In today’s era of MP3s and CDs, cassette tapes have become obsolete, a quaint leftover from yesteryear. However, if you own a lot of rare cassettes, you know it would be a shame to let those great tracks or cherished personal recordings go to waste. Fortunately, converting your old cassette tracks into computer-readable formats is really simple and (best of all) free.
This guide shows you how to turn your cassette music into MP3 and CD files using Audacity. It’s an easy-to-use recording program, available for free online at Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder
. After downloading and installing it, just follow the steps below:
1. Get the right hardware. You should have a tape player with a headphone jack and a 3.5 millimeter audio cable. Your computer must also have a working soundcard and a compatible microphone input port for the cable.
2. Sort your collection for the tracks you want to convert. Test your tapes and make sure you do not include any that are already defective or degraded.
3. Connect your computer to the tape player. Plug one end of the audio cable into the player’s headphone jack and the other into the microphone input port on your computer. This port may be located either in the front or back of your computer. Alternatively, you can get an adapter that uses the computer’s USB port.
4. Start recording your chosen tracks. Run Audacity and press the “Record” button (red circle). Then, insert a tape and turn your tape player on. Check Audacity to see if your computer is receiving a signal from your player. If it isn’t, check your audio settings (in the Windows Control Panel) to ensure that your microphone input is active.
5. Press “Stop” (yellow square) in the recording program when the track is finished playing. If you wish to edit it, save the newly-recorded file to your computer using the “Export as WAV” item in Audacity’s file menu. Otherwise, choose “Export as MP3”. Repeat for every track you wish to record.
6. Edit the WAV file. This is an optional step if you want to eliminate silent periods in the track or add effects using Audacity’s additional features. Then, convert the WAV file into MP3 format.
7. Finally, burn the track onto a CD using appropriate software or load it onto a portable MP3 player for easy listening.
If there’s something you wish to preserve, remember to act fast, otherwise your originals may decay before you can convert them. You may even use the same process to convert your old vinyl records and 8-tracks. With these tips, there’s no reason why you can’t keep all your important audio mementoes from years ago.