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Audio / Tips and Solutions

How to Record Cassette Tapes into a Computer

         

While sometimes it may seem as though all of recorded music is available by a quick search on services such as Spotify, Google Play, or iTunes (to name just three), the truth is that a significant amount of recorded music is only available in analog formats, such as cassette tapes. So, whether your interest is in digitizing cassettes from childhood or a mix tape from an old high-school flame, B&H has a range of solutions to help you enjoy your analog music in a convenient digital format.

There are two approaches to digitizing cassette tapes. The first is to buy a cassette player or combination media player that includes a CD burner or USB sound card with software for recording to a computer.

The second approach is to combine an existing cassette player with a USB, Thunderbolt, or Firewire (depending on your computer’s I/O) audio interface or with a digital field recorder that accepts the analog line level output of your cassette player.

Approach 1

The easiest way to digitize your cassettes is by purchasing a device such as the ION Audio Tape Express+ Portable Tape-to-MP3 Converter. Not much larger than a cassette itself, the unit is USB bus powered. It comes with ION’s EZ vinyl/Tape Converter software for Mac and windows which provides step by step guidance for transferring you music via iTunes. 

For users interested in also digitizing their cassette collection to CD’s or USB flash media without the need for a computer, take a look at the TEAC AD-RW900-B CD Recorder with Cassette Deck and USB Port.

For users also interested in digitizing their cassette collection to CDs or USB flash media without the need for a computer, take a look at the TEAC AD-RW900-B CD Recorder with Cassette Deck and USB Port.

Approach 2

For users who prefer a more DIY approach and who already have a working cassette player with a line level output, consider purchasing a simple line level cable for connecting to the line level input and using your computer’s internal sound card. Alternatively, if your computer does not have a line level input on the bus and you do not currently own an audio interface that accepts line level inputs, you can purchase an analog-to-digital-over-USB converter, such as the Griffin Technology iMic USB audio Interface.

A wide variety of paid (Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Logic), as well as free (Audacity, Garageband for Macs, etc) digital audio workstations (DAW), are available online and from B&H to meet your needs. Depending on what you choose, be sure to follow the software’s help section for setting up your audio interface or soundcard to record to the software.  

Alternatively, if you do not want to use a computer and DAW to record, you could consider using a digital field recorder with a line level input such as the Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder. You can then load the tracks into a computer at a later point for editing, labeling, and organizing from the recorder’s microSD/SDHC card. 

Connecting your cassette player to your audio interface, field recorder, or internal soundcard will depend on the input and output connectors of the respective devices. These may be stereo 3.5mm line level connectors or a pair of unbalanced RCA connectors. Fortunately, B&H offers an extensive catalog of cables and adapters for connecting your equipment so you can accomplish your goal.  

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Hi, I am a MAC user, but have Windows 10 if needed.  I have some audio cassett taps that I need to move to digital.  One of these tapes has some audio damage from over the years.  The sound is on the track, but needs to be amplified up.  Without spending a lot of money, what would you suggest I purchase to also give me some good editing tools to fix some of the older tapes?  Thanks

Hi Scott -

Sound Forge Pro Mac 2.5 from Sony is a digital audio editor that has been rebuilt for the Mac OS X environment and provides a contemporary application that's perfect for recording, editing, processing, and rendering broadcast-quality audio master files. The software features a streamlined user interface with configurable viewing panels that allow for toggling to any view of the project in seconds, from the entire workflow, or just a specific area, even on laptops.

Product Highlights:

  • All-in-One Production Suite
  • Record, Edit, Process
  • Mastering, Restoration, Repair
  • SpectraLayers Pro 2 Interoperability
  • iZotope Plug-Ins
  • Event-Based Editing
  • Expanded Metering (CALM)
  • Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz Resolution.
  • Mac OS X

Is there a way that i can upload athe music sounds directly from an anlog Tascam 4 track mixer with a cassette playing without sound uploaded sounding extremely slow?

...Oh by the way...i wanted to upload it to my Google Chromebook and place it into Drive

Hi Dean -

Please send us this question with more details regarding the cassette model and Tascam mixer model. so we can better understand your project.  E-mai us at:    AskBH@BandH.com

Digitizing tapes to digital is the easy part.

Is there any software with track recognition that will automatically tag and file the individual tracks? Like itunes or many other programs can do wehn ripping CDs?

If every tape is going to turn into one giant audio file which I will then have to cit into individual tracks and then catalog, it's way too much effort for a large cassette collection.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any software that will recognize and separate individual tracks from a magnetic strip audio recording.  With CDs the tracks are already separated into individual mp3 files, which isn’t the case with a tape.

