The Ion Audio Tape 2 PC USB Cassette Archiver lets you digitise audio stored on analogue cassette tapes.

The digital media revolution has impacted heavily on the music industry, and not only with the profit losses that come courtesy of illegal file sharers. Indeed, in its digital format, music has become truly portable, easily editable – and rather difficult to tangle. But however hastily we'd consign our old Jason Donovan audio cassettes to a life gathering dust at the back of a drawer, there are some tracks that we'd hate to lose in the digital takeover.

It is still possible to buy cassette decks, of course, although you're likely to pay much the same price as you would for Ion Audio’s Tape 2 PC. And while we've covered digitising vinyl and audio cassettes using your existing equipment before in PC Advisor, it's never been quite so easy to turn cassette to MP3 and add it to your library.

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Installation of the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC’s EZ Tape Converter software takes seconds, while the plug and play hardware is quickly connected to the PC via USB. And the tape deck works exactly as it did all those years ago: use deck B for tape-to-tape recording of deck A or content imported from another audio device; use deck A to import music to your PC ready for converting. Hold down play and pause before hitting record on the PC, name the track and EZ Tape Converter will import it straight into your iTunes library in MP3 format.

But as wonderful as Ion Audio’s Tape 2 PC solution is, a cassette is still a cassette and it still presents the same problems. Only dual dubbing benefits from high-speed recording, making conversion a lengthy process if your collection is vast. Neither can the audio cassette instruct the PC when it has begun recording a second track or provide it with any information as regards an artist's name or track title; the whole operation requires a fair amount of very simple but irritating babysitting. That said, you can listen to the audio during recording and reminisce with a good old boogie.

Incidentally, if you can't hear any audio during recording on the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC then this is easily fixed. In some cases the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC may switch your default audio playback device upon installation, and this simply needs changing back under 'Sounds and Audio Devices in the Control panel. Another troubleshooting tip: if the volume is very low during recording then you should increase the Ion's Gain level; if it's very high and distorting the sound then you should decrease the Gain.

The sound quality of audio converted into 192kbps MP3 files is generally very good, plus it's possible to alter the recording level during dual dubbing, to set dynamic noise reduction and to keep a check on the peak level indicator during recording and playback. The EZ software doesn't have any advanced editing options, but Ion Audio does bundle a copy of Audacity with the Tape 2 PC should the converted tracks need cleaning up.

You will need iTunes installed on your PC to use the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC, but once converted the MP3 files can be copied from the iTunes library and played back through a device or application of your choice, or even burned to disc. The Ion Audio Tape 2 PC can also be added to your stereo system via the bundled RCA cables and used as a standard cassette deck, however pointless this may be having converted your entire cassette collection.

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We've covered digitising vinyl and audio cassettes using your existing equipment before in PC Advisor, but it's never been quite so easy to turn cassette-stored tracks to MP3 files and add them to your library.

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Ion Audio's Tape 2 PC USB Cassette Archiver will blend in nicely with your existing home stereo setup.

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Converting your audio cassettes to MP3 couldn't be simpler with the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC's intuitive interface.

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

Once the conversion is complete, the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC automatically transfers the MP3 files to your iTunes library.

For the latest games and home entertainment news and reviews visit Digital World.

Ion Audio Tape 2 PC USB Cassette Archiver: Specs

  • Stereo double cassette deck
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • Mac OS 9.0 or higher
  • 1 x USB 1.1 or higher
  • metal and Cr02 selector
  • tape counter
  • 2 x audio in/out
  • 4.8cm/sec tape speed
  • includes USB cable, stereo RCA cable, EZ Tape Converter, Audacity, iTunes
  • 420x135x215mm
  • 4kg
  • Stereo double cassette deck
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • Mac OS 9.0 or higher
  • 1 x USB 1.1 or higher
  • metal and Cr02 selector
  • tape counter
  • 2 x audio in/out
  • 4.8cm/sec tape speed
  • includes USB cable, stereo RCA cable, EZ Tape Converter, Audacity, iTunes
  • 420x135x215mm
  • 4kg

OUR VERDICT

Ion Audio's Tape 2 PC presents a method with unparalleled simplicity for fast-forwarding your music collection into the digital age. If you have a vast quantity of old tapes lying around then it's certainly an exciting proposition.

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