Audio / Tips and Solutions

How to Record Cassette Tapes into a Computer

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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 have bought a Behringer UCA 222, hoping it would be the device I needed to convert my almost 100 mixtapes. However, I cannot make it work. I connect my cassette player's RCA 'out' plugs to the Behringer device's corresponding RCA 'in' plugs, and the Behinger's cable to my MaBook Air's USB. I press play on the cassette player, click the record button in Audacity, but it does not register any signal. Switchen the Behringer's monitor on and off, or changing its output volume does not help. Oddly, if I plug a headphone in the Behringer's headphone jack, I can hear the music from the cassette without problems. What am I doing wrong?

Do you have a power cord that can plug into the traditiional AC wall plugs to avoid the problem of batteries going dead during the transfer process?

Hi Ben - 

Both the USB Cassette to MP3 Converter from GGI  and the Tape Express Plus Tape-to-Digital Converter & Player from ION Audio may be powered by their included USB cables eliminating the dead battery issue.

Is this software compatable with Windows 10 and does it have a true high quality reproduction of sound?

Hi Ben - 

Audacity does not yet have full support for Windows 10 due to driver requirements. This page outlines computer requirements and issues using current Audacity for Windows 10.

I want to take my cassette tape recordings and download them onto my laptop computer (Lenovo 110S Ideapad), and I also want to use my external disk drive to burn them onto a blank CD. What's the best device to use to do this, and once I've downloaded music and songs from my tapes onto my computer, can I then just put those recordings onto my disc drive burn list and burn them, or is there more to it than that to do this?

Hi -

You've got the right idea. This is a very simple to use device to transfer your cassette tape collection to your computer:

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.

Tape to MP3

The TAPE 2 PC uses a standard USB 1.1 connection to connect to your Mac or PC to convert your favorite tapes into MP3 music files.

EZ Tape Converter 2 for PC Software

The EZTC2 software allows Windows users to convert their tapes quickly, and also includes Gracenote MusicID technology to automatically retrieve album, artist, and song information. 1

EZ Audio Converter for Mac Software

The EZAC software allows Mac users to convert their tapes easily. The software also lets you enter track information.2

Home Stereo

Use the included stereo RCA cable to use the TAPE 2 PC with your home stereo system.

Dual Cassette Deck

The TAPE 2 PC features two cassette decks. Both can be used for playback, and Deck B may also be used for recording, great for dubbing tapes, or recording external sources to tape.

Tape Type Selector

The Metal/CrO2 selector provides optimal playback, depending on the type of cassette tape used.

Display

The front-panel display shows audio meters and lets you know the record and dubbing status. A tape counter is also provided.

I have about 300 tapes that i need to convert to MP3. What is the most effecient way to do this? is there a FAST way? 

Hi Joel - 

The Graff Of Newark LC60556 Stereo Cassette Digitizer is a complete cassette-to-software digitizing system for laptop computers; it includes the GEM Digitizer master unit, an external USB sound card, and GEM Digitizer software. The package is intended to digitize old cassettes for archiving, uploading, and MP3 conversion in 4x or 8x speeds at resolutions up to 192kHz. Easily record A and B sides to software individually, or simultaneously in one pass.

Stereo cassette-to-software digital conversion

External USB sound card included for laptop use

Choice of 4x or 8x recording speeds

Records WAV files at up to 192kHz resolution

Record side A and side B in one pass

Includes GEM Digitizer Software

Hi I have some tapes that were recorded on a Tascam 4-track recorder. I bought the ION tape to pc usb conversion sysytem with dual dubbing cassette decks. I am trying to convert the recorded tapes from the Tascam 4-track recorder to regular tape cassette but it is not doing it. It sounds just like the 4-track recording and is not converting. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

bryan

Hi Bryan - 

The ION Tape 2 PC system is designed to read and convert L/R stereo tracks only.  It cannot decode a 4 track recording.

Mark S wrote:

Hi Bryan - 

The ION Tape 2 PC system is designed to read and convert L/R stereo tracks only.  It cannot decode a 4 track recording.