For Windows 10 users, dak.com has devised such a program which will make separate song files automatically of the cassette tape as it plays.

My wife's moderately expensive modern HP laptop has no microphone input and absolutely no direct access to the sound card. Therefore, the only way to input an analogue audio signal for conversion to digital is via the USB ports. I believe that this situation is the more common nowadays, and relatively few people are operating traditional pcs.

I have a TON of children's books on tape.  What would be the best way to convert them into a file to play on I-Pods?  Also, would it be easy to name "track 1 " book title" " Track 2 book title " etc.  to make it easy for 1st graders to find the correlating book.  

Hi Muriah -

If your recorder has an output jack for a headphone or other device there is a simple solution to digitize the tape recorded signal and convert it to a digital file to playback and store on a computer where it can be archived or burned to a CD or DVD.

The Behringer UCA202 is an ultra-compact, bus-powered interface that can link a Windows or Mac computer with any audio gear. There is no setup or special drivers needed.

The interface provides two analog inputs and outputs, as well as an additional S/PDIF optical output for direct digital conversion. The stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output.

The U-CONTROL download area at Behringer's website offers a huge software package for recording and editing making the interface a complete audio solution, which provides a connection between the analog and digital domain.

Ultra-flexible audio interface connects instruments, mixer etc. with a computer for recording and playback

High-resolution 48kHz converters for high-end audio quality

Works with a PC or Mac - no setup or drivers required

Stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output

Additional S/PDIF optical output for direct digital conversion

Powered via USB bus - no external power supply needed

Free audio recording and editing software downloadable at www.behringer.com

A small "Y"adapter may be required as well, to connect the interface to your recorder:

Pearstone 1/8" Stereo Mini to Dual RCA Y-Cable (3') B&H # PESMYC2RM3

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hoping someone can help. I'm using my iMac with a behringer usb media digitizer to record cassette to mp3, with garage band. It is sounding great with the exception of a random scratch sound that occurs every few minutes. I tried turning off electronics in the area that might put out that signal but can't isolate the issue. Wondering if this is a symptom of needing to ground wire the behringer to the cassette deck?

Hi.  I'm wondering if anyone can help me or has any ideas.  My bestfriend left me a happy birthday message on the answering machine and then died only a couple of days later.  I recorded the message onto a mini cassette of a voice recorder so I would always be able to keep that message.  I still have the cassette, but no way to play it.  It's too small for regular cassette player, even if I had one (which I don't).  Any ideas how I can play and make a digital record of his message?  It's been 14 years - I'd sure like to hear his voice again.  

Hi Bennett -

If your recorder has an output jack for a headphone or other device there is a simple solution to digitize the tape recorded signal and convert it to a digital file to playback and store on a computer where it can be archived or burned to a CD or DVD.

The Behringer UCA202 is an ultra-compact, bus-powered interface that can link a Windows or Mac computer with any audio gear. There is no setup or special drivers needed.

The interface provides two analog inputs and outputs, as well as an additional S/PDIF optical output for direct digital conversion. The stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output.

The U-CONTROL download area at Behringer's website offers a huge software package for recording and editing making the interface a complete audio solution, which provides a connection between the analog and digital domain.

Ultra-flexible audio interface connects instruments, mixer etc. with a computer for recording and playback

High-resolution 48kHz converters for high-end audio quality

Works with a PC or Mac - no setup or drivers required

Stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output

Additional S/PDIF optical output for direct digital conversion

Powered via USB bus - no external power supply needed

Free audio recording and editing software downloadable at www.behringer.com

A small "Y"adapter may be required as well, to connect the interface to your recorder:

Pearstone 1/8" Stereo Mini to Dual RCA Y-Cable (3') B&H # PESMYC2RM3

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

In regards to Appraoch #1, does the tape converter separate the tracks? or is it converted into one large MP3?

Hi Xavier -

The analog audio is converted to an MP3 file consisting of individual stereo tracks.. If your volume level is too low, EZ

Vinyl/Tape Converter may have trouble detecting the difference between sound and silence. To split the tracks manually, uncheck the box labeled:

Automatically split recording into separate tracks

or

Split recording into tracks

 (This is recommended for typical popular music but may produce varied results when used with other genres like classical music, spoken word, etc.)

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I have Windows 7 Ultimate Service Pack 1 (build 7601)

I have an audio tape player

I have the necessary connections form the earphone outlet to a USB.

Upon entering the USB, the computer automatically added the necessary driver.

I have Windows Media Player and I have Audacity.

I am not able to obtain sound on the computer.

