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wikiHow to Transfer Cassette Tape Reader


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Six Parts: Preparing to Record Using QuickTime on Your Mac Using Sound Recorder on Your PC
Using Audacity Using a Professional App Finishing Your Recorded Audio (Mastering) Community Q&A

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Audio cassettes have been replaced by more convenient music players years ago. All is not lost,
though: it is possible to transfer audio from cassettes to your computer. Read this wikiHow to learn
Cher K.
CK
how. Oct 1, 2016

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10 Second Summary

1.Connect the headphone jack to the line input with a cable. More
2. Connect the RCA plugs to the matching jacks on your cassette deck.
3. Plug the phone plugs into the outputs, and the other end of the cables into your computer's sound
input.
4. Check your sound input levels.
5. Set your input and adjust levels on a Windows PC.

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6. Use a recording software to transfer the cassette.

Part
1 Preparing to Record

1 Gather your materials. In addition to a cassette deck and a computer, you will also
need a cable that connects your cassette deck to the line input on your computer. The
particular bits you will need depend primarily on your cassette deck. See the Things You'll
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Need section below for a comprehensive list of options.
Almost all cassette decks have a 3.5mm headphone jack. If your computer has a
headphone jack, you will need a cable with a 3.5mm stereo plug on each end, or a
cable with suitable adapters so that both ends have a 3.5mm stereo plug.
Many cassette decks have unbalanced line outputs. You'll recognize those as having
red and white plastic rings. You will need a cable with two RCA plugs on one end, and
a 3.5mm plug on the other. You can also use adapters.
High-end cassette decks may sport balanced line outputs, with dual 3-pin XLR-F
connectors or balanced 1/4" phone jacks. For these, you will need cables that have
XLR-M or a 1/4" phone plug on one end, and plugs to match your computer sound
input hardware on the other end. If you're using a balanced-output cassette deck, it's
likely your computer sound hardware has balanced inputs. If not, you will need an
adapter to turn your balanced signals into unbalanced ones. Consult with your local
audio supply store for the best fit for your hardware setup.

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2 Connect to a headphone jack. Plug one end of your cable into the headphone jack of
your cassette deck, and the other to the line input (not microphone input) of your
computer. Most line inputs are blue with what looks like arcs or waves spreading outwards
above it. They are usually next to the speaker/headphone output (green) and the microphone
input (pink). If you will be using Audacity, make sure it's set to "line input" by clicking on the
menu next to the microphone icon.
Make sure the plugs are inserted completely and are secure, or the sound won't be
clear.
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If your PC or laptop does not have a line-in, you may also be able to use the
microphone-in port. Note however that the microphone-in port is probably
monophonic, not stereophonic.

3 Connect to the line output jacks. Connect the red and white RCA plugs on the cable
to the matching red and white jacks on your cassette deck or receiver. (Note that some

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receivers have a special "recording output," which is fine to use as wellit delivers the same
output levels as the line out of a cassette deck). Insert the 3.5mm plug into the line in jack on
your computer.
Make certain the plugs are inserted completely and are secure.
If your PC or laptop does not have a line-in, you may also be able to use the
microphone-in port. Keep in mind however, that the microphone-in port is usually
monophonic, not stereophonic.

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4 Connect balanced line outputs. Plug in the XLR or phone plugs into the left and right
outputs, and the other end of the balanced cables into your computer's sound input. If you
are plugging into an unbalanced 3.5mm line input jack, you will need an adapter that converts
the balanced outputs to unbalanced outputs, and matches the connector of the line input of
your sound card.
Note: under no circumstances connect your speaker outputs to any input of your
sound card. This will, in all likelihood, destroy your sound card, and could possibly
damage your amp as well.
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5 Check your sound input levels. In order to get the best recordings, you will want to
ensure that you have just the right amount of signal coming in. Too loud, and your sound
will be distorted. Too quiet, and there will be a lot of hiss and muffled sounds.

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6 Set your input and adjust levels on a Windows PC. Open the Sound control panel
by clicking the Start button, then clicking Control Panel. Type "sound," and then click
Sound in the results.
Click the Recording tab, then click Line In, then click Set Default.
Click Properties, then click on the Levels tab. Move the volume slider to the right to
increase the recording volume, then click OK. When you're returned to the Sound
dialog box, click OK.

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7 Set your input and adjust levels on a Macintosh. Open the Sound control panel in
System Preferences. Click on the Input button at the top of the window, and ensure that
Line In is selected in the list.
Set the Input volume control in the Sound control panel to about 75%. Set the
headphone output of your cassette deck to 0.
Locate a loud passage on the tape you're going to record from, then press "Play" on
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your cassette deck. Keep an eye on the meters as you slowly increase the output
volume on the cassette deck. When the meters in the Sound control panel are flashing
regularly around 80% (about 12 "LEDs" lit), you have a good recording level. If you
need more level after the cassette deck output is at maximum, increase the Input
volume in the Sound control panel. If you need less volume, reduce the level from the
recorder. This will give you the cleanest signal overall.
Note: unless you have a very high output from your headphone jack, there is little risk
of damaging your sound card using this method. By setting the output of your cassette
deck to zero, then increasing gradually, you ensure that your sound card is not
damaged.

