For decades, cassette tapes were the bestselling audio media format. Millions of tapes were sold every year until they were displaced by CDs and, later, digital download and streaming services. But there are still many people who have boxes of tapes stored in closets, cardboard boxes and dusty drawers. Cassettes are a dead and nearly forgotten technology.
However, there is a way for you to bring your old tapes into the digital age: Cassette to MP3 converters allow you digitize the audio on your tapes and transfer them to your hard drive. Once there, you can burn them to a CD, sync them to your smartphone, upload them to the internet and more, thereby saving them from certain oblivion.
There are a couple of ways you can accomplish this task: If you no longer own a working cassette deck, you can buy a cassette to MP3 package. But if you still have a boombox, Walkman, cassette recorder or any other type of tape deck, you don t have to spend much money or time converting your tapes.
The first thing you need to do is find a way to connect your cassette deck to your computer, which is simple enough. If you have a device with RCA ports, you can buy an RCA-to-USB cable, connect the RCA cables to your deck and the USB to your computer. If your tape player doesn't have RCA ports, it's likely it has a headphone jack. In this case, all you need to do is buy a male-to-male aux cable or an aux-to-USB converter, plug the aux cable into the headphone jack and then the other side of the cable into your computer. If you're using a male-to-male aux cable, you ll need to plug the opposite side into your computer s Line-In port.
These components are generally easy to find and inexpensive. If you don t already have these connector cables lying around somewhere, expect to pay between five and fifteen dollars for them.
On a side note, this method isn't exclusive to cassette players. You can employ it on nearly any analog device you own. Whether it's a vinyl record, 8-track or even reel-to-reel players, this method can digitize them all.
Once you have the hardware portion connected, you need to download software that s capable of recording the sound on your tapes. There are several free options you can find online very easily. The most ubiquitous program is Audacity. It is a free open-source sound-editing application that records and converts your analog audio. However, it s not an ideal choice for users who aren t already familiar with sound editing.
Another free option can be found on the Ion Audio website. EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter can be installed on both Windows and Macintosh computers. This application walks you through the conversion process step by step. It also has the ability to detect when one track ends and another one begins, automatically separating them for you at the end of the capture process.
If you own a Mac, consider downloading the Garage Band application from the Mac App Store. This is an inexpensive, simple-to-use sound capture/editing application that offers a lot of tools both for converting and editing your audio.
After you launch your capture/converter application, all you have to do is connect your hardware and press Play, then hit Record. As your tape plays, the software records it. Once it's done, you can then enter all your metadata and export the captured sound as an MP3 or other audio media format.
You can acquire all these components separately; it shouldn't cost you more than $20 to get all the hardware and software you need. Or you can purchase conversion packages that have all the parts included in one box.
One such product is Roxio Easy LP to MP3. This package comes with several types of converter cables that can connect nearly any analog device you may have into an audio capture hub. In turn, that hub connects to your computer via a USB cord. The hardware is accompanied by a CD of the Roxio Easy LP to MP3 software that you can install on any Windows machine. This is another application that walks you through the capture process step by step. It also has the ability to split tracks, perform basic edits and enhance the captured audio before you export it as an MP3.
Digitope s Cassette to CD and MP3 converter is a much simpler solution. It comes only with a male-to-male aux cable and a disc containing the Digitope Audio Digitalalizer. This program will either walk you through the capturing process manually or enter what they call Express Mode, where the process is automated with minimal input needed from the user.
One of the more basic solutions you can buy is the U-Control UCA202, which consists of a simple audio hub that you connect to an analog device via RCA cables. It has an integrated USB cable that you can then hook up to your computer. The downside, though, is that it does not come with connection cables or software. If you choose this device or one like it, you ll have to provide those components on your own.
There are several methods to convert your old cassette tapes to MP3s. But they all involve connecting a device to a computer and then using a software application to capture the sound. You can acquire all these components yourself or purchase a package that has everything you need. Whichever conversion system you choose, it is a simple process to learn and will give your old forgotten tapes a new life in the digital age.