How to Convert Cassette Tapes to Digital
By Chris Brake
Updated September 22, 2017
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Converting cassette tapes to digital audio files is a way to transfer analog sounds recorded on a tape to a digital format, such as MP3. The process involves plugging a cassette-tape player directly into a computer's sound card. The tape is then captured as a digital format using special recording software.
Plug an audio cable into the cassette-tape player's line-out jack, sometimes also called a headphone jack. This is usually either a 1/4" phono jack or 1/8" headphone jack. Plug the other end of the audio cable into the computer's line-in jack.
Download and install a free audio-recording program such as Audacity, Wavosaur or Kristal Audio Engine. Run the recording program and make sure the input type is set to "Line in" by selecting "Preferences" from the Edit menu. Use the "Device" selector to select "Line in" as the input. Click "OK."
Click on the large red record button in the main program window to begin recording a new audio file. Press the "Play" button on the cassette deck to begin playing the tape into the computer.
Allow the tape to play in its entirety as the software records the input. Press the "Stop" button in the recording-software program when the tape has finished playing.
Click "File" and "Export as WAV" to save the recording as a digital file on the computer. Select a destination path and enter a file name and then click "Export" to save the file.
Record a short test clip to make sure the audio levels are set properly. Click on the green triangular "Play" button after recording a small section to play the sound back. If the audio on the computer's recording is too loud or has a lot of static, simply turn down the volume on the cassette deck.
Chris Brake has been a freelance writer since 1999. He has attained numerous graduate and undergraduate study courses involving language and the written word as a vehicle of expression. He co-wrote the feature film, "Imaginary You."