How to Convert a Cassette to MP3 with Audacity

By Chris Brake

Convert a cassette tape to an MP3 file using free Audacity software.
i cassette image by Marek Kosmal from <a href=''></a>

A cassette tape is a type of magnetic tape sound-recording standard. The cassette tape contains two small reels that wind the plastic or magnetic tape. Audacity is a free, cross-platform audio recording and editing program. Using Audacity's record function, you can convert old cassette tape recordings to digital audio and save them as MP3 files on your hard drive.

Step 1

Determine the size of the cassette player's output jack. This is usually labeled "Headphone" or "Line Out," and the standard output sizes are 1/8" and 1/4".

Step 2

Run a wire from the cassette player's output jack to the computer's sound card. Use the appropriate adapters if necessary.

Step 3

Turn on the computer's speakers, and play the cassette tape through the sound card. Make sure the tape plays through the computer's speakers. If there is no sound coming through the computer's speakers, double-click the Volume Control icon in the Windows System Tray and make sure the "Line In" volume isn't muted and is set at a good level.

Step 4

Download and install Audacity (see Resources). Run Audacity and set the the input selector to "Line In." Set the input selector's volume slider to 50% or higher.

Step 5

Rewind the cassette tape to the beginning, and then press the "Record" button on the main Audacity toolbar. Play the tape into the computer's sound card, and let Audacity record the input.

Step 6

Stop the tape when finished recording, and then press the "Stop" button on the main Audacity toolbar to end the recording session.

Step 7

Use the export function available from the main "File" menu to export the recorded sample as a new audio file.