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3.2 out of 5 stars335
3.2 out of 5 stars
Style Name: Tape Express|Change
Price:£27.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on 9 May 2010
I have now transferred several tapes successfully into MP3 files of reasonable sound quality (allowing for the quality of the tape and the lossiness of the MP3 compression system).

I agree with those who believe that the hardware is flimsy for the price; however, it is sufficient for the job. And, as others have remarked, the accompanying documentation for the hardware is inadequate.

Tips for those using Microsoft Windows:
1. DO plug in the tape recorder to your computer before you try to install software (see below).
2. I suggest that you do NOT use the supplied EZ software to make the transfer.
3. Instead, prefer to use the supplied Audacity software. This has the huge advantage that it is NOT necessary to install the bulky and unfamiliar iTunes program as part of the installation process, and you have complete control over the recording process. The CD ROM supplied with the ION Tape Express contains excellent, illustrated, instructions on a PDF file ('Audacity Software Guide v5.3.pdf') about how to use the Audacity software with the ION Express, including how to modify the Control Panel settings. (The PDF file refers to the ION Express Disk transfer hardware, but applies equally to the Tape hardware.) You will not be able to access some of the settings if the ION Tape Express machine is not plugged into your computer first. On my Windows XP computer, instead of the 'USB Audio Codec' to which the PDF manual refers, there is 'USB PnP Audio Device' as a substitute.
4. At the time of writing, the Audacity software (v 1.2.6) on the supplied ION CD is the same as that which can be downloaded free from Audacity's own web-site. However, check the Audacity web-site (listed on page 2 of the ION 'Audacity Software Guide' PDF manual) for an upgrade. (Users of Windows-7 should use the 'beta' upgrade found on the Audacity website, as recommended by Audacity.)
5. DO use the 'Normalize' adjustment (Menu item 'Effects/Normalize...'. Accept default settings) on the whole file, as explained in the ION Express PDF manual.
6. In order to make MP3 recordings, it is additionally necessary to download and install the LAME MP3 converter. This can be downloaded free from the LAME website cited on the Audacity web-page FAQs. For copyright reasons, neither ION nor Audacity can supply it directly.

The whole process of converting tapes to MP3 files is really very easy, but very tedious (running at real time for play-back of the tape). Results are perfectly acceptable.
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on 19 July 2014
This isn't a five-star product. It isn't a one-star product. It's a three-star product at a five-star price.

THE GOOD:
1. It does an OK job. Not a stupendous job; an OK job. Anyone who expects CD quality sound will be disappointed. You have to remember how cassette tapes sounded. Your transfer is not going to sound as good as CDs or downloads because the source material is not there. As long as you approach it with that in mind, you are less likely to be disappointed.

2. It's cheap.

3. It's simple to use. One cable. Compact unit. Easy software.

THE BAD:
1. There IS wow and flutter, but it happens mostly on tracks towards the end of each side of the cassette. In my experience, the first half of each cassette side is OK. By the time you get to the final two tracks on each side, the wow and flutter are more noticeable. You might get away with it on hard rock or anything else at full belt, but if it's a boy soprano or a woodwind or brass instrument holding a clean note, you won't like it.

2. The software doesn't transfer metadata properly. At the end of each recording session, you are invited by the EZ Converter software to input the Album Title, the Artist and a name for each track before it transfers the tracks and your metadata to iTunes. Roughly half of this metadata attaches properly to each track. The rest disappears en route and you have to input the information again in iTunes. I have no idea if this is a fault in EZ Converter or in iTunes, but it is a flaw.

3. It duplicates some tracks. All the tracks come through properly, but some are duplicated. When you try to play the duplicates, they are empty. It's easy to kill them, but it is needless hassle.

THE BEST WAY TO USE THE UNIT
Like another reviewer here, I listened to my first attempt and was appalled. I was about to box up the unit and take it back to the store. My transfers were full of clicks and buzzing. The store was closed, so I decided to persevere. After a lot of trial and error, I worked out a way that made the recordings acceptable.

