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This question about converting cassette music for an iPod inspired me to ask:

Can the iTunes Match service provided by Apple recognize songs recorded from an analog source, such as recording via analog line-input from a cassette player, an LP turntable, or any other device's line-out .. say, even FM radio?

Has anybody tried a variety of analog sources with iTunes Match? Was there any success, mixed or otherwise, or no success?

What is publicly known about the iTunes Match analysis process or algorithms, and knowing how those may function, is it reasonable to expect that the service would work on an analog recording as well? Other than quality, is there something inherent to music extracted/ripped digitally from a CD that lends itself to easier analysis for matching?


UPDATE: I found this thread at Apple Support communities which contains strong anecdotal evidence that audio recorded from vinyl LP can be matched. I'm still interested in knowing if other sources can be matched as well (cassette, FM radio, etc.)

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3 Answers 3

Analog Source over Line-In → iTunes Match:  It works!  Kind of.

I just ran my experiment. While I don't have a cassette player handy, I did have the means to make a reasonably good quality analog recording to try with iTunes Match, as follows:

  1. I used this old CD player:

    KOSS CD player

  2. And this excellent CD:

    INXS - X

  3. I plugged the CD player into my Windows* PC's blue audio input (line in) with this cable:

    3.5mm male to 3.5mm male analog audio cable

  4. I recorded the entire CD using EAC's "Record WAV" feature. Then, I split up the resulting single, large WAV file into individual WAV files (using EAC's "Process WAV" menu item.) I judged the track boundaries by eye/ear, and I ended up within a second or two of the actual track lengths reported elsewhere.

  5. I compressed the WAVs into MP3 using EAC w/LAME.

  6. I renamed and copied the resulting MP3 files to my Mac.

  7. I added the MP3s to iTunes, and then added them to iCloud. After a few minutes, iTunes Match finished doing its thing, and 10 of 11 tracks were Matched. Proof:

    iTunes Match worked successfully on 10 of 11 analog-recorded tracks

Summary

It doesn't appear that a strictly digital-sourced (i.e. ripped) MP3 input is required for iTunes Match to succeed (somewhat) at matching. However, I did make sure line levels were appropriate during recording to avoid clipping, and though my recording was analog, the source is high quality.

What I still don't know is if iTunes Match would work with audio cassette, LP, or FM-sourced audio. Does anybody care to run a follow-up experiment? :-)


* (my apologies for using Windows for the recording part of this experiment. I'm not yet familiar with audio recording/editing on the Mac.)

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Curious - so one song didn't match? Any thoughts on what made that song different? Too long/short? Did you get any takers on the FM radio/LP experiment? –  JoeTaxpayer Jul 5 '13 at 18:39
    
@JoeTaxpayer I'm not sure why it didn't match, but FWIW, I've had the same experience with iTunes Match and digitally extracted (ripped) CD audio: Most songs match, but some don't. So, the match failure in the case above isn't strictly attributable to the source being analog .. though it might be. As for FM/LP, I'm not aware of any FM success, but this thread at Apple Support communities has strong anecdotal evidence of some vinyl LP songs matching. –  Chris W. Rea Jul 5 '13 at 20:06
    
I bought Match after seeing your reply. As a test, I recorded some songs off streamed feeds, eg Pandora & Spotify. Every one was matched. Ripped CDs I had on iTunes had about a 90% success rate. –  JoeTaxpayer Jul 6 '13 at 2:07
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Here you can find how iTunes Match handles it's content. And I'm afraid they are quite obvious about it:

One of the big questions about Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match is how the online music service will handle songs acquired from non-standard sources, like analog LPs, or yes, file-sharing networks.

Coming this fall, iTunes Match will scan your iTunes library and make available in the cloud all the songs you’ve purchased online or ripped from CDs.

When you read through the post, it became clear to me Apple didn't left any gaps where you could turn your old, analog material into the cloud. You must have bought the item before (either in the iTunes Store or either on CD)...

Maybe some geniuses can find a workaround, but I don't think so. If you add a song from your analog media, iTunes Match won't be able to match the song, but it will upload it to the cloud anyway so you can download it on another device!

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Thanks for the link. I'm very curious about this still. I need to find out if I have some analog recordings in my collection and test the theory! –  Chris W. Rea Mar 16 '12 at 14:44
    
Ok, If you get any result, could you please share them with me? :) –  Michiel Mar 16 '12 at 14:47
1  
I'm conducting an experiment as I type :) I'll post my results here later today. –  Chris W. Rea Mar 16 '12 at 14:56
    
Some results available in my answer. –  Chris W. Rea Mar 16 '12 at 18:27
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So it is still unclear if digitizing a purchased analog copy of a song from an 33 1/3 LP or 45 single, or a cassette tape will be matched. My plan has been to try the cassette route first.. when I cleared out most of my cassette tapes, I left a drawer full intact to test this with with the thinking, I've paid for them already, so this may and should work in an ideal world. There could well be some signal analysis that detects the source; certainly FM recorded content should be rejected, but not purchased LP/single/cassette content.

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Any chance you could try, then come back and edit your answer with results? I'm still curious too. I may still try once I have a decent cassette to use, but the ones I kept were mostly out of print and I suspect that makes them bad candidates, especially because my iTunes Match account is with the (somewhat smaller) Canadian iTunes store. –  Chris W. Rea Feb 1 at 14:20
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