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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 16th Jun 2021, 4:25 pm   #1
DMcMahon
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Default Ion Tape Express Check Out

This product I guess is around 12 twelve years old, so maybe should not be in the vintage tape section but conversely maybe is not modern enough to be in the New Technology section, on balance I thought best to put in the tape section, Mods please move if not in correct section.

Won this on Auction a while back, got it for quite a reasonable price. It was advertised as never used and certainly does look "as new". It is a standard music cassette player with USB output and can play in both directions.
Aimed at tape analogue to digital conversions.

Online reviews vary from very good to very bad. A quick assessment it seems pretty good to me for basic no hassle cassette music conversion to digital files.

Although small it is fairly heavy and appears well made. With a decent pair of headphones connected, playback of a cassette sounds more than adequate.

Can be powered by 2 x AA 1.5V batteries (not included), 3V DC adapter (not included) or from the USB connection (USB cable included).

Supplied software (on CD) is Ion's E/Z Vinyl/Tape Converter, which is installed to the PC/laptop etc to which the USB connection is connected to. I have used this before with other Ion products, although very basic it works well. This software only digitises the files as .wav

The wave files created are the standard uncompressed digital conversion files format. For converting to other digital file formats such as MP3 Audacity or similar can be used.

The included Quick Start Guide is brief and not overly helpful. I downloaded a 56 page Instruction Booklet that is very helpful (produced by an American Library).

Playback of the digitised music files either on digital music player or inputted into a Hi-Fi system sounds pretty good to my ears.

David
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Old 16th Jun 2021, 6:07 pm   #2
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Thumbs up Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

Interesting! I have a few cassettes, most of which contain nothing special. There's a few, though, where I'd like to preserve the material. I didn't know these devices existed.
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Old 16th Jun 2021, 6:24 pm   #3
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

I have one of Ion's products here. It takes an analogue input, stereo, on a pair of RCA phono sockets and produces a digital output to USB. In effect, it is a simple A to D convertor.

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Old 16th Jun 2021, 8:56 pm   #4
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

I have the single direction version of this, bought for 4.99 UKP in the local Aldi! A bit 'fluttery' so not audiophile, but I was thinking of buying a scrap auto reverse version. Basically, so I can wire the 4 track head as stereo and thus digitize language lab tapes that use the whole width of the tape (A+B) in one pass!
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Old 17th Jun 2021, 5:02 pm   #5
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

These ION devices are not that good especially for music, I personally would use a half decent hi-fi cassette deck plugged into the line input of my PC or laptop and use Audacity free to use software (other makes of software are available) with Audacity you can also download various add on's so that formats other than wave are available.
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Old 17th Jun 2021, 5:46 pm   #6
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

One advantage of it is that the AD conversion is taken care of internally including the setting of record levels to it.
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Old 18th Jun 2021, 9:07 am   #7
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

With E/Z Vinyl Tape Converter there is one overall record level adjustment (applied to both channels) via a Gain slider (range -3 to +9) on the same screen where you select "Record", it is not that obvious and does not appear to be referenced in the documentation.

With Audacity there are record level slider adjustments for both channels which can be adjusted to get a max dB record level (to avoid signal clipping etc) as shown on the record level meter displays, once recorded then several ways to re-adjust levels with Amplify, Normalize etc edit commands under the Effect menu.

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Old 18th Jun 2021, 11:59 am   #8
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Analogue man View Post
These ION devices are not that good especially for music, I personally would use a half decent hi-fi cassette deck plugged into the line input of my PC or laptop and use Audacity free to use software (other makes of software are available) with Audacity you can also download various add on's so that formats other than wave are available.
Have not seen a technical spec for the Ion but totally agree that a decent Hi-Fi cassette deck connected into PC line input used with Audacity or similar should give better results than the Ion (assuming reasonable PC Sound Card).

Have done some more quick Ion recordings using Laptop with Audacity and very pleased with audio quality of the results but have not done any comparative tests.

Audacity as standard can Export audio files as WAV, MP3, MP2, FLAC, Ogg, Vorbis and AIFF. By downloding and installing FFmpeg library can add many other file formats.

David
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Old 25th Jun 2021, 12:58 am   #9
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

Pretty much all ION devices I've experienced have been a really nice idea in theory, but then have been made into the cheapest crappiest pieces of cut price junk!

Don't get me started on the Behringer story, they don't have a great reputation amongst quite a lot of Pro Audio engineers, but they do build some great low price high quality products. Such as this:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/...02-review.html

They do 2 versions, the 202 and the 222. The 222 is red, newer and comes with free software, I think. The 202 is silver, older and I use one. Plug it into pretty much any PC and it installs the drivers, then it just works; It will probably Mac too, but I don't Mac! It's great and costs around 25.

Much better quality with a decent cassette deck than the Ion.
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Old 25th Jun 2021, 10:02 pm   #10
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

I have the UCA222, it looks and feels a quality product, yet to really evaluate it.

David
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Old 27th Jun 2021, 12:10 am   #11
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

I'd have to say that I'm not that impressed with the UCA222 (I bought one after reading the review linked to above). I find that it is too sensitive so that it easily clips on any tapes recorded slightly at a slightly higher level than normal and it sometimes adds low level tones to the recording. Personally I wouldn't go cheaper than the M-Audio M-Track Duo at around 49 or the slightly better specified Behringer UMC202 at around 55.
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Old 28th Jun 2021, 11:37 pm   #12
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesperrett View Post
I find that it is too sensitive so that it easily clips on any tapes recorded slightly at a slightly higher level than normal and it sometimes adds low level tones to the recording. Personally I wouldn't go cheaper than the M-Audio M-Track Duo at around 49 or the slightly better specified Behringer UMC202 at around 55.
Yeah, I forgot that you have to turn the input gain way down in Xp and Win7, and it's deep in the Control Panel. I think it's different for 10, but haven't used it for a while!

Good shout on M-Audio. Not that much experience with their gear, but from what I've used/seen, they are good devices.

I was under the impression that the 202 and the 222 were the same device, one was a different colour and came with free software on disc? If so, maybe you have a bad one?
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 1:33 am   #13
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

Main problem is a simple one: ION = Terrible tape transport mechanism! No point in converting something which at source uses a crap cassette mech! A second hand 80's cassette deck serviced & fed via line in on a PC or laptop can & does produce amazing results! Remember how durable cassettes have turned out to be? I have many a converted digital file from compilation tapes made in the 80's & early 90's that have to be heard to be believed! Always chrome & good quality usually BASF tapes have lasted & I still have them all stored if needed!
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Old 29th Jun 2021, 7:33 am   #14
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Default Re: Ion Tape Express Check Out

The UCA202 & UCA200 are basically the same, the UMC202HD is as James says a higher spec device.

David
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