1. Fit batteries, preferably at least 1900mA photo AAs. Ion says the unit can be powered just by the USB cable that carries the audio signal, but I don't think this has nearly enough puff to keep the unit motor running AND transfer the audio.

2. Make sure the cassette is loaded cleanly, then snap the lid shut hard to make sure it is seated properly. Most of the clicking and thumping on my early tracks I traced to poorly seated cassettes. If you're too gentle when you close the Tape2Go lid, the cassette will click on the spindles and the noise will appear in the recordings.

3. Position the unit with the cable stretched tight, at its full extent from the USB socket on your computer. I have no idea why this should make a difference, but it does ... a BIG difference. Perhaps it has something to do with making the USB sockets connect as firmly as possible.

4. Position the unit as far from magnetic fields or electronics as you can. That means router, computer, printer and speakers. This seems to minimise the buzzing.

5. Set the gain about 75% of the way up the column. Ignore the level meters; they are useless.

6. If you use iTunes, play around with the Graphic Equaliser for each track after you have transferred it. Usually, this involves the "bass boost" setting to try to get rid of the slightly tinny sound on everything. You can improve a lot if you are prepared to take the time

Even after all this, some tracks are still unacceptable to me, so those are the ones that I will buy online. If you have tracks that you play often on quality speakers or cans, I recommend that you buy them online, too. The rest are perfectly acceptable for archive stuff that you don't play often but you keep because you like to have your collection complete.
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on 7 December 2009
Had previously tried to digitise tape using line in connections from a quality walkman - sound was always hissy and extra software to remove noise dulled the sound. I was given this as a birthday present and was very impressed - almost no hiss was transferred to the recorded sound-file. It's not a quick process (real time encoding) but the quality of the sound means I haven't had to do any other processing to the files. Would heartily recommend.
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on 16 March 2010
We rarely use the few cassette players in our house these days, yet we own several cassettes which either don't exist on CD or do, but are "best of" compilations that are in a different order. Added to this the frailty of the cassette medium and I am sure that many will associate with my fear that some of these cassettes were soon to be lost forever.

I was always very interested in finding a way to transfer my collection onto either disc or onto the computer where they could be easily backed up. This is the piece of kit I've been waiting for! It's perfect for the job and very easily portable within itself.

All you will need to do to easily transfer cassette to computer is to install the software and then it's just a case of following the VERY easy instructions to safeguard your music collection for years to come. It's the size of one of those early walkmans that Sony produced in the 80s, it comes with all the links you'll need and you can even use it as a walkman if you want to - there's a headphone socket.

I am sure that mine will be nicked by family and friends to upload their cassette collections, and having used it all afternoon I can confirm that it is simple and effective.
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on 2 January 2010
Firstly, the one thing you'll need to know if you are a non-technical bod like myself is that the machine powers itself via the USB port, so you don't need batteries. Also, confusingly, there is a 12v adaptor socket, but no one seems to stock one and there is no reference to it in the instruction manual anywhere!.

The player is robustly built and has a fairly 'solid' feel to it. The controls (for those of you over 30 that remember such things!) are the same as old cassette players and it's easy to get to grips with.

My main, albeit small gripe, is that the software that comes with it is ok but takes a while to thoroughly understand.

There are two types of software to transfer the recordings. The simple 'EZ software' version is ok and easy enough to use, however the 'audacity' software is much more flexible but takes a lot longer to understand. I got this machine to transfer some priceless live recordings from waaaaaaaaay back. The thing with an old live recording is that you don't want a gap between the tracks and you need features to eliminate hiss etc etc the main thing you need is a marker so you can skip between songs. So, to my mind the main reason for buying this would be to re-record old live tapes and brush them up sound wise before burning them onto disc.

Unless, i'm much mistaken there isn't a feature that says how to 'record a live album' so this is something you have to spend ages finding out how to do.

