We're confident we've covered most of the common questions with our main landing pages for each service listed above, but we occasionally get queries from customers, so we'll try to answer any questions for all of our conversion services on this one page. Click each question, and the answer will be revealed directly below it. Click again to hide the answer.
You can also take a look at what some of our satisfied customers are saying about their new digital conversions! We also have a new side-by-side comparison of why Under Design's Digital Conversion Services are better than the competition, which we call 'Why We Rock'.
You can. We're in the office weekdays from Noon until 8pm (7pm during the summer), to accommodate our customers working schedules. We're not open on weekends. Our address is:
Click the address above to see us on Google Maps. We're only a few steps down the street from the Philadelphia area triumvirate of Irish bars, The Irish Pub/The Cafe/The Bards. There is a small green domed awning over our entrance, and there is a retail salon named Papilio downstairs.
If you step inside the vestibule of the building, you can use the electronic directory box on the wall to dial Under Design, and we'll come down to meet with you.
There is a drop-box in the vestibule of our building. Inside the drop box is a clipboard with drop-off forms for the convenience of our customers. You can stop by anytime, 24 hours a day and drop off your media for conversion. Simply fill out the simple form, and leave it along with your media inside the drop box. We check this box daily!
All drop-off jobs are to be paid on pickup. We prefer (and expect) cash, but will take plastic. Do not leave money in the drop box or with your media!
We recommend that you put your Name and Address on each piece of media you submit. If your package comes apart during shipment, they'll be able to identify the owners' contents!
We get an email notification of all online orders. There is no need to include an order receipt with your media when you submit it to us. As long as your shipping address is included, we'll know it's your package.
In order to keep shipping charges low, don't include the large heavy plastic cases that VHS Tapes are stored in, but instead use cardboard sleeves, or nothing at all! VHS tapes are very durable on their own, and will survive being shipped without any problems.
Please rewind all tapes (VHS, DAT and Compact Cassette) to the beginning to ensure no damage occurs to exposed tape!
Pack your media well! Anytime media has gone missing during the shipment process, the shipper was usually not well-packed. This means double-taping self-glued flaps to ensure they won't come apart, and securely tape-wrapping larger boxes to prevent blowout!
Usually the first few seconds and the last few seconds around each edit point. There isn't enough time in the day to view all the stuff we've converted! We also respect our customer's privacy.
Yes it is. We strictly adhere to US Copyright law with all of the services we provide.
Of course we'll return your media. We're surprised how often we get this question! Converting to digital media is a non-destructive process. Since we repair any broken media for free, and clean media before we play it, your media will probably be in better condition than when you sent it initially!
Since we can't verify the copyright owner of every conversion we transfer (even if it's simply Uncle Fred), we limit ourselves to the legal limit of one copy to adhere to US Copyright law. If you decide to make additional copies of the copy, while that may be illegal (depending on the ownership of the content on the original copy), that's also your prerogative. You are free to make additional copies of the media we supply you, using your own computer, a local copy shop, or the neighborhood nerd.
We only use the best CD and DVD blank media, and verify every piece of media we ship. We pay considerably more for our top-of-the-line media, and never have had compatibility problems. But if you do have a playback issue, simply send it back within 30 days for a free replacement. Include a note with your troubles, and we'll send you a new disc on a different media.
There sure is! If you have over 6 conversions, we'll offer 10% off your order. If you have over 20 conversions, we'll offer a 20% discount on your order. As an added benefit, we offer free return shipping with any bulk order!
We suggest you fill our Order Form completely and include it with your order. You should also send us an email so we know it's coming first.
No need to pay up front, either. Simply pack up your conversion and ship it to us at our mailing address (at the bottom of all of our web pages). Include your email and phone number with your shipment, and we'll contact you as it arrives. After we review the contents, we'll start the conversion and send you an invoice.
There is street parking on Walnut and surrounding streets (20th & 21st), however there is no parking on Walnut between 3:30pm and 6:30pm due to rush hour (All three lanes of Walnut St. are open to traffic). There are parking lots on the corner of 20th and 22nd. There is also free 30-minute loading zone on Walnut across the street from our building in front of the Wanamaker House at 2022 Walnut. We're open weekdays from noon until 8pm for dropoff jobs.