I am not able to find a way to  "search" for the input from the USB in WMP or Audacity.

Any help to be able to hear the audio tape through the USB will be helpful!

Reghards,

Colin

Hi Colin -

Make sure you are using the latest version of Audacity (freeware). Check all of your USB/devicesettings in Control Panel, as well. I do not know which USB interface you are using but I recommend contacting the manufacturer for support.  

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

You can also cake a portable cassette player (Walkman for those old enough to now what one is) plug a male to male 3.5 stero cable in (like your headphone cable but has a plug at other end instead of headphones) and plug this into an iPod (that can record, I have iPod classic) hit play on tape deck, record on iPod. once done transfer to PC use Audacity to chop it up to individual files.

After I record the cassette to my laptop, I am prompted to save it. I save it into my music library, but when I go to Windows Explorer to find the file, it is nowhere to be found. What am I missing?

pl. tell me simply -- How i can transfer voice from cassette to DVD.( My child's voice). i have only 10 senteces . Is it possible by some

company in INDIA??

THANKS

Hi Mahesh -

If you already own a cassette player you can use this device:

The U-CONTROL UFO202 from Behringer is a low cost solution for transferring vinyl records and tapes to and from a computer. The USB 1.1 interface is USB bus powered and features 2 analog RCA phono inputs that can be switched between a line source and the phono preamp, and 2 analog RCA phono outputs for connecting active speakers or studio monitors.

A turntable grounding lug is included and headphone monitoring is via a stereo mini jack with a dedicated volume control. No special setup or additional drivers are required and wide computer operating system compatibility is available for both the Mac and Windows platforms.

USB 1.1 audio interface for connecting turntables and tape cassette players with a computer for recording and playback
Phono input with turntable ground lug makes connecting turntables a breeze
The phono input can be switched to allow the interface to accept a line level source
Stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output
Includes energyXT2.5 Behringer Edition music production software, an audio/MIDI sequencer that loads almost instantaneously on all computer platforms
Audacity audio editor for both Mac and Windows available for download
No additional drivers required
Powered via USB - no external power supply needed

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hiiiii

Please Ineed some way to learne me how to transefe casseete ot tape to pc Icannt understand any way

Hi Ahmed -

If you already own a cassette player you can use this device:

The U-CONTROL UFO202 from Behringer is a low cost solution for transferring vinyl records and tapes to and from a computer. The USB 1.1 interface is USB bus powered and features 2 analog RCA phono inputs that can be switched between a line source and the phono preamp, and 2 analog RCA phono outputs for connecting active speakers or studio monitors.

A turntable grounding lug is included and headphone monitoring is via a stereo mini jack with a dedicated volume control. No special setup or additional drivers are required and wide computer operating system compatibility is available for both the Mac and Windows platforms.

USB 1.1 audio interface for connecting turntables and tape cassette players with a computer for recording and playback
Phono input with turntable ground lug makes connecting turntables a breeze
The phono input can be switched to allow the interface to accept a line level source
Stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output
Includes energyXT2.5 Behringer Edition music production software, an audio/MIDI sequencer that loads almost instantaneously on all computer platforms
Audacity audio editor for both Mac and Windows available for download
No additional drivers required
Powered via USB - no external power supply needed
 
If you need a cassette player:
 

The TAPE 2 PC from Ion is a high-quality dual cassette deck that allows you to easily convert your favorite tapes to MP3 files for use with your personal media player. Simply connect the TAPE 2 PC to your Mac or Windows computer via USB, and use the included software to convert the tape.

The TAPE 2 PC can also be used as a standard cassette deck in your home entertainment system. Use the included RCA cables to connect to your stereo system for listening in your living room, den, or bedroom.

Note! TAPE 2 PC requires you to download and install Apple iTunes in order to convert your music into MP3 files.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi my name are Guitar Queen

 I have been trying to up load my songs  from my  older cassettes player  I just don't know how.  I wants to buy the right type of  player to do so  can you tell me what kind are cassette player i needs.

that's the information i needs.  Do i really needs a Macintosh computers  i have three window xps will that make a different

 Thank you for your information

 Guitar  Queen

Hi Guitar Queen -

You can use your Windows PC's  - no problem.  This machine will do a fine job of converting your recorded media to files  that can be stored digitally on your computer:

For dedicated music lovers, the Teac AD-RW900-B CD Recorder with Cassette Deck and USB Port provides a great way to record onto CDs or cassettes, featuring support for CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 and WMA discs. MP3/WMA/PCM recording on PC/Mac via the rear USB port.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I am seeking a machine to convert Casette tape music and LP to my I Mac. Can I buy Tascam or Teac AD RW 900 ? How much will it cost? Amazon and E bay is asking around $169. Can I buy cheaper? If so, contact me. 