Thanks Mark S! Makes perfect sense now lol! 

i have the hype and i have adacity on my hp and i have no idea how to convert my cassette to cd's i have tried everything i have all the parts and nothing work's right for me please help

Hi Harry - 

Please send us an e-mail regarding the hardware you are using :  askbh@bandh.com    

Can this be used with the small micro tape cassetes?  I have some serious work to take from the micro cassette; so that I may type out what's recorded.  Is this possible

Hi Wanda - 

The products I recommended below will work for you as well:

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

You will also need this adapter:

The three foot REAN 3.5mm TRS to Dual RCA Pro Stereo Breakout Cable by Hosa Technology is designed to connect MP3 players, tablets, laptops and more to desktop stereo systems and hi-fi receivers.

This 24 AWG cable features nickel-plated REAN plugs, OFC (Oxygen-free Copper) conductors for enhanced signal clarity and 90% OFC spiral shielding which provides flexibility plus electromagnetic and radio frequency interference rejection.

Nickel-plated 1/8" REAN connectors for effective signal transfer and long-lasting durability

Oxygen-free Copper (OFC) conductors enhance signal clarity

90% OFC spiral shields provide flexibility and optimum EMI/RFI rejection

Here's my problem. I have a wizard little Sony recodable MD. I'd like to get the contents of the recorded MD's into Wavfepad on my laptop. I have a piece of hardware labled Digital PC Link. Also Xitel MD-PORT DG2. The only thing close to a line out is the headphone jack on the MD, and my inputs are USB. Somehow the cables are just not facilitating any signal transfer. What do I need to make it work ?

Hi Peter - 

Use something like this:

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

You will also need this adapter:

The three foot REAN 3.5mm TRS to Dual RCA Pro Stereo Breakout Cable by Hosa Technology is designed to connect MP3 players, tablets, laptops and more to desktop stereo systems and hi-fi receivers.

This 24 AWG cable features nickel-plated REAN plugs, OFC (Oxygen-free Copper) conductors for enhanced signal clarity and 90% OFC spiral shielding which provides flexibility plus electromagnetic and radio frequency interference rejection.

Nickel-plated 1/8" REAN connectors for effective signal transfer and long-lasting durability

Oxygen-free Copper (OFC) conductors enhance signal clarity

90% OFC spiral shields provide flexibility and optimum EMI/RFI rejection

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the input. I smile a bit 'cause I could swear from your advice that your a vested sales representative for Behringer

equipment. BUT thats ok becausde I know, have used, and respect the name and its products I have been exposed to over time.

I'll take a look at what the company has to offer and let you know if I have success.

Thanks again and be well.

Peter Harrington

Hi Peter - 

The Behringer works, so I will continue to recommend it!

i have recorded songs onto a  small  sony tape recorder.it has a plug in to download is there a way to transfer songs to computer

I borrowed a cassette player from my neighbor and it has a headset jack as does my computer. Bought a male to male cable and plugged in both. But first I listened to the audio tapes of 2 of my children (when 2 & 3) from 40 years ago. Sounded fine. Then I downloaded Audacity to my computer. I began testing to see if I was recording anything on my computer because I saw no sound info on my audacity screen. I am recording nothing and cannot figure out what my problem is. Please help.

Hi Charle -

I assume you are connecting the cassette player into the microphone jack of the computer. if so, then this will not work.  You will need a device to digitize the analog recordings before they get to the computer.  Here is the device you need:

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

thank you.

What do I need to connect my Sony tape player containing the tapes to the UCA202? The device shows 2 inputs for cables, but I do not have anything like that. Will a single male to lame cable work?

Hi Charles - 

If your tape player has a 1/8" (3.5mm) female audio output (headphone or line out) you will need a "Y" adapter to connect your tape player to the Behringer UCA202.

The 3' 1/8" Stereo Mini to Dual RCA Y Cable from Pearstone allows you to connect your portable audio devices to your home theater system, portable computer speakers, or any other device's RCA inputs. Its gold-plated connectors protect against corrosion while ensuring clear signal paths for your audio. The 1/8" stereo mini connector is recessed, allowing it to be used with most MP3 players and smart devices without having to remove their protective case.