In my opinion, IT is there to make things simpler and its not easy to understand. With the massive availability of most types of music that you can download, you wouldn't bother re-recording an old cassette unless it was a live recoring, so I think the manufacturers have missed this view point.

In summary then, its good, but the software is irritating, but not bad when you finally get to grips with it.
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on 11 September 2010
Was a bit skeptical when I bought it, but read the instructions got the gist of the converter, but once connected went fine, a bit long winded as you have to record as played but can be left to get on with it, very pleased as slowly getting all my lovely old tapes on to my computer. Going to take a long time to get all of them on but who cares, wont have to buy a second time on CD's.
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on 11 July 2011
Initially I thought this product was ok, if a bit flimsy. However after the first dozen or so cassettes I converted, I got intermittent faults, like distortion (on tapes that played perfectly well on my cassette deck) and the tape slowing or stopping altogether. Finally after about 20 odd cassettes it just died altogether. I returned it to the supplier who returned it to me still not working. I eventually gave up and went for the 'ClimaxDigital ACAP100 USB 2.0 Audio Capture-transfer analogue audio sources to digital format' which was less than half the price and has been trouble free and enabled me to convert the remainder of an extensive collection of cassettes.
Overall this product was very disappointing and a waste of my time and money.
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on 17 April 2010
I got this for my Birthday and I couldnt be happier!

I have installed on both an XP Pro machine and a Windows 7 one with no problem.

You get both their own software and Itunes on a disk. My only gripe would be that you need Itunes installed as this is what does the conversion. I think you may be able to use a program called Audacity instead but I havent looked into it.

To use it you plug the tape player into your computer, fire up their software and and click record. You get an option to split the recording or not and away you go. The length of time it takes is dependent on the length of tape as there is no option to speed up the recording
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on 9 August 2010
This works but is very clunky. Mine works off the USB so don't know why others are having issues with their power supply. The accompanying software is very basic and flawed. Yes, it takes a long time to convert but that is the nature of audio tape technology not the fault of the machine. I do not want to listen to the tapes as I convert them but it appears that there is no facility to record in a silent mode so I have to mute the speaker which precludes me from other audio on my machine. The software asks for track information before converting but makes no use of it! It converts to an Itunes format but then denies that it has been able to do so - just ignore it!. I just edit once the conversion appears on Itunes. I am converting old audio book tapes and the facility to deselect splitting into tracks is helpful here (screen after Normal or Chrome tape).

Overall a basic product which works on a basic level but badly let down by the software.
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on 1 June 2014
The software does nearly nothing to make the process easier than just recording into windows sound recorder. I had expected something you could get a stack of tapes and just feed them to this with the software running in the background automatically recording when you play the tape. Nope.

I could nearly tolerate that but it also manages to have terrible sound in lots of ways all at once. Do you remember the bad old days of cheap portable cassette players. The thing you'd call your "Walkman" but there was no way your parents were getting you a real one like that (It was over £30!). Remember how the sound in that cheap player would wobble from one ear to the other as you walked, be really clear then muffled then back again? This Ion product is like that, except that this is now what £30 buys you and it manages to be so crappy with not the slightest movement from the table.

This alone would be enough for me to suggest it's better just to plug your old walkman (the real one you got when you became a teen and learned emotional blackmail) into you computer mic port.

However, Ion have really exceeded themselves. By using the very cheapest digital components they could find they've added a failing not even the worst cassette player you ever had could manage. It puts out a load of hiss when it's not even doing anything. Once you hit play that hiss adds to the normal tape hiss. Oh, i forgot the cherry. Unsatisfied with the worst possible analog sound, they've sought out the worst that digital can offer too. Digital crackle, the kind of which you'll only have heard on a badly put together old PC that's got an extra headphone port on the front where there's so much interference from other system components that you wonder if maybe the thing got left cruelly in a car on a hot day and its insides have melted together.

So, to sum up. Such unhelpful software that the only justification for this product's existence would have to be sound quality on which it is also world class in the depth and breadth of its crapness.
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