How to Record Cassette Tapes to a Laptop

Written by james clark
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Cassette tapes wear out and become brittle over time, increasing the chance that the tape deck will eventually devour the cassette in a tangled mess. Tapes can find new life in the digital domain with a simple conversion process that transforms the analogue signal on a cassette into audio information that can be recorded and stored on a computer. Once converted to a digital file, the cassette recording can be burnt to a CD or uploaded to a personal audio device such as an MP3 player. Most laptops come with recording software, although free programs are also available for download on the Internet.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape deck
  • RCA audio cables
  • Y-adaptor with RCA jacks on one end and mini-plug on the other
  • Laptop with soundcard and recording software
  • Prerecorded cassettes

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  1. 1

    Connect the red and white plugs on the audio cables to right and left Audio "Out" jacks on the back of the tape deck.

  2. 2

    Insert the plugs on the other end of the cables into the RCA jacks on a Y-adaptor.

  3. 3

    Connect the mini-plug on the Y-adaptor to the laptop's sound card jack, typically on the left or right edge of the computer.

  4. 4

    Open the recording software on the computer by double-clicking the program name, then click the "File" tab and select "New" to begin a new recording project.

  5. 5

    Load a cassette in the tape deck and press "Play," then click the "Record" button on the computer's recording software. The button traditionally features a red circle in the centre.

  6. 6

    Click the "Stop" button when finished recording, then click the "File" tab and select "Save As" to type a name for the converted cassette recording.

  7. 7

    Click the arrow below the typed name for the recording and select "Save as .WAV file" then click "Save" to store the file on the laptop's hard drive. The .WAV format is suitable for burning the digital audio to a CD or uploading from the computer to a personal audio device.

Tips and warnings

  • Use the laptop's media software to burn the digital recording to a CD or upload the file to an MP3 player.
  • Shut down the computer and unplug the tape deck while connecting the components.

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