Thank you, again.

Sorry to say, but I am back again and obviously out of my league with this. I have 4 audio tapes I want to convert to a digital format on my computer. I have a cassette player and have inserted a tape. I have Y-cable (you recommended) plugged into the headphone jack on the player. (These tapes are recordings of 2 of my children from 40 years ago. I would like to be able to eventually burn them a disk with these recordings.) The Y-cable is plugged into the "input" of the UCA202 (which you also recommended) which in turn is plugged into my laptop. I have plugged headphones into the UCA and I can hear the recording when I press "play" on the audio cassette player. I have the volume turned up to max on the UCA. While everything may seem to be fine, I cannot tell where, if anywhere, the recoding is going on my computer. I see a red light in the little area to the left of the headphone input on the UCA and the USB light is green and lit. Can you direct me further, please. Sorry for being so dumb about this.

Hi Charlie - 

The file is created and stored on your hard drive. Did uo download the free software/

"To truly get the most out of your UCA202, you will need recording and editing software. So, we made it easy, providing a single place for you to download lots of free software including: Audacity is an easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. With Audacity you can: Record live audio Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together Change the speed or pitch of a recording And much more…"

Here is a.pdf copy of the manual:

https://media.music-group.com/media/PLM/data/docs/P0484/UCA202_P0484_M_EN.pdf

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

need cassette palyer that has in/out line so  i can connnect to stereo conponents

any systems out there tha does this?

Hi Manuel - 

Digitize your audio cassettes with the Marantz Professional PMD-300CP Dual Cassette Deck. Its USB output will allow you to connect it to a computer to save your tapes as MP3 files with separately available audio capture software. Its two cassette decks allow you to copy from one cassette to another in real-time or at high speed. It supports both normal and CrO2 tapes and features dynamic noise reduction to reduce hiss and artifacts. Its RCA stereo line-in and line-out connectors allow you to connect it to the stereo system of your choice.

I have a cassette deck with no headphone jack. Am I going to need to find a way to connect the rca cables from the cassette player to a usb input on my pc? Please advise. Thanks

Hi Louis - 

Use one of these:

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

No new cassette decks avaliable now have Dolby B so are not suitable for dubbing to digital or just listening. The Ion ,Pyle don't have Dolby so of no use.

Hi, I have connected my AUX cable to my "phones" port on my cassette player and into my "mic" port on my laptop. Will the sound card just make it more clear or will it sound the same. It is not so clear when I record it but it is clear when I ply it on my cassette player

Hi Mohammed -

Sending an AUX (or LINE) signal into a microphone input is a recipe for poor audio due to an impedance mismatch.  Use an interface to connect your cassette player to your computer via USB:

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

Hi--I see many ways to transfer standard cassettes to digital, however, I have a number of microcassettes that need to be transferred to digital. No need for stereo quality, as they are only recordings of meetings  Any equipment for that; or other advice?  Thanks

Hi Gerald -

You will need to obtain a microcassette recorder and then you can use one of the USB interfaces that we recommend for standard cassettes.  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.

I have an ONN cassette recorder and was wondering if I could use that to transfer tapes onto my 2009 macbook. It only has the headphone input so I wasnt sure if it was still possible to digitize the audio.

Hi Kevin -

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

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.

..Exactly my question too, I als think the analog to digital capture is 25% of the job. There is a lot of 'tidying-up" to do after, in particular just tagging and cataloging.

Since shazam can take an audio fingerprint from your device microphone, then consult an online audio fingerprint DB and come back with a hit, ie; Song name, Artist etc.....It would seem like it should not be a very big step to "run through" the music you just transferred from casette, take a fingerprint sample(s) then, consult the DB and come back with a hit.

I know in the braodcast industry they are using tools like that to 'on the fly' describe with text what is being said in the audio track.. so not sooo far fetched

..Any audio engineers with computer programming skills!??

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.

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