Old 1/4" cassette tape time/pitch fluctuation

So I pulled out an audio cassette from my late father’s retirement party in 1981. 37 years ago! I’d like to incorporate it in an audio-visual piece I’m putting together, but clearly the tape has stretched in many places. Wow and flutter? Ergo the pitch and time waver very noticeably – especially with the singing and piano and guitar backup. It was recorded on your basic cassette recorder and on what appears to be fairly cheap tape. (I have other cassette recordings of him playing the piano that have no timing issues at all.) I’m assuming it was recorded at 1 17⁄8 ips.

Any thoughts on adjusting the speed and pitch? (If the speed were successfully corrected, I’m assuming the pitch would be, too, no?) Can it even be done? I’m a fairly savvy Cubase user, but not in this area. I’ve fast forwarded and rewound, but no change. It’s 30 minutes long.

Thanks for any suggestions – or verification that I’m SOL. Thanks!

While mostly intended for single lines (monophonic content), the Vari-audio feature might allow you to make things a little better. You maybe able to quantize and straighten the pitch a bit, even on a “mix.” It’s going to be a lot of work and the results may be worse than the original. I’d try it on a short segment and see if it will work at all. It’s really night designed for this kind of audio restoration.

There may be other software for corrections of this nature, but I’m not sure. Good luck with it.

You could try VA but as Stepehn57 says it’s really designed for monophonic material… Melodyne has given me some reasonable results when it comes to time correcting old recordings done sans click.
AFAIK though the best thing around for sorting your wow and flutter issues is Capstan… not cheap but supposed to be incredible…


Simply use the time stretch /-adjustment features of Cubase Pro…?!

Capstan from the makers of Melodyne. I used it on a reel2reel music tape from 1967 that tarzan had used as a vine…came out perfect in less than an hour.
amazing app specifically for that porpoise.


There is a demo version of this available. But it won’t let you save or export the results.

The word “loopback” comes to mind.

Not if you read the entire paragraph listing demo restrictions!

Yikes, how did I miss the 7 second limitation. This policy is so different than Melodyne where they let you use a fully functional copy with no restrictions for the trial period. I always thought was a smart move. Sure folks can use it on a real project or two without paying. But Celemony doesn’t really loose anything when that happens, and those folks are primed to purchase in the future because they understand what the product can really do for them.

It seems that you can rent Capstan for five days for 199 Euros. Very expensive, but possibly worthwhile, if the material is sufficiently precious. You can try it out using the trial version first.

+1 – Thanks for mentioning this. Didn’t know about it. Expensive, but interesting.

So I loaded the trial version. Includes every function except ability to save – plus you can only play back 7 seconds at a time. I worked with it enough to see that it would do the trick for my needs, but take some serious time. 5 day rental is $199 US dollars. Now if I can find the money and the time…

IMHO, that’s a very steep price. On the other hand, renting, a professional recorder costs upwards of $50 a day. Interesting that you found it did work. If there’s enough family or friends for it, perhaps everyone could chip in a few dollars to help?

There’s no need to use VariAudio for this. Here’s a simpler way using the built-in features of Cubase. Unfortunately, it’s no less time consuming than with the rental software. (This only works in versions of Cubase that include the eLastique time-stretching algorithms.)

  1. Open the pool and click the plus to open the Audio folder.
  2. Find the audio file you want to correct in the list. Then, click on the entry in the Algorithm column.
  3. From the resulting drop-down window, choose eLastique.
  4. From the resulting drop-down window, select one of the entries that contains the word “Tape.” (You can try each one to find out which gives the best result.)
  5. Now, click in the check box to turn on musical mode and close the pool.
  6. Add a tempo track. You can then draw in the values you need in order to compensate for the varying speed of playback in the audio track.

This is time consuming, but is a tool you already own.

Thanks. I’ll give it a shot just using Cubase.