What Should I Do with Old Cassette Tapes?


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Recently, I came across a box of old cassette tapes in my closet. The box contained a myriad of memories, from mixed tapes of my favorite hits in high school to a precious interview with my long-past grandfather. The box also held some unmarked tapes. I was eager to reminisce, but discovered that some were too old and damaged. Take my advice and preserve the cassette tapes you treasure before it’s too late. Here’s how.

What You Will Need to Transfer Cassette Tapes

Transferring tapes yourself is not difficult, but it requires some equipment. It also requires time, because you have to play the tape from start to finish. The most inexpensive way to do it is by using an audio cassette player with a line level output, your laptop, and an RCA audio cable. Dust off your old cassette player if it’s still around or hunt down a used one online. You won’t find any new ones being made. Test it out before you begin the transfer to make sure it works well enough to make a quality recording.

You’ll also need audio editing software. Most computers come with a basic editing program, like Sound Recorder, but if you want one that gives you more control, download a free program, like Audacity, or choose from a variety of paid programs, like Pro Tools.

Steps for Transferring

Connecting the cable. Connect one end of the RCA cable to your cassette player’s headphone or line-out jack (red and white end) and the other end (blue) to your laptop’s microphone or line-in jack. Most line inputs are blue and are often near the speaker/headphone output.

To use Sound Recorder. Launch this easy-to-use program by clicking on your laptop’s Start Menu. Type Sound Recorder in the search box, and it should come up for you to click on. Select the Start Recording button, then press Play on the cassette deck. When it finishes, click on Stop Recording, then press Stop on the player. Enter a filename and hit Save. If you wish, use another editing program to further enhance your recording.

To use other software, such as Audacity, download it and start up the program. Select your input type (microphone, for example). Check your sound input levels. You may have to set your input and adjust levels on your PC. Hit the Record button in the program, then press Play on the cassette deck. When the tape finishes, hit Stop in the program and on the cassette player. Save the file by selecting Save Project As.

To export the recording to MP3 or WAV format, click on File and choose Export As.

Play the file and make sure the audio levels and volume are to your liking. If there is too much static, you may have to do it over and lower the volume on the cassette player.

We Can Help

There are devices on the market that record directly to your laptop, but they don’t always provide good sound quality. Also, these devices can be expensive and still require software and cables, not to mention your time and know-how. We can help you preserve your memories. Call Disc Hounds at 610-696-8668 and let us transfer your old cassette tapes, videos, LPs, and more to digital formats.