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8 Determine what software you will use. This will depend on how many cassettes you
want to convert, how good you want the quality to be, and how you plan on playing your
recordings on the computer. This article will cover basic sound recording, such as Audacity
and QuickTime, as well as professional sound recording apps.

Part
2 Using QuickTime on Your Mac
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1 Consider getting QuickTime. It's easily available, well-supported, and is an excellent
choice for doing basic, high-quality conversions. There are no frills, and has relatively
simple editing capabilities, which means it's super easy to use. That makes it a great option if
you're bringing lectures, audio books, or other long, unbroken blocks of audio.
For Macintosh users, QuickTime X, which ships with OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8, is
able to record external sources.
For Windows (and older versions of the Mac OS), QuickTime 7 Pro is available for
purchase from Apple. Start with this link: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/extending/
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then pick the OS that is applicable to you.
Whether you use QuickTime Player X, or QuickTime Pro, it's the same process when
you're ready to record.

2 Make sure everything is connected. Ensure that your tape player is plugged in, and
that you have set the levels properly. If any cables are loose or insecure, your sound won't

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have very high quality.

3 Launch QuickTime Player and select "New Audio Recording" from the File
menu. This will open a simple control strip (QuickTime X) or preview window
(QuickTime Pro).

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4 Begin your recording. Press the red button in the middle of the control area, then press
the play button on the cassette deck.

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5 Press the button again when you are finished recording, then shut off your
cassette deck. Your file will be automatically saved to the desktop.

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6 Save the file to a new location. When you finish recording, your file will be
automatically saved to the desktop. You may prefer to save the file in a new location,
such as a special folder. How you do it will depend on what version of QuickTime you are
using.
If you are using QuickTime Player X: click on the menu on the right side of the control
strip to select a different destination for the file.
If you are using QuickTime Pro: choose a different default location in the Recording
pane of QuickTime Player Preferences.
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Part
3 Using Sound Recorder on Your PC

1 Take advantage of Sound Recorder. Every PC ships with Sound Recorder, and for a
free little utility, it's become quite useful. There are no frills, which means it's super easy
to use, and also completely basic when it comes to editing. Like QuickTime Player X, it's a
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great option to use if you're bringing lectures, audio books, or other long, unbroken blocks of
audio.

2 Launch Sound Recorder. Click the Start button, and in the search box enter "Sound
Recorder." In the list of results, click Sound Recorder.

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3 Start your recording. Click "Start Recording," then press the play button on the
cassette deck.

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4 Stop your recording when you have recorded what you wanted. Press "Stop
Recording," then press the stop button on your cassette deck.

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5 Enter a file name for the recorded file, then click "Save." After this, you can use
other editing programs to further enhance our recordings, such as trim off silences,
enhance the sound, etc.

Part
4 Using Audacity

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1 Open up Audacity. If you do not have it, then you will need to download it. Audacity is a
free, open-source application that is loaded with features and capabilities. It's also far
more flexible than many commercial applications!

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2 Set the sound input in Audacity. Make sure it's set to Line Input by clicking on the
menu next to the microphone icon.

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3 Press the "Record" button, then press "Play" on your cassette deck. The record
button is shaped like a red dot. The recording my take a while, so consider doing some
other tasks in the meantime.
To avoid forgetting about your recording, run a reverse line out of the computer back
to your stereo system's room speakers. You have to click the monitor box in Audacity
for this to work. This way, when the cassette is done recording, you hear the room go
silent, and you can rush over and click the stop recording button in audacity.

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4 Press the "Stop" button, then stop your cassette deck. When you are done
recording, stop both the recording and the cassette player. The stop button in Audacity is
usually shaped like a gold square.

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5 Edit your audio for best results. Trim silences, normalize so you get maximum
volume, break into tracks, etc. For more information on using Audacity, click here.

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6 Consider using the LAME plugin to export your music to MP3 format. This will
allow you to edit the metadata of the MP3 for things like: track, author, decade, album,
etc. It will allow music players, like iTunes and Android, to recognize what kind of MP3 it is,
such as: country, jazz, and what era , 70's, 80'.

Part
5 Using a Professional App
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1 Use a professional app. For even greater flexibility and professional cleanup, there are
a number of apps ranging from about $50USD to over $500 USD. The details of
operation vary, but they all follow the same essential process as even the most basic sound
recorder:
Make sure that Line Input is selected in the software setup.

