The webmaster has the following equipment at his disposal to digitize, transfer, and capture several different media formats. All recordings are mastered while listening to Audio-Technica ATH-M50S Professional Studio Monitor Headphones. Scans of tape inlays, photographs, info sheets, etc are done using a Canon CanoScan LiDE 60.
- 1 Magnetic media
- 1.1 For audio cassette tapes
- 1.2 For Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
- 1.3 For video formats
- 2 Optical Media
- 3 Vinyl / LP
For audio cassette tapes
DM Live offers audio digitization services using a professionally-serviced top-of-the-line Nakamichi Cassette Deck 1 to extract every sonic detail from any audio cassette. Nakamichi cassette decks boast a superior frequency response to other decks, and this particular model features adjustable playback azimuth and playback speed parameters for superior results other decks are incapable of matching. This allows for state-of-the-art playback speed accuracy that is truly faithful to the music.
- Discrete three head, asymmetrical dual capstan tape transport with pressure pad lifter for optimal playback response capability and stable tape travel.
- Three tape heads allows for the playback head and recording head to be best optimized for their respective functions, and discrete head mounting allows for better adjustment compared to a typical “sandwich” head where both heads are contained in the same housing with less capability to individually adjust each head.
- Dual capstan transport ensures consistent tape tension over the heads and allows the pressure pad lifter to function.
- Pressure pad lifter, unique to three head Nakamichi decks, eliminates the influence of the cassette’s pressure pad from the tape travel and prevents scrape flutter which negatively affects audio quality. The pressure pad lifter also significantly reduces head wear as less pressure is exerted on the heads.
- Unique manual playback head azimuth adjustment knob allows the best possible frequency response from a tape that was recorded on any other cassette recorder by adjusting playback head azimuth to match that recorder’s record head azimuth more closely; see diagram to the right.
- Higher grade Nakamichi 680ZX FG servo capstan motor with pitch control to allow adjustment of tape’s playback speed so a recording does not sound fast or slow, without needing to correct the speed digitally.
- All electrolytic capacitors in the power supply section and on the playback amplifier board replaced with Nichicon 105C temperature rated and Nichicon audio-grade bipolar capacitors, respectively. Transistors on playback amplifier board were also replaced.
- Original 220uF rated capacitors on playback amplifier board replaced with 470uF rated capacitors to flatten low-end bass response.
- Medical-grade, grounded IEC power socket installed to filter potential EMI/RFI interference and provide additional grounding of the chassis. The deck is connected to a line-conditioning pure sine-wave output Tripp-Lite uninterruptible power supply using a shielded heavy-duty 8-foot 14AWG power cable.
Mechanics and calibration
- Tape transport disassembled, cleaned, and lubricated in June 2019.
- Donor 680ZX capstan motor disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and capacitor replaced.
- Failure-prone reel and cam motors replaced with brand new motors.
- Default tape speed, default playback azimuth & height, record head azimuth & height, playback level, and overall frequency response calibrated to factory specifications.
- Performance checked against alignment tapes about every six months.
- Wow & flutter measurements verified to meet factory specifications.
- Tape transport thoroughly cleaned after each cassette transfer and demagnetized according to owner's manual recommendations, approximately 50 hours between demagnetizations using a wand-type demagnetizer.
- Blue Jeans Cable LC-1 Low Capacitance 8-foot RCA cable -> Creative Sound Blaster ZxR sound card (RCA Line In) with 123dB input signal-to-noise ratio (captured at 32-bit depth and 88.2khz sample rate) -> Adobe Audition CC 2015 recording at 32-bit depth 88.2khz sample rate using Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI).
- Each tape is fully wound (fast forwarded) and then rewound to help minimize tape skew by repacking the tape spools. Output level on deck is always at maximum, unless digital clipping occurs, then the volume is reduced as necessary. Line-in input volume is always at maximum on the computer.
- Furthermore, the tape is fast-forwarded to a point on the tape containing a lot of high-energy treble content (if such treble present on the tape recording to begin with - some tapes are just dreadfully muffled sounding), played back, and playback azimuth is adjusted, then the tape is rewound and playback restarted again to have the optimal playback azimuth set from the beginning.
Final delivery format
- The audio will be encoded as FLAC (level 8 [maximum] compression) using FLAC 1.3.2 64-bit, to 16-bit depth (dithering enabled) and 44.1kHz sample rate using foobar2000 v1.3.15 and its Resampler (SoX) component set at best quality. If the audio has significant frequencies above 22kHz, a high-resolution 24/88.2 version may also be provided. The audio is initially captured at the odd 88.2kHz sample rate because it likely resamples better to the CD-audio 44.1kHz standard as it is a 2:1 ratio, versus 96kHz which is a 2.177:1 ratio.
- Source: Tapeheads.net: perry Re: DR-1, 2, Cassette Deck 1,2 lost channel fix.
- U04103-70A and T10 tapes from A.N.T. Audio.
For Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
- Flashed with firmware that is able to read audio DATs
- Most direct option to rip audio DATs to WAV format in their native sample rate (i.e. 16-bit 32khz / 44.1khz / 48khz)
- Allows error correction which no standalone DAT deck / recorder can perform, to my knowledge; please correct me if I am wrong
- Regularly cleaned according to manufacturer recommendations using "new old stock" Seagate DAT head cleaning tapes
- DATs ripped using dat2wav software on a dedicated Windows XP Service Pack 3 computer (detailed further below)
For video formats
I am currently able to capture the following video media using the following equipment:
- PAL (S)VHS: Philips VR1000 (JVC rebadge) with built-in line time base corrector, S-Video output
- NTSC (S)VHS: JVC HR-S7600U with built-in line time base corrector, S-Video output
- NTSC 8mm Video8 and Hi8: Sony CCD-TRV99 Hi8 camcorder with built-in time base corrector, digital noise reduction, S-Video and stereo RCA output
The video is sent via high-quality S-Video cables through a DataVideo TBC-1000 full-frame time base corrector to stabilize the video signal for capture to help ensure no frames are dropped. Video is captured via an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600XT AGP video card using the lossless Huffyuv AVI codec, captured using VirtualDubMod. Audio is captured at PCM 16-bit 48khz using a Monoprice Premium 6 foot RCA to 3.5mm 22AWG gold plated cable connected to a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card.
- Dedicated video capturing computer specifications
- HP Compaq d530 Convertible Mini Tower
- Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2ghz with HyperThreading
- 4GB DDR-400 RAM
- ATI All-In-Wonder 9600XT AGP video card
- Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card
- 80GB Western Digital Velociraptor WD800HLFS hard drive
- 500GB Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS hard drive
- Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3
- HP Compaq d530 Convertible Mini Tower
Compact Discs / CD-R
- The latest version of Exact Audio Copy configured with optimal settings for a perfect rip
- Optical drive used does not affect the result of the rip
- ImgBurn to make ISOs
- PgcDemux or DVD Audio Extractor (if PgcDemux doesn't work) to demux audio soundtracks directly to the original format present on the DVD
- Not applicable at this time due to no Blu-Ray bootlegs existing that need to be ripped; as far as I know, only one or two BD recordings have been torrented on DIME
- Optical output is used for digitally bit-perfect captures of non-MDLP MiniDiscs
- Digitally captured using the optical input of Creative Sound Blaster ZxR sound card, recorded using Adobe Audition CC 2015 at 16-bit depth and 44.1khz sample rate using Creative ASIO
- Many thanks to Ryan Jonik for his generous contribution of the MD deck