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Works for me - Audacity software recommended
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.