Thursday, May 25, 2006

i-Tunes, tapes and the compilation

Over the past few days I have been reaquainting myself with i-Tunes again as Neil and I made some CDs. As we do this, it highlights more and more that we really REALLY need to have two computers since having the two of in the same room as the computer is almost guaranteed to be a recipe for arguments. Having pretty much got most of i-Tunes sussed, I'm always twitching to "help" Neil use it better; having got oodles of experience in using computers, Neil always gets twitchy with me not necessarily using other programmes the most effective way (though for him "effective" is spending as long as it takes to write a programme-based solution even if just doing the task the 'slow' way is much MUCH quicker). The trouble is that whilst I generally pick up what he shows me - I've sussed a neat way of using txt files and Excel to create usable text to copy into Nero to make CD covers thanks to Neil's interventions - generally, Neil doesn't seem to be half as savvy at picking up what I explain to him.

I suspect that this is more down to my poor ability at explaining technical issues than anything else...



Before the stereo died and required replacing last summer (thus causing me to miss DT at Galstonbury: grr), we had a rather nifty tape-to-tape deck. Yes, I know, tapes are the devil's medium for recorded music. They break, snag and stretch. Yes, they are rubbish. Unfortunately, because I still have an awful lot of music on tape, and because I have been the queen of compilations in the past (this may now need qualifying: see * below), before the new computer and spiffy little i-Tunes, I did use the tape deck a lot. And indeed some stuff I ONLY have on tape, and is now no longer available to normal people not prepared spend all their life on the net trying to obtain music from whoever may have it... ANWYAY. The point is that it is a very slow process to even get all our CDs to the computer AND there is still the small matter of what to do about the tapes. Currently, we can only play tapes in the (hopefully soon to be replaced) car. And at the moment I am constantly banging up against the problem of trying to reconstruct some of my previous tape compilations on CD format.

I know that in theory you can hook up a stereo system to a computer and record / edit taped materials so they can be loaded to a PC music storage system. But they're on different floors of the house and although Neil is technically an Electrical Engineer, that in fact means he's a programmer. He's not an engineer; and he certainly is not to be trusted around the electrics of equipment.

I'm sure I had a point.

Oh yeah. My point is that I'm making CD compilations. Some are from the songlists of resurrected tapes. Some will be new. Some have already been posted to those they were designed for.

* And some had to be remade because some idiot (me) was too busy listening to how the melody connected with the previous and subsequent song to pay attention to the lyrics or the title... a gross error of judgement belatedly spotted - though thankfully in time - by Neil. Not that the song was offensive, but the context could have been, would have been, at the very least potentially upsetting.

I have therefore now lost something of the confidence I thought I had for making compilations (I have little confidence in myself so possibly losing this little thing has knocked me somewhat).

The track in question?
Sufjan Stevens: "For the widows in paradise; for the fatherless in Ypsilanti"


Reidski said...

Come on Lisa, give us the reasons why this song has cheesed you off, please. I done some research on the man, but, apart from his christianity, I am none the wiser.

Neil said...

It's just the title was insensitive given circumstances.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I really like the song - melodies! harmonies! - but it's as Neil said: it just would have been crass.

Reidski said...

After I wrote that, I then realised that it wasn't the song as such, but, as you say ...

sorry you two, hope no hurt was caused.

In fact, take off all these comments if you feel it is appropriate and then we can forget all about it!

HolyhosesRob said...

Getting your tapes converted to digital isn't so hard.

You just need some high-quality audio cables (around £10) a Digidesign MBox with Pro Tools software (around £300), the Sony Oxford Restoration plug-ins (to remove the hiss without spoiling the sound, about £600), and a nice, powerful Mac (about £1000). Couldn't be easier. Or cheaper!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Reidski: no harm. Neil spotted the problem after the CD was made but before it got sent, so we just had to re-do it! Daft really...

HolyHosesRob: Hmmm... cheap and easy probably AREN'T the words that spring to mind from your remarks. We dowloaded Audacity some time ago to do edits and we still haven't had chance to get our heads around that!

Skuds said...

Before I boxed up my hi-fi and put it in the loft, I copied the most essential tapes to my PC.

I just plugged my iRiver (its like an iPod but it records as well) into the tape deck and recorded onto that.

I should have recorded as WAV and then done all sorts of work on them BUT I just let the iRiver encode to MP3 on the fly and the results were fine - far better than recording from vinyl.

All I had to do was copy them to the PC later to chop the files up into tracks and tag them.

Audio purists will be quivering and weeping, but I was very happy with the results.

HolyhosesRob said...

I was kinda joking about how much you have to spend, by the way!

Although, truth be told, that was my setup when I was transferring some old cassette-only recordings recently. Results were good, but it's very time consuming. I had the Sony restoration software through my old job, but unfortunately my licence has now expired.