It’s not just The Olds who need a list of the best cassette to MP3 converters so they can save their precious cassingles for all eternity. Anyone with anything valuable recorded on tape — mixtapes from crushes, recordings of loved ones, or maybe even homebrew musical stylings — would benefit from converting those treasures. The best cassette to MP3 converters not only preserve those sounds of those artifacts but also protect against the inevitable obsolescence of the devices capable of playing them.
So what’s the best cassette to MP3 converter for you? That depends a lot on your situation. Are you looking to convert an entire music library or just transfer a handful of recordings? Rest assured, no matter what you’re looking to achieve, there’s a unit that fits your price range and your skill level. If your budget can handle it, the Marantz Professional PMD-300CP, a dual-cassette player that boasts incredible audio quality is top of the pops. If you’d rather not shell out $150, fair enough — just snag one of the less spendy options we’ve listed here.
If you plan to tweak those recordings once they’re on your PC, Mac, or phone, make sure you check out our best audio editing software (opens in new tab) guide for suggestions on how to do that.
When you’re ready to clean out your TV cabinet, our guide to the best VHS to DVD converters (opens in new tab) can help you preserve your favorite video cassettes too.
1. DigitNow Cassette to MP3 converter: Best cassette to MP3 converter overall
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DigitNow are specialists in the converting of older formats to digital. This cassette to MP3 converter is simple to use, light and compact, and comes with all the functionality you need to both copy and listen to music from cassette tapes. While the unit itself does feel cheaply made... that's because it is, and this is reflected in the price. You can usually pick up the DigitNow converter for less than $30, which makes it much cheaper than most other cassette converters. And, to be clear, all the similar models we considered for this guide had similar build quality, but didn't quite offer the same audio conversion fidelity, so you're getting a good deal here.
This one comes with a USB cable that plugs directly into your PC or Mac, and a software CD and instruction manual. We recommend using a different piece of software like Audacity (which is free) to digitize your cassettes, as the included software CD is increasingly struggling to stay compatible with the latest versions of Windows or Mac OS. You also get a pair of earbuds with this one too, which are cheap and poor quality but can serve as a decent back-up pair if your main headphones are lost or left at home by mistake.
It runs on AA batteries if you want to use it as a straightforward Walkman, and will also draw power from a DC power connection if you have one. Neither power options are included, so make sure you have batteries at home. At under $30 this is a cheap piece of tech, but it works just fine and is perfect for most needs.
2. Ion Tape Express Plus: Best quality player
If you don’t need a full-bodied tape deck, but still want high-quality audio conversions, consider the Ion Tape Express Plus. This converter is constructed of sturdier materials than some other Walkman-style converters, like the DigitNow, and that is reflected in the price, as you'll pay close to $40 for it. This makes it an effective player, but how does the copying stand up?
It's far from perfect when it comes to copying cassettes but, for the most part, does a good job. When we tested this model it actually improved the sound quality in some instances, but this is something Audacity does more effectively once you've actually copied the music to your PC. So, you're not gaining much (if anything) in conversion over the cheaper models.
The Ion is simple to use, and we do like the sturdier materials and simplified design. If you're looking to carry it with you and play tapes on the move, it's definitely the best option. If you're looking for a pure converter, it does the job, but at a higher price than some.
3. Reshow Cassette Player and MP3 Converter: Best portable converter
If you're after a nifty, portable cassette to MP3 converter, then this Reshow model will fit the bill. It has a simple black and silver design similar to the DigitNow, offering a slightly retro look akin to an old-school cassette player. Despite this, it's slightly cheaply made so may be a better option for those wanting a converter for a specific, short-lived purpose as opposed to frequent use.
It converts old tapes to MP3 files using a USB converter that can be used with a laptop or desktop, making it super easy to organize files in one space. It also works with laptop CD burners, so you can convert into different formats if needed. The biggest selling point of this converter is how easy it is to transport. It's lightweight, portable, and can even be used as a standard Walkman on the go: simply plug in headphones or a car aux and you're good to go.
Despite reports of an occasional buzz or hum, reviews say the sound quality is great for the price and that it does a solid job of converting tracks clearly. Each model also comes with a complete transfer kit which includes converter software, a guide, and a 5V DC USB power cord so you can get straight to work.
4. MyPin cassette to USB converter: Works without a computer(opens in new tab)
There are plenty of Walkman-style cassette to MP3 converters out there, but the MyPin is different to most for a couple of reasons. The first is the jazzy design, that throws back perfectly to when cassettes were the dominant audio format. It's slim, compact, and very simple to operate. The MyPin comes with a 3.5mm jack input that allows headphones to be plugged in, and for it to be used as a personal listening device, and it has a USB input too. Much like all the other entries here.