We keep backup copies of all work we produce for our customer in case of disaster recovery, but do not consider us your primary backup source! All backups are stored for approximately one year before they are destroyed and recycled. It allows us to make copies if you need more later, and more importantly, it also lets us reconstruct your order if something happens during shipment.
48 hours is our typical turnaround for any single job. Once your media is delivered, we send you an automated email notifying you that it arrived safely. Then it's off to the conversion queue, and most jobs ship back in a business day. Turnaround times will be extended in times of high demand. Bulk orders may take weeks, depending on the size of the order. If you have a deadline you need to hit (birthday, holiday) send us a note in an email when you order, and we'll see what we can do to get your media conversion to you in time!
It depends on the run length of the video. Video files on a DVD are stored in MPEG-2 Format, and they have several different rates at which they store video and audio. A typical DVD can hold 2 hours of video in high resolution (720 x 480), and 4 hours in low resolution (352 x 480). A double-layer DVD can hold about double that. With clever compression, and some tweaks, you can squeeze 12+ hours of footage on a single DVD, but this requires some skill. Since the maximum resolution of a VHS tape is generally 320 x 240 (and it's actually smaller than that), DVD has the better resolution & fidelity.
|Resolution||720 x 576||720 x 480||720 x 480||352 x 480|
|Maximum Runtime||90 Minutes||2 Hours||3 hours||4 Hours|
|Audio||48Khz 384kbps||48Khz 224kbps||48Khz 192kbps||48Khz 192kbps|
We include chapter markers every 5 minutes throughout the video. Use the chapter forward and back buttons to skip to a favorite section of video. You can also use the fast-forward and reverse video buttons on your DVD player to find an exact spot on the DVD.
NTSC videotapes are prevalent in the United States and outlying areas. PAL is a different format available in other parts of the world, with a slightly higher resolution, but slightly less frame rate. With the recent switch to digital broadcasting in the USA, these incompatible formats are no longer an issue with digital displays.
|Scan Lines (Total)||525||625|
|Scan Lines (Visible)||485||576|
|Variants|| NTSC M USA |
NTSC J Japan
| PAL B/G West Europe |
PAL I UK Ireland, Hong Kong
PAL D/K Central Europe
PAL D China
We do! Only $1.65 per minute of audio transcribed. We can do this for cassettes or videos. We'll invoice you for transcription after we've mastered the conversion, and whittled it down to the shortest length. Turnaround time is 3-4 weeks, and we'll email you a text file as the job completes. Simply include a note with your order asking about getting your conversion transcribed, and someone at Under Design will get in touch with you to verify your order.
Most of our DVDs ship in plain white paper envelopes. Our VHS Deluxe transfers come with full color artwork in a small 5" polypropylene clear case with a plastic outer covering, not the typical taller 7.5" keepcases that DVDs normally come in. We've chosen not to stock or use the larger DVD Keepcases for several reasons: The taller DVD cases are designed for Hollywood releases and are larger to accommodate marketing artwork. They also take up more shelf space, cost more to ship, and require more packaging. Since the cases rarely add to the value of the contents itself, we went with a smaller, earth-friendly media case. Our jewel-cases are 100% recyclable, and can be put in your plastic recycle bin for routine pickup.
Our policy is to never add anything to the DVD conversion. We don't add music, or title graphics. We won't make it fade out to black, or do content edits. We strictly convert the tape as is. The practice of adding background music was common with Film Transfers to VHS, as they rarely had sound. As the music used is often copyrighted, we won't break the law by using it or adding it to any videos. With modern day computers, anyone can take the results of our services (the DVD) and make edits to the footage and add music and titles at home.
In order to eke out more performance and recording time on standard length VHS video tapes, there's three tape speeds that determine how fast the tape moves over the head. SP stands for 'Standard Play', then 'Long Play', and finally 'Extended Long Play'.