I can cinvert with Behringer with Audacity or Roxio Toast, but the process is long. Can you help?

kamal saha

Hi Kamal -

Please see our current price on the Teac AD-RW900-B CD Recorder with Cassette Deck and USB Port by clicking on the hyperlink.

We may be able to offer a price match:

B&H will consider matching a legitimate price offering from an authorized dealer. We must be able to verify the offer and that the item is in stock. We cannot match phone quotes, coupons or any other promotional incentives. We will need to know the name of the vendor, the item you are interested in and the advertised price.  Please call: 800.606.6969 / 212.444.6615  or e-mail:  SalesBandH.com

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I was able to copy from cassette to my computer and can hear the recorded audio well on my computer. When I try to listen to the audio on other computers the sound is barely audible. I have tried converting to different types of files, like WAV and MP3.

Sam,

I don't know if this thread is still open, but here's my situation.

I was able to get a couple of cassette albums into my iMac as a test, using an old Walkman cassette player, a 3.5 to 3.5 cable to my iMac, and QuickTime. It seemed to work pretty well, and when I play back the QuickTime files on the Mac (one file for each side of the album) they sound great.

But when I tried to copy these files onto a CD, using iTunes, I was not able to. I copied the files (just drag and drop and burn) to a CD, and they are there, I can open them and play them on my Mac, like the original files I made. But when I put the CD in my Panasonic CD player in my stereo system, it looks like it is tracking, but no sound comes out. Any ideas?

The TASCAM unit, or the TEAC, sound pretty foolproof, but if I can avoid that expense, that would be even better!

Dear Sam,

i am looking to digitalize several hundreds of cassette tapes, old radio programs and have been looking around for a fast and efficient way to do this.
From the options you outline in the article which one would be the fasted. Most devices seem to be record one to one, which in my case would take many months, is there an option to speed up digitalization?
The programs have no music in them, which some people suggest would suffer.

Thank you for your help,
felix

Hello, I have a Marantz PMD 222 that I bought several years back at B&H and am now trying to digitize some voice recordings on my mac I bought an aux audio cable at Apple store, plugged one end into the Mac and the other into the line out on the Marantz. I have garage band set to mono built-in input and set the preference to "built-in input"

When I record however, Garageband is recording not only the cassette but other sounds (like my voice for instance) so it seems not to be recording correctly? I can hear the cassette (not sure if that's supposed to happen).
Any suggestions? I tried changing the input selector on the Marantz (not sure if it should be set to "line" or "mic/tel" . Is the cable incorrect?

The Mac salesman said the cable he gave me would only record in mono; is there a stereo cable I could use? Any pearls of wisdom would be greatly appreciated . Thank you!!!

I needed to find out how to record cassettes to my Mac, and you concisely told me just what I needed to do. I had purchased a stereo mini-male to stereo mini-male cable at Radio Shack a couple of years ago thinking I would start this project, so now I'm going to put it to good use! I'm using the Garage Band software and adjusted the preferences to line-level input, just as you directed. Thank you so much... I agree with you about the wealth of recordings lying dormant on cassette tapes, and I have enough to keep me busy all winter! Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Leslie Wolfe

Sam
I am trying to record audio from video on internet to CD Recorder or Cassette Recorder
What cables or equipment is needed to complete this procedure
Once audio is recorded, I will connect Xitel Inport to Desktop/Recorder and record audio with LP Recorder and edit audio with LP Ripper and store in music library for burning compilation CDs
Do you have equipment in your inventory to complete this procedure
Thanks for your assistance

Harvey

I am curious if the method for a cassette player and a Macintosh would also work for a Reel to Reel player/recorder and a Macintosh.  

Hello -

Absolutely!  The method described using an Audio Interface to Connect a Tape Player to a Computer will not change with a reel to reel.  Just be aware that the outputs from your reel to reel machine may require a simple adapter to connect to the inputs on the audio interface.

That's the best asnwer of all time! JMHO

Sam,

Nothing against the late Mr. Jobs, but Mac doesn't have exclusionary access to audio input ports. Since the Sound Blaster in 1989, which was based on components available a few years earlier for the pre-PC market, sampling analog audio (e.g. cassette input) to digital has been possible. Sound Blaster offered this capability at least a year before the Mac IIsi (the first Mac to have a sound input).

