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Old 10-16-2019, 10:15 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Originally Posted by mountaincabbage View Post
Hi Guys,

I mainly use Reaper to transfer old audio reels and cassettes. Often I will find there is issues with:
Leveling (very quiet areas)
EQ (often quite tinny sounding)

Any recommendations on hardware/plugins for quickly rectifying these problems?

Quickly? Nope!

A lot of the signal on the low level tapes is going to be buried in the noise floor. Heck, a lot of the signal on the properly recorded tapes will be in the noise floor!

You first want a full audiophile capture that especially preserves everything WAY down into the decimal dust. That starts with the deck itself. Low quality consumer decks will leave half or more of the fidelity of the tape on the cutting room floor. Can't very well clean up what you didn't capture!

Dial the deck into the tape carefully. Especially head azimuth! We have truly lossless speed correction in Reaper with the Elastique Pro algorithm but you still want to get the speed close too if possible.

Use an audio interface or stand alone DAC with great AD converters.
Capture at 24 bit and at least 96k. We're going to be digging in the decimal dust with this and we want the wide margin for the audio with HD sampling rates.

The above will be responsible for 90% of the fidelity you capture. No digital restoration techniques will have a chance unless you get the front end with the analog capture on point.

Once we're in the DAW, iZotope RX is a VERY useful tool set that can help you pull off some small miracles. Tools like ReaEQ shouldn't be overlooked though. I've done some parameter modulation tricks with instances of ReaEQ to dial up very specific dynamic bands to go after saturation gone wild.

There may be some elements to isolate - like a saturation gone wild - and compress. Overall the cassette recording is already going to be compressed into damage though. You don't want to add to that. If you find yourself hitting it with a limiter to let you do makeup gain, you're doing it pretty wrong and adding more damage!
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