Many music lovers have collected their favourite recordings in all kinds of formats, including some that have lost their popularity-like cassette tapes. But you should not throw away those old cassettes, at least not without salvaging the tunes first. With a little equipment and some know-how, you can easily convert the music on a cassette tape into a format that will play on your modern-day iPod. As a side benefit, you will be able listen to those songs without worrying that the cassette tape might break or get hopelessly tangled.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cassette tape
- Cassette player
- Cotton swabs
- Cassette-head cleaner or isopropyl alcohol
- Computer with sound card
- Minijack-to-RCA cable or other type of Y-cable
- Audio editing software
Clean the interior of the cassette player. This will improve the sound quality of the digital recording you will make. Dip a cotton swab in tape-head cleaner or isopropyl alcohol, and dab the components that will touch the tape when it plays. Make sure to clean the playback head, along with the spinning pin and rubber roller that will advance the tape through the playback head.
Identify some type of audio editing software to install on your computer, and install it. Make sure the software is capable of converting cassette tape recordings into a digital format, such as MP3. Many options are available online, and some are free. Two examples of audio editing software are Audacity and GoldWave.
Use a minijack-to-RCA cable or another similar connecting device to link the cassette player and the computer's audio input. Adjust the settings on the cassette player, if there are any, so they match the type of tape being played. Metal oxide and chromium oxide are two examples. Adjust the settings of the audio software so your tape will not play too softly or too loudly when it gets recorded into a digital format.
Follow the directions from your audio editing software to record the cassette tape into a digital format that will be stored in your computer. Use the editing software to divide or otherwise alter the recordings if you want. Remember the exact location on your computer where the digital sound files are being stored.
Open the iTunes software on your computer. Click on "File" and then "Add File to Library." Locate one of the digital sound files you just recorded from the cassette tape. Double-click on the file name to add it to the iTunes music library. Repeat as often as you need.
Hook up your iPod device to your computer. Wait for the iPod to sync. Examine your iTunes music library and locate the sound file you just added. Drag the file to your iPod and wait for the device to sync again. When it is finished, your converted cassette recording will be in your iPod's playlist. Disconnect the iPod from the computer. Attach your earphones to the iPod, and listen to it as usual.
Tips and warnings
- If your cassette tapes have been neglected for a long time and are especially valuable to you, bake them for about 10 minutes at 51.6 to 65.5 degrees C in an electric or convection oven. Let them cool completely before playing them and converting them for use on your iPod.
- If your cassette tapes have been stored in a hot or cold environment, give them time to reach room temperature. Otherwise, they might attract condensation.
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