Most if not all PCs, both laptops and desktops sold today, indeed have a microphone input and most also have a line input. To connect that to your tape deck, I would go with a premium 3.5mm stereo male to 2 RCA male cable. Even the gold plated versions go for less than $5 on Amazon. Radio Shack calls it a " 1/8" Stereo to dual phono (RCA) plug Y-Cable" and carries it for less than $10. Many sources on the internet sell this type of cable at various qualities and prices.

Although Windows has a built in audio recorder, I'd use Audacity as it is a free open source software audio recorder of good quality and features. Although I'm no Sony-fanboy at all, I would better still recommend SoundForge Audio Studio or Pro: in this case, "studio" is the consumer version and "Pro" is the full featured version. Although purchased by Sony, the original small and dedicated American team of SoundForge developers and support folk are still at the helm and they produce a great product. It's available here at B&H.

BTW, if you don't have a LINE IN or Line Input and you have a laptop, don't bother with the MIC input, it generally wants a much lower voltage and the sound quality will be terrible without a patch cable. Many desktops however will offer an input that will assign when you plug the device in, regardless what is marked. If you can find an audio in port, often blue, use it (green is usually LINE OUT output and red is MIC).

Sound Forge can take your old audio tapes and automatically chop up the tracks for a CD, but in today's day and age, we all listen to MP3s or other digital source. I'd recommend re-creating your old mix tapes virtually via acquiring the songs digitally then creating playlists. But if you have great quality tapes and you don't want the expense of re-purchasing your music, get the Y-cable mentioned above, load up recording software, and go for it!

For the super frugal, what has become cheaper than the actual cable is some of the "Video to USB" adapters out there. Even with shipping, they can often be ourchased for less than $20 on E-Bay. I can't speak for the quality, but whether or not you use the video aspects, its worth a try at that price. Essentially it is an external sound card (and video input card as well which you can just ignore).

One last word: when setting the sound levels, *never-NEVER* let the levels go to high. You should see the waves of sound with varying levels during the whole recording. If the sound level is too high, it will "clip" and distort terribly. Yes, folks, this is very different from the "old days" of analog magnetic recording where the tape "liked" to be saturated a little, and the louder your recording was, the lower the background tape noise was. Since the signal to noise ration has gone from 20 dB to 70 (or better) dB, getting a loud recording isn't important, getting a clean recording is *much* more important to the quality of the final product. Any recording that is "clipped" will be all but useless as a quality music listening experience.

Good Luck...

Gene

Thank you, Gene.  That worked for me.  i wanted to make cds of a recording a cassette, and with the Audiology software, I was able to plug in the male to male jack [from the headphone jack in the cassette recorder to the microphone jack on my pc], press record on the Audiology software, and violoa, it is recording.  Thank you.  I think if you have the headphone/mincrophone jacks, you can do it with any recording device, right?

What is your goal? I'd recommend that you make them into high quality MP3 recordings, then you can mix them and play them anywhere, and make custom CDs. Male to male adapter can loose a lot if you are sending into a MIC input, it is best to use a LINE-IN port. Almost all PCs have a line in, but I'd be very careful about using a MIC input and a headphone out. You may have to "tweak" the headphone volume control and the mic input control quite a bit before you get anything near good quality. it's best if you can use line-out and line input connections.

Therefore having a simple Y connection (from RCA jacks  to USB) plugging the exisiting Cassette Player into your computer should work converting the cassettesinto digital files, using Audiology or Audacity software?

Hi Ludo -

To be clear - a simple RCA to USB connection does not exist.  You will need a device that converts the analog audio signal to a digital stream that can be saved to a file on your computer.  A simple, recommended device such as this one will do the job nicely and easily:

The U-CONTROL UFO202 from Behringer is a low cost solution for transferring vinyl records and tapes to and from a computer. The USB 1.1 interface is USB bus powered and features 2 analog RCA phono inputs that can be switched between a line source and the phono preamp, and 2 analog RCA phono outputs for connecting active speakers or studio monitors.

A turntable grounding lug is included and headphone monitoring is via a stereo mini jack with a dedicated volume control. No special setup or additional drivers are required and wide computer operating system compatibility is available for both the Mac and Windows platforms.

USB 1.1 audio interface for connecting turntables and tape cassette players with a computer for recording and playback

Phono input with turntable ground lug makes connecting turntables a breeze

The phono input can be switched to allow the interface to accept a line level source

Stereo headphone output with dedicated level control allows for monitoring both input and output

Includes energyXT2.5 Behringer Edition music production software, an audio/MIDI sequencer that loads almost instantaneously on all computer platforms

Audacity audio editor for both Mac and Windows available for download

No additional drivers required

Powered via USB - no external power supply needed

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

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