt to ‘copy’ either Game 1B or Game 2B.”

So on the original tape, you’ve got one game on the left channel and one game on the right channel?

How are you connected to the computer, and do you have a laptop or a desktop/tower computer with a “regular soundcard”?

With line-inputs on a soundcard you’d normally record stereo (left & right at the same time) and then you can split the recording into two mono tracks later (in Audacity).

Most laptops have only a mono microphone input (and headphone output). It’s “wrong” (too sensitive) for a line-level input and you’ll usually only get the left side (depending on your cables/adapters).

With a laptop you’d need a USB audio interface with line inputs. (The [u]Berhinger UCA202[/u] is popular and inexpensive, but it doesn’t have an analog gain control.) Don’t but a regular “USB Soundcard”… They are like laptops with only mic-in and headphone-out.

[u]How to connect your equipment[/u]

[u]Splitting Stereo to Mono[/u] (After splitting to mono, you can delete one of the tracks and export, then start-over and delete the other track.)

That you’ve succeeded in making digital (computer) copies of what’s on tape means you’ve got the gist of Audacity & analog-digital conversion. That what you’ve recorded wasn’t what you expected is not an Audacity problem.

It could be that the tape-player is not set-up to play the type of tape-recording made in the '60s : half-track mono.

Having said that …
#1. If you can hear it, Audacity can record it.
#2. If your tape-player is set up as half-track stereo, and you’re hearing one channel but recording the other, the recorded channel will be backwards (i.e. reversed).

So far I’ve received 2 prompt replies to my question, one from DVDdoug and one from Trebor. Thanks to both of you.

Please be advised that while I’d like to respond to you individually, I haven’t quite figured out “the trick” yet—so I don’t know whether either of you will receive this. Hmmm.

This in itself illustrates the severe limitations faced achieving my stated goal when using Audacity, specifically, plus reel-to-reel tape recorders and computers, generally.

(About all I can tell anyone right now is that I’m not using a laptop and the only physical “connection” between my Wollensak tape recorder and my desktop computer right now is via a male-to-male mini-plug TRS connector cable–placed in what seems to be the “logical” respective ports.)

That said, while I truly appreciate your willingness to help, I’m afraid my inability to comprehend even the basic terminology and technology required to follow your well-intentioned suggestions means I’ll probably have to try to find someone locally who’s capable and willing to provide some in-person, hands-on help.

Here’s hoping this “reply” gets thru to the correct person(s) and thanks again.

So far I’ve received 2 prompt replies from DVDdoug and Trebor RE my stated predicament. Thanks to you both.

(Note: I’m not even sure this response will get to either of you since that’s how little I understand how this “new fangled” forum process works.)

Anyway, for what it’s worth…I am not using a laptop and the only “connection” between my desktop computer and my Wollensak reel-to-reel stereo tape recorder consists of a 3/8th inch, male-to-male TRS mini-plug connector inserted into what seem to be the only “logical” ports on each unit. (Those are “high-falutin” words coming from me–see below.)

Unfortunately, I’m afraid my inability to comprehend the basic terminology and technology involved here makes it next impossible to properly understand your well-intended and much appreciated advice.

Consequently, I fear I’ll just have to try to find someone locally for some in-person, hands-on assistance.

Thanks again.

I don’t think “3/8th inch … TRS mini-plug connector” was around in the 60’s.
It is the correct diameter & length to fit in the socket, but the correct plug will be TS …

Since my 4/23 posting, I received separate posts from DVDdoug (RE the serial # of my Wollensak tape recorder) and Trebor (RE the TRS mini-plug connector). Thanks, guys.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if either of you will receive this, because of my ongoing difficulty replying, but here goes…

I recently purchased the male-to-male 3/8th inch TRS connector from amazon (based upon a 2 yr old youtube instruction video by “clydesight.”) One end was inserted into the “stereo pre amp” port at the rear of the tape recorder (the only opening it would fit). The opposite end was inserted into the red port (next to the white and blue ones) at the rear of my CPU.
The Wollensak model is a T-1515 and the serial number is 101114. The following information also appears on the inside cover:

Track Selection Chart
2 TR Monaural or Stereo Selector on 2TR
4TR Stereo “ “ A
Four Monaural Tracks
Part 1 Both Reels Side 1 Selector on A
“ 2 “ “ “ 2 “ “ A
“ 3 “ “ “ 1 “ “ B
“ 4 “ “ “ 2 “ “ B

I’ve taken pictures of the front, top, back of the Wollensak, plus the above chart (and the TRS connector), but I don’t know how to attach them. Sigh.
In any event, I’ll try sending this “Post Reply” as is and see what happens.

P.S. Once again, I won’t be offended if no one responds, because I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that this task is beyond my limited comprehension level.

I take it back about the 1960’s socket being TS : that’s a stereo-machine so will be TRS.

If you have Audacity set to record mono that could explain being able to record one side of the tape, but not the other.
Set Audacity to record in Stereo
Set Audacity to record in stereo.png
One track of the stereo pair in Audacity will be silent. Split the stereo-pair and delete the silent one …

[ Which track is silent should change when you play the other side of the tape ].

The opposite end was inserted into the red port (next to the white and blue ones) at the rear of my CPU.

Red is unusual. The stereo line-input is usually color-coded blue. Red & white are common for right/left RCA jacks on audio/video equipment, but they are rarely found on a computer. (Sometimes a computer will have a yellow RCA jack for composite video or a black RCA connector for digital audio.)

[u]Sound Card Color Codes[/u]

Do you have a stereo system you can plug-into? You’d need an [u]adapter cable[/u] but then you’d know what’s coming-out of the preamp output and you could experiment with the track selector switch while listening. Or, your TV may have RCA audio/video inputs (for a DVD player or VCR) and you can plug-into the audio jacks to listen.

Thanks for the follow-ups, gents. (Hopefully both of you will receive this reply–somehow.)

I should explain that I’ve curtailed my primary goal at this very early stage to simply making certain the proper connecting cable(s) is/are inserted into the proper port(s)/slot(s)/opening(s). If/Once accomplished, THEN I can begin to “fool around” (literally) trying to utilize Audacity to reach my now long-term goal of transferring these old/ancient reel-to-reel tapes. Ironically, despite my advanced chronological age, I’m only able to take “baby steps” right now.

One potentially important correction…I previously described the 3 colored slots at the back of my CPU as red, white and blue. Wrong. They’re actually pink, light green and light blue and labeled Mic, Out and In, respectively. Currently the TRS cable is in the pink slot, the white “speaker” cable for my computer is in the green slot, while the blue slot is empty. (The other end of the cable is in the Wollensak as previously indicated.) I’ll also attempt to attach a few more photos. That said…

—Is the male-to-male 3/8th inch TRS connector cable correct for my purposes? Is it presently attached correctly? If not, what changes are required–in old man’s terms?

If the recordings sound OK, i.e. very similar quality to the tape, not horribly distorted, then pink/red mic socket is OK.
However you could try using the blue line-in socket instead to connect to the tape player, then you’ll have to select “line-in” as the recording-device in Audacity, rather than external-microphone.

If your computer’s mic & line-in sockets are mono , (i.e. TS), then you’ll need this TRS-TS adapter …
Convert Stereo 3.5mm Connection to Mono, Female Stereo Socket to Male Mono Jack.png