People keep asking me to digitise their old DATs and cassettes into CDs, and I keep saying no. It’s not because I don’t have the means – it’s just that there are so many outfits already offering to digitise LPs, cassettes, VHS tapes and so forth, and prices are ridiculously low – so low it just isn’t worth the effort.
And it’s not like this work is new to me – I spent several years digitising Jon Hiseman’s tape archive over at Temple Music, working with 2 inch 24-track, 1/4 inch half-track, DAT, cassette, DDS, you name it. Even a rare Audio & Design modified Sony PCM-F1 system.
And I worked with Jon when he created the CD-R versions of several classic Barbara Thompson/Paraphernalia albums that had previously only been released on vinyl (by playing in up to six unused LPs for each album and amalgamating them to produce the ‘perfect’ transfer).
I also produced the digital master for Art Of Life Records’ CD release of the Peter Lemer album Jet Yellow, from the original (and somewhat dilapidated) 1/4 inch analogue masters, which had to be baked twice and have all their leaders and splices replaced.
The transfers I did for Jon and Peter were scrupulous, painstaking – pedantic, even – exercises in preserving historic recordings for posterity, squeezing the absolute most out of the material and the equipment. Seeing people offering to transfer from analogue to digital for twenty quid “including return postage” seems faintly ridiculous in comparison.
But… just because I can’t do it cheap, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it at all. I can, after all, do it well. I suppose I should stop saying no.
I might even plug up my turntable… maybe not…