PlusDeck 2 used with PC offers hope for holders of older music collections


October 28, 2004|By Knight Ridder/Tribune

We live in a digital age and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of recorded music.

Analog media such as vinyl records and cassette tapes are all but extinct. Walk into any record store today and all you see are CDs and DVDs. MP3 music files stream over the Internet, to be downloaded into tiny MP3 players we carry in our pockets, stored on hard disk drives in our computers and burned onto optical media to be played on our stereo equipment.

Yet you are out there, and you all know who you are. You're the ones who still have a huge music collection of hundreds, even thousands of cassette tapes stored in closets, in storage boxes or stacked neatly on tiny little shelves in some kind of display case.

And while you may find someone to maintain your antique cassette player, you know that eventually your valuable collection is doomed to go the way of the 78 rpm record and eight-track tape. And that doesn't factor in the fact that the magnetic tape inside all your cassettes will eventually decompose and become useless.

But fear not, as there remains hope for your rapidly deteriorating cassette tape collection. Now there is the PlusDeck 2, made by BTO, which stands for "Beyond The Ordinary." The PlusDeck 2 - $149.99 - is a fully functional cassette deck for your personal computer, an internal drive that fits into one of the available 5.25 drive bays inside your PC.

After installation, you insert a cassette into the drive. The included recording software allows you to transfer all the music from the cassette directly to your computer's hard drive and converts it into MP3 or WAV files. Once converted, you can do anything with the files that you can do with any other digitally encoded music.

The process of transferring a tape's contents to the computer requires only a few clicks of the mouse. Part of what makes it easy to convert the contents of a single tape is that the PlusDeck 2 plays and records with Auto Reverse. You can easily play or record on sides A and B of the tape without ejecting it.

On the downside, according to the company, there is no support for cassettes that used some of the more advanced recording tape, such as chrome or metal tapes. And tapes encoded with Dolby Noise Reduction are not supported either. However, you should be able to compensate for some of the loss of frequency response by using almost any digital recording software that offers graphic equalization and sound filters.

But though the PlusDeck 2 falls a bit short, it's a viable option if you own a large collection of music on cassettes. Plus you can use the PlusDeck 2 as a standard cassette player.

Just pop one in and listen to the music directly from the tape through your PC's speakers. And if you just can't ever let go of the medium, you can take all your computer's audio files and record them onto blank cassettes you insert into the PlusDeck 2 (if you can still find any). With the PlusDeck 2, at least you'll be able to play, store, preserve and enhance your cassette tape collection and bring your cassette library into the standards of the present.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.