How to Convert Cassette Tapes to iTunes
By Ezekiel James
Cassette tape technology is long gone, but the music doesn't have to be. With basic audio recording software and multimedia programs such as iTunes you can digitize your entire cassette collection in just a few short steps. The process seems complicated on the surface but all you really need is your cassette collection, a tape deck, a computer, some recording software and a patch cable. The hardest part about digitizing music is just finding the time to sit down and playback your cassettes.
Connect your cassette deck to your computer by plugging the 1/8 inch side of the patch cable into your sound card in the rear of your PC. The 1/8 inch input will usually have a little symbol shaped as a microphone above it. Connect the RCA side of the patch cable to the left and right speaker channels on your cassette deck.
From a Windows machine, go to "Control panel" then click on "Sounds and audio devices." Then click on the "Audio" tab. Under "Sound recording" click on the "Volume" button. Then the windows mixer utility will open. Playback the cassette tape for a few minutes and adjust the input volume fader to the desired volume. From an Apple system, go to "System Preferences" then click on the speaker icon that says "Audio." Playback the cassette and adjust the input volume fader to the desired volume.
Download Audacity, a free audio editing and recording software available at Sourceforge.net. Go to sourceforge.net/audacity, click on "Download Audacity 1.2.6" for Windows machines. If you use an Apple system click "Download 1.3.10 (Beta)." Then follow the instructions to download the software to your hard drive.
Create a new audio track within Audacity by clicking on "File" then "Create New Track." A window will open prompting you to name the track, then name the track after the song you are attempting to record from the cassette.
Enable the track within Audacity by clicking on the "R" button.
When you are ready, click the "Record" button in Audacity, then press "Play" on the cassette deck to begin recording. Once the song is finished, press "Pause" on the cassette deck, then "Stop" on the recording software. Repeat steps 4 through 6 with each cassette you attempt to record.
In Audacity, save the track as an MP3 file, then create a folder with the name of the artist and the album you are recording. Be sure to save each song you record to the correct folder.
Open iTunes, then create a new playlist. You can do this on an Apple by hitting the "Command+N" keys and on a PC by hitting "CTRL+N." A window will pop up prompting you to name your playlist. Name this playlist after the album you have just recorded and saved to your hard drive.
To import your songs into the new playlist click on "File," click "Add files to library" then add the songs you recorded into the playlist individually. Or you can click on the first file, then hit the shift key and click on the last file in the folder, then click "Add to library."
Ezekiel James began as a music writer in 2003. Since then, James has served as a writer for several music, technology and design publications. His work has been published on eHow, TechAxcess.com and in print for the "The Potrero View" and "Punk Planet." James is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Portland State University.