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2 Make your recording. Press record in the software and hit the play button on the
cassette deck. Record your piece, then press the stop button in the software, and finally
the stop button on the cassette deck.
How you start and stop recording in the software will depend on the program itself.
Each one will have a slightly different layout.

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3 Edit your audio. The benefit with professional apps is that they allow you to split your
audio into regions (for CDs) and perform many professional mastering functions using
high-quality plugins.
Options in the professional category include Sound Forge by Sonyan excellent
choice for this type of workas well as PolderbitS and Cubase on the PC, Garage
Band and Logic Pro on the Mac, and ProTools on either.

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Part
6 Finishing Your Recorded Audio (Mastering)

1 Record a small amount at first. Before you transfer your entire tape collection over to
your hard drive, make sure you're getting a good recording. Record what you did, then
give it a listen. If you set up your signal chain correctly, you should have a fairly clean digital
copy of your old analog tapes.
If the recording is too quiet or too noisy (the music is quiet but there's lots "fuzzy"
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noise), the output was too low and the recording did not have enough signal to offset
the noise.
If the recorded sound sounds like it's being played through a broken speaker or a
meat grinder, your recording was too loud, and the sound's distorted. Back off the
output level from the tape player, and try again.

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2 Edit your recording. You may not need to do any editing, but if you want to cut out
silences, erase some tracks, or change the volume, for example, most sound recording
programs will allow you to do so. This procedure is quite complex if you have no experience
with sound editing, and is beyond the scope of this article.
When editing, it is a good idea to keep the original file as a backup and change the
names of edited files when you save them in case you find you made a mistake.
When youre sure you like the edited file, you can delete the original to save drive
space on your computer.

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3 Normalization. Once you have a basically good recording, you can improve it through
judicious use of software tools. Chief among those is Normalization. Basically, it works
by making sure the loudest peaks are at or near 100% of full scalewhen all the meters are lit
(or 0dB, depending on your metering).

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4 Apply compression. This is not something you will use for every recording you make. It
can render a lot of music lifeless. It works by keeping the loudest sounds about where
they started, and bringing up the level of the quieter passages. You lose the difference
between the highs and lowsor dynamicsand in return, you get an apparently louder
recording. When listening at home, this isn't necessarily desirable, but if you're making a CD
for your car, it can be very useful.

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5 Equalize (EQ) the audio. Depending on your speakers, how they're set up, and the
quality of your overall playback system, adjusting the EQ to taste can be helpful. A word
of caution, though: like compression, "good" EQ is subjective. While you may adjust the EQ so
it sounds great on your system. But if you loan your CD to a friend with a different speaker
system, it may come out sounding thin, or muffled, or honky, or just plain wrong.

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6 Always work with a copy. Once you've gone through the trouble of converting your old
cassettes, Make saving a copy of your recording the first thing you do before you start
doing destructive edits (normalization, EQ, compression, etc.)

Community Q&A New! Make a stranger's day. Answer a question.

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Search
Type your query here
Add New Question
Is there any advantage to buying a commercial cassette tape-to-MP3 converter, versus doing it
with my old cassette player?
wikiHow Contributor
The only advantage to use a commercial converter is if you're working as a professional sound
recording studio specialist. The audio conversion results using the six methods described in this
article will be almost as good as far as the end sound results are concerned, so you may prefer to
save your money.

Yes No

Not Helpful 1 Helpful 19


How many cassette tapes can be put on a CD?
wikiHow Contributor
Standard cassette tapes hold 30 minutes of audio per side, so 60 minutes in total. Standard
audio CDs generally hold about 80 minutes of audio, assuming it is in standard audio CD format.
So, you will get only one tape per CD if you want to produce a CD that will play in any standard
CD player. You will get more, however, if you convert the files to MP3 before burning - but many
older CD players and low-end models cannot play MP3 CDs, so you'll have to test it first if you go
that route.

Yes No

Not Helpful 4 Helpful 12


Where is the recording saved?
wikiHow Contributor
The easiest way to keep track and save all your work would be to right click on the desktop and
create a "New Folder", right click on this folder and rename it to Recording or your own name
preference. This way all your work can be "Save As" and point to the special folder you've made.

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Yes No

Not Helpful 4 Helpful 9


I have a MacBook Pro with an internal microphone and a headphone jack. I have USB ports, so
what do I need to do to connect my laptop to a cassette player?
wikiHow Contributor
If you follow the article with the six methods of cassette conversion instructions, it includes all of
the instructions on how to connect, types of cables, and the use of a MacBook, as well as PCs.

Yes No

Not Helpful 5 Helpful 8


What size flash drive would I need to get for an 80-minute CD?
wikiHow Contributor
Any flash drive over 1GB should be able to hold a standard 80-minute CD with room to spare.