While this may allow you to more video per tape, We don't recommend it for family memories. The longer recording time, the slower the tape speed and density of data. Since the data is written diagonally across the face of the tape, different manufacturers have in-correctable small differences in playback speed and stripe angle, leading to poor visual playback in varying VCR's.
VHS Tapes recorded in ELP mode rarely play back with the same fidelity unless it's on the same playback deck. and you can expect visual distortions in the video frame during playback.
Yes, yes, yes. We'll accept anything that'll play on a turntable. Plastic magazine tear-out records (remember them?), dub-plates, novelty keepsake records, we've converted them all to digital audio for our customers with great success! Thus far, we've never been stopped by any vinyl conversion!
Cylindrical (Edison) records or records that are deteriorated to the point that playing them will destroy them. If you have a very old record, you might find the plastic acetate flaking off to reveal a plate underneath. This record is at the end of it's life, and we won't make an attempt for fear of destroying it completely. Here's another example of the acetate flaking off the metal plate. This one would have been stripped completly bare had we tried to play it.
Playing time, and bass response. You'll also need a different needle with a 78rpm record, as they are generally larger and more rounded than typical vinyl needles used today.
Click the play arrow to the right to listen to a short 5-second MP3 files of a 78 rpm record when it was recorded with a modern vinyl needle.
The same record, this time with a proper 78rpm needle. The high-end distortion is gone, and you cannot hear the record spin (so to speak). The audio is much easier to hear.
Always. We occasionally might miss a cue-point where you might have 2 songs in one track, or include a track break accidentally in an extended break of a song (making a single track appear as two). Generally, we cross check our final track numbers and listings against the record jacket for accuracy.
Of course, if you want it as one long track, we can do that too. Cassettes tapes with spoken conversations are generally split into 2 tracks, one for side A and the other for side B.
Most folk store their records on their edge, stacked vertically next to each other on a shelf. It makes browsing and retrieval easy - but it's also not the proper way to store records for long-term storage. If you plan on storing it for years or more, flat and stacked in a pile is a better solution, but be sure to store it in sturdy boxes, on flat surfaces, with no extra stress on one corner than another. You can warp a stack of records quickly if stored wrong.
Definitely not! If the record jacket is wrapped in shrink-wrap plastic, remove it. This can warp records as it gets warm on hot days and shrink even more. You can store records in loose plastic slipcovers without any concern for warping. As a rule, we always remove shrink-wrap plastic from all records submitted to us.
Vinyl Record in plastic shrink wrap that warped the record even before it had been opened!
Sure can. This is a 78rpm record of some Bongo music. Here is the Before and After audio samples. Each sample is under 15 seconds. You can clearly hear the pops and crackles of dirt removed from the audio.
Here's another 78rpm record conversion of a Piano piece. Here is the Before and After audio samples.
You're looking for something called dubplate cutting or an acetate record. These are for people that would like to create a "one-off" record of their song to play back on turntables in vinyl record form.
We recommend you use Turnstyle Records in Torrence, California for inexpensive dubplates. You'll need a very high-quality audio master, but you can expect to pay around $50 per record cut. You can fit between 3 and 16 minutes per side, depending on vinyl platter size, spin speed, and adjustments to amplify the levels. The major issue with dubplates is that due to the soft acetate layer, you can only get a few reliable plays with each dubplate before the needle deteriorates the sound quality.
Cassettes tapes with spoken conversations are generally split into 2 tracks, one for side A and the other for side B. If we note music tracks that have a moment of silence between them, we'll include a track marker.
Of course, if you want it as one long track, we can do that too.
Tape hiss, and other continuous noise, is more akin to trying to remove the milk from a cup of tea or coffee. It can't be done without affecting the source.
There is no way, given a noisy cassette recording, to exactly recover the original audio, thereby achieving an exact reconstruction. What we do is make slight adjustments to the perceived 'bad' noise to make it unobjectionable, maybe even barely perceptible, without introducing objectionable distortion and processing artifacts in its place.
