How to convert a dictaphone tape to a cd

Written by brian westover
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If you have an old Dictaphone-style microcassette recorder, you have probably found that the tool that was once so advanced has become incompatible with modern digital audio systems. Maybe you have simply found that you need to e-mail a copy of a recording to someone, or want to archive your audio onto CD. Whatever the reason, transferring audio from the original microcassette tape to a computer or CD is not a difficult process. Instead of paying thirty to fifty dollars to a media archival service, following a few basic steps will allow you to do the same job yourself.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Dictaphone or Microcassette player with headphone output
  • Computer with line-in audio connection
  • Headphone patch cable
  • Recording software
  • CD Burner

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect the microcassette player to the computer. While most Dictaphone-style microcassette players will have a line-out or headphone jack, not all do. Check to make sure that your player does. Also, make sure that your patch cable matches both the output on the microcassette player and the line-in connection on the computer.

    Using the headphone patch cable, connect the player's headphone jack to the line-in connection on your computer. Be aware that most desktop computers will have both a microphone jack in front, and a separate line-in jack on the back of the CPU tower. Where possible, use the line-in connection, as the microphone usually uses audio presets that are not compatible with this sort of recording.

  2. 2

    Begin recording. Using either the existing record function on your computer, or another audio program such as Audacity, begin recording. Push play on the microcassette player. You may want to do a test recording of ten seconds or so, to make sure your set-up is correct.

  3. 3

    Stop recording. Once you have reached the end of the tape or desired audio clip, stop the recording. Play back the recorded audio to ensure that the recording occurred correctly and that the quality is satisfactory. Even if you have a satisfactory copy of the audio, it is best to save the tape until after the file has been successfully copied to CD. Corrupted files and problems with file conversion can wipe out a good recording, and you'll want to have the original intact.

  4. 4

    Convert the digital recording to the desired file format. Once you have a recording that you are satisfied with, export the recording to the correct file format. If you are burning the recording to an audio CD, convert the file to .WAV format. To use the recording on other media players, you may want to convert to MP3 instead.

  5. 5

    Burn the converted files to CD. Open the exported file using Windows Media Player. With a blank CD-R or CD-RW in your CD burner, you can now put the recorded audio file onto the CD using the "Burn to CD" function. If you are new to Windows Media Player, it's a good idea to have more than one blank CD on hand just in case there is a mistake or error made in the burning process.

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