Recorded quality does match direct playback

I could use some help here - starting to dump cassette tapes to digital via Audacity, and the digital file playback lacks air, dynamics and “presence” when compared to the direct cassette playback.
Record chain is: Nakimichi deck → sound card line in → Windows XP home → Windows mixer → Audacity 1.2.6 @ 44.1 / 32 bit, levels -3, -2, playback levels matched. Playback through the sound card → digital file is slightly “duller,” lacks air and punch.
Am I hearing the limitations of the Windows drivers, the soundcard DAC, or something else? Would an external USB adapter/card help?
Thanks for your help.

I would suspect the soundcard - or the leads/plugs.

I too use a Nakamichi (BX2 - professionally serviced before I started tape transcription). I run it into an Edirol UA-1EX into the USB port on my Dell desktop running Windows XP-HE-SP3. All tapes were TDK-SA and were recorded with no Dolby. Audacity set at 32-bit float 44.1kHz for record/edit and exported as 16-bit PCM stereo WAX at 44.1kHz. I make CDs from the results and load high bitrate AACs into my iTunes iPod. I listen to the CDs on Quad ELS-57 via a Rega deck - no lack of “air or presence”, just consistently good results.

Can you find a store where you can return the soundcard if it does not work for you?


Thanks - the sound card is a standard PCI - I just wanted to narrow down the hardware/ software thing to see where to start.
I think I’ll try an outboard card /adapter. The Edirol and Berhinger have their own DACs - correct?

Correct - that is basically what they are DAC/ADCs with inbuilt USB services.

See this thread for reviews:


Yep - that’s where I found out about them. :slight_smile:
I dealt with some level problems last night, and it cleaned up the problem somewhat - still not perfect. I think another DAC is the way to go. Thanks again.

I suggest not to choose from those low budged devices from behringer or edirol … as an excellent low budget alternative from E-MU, the 0202 USB is under 99US$ (0404 is even better but it’ doubles the cost).

Actually, you need ADC (analog to digital converter) rather than DAC (digital to analog converter) for recording from analog sources to digital data … DAC is needed for to playback digital data through analog path.


ADC → DAC - correct.
Sorry for the dyslexsia.
I’ll check out the Emu. Thanks.

Just looked at the U-MU. Wierd inputs. Kind of one of everything.