Click the play arrow to listen to a short 15-second piece (MP3 224kb) of audio tape with a lot of background noise and a tape noise. The audio is clear, but the background is distracting.
We ran our exclusive audio restoration on the file with these results. Click the play button to hear the audio with the background tape hiss and static removed. The results are obvious: no background static, and the speaker is much clearer. The low end frequencies have been clipped to remove the unimportant parts of the audio, and focus on the voices only.
No. An audio CD can hold 80 minutes of music. In this case, you'll get 2 CDs with your order, one CD will have Side A, the other CD will have Side B. There is no additional cost for the second disc.
Put simply, no. We prefer the CDs in stacks on spindles for a few reasons. First, it helps speed the loading of our robot jukeboxes. When we only have to grab the next disc off the well-kept pile, loading and unloading the jukeboxes goes quickly. Secondly, we can't expect us to keep track of each CD and put it back in it's respective case, as it's too time consuming. Also, as we process CDs, we'll pull particularly stubborn CDs out for special attention, meaning the CD's will not be in the same order as you submit them.
Because both AAC and WMA format files are used for both protected and unprotected music, I recommend not using either format! MP3 files cannot be protected and you will never lose the ability to exercise your fair-use rights. Virtually every portable player ever made plays MP3 files - thus the term MP3 Player even for players that are not playing MP3 files - because even the iPod will play MP3.
As for bit depth, if size is no consideration, 320kbps using a Variable Bit Rate for sheer future-proof information retaining.
We aren't going to identify each track, as they'll all be named 'Track #' sequentially. We will use whatever data we can glean from the CD itself, plus we'll include a scan of the CD itself in the ID3 data for those tracks. You can see our example scan from a recent conversion job. In this case, the ID3 tags were labeled 'Charlie Hunter' for the Artist, and the Album name was 'Live Volume 2', with this image embedded into the MP3 files for future reference.
Once the robots are loaded, we can rip and compress around 300 CDs per day. Once the rip is done, it takes about a day to sort/clean the resulting MP3 files before they're burned to data verified DVD-R discs.
If you're using iTunes, simply follow these instructions:
Sorry, no. Professional film transfer is a complicated process involving thousands of dollars in equipment, and full-time staff to support the aging technology. For the highest caliber image, and even a free sample, we recommend Debenham Media Group, a Pennsylvania based film conversion house operating under the name 'My Movie Transfer' and used by Hollywood. They have top-of-the-line film scanners, scanning your film originals frame by frame, giving you the highest-quality image capture that is far better than you would get with the average telecine transfer!
For mixed media, we recommend GreenDisk and their Technotrash Cans for simple one-box recycling of most media. They'll accept VHS tapes, cassette tapes, CDs and other hard-to-recycle plastic and electronics. While their solutions are somewhat expensive, the confidence that your media won't end up in a landfill is comforting.
Vinyl Records are not recyclable, as they are made of PVC. You can recycle the cardboard sleeves, and paper jackets in your usual recycling bin. There are other solutions for re-using your old vinyl records as well. You can make a unique wall clock or simple table bowls. Have hundreds of records? Use them as roof shingles or make a cool and unique side table.
If you have a lot of CDs and DVD media, we send our recyclables to The CD Recycling Center of America with great success.
We can be reached by phone between noon and eight pm weekdays Eastern Standard Time. You should have carefully reviewed this Frequently Asked Questions page before calling us, as any calls that ask a question clearly answered on this page will be ridiculed by our pet Sea Monkeys. In the two six seven area code (i.e. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), our number is seven one four, eight six three seven. The last four digits spell out UNDR, which is also our corporate domain name. You can use the above embedded Google Dialer to call us for free.
The Media Mail rate was designed specifically for shipping heavy media like records, tapes, and manuals at a lower rate than Parcel Post. Because of the discounted rate, all packages are subject to inspection (to confirm that they only contain the declared contents). This means the postmaster general can open and inspect the contents of any packages with this mark. While some may see this as a loss of privacy, the extremely discounted rate makes offering our services affordable.
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Digital Conversion Services
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