However, this allows you to copy straight from tape to USB stick, so you don't need to mess about with audio software or cables. It copies direct to the USB drive, and converts the songs or tracks to MP3, making it wonderfully easy to use. The downside here is that the quality isn't perfect, so we'd very much recommend post-processing your new MP3s using audio editing software, after you've copied them.
It's cheap and easy to use, which does mean build quality suffers a little. This doesn't feel like an expensive product... but it works, and it's a stylish way to listen to cassettes if you just can't let the 80s go. It even comes bundled with headphones, making it a good buy for $35.
5. ByronStatics Portable Cassette Player: Best budget converter
Compact and easy to use, it's hard to go wrong with this converter from ByronStatics. It measures just 3.9 x 2 x 5.5 inches and has a belt clip, making it handy to carry with you whether on the go or at your desk. It also comes in at under $30 making it one of the most affordable converters to purchase - especially great if you're wanting to dip your toe in the water with transferring cassettes to MP3 files.
The built-in microphone and speaker are of good quality considering the price, however, reviews do mention that there's an issue with tapes playing either too slowly or too quickly. Fear not, as this can be mended by using a thin flathead screwdriver to adjust the pin in the back. This isn't ideal, but it does seem to fix the problem.
This converter also comes with earbuds included, making it convenient for getting started straight away. If you're not keen on listening with headphones, it has a built-in speaker which makes it simple to listen out loud.
6. Rybozen Cassette Player Converter: Best for using as a converter and Walkman
This cassette to MP3 converter from Rybozen packs tonnes of features into a small, compact case. Whether you're looking to convert tapes to a digital format, burn digital files onto CDs or transfer them to smartphones, MP3s, or USBs, this device can do it all. It comes with a USB cable so is easy to get started straight away, simply by plugging into your preferred device.
The metal cassette case is slightly cheaply made, however it has a few great mechanisms including an auto-invert function that automatically plays the second side when you press the "DIR" button. Setting the loop icon will also reverse the tape one time or infinite times, removing some of the work for you.
When it comes to sound quality, this model has a four-channel stereo head which makes the audio much more stable. It also works perfectly with a 3.5mm jack, so you can use it with headphones or a car aux. Like other portable models on the market, you can also use the Rybozen converter as a Walkman - a winner if you're into retro listening devices.
For less than $30, it's hard to pick faults with this converter. It also comes with a software CD, a USB cable, earbuds, and a user guide making it easy to set up and use for those with limited experience converting tapes.
How the best cassette to MP3 converters work
Most of the products we reviewed come in the form of a small handheld cassette player with a USB port that connects to your computer. These devices are usually coupled with a software component that you need to install on your system.
Once you have the cassette you want to convert in the deck and connected to your computer, all you need to do is press Play on your deck and Record in the software and it will capture the audio as it plays back. After the converter software has captured the audio, you can export it as an MP3. Then you can do pretty much anything with it. You can burn it to a CD, sync it to any of the best smartphones (opens in new tab), upload it to the internet, or import it into an audio editing application for further work.
Converting the audio found on cassette tapes can be a time-consuming process. That’s because it’s not a simple file transfer that only takes a few seconds. Cassette to MP3 converters must record the audio in real time as it plays in the deck. If you’re converting a whole cassette, this can take up to an hour. Then you have to go into the application to listen to the captured content, edit the audio, separate the tracks and a few other things. These are all pretty simple things to master, but it can be quite involved as well. Just know that if you’re converting a lot of tapes, you’re probably looking at a long-term project.
Key attributes of MP3 converter
There are a couple of ways these converters connect to your computer. Most have an integrated cassette deck that allows you to easily slide in the tape you want to convert. Others require you to connect your own deck to your computer via RCA cables. These ones let you hook up any analog device, like a record player or 8-track deck, and convert audio from those devices as well.
All of the products we reviewed can connect to your computer through a USB port. This is the most convenient way to connect, because all computers have multiple USB outlets. Most of the products can draw their power through the USB connection. But there are also alternate power supplies for these devices; some have DC adapter outlets, some also take AA batteries.
The conversion software that comes with these products is critical to their performance. The best cassette converter applications have the ability to automatically detect and segregate tracks on a music album. They also allow you to control the volume of the audio as it is being recorded. Additionally, the best applications work on both Windows and Mac. However, made of these cassette players struggle with compatibility, as they - and their software - are older products. If you can't get your chosen converter's software to work, try any of the best audio converter software (opens in new tab) packages from our guide.
Most of the devices we reviewed double as portable cassette players, good for everyday use. While this is nice for retro-style lovers, they don’t offer any functionality outside of playing and converting tapes. Our number two pick, the Marantz Professional, is a full bodied, double-deck unit with additional ports in the back that allow you to connect not only to your computer, but devices such as record players and your home entertainment system.