Converting your own cassettes

How do you convert all your old tapes into mp3 and get them onto the internet? It’s really easy, and you do NOT need expensive equipment advertised all over the place.
Here’s how.

You will need:

A cassette tape player. Any will do, as long as it has an earphone or speaker socket like this.

A male to male audio cable.

There are different sizes, but 3.5mm is the one I’d expect to fit. It’s the standard headphone jack size. A quick look on ebay right now and they’re selling for about £1. No need to bother with fancy gold plated stuff, a regular one will suffice.

Now you need to plug one end into the headphone socket on the tape player, and the other into the microphone socket on your computer.

This is how mine looks.

If your computer doesn’t have a microphone socket, I’m at a loss. You’ll have to send me all your tapes instead 😉

Right! Now we need to download a bit of free software.

Audacity is what we need, get it from here.
Install it, then we may need to tinker with the settings a little.

With it all plugged in, try playing a tape. It should come through your regular computer speakers, not the cassette player ones.
Start up Audacity and press the record button, the round red one. You should see something like this.

Great! It’s working!

If you see something like this…

Then it’s not. Let’s tinker. First you need to look into your computer’s audio settings. See your audio icon on the taskbar?

Right click it and choose Sounds.

Go to the Recording tab and rightclick anywhere that’s blank towards the bottom. This will bring up a box, tick both like this.

Now let’s check Audacity again. Close it down, then re-open just to make sure.

Go to Edit> Preferences> and look at the Audio I/O tab.

The playback option isn’t too much of a worry, it should be set at what’s best. The recording device should say Stereo Mix. The channels 2 is if you want to record stereo (I sometimes switch to mono, 1 channel if I have a particularly wonky tape, heh.)
Save and try again. It should all work now, yay!

When your tape has finished playing, press stop (the square yellow button) and File> Export as mp3. Save it wherever you like, then upload it to your favourite fileshare service (there’s plenty for free out there) and most importantly, share it with me!

I’ll be happy to post any on here if you don’t have your own website, or it’s pretty easy to start one up here on wordpress, again, free. The only thing this costs is time, but time well spent to preserve and share your old cassettes.

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