Yes No

Not Helpful 1 Helpful 1

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Tips

For the reverse operationtransferring digital sound to tapesimply use the same cable setup,
but plug one end into the cassette deck's microphone or line in jack, and the other end into the
computer's line out, headphone, or speaker jack. Hit record on the cassette deck, then start the
songs playing on the computer. Start with a low volume setting and adjust for good quality sound,
then rewind and start over the recording at that volume level.

The audio file you create may be in the native PC sound file type: WAV (.wav) format. You can
play it with almost any audio software. These files, however, are about 10 times larger than the
equivalent file in MP3, so you may want to compress them to MP3 if size is more important than
sound quality. Your sound recording or media player software may have this function built in, or
you may need to get additional software. Fortunately, you can get such conversion software free
online, such as Audio Grabber which will record straight to MP3 (link below).

You may not need to buy recording software. Advanced sound recording and editing software
may come with your sound card. Otherwise, you can find many good freeware programs on the
internet for recording, editing, and changing formats of audio files. It is important that before you
start, read the help manual for the recording and editing software.

To improve the source sound from tapeespecially cassette tapeadjust the azimuth. Listen in
mono and slowly adjust the azimuth screw on the play head on your cassette deck until you hear
sound with the maximum treble. You may need to move it a little left and right initially to get a feel
of how the sound changes and which setting gives you the best high frequency playback.

When making your recordings, consider using a Noise Reduction. Not all recording programs
have this, but it is a nice way to help with the audio quality.

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You may need to set your sound card to allow recording from the line-in port. You can do this in
Windows from the volume control in the system tray (near the clock). Double click the volume icon,
then in the window that opens, click Options, then Properties, then Recording, then click OK.
Make sure the line-in box is selected.

Don't throw out old cassettes or cassette decks because they are rare and becoming valuable.

Warnings

Before deciding to undertake this operation, please read the comments (click on the "Discuss"
tab), especially the comments regarding the quality of results for music cassettes.

Don't throw away the cassette. Always keep your master copy. You will need it when your hard
drive crashes, or you find there was a glitch in your transfer, or when your next new computer can
record it better. It also gives you the copyright to your copy you have just made.

Be cautious about what kind of cable you use. Cheap cables often lack electronic shielding. If
your cable isnt up to par it will record the buzz of your computer fan as well as the analog audio.

Uncompressed audio files are very large. One cassette tape may take hundreds of MB, so make
sure you have enough space on your hard drive.

Attempting to transfer cassettes using a boombox or portable stereo to play the cassettes may
result in recordings of poorer quality than expected.

Unless you are using specialized, expensive equipment, you may not get the results you hoped
for. Worst case, you could damage your computer.

Take care not to violate copyright laws with your recordings. Cassette tapes may be old, but the
copyright is usually still enforceable. Keep these recordings for your own enjoyment; don't sell
them to make money.
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Your results, especially for music cassettes, will depend on a number of factors: the quality and
condition of your tapes, your cassette deck, your computer and A-D converters (or sound card),
your connecting cable, and the level of your knowledge and experience in sound editing.

Some recording software will instruct you to turn up the volume on your cassette deck. As you
could damage your computer, use extreme caution and get expert assistance if you are
inexperienced.

Start with a very low volume on the cassette deck or stereo, as your computer's input circuitry can
be damaged by high-level input.

Things You'll Need

A computer with a sound card that has a line-in jack

Sound recording software.

A cassette deck with either audio RCA line output jacks or a 3.5mm stereo headphone or line-
out jack.

Standard Setup
Double-ended 3.5mm stereo cable

3.5mm adaptors (if needed)

Unbalanced Setup
3.5mm Stereo to RCA Dual Audio cable

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3.5mm mini-connector adapter (if needed)

Balanced Setup
Balanced XLR phone plug (option 1)

Balanced 1/4-inch phone plug (option 2)

Related wikiHows Edit

How to How to
Change Your Records Into CDs Record a CD

How to
How to Burn a Music CD Using Windows Media
Make a Perfect Mix Tape or CD Player 9

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Sources and Citations

http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/
http://www.goldwave.com/ Goldwave.com
http://www.thegreatbear.net/audio-transfer/setting-azimuth-convert-cassettes-cd/ Azimuth

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Article Info

Categories: Featured Articles | TV and Home Audio

In other languages: Featured


Article

Franais: transfrer une cassette audio vers un ordinateur, Italiano: Trasferire le tue Audio
Cassette sul Computer, Espaol: transferir el audio de un cassette a la
computadora, Deutsch: Kassetten auf den Computer bertragen, Portugus: Transferir o
Contedo de Fitas Cassete Para o Computador, Nederlands: Een cassettebandje overzetten
naar de computer, : , :
, Bahasa Indonesia: Memindahkan Pita Kaset ke Komputer

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