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How to Use Audacity to Transfer a Poor Quality Cassette to a CD

Audacity is a free audio recording and editing software program. It lets you use the microphone on your computer to record audio, which you can then save into a variety of formats. Audacity has a variety of applications, including live music recording, memo recording, sound-clip editing and music transfer. If you have an old cassette tape that is wearing out, you can use Audacity to record the tape, before transferring it to a CD. You can also use Audacity to partially reverse tape quality loss.

Double-click the Audacity desktop icon. If you have not installed Audacity on your computer, visit the download page (See Resources) and click the "Download" icon next to the icon for your operating system, for example "Microsoft Windows."

Position your computer so that the microphone can pick up the sound of the tape playback. If your computer doesn't have a microphone, connect a PC microphone to the microphone socket on the front and position the microphone in front of the tape player speakers.

Press "Record" on Audacity. Press "Play" on the tape player.

Press "Stop" on the tape player once finished. Press "Stop" on Audacity.

Click "Tools" and select "Gain." Gain refers to the strength of an audio signal. Increase the gain to make the audio recording of the tape playback louder. Don't overdo it --- this will cause distortion. Observe the meter on the Audacity interface. If it flashes red, reduce the gain.

Open "Tools" and select "Equalizer." You can enhance the quality of a degraded tape recording by boosting quiet frequencies. Adjust the virtual slider dials on the Audacity equaliser interface to compensate for the tape quality loss. The virtual slider dials to the right govern the high frequencies, the middle ones govern mid-range frequencies and the ones on the left control bass frequencies.

Press "Play" on the Audacity interface. Gradually increase the level of each virtual slider dial, starting at the left. Stop adjusting when the sound becomes "muddy" or muffled as this is a sign of a frequency becoming too dominant in the mix. You can partially reverse some of the tape's quality loss by enhancing diminished frequencies in this manner.

Click "File" and select "Save As." Name the track and hit return. Click "File" again and select "Export As Wav."

Open your preferred music player software, for example iTunes. Click "File" and select "Import." Browse for the file you saved in Audacity. Click it to import it into your music player. Right-click the file when imported and select "Convert to MP3." Once converted to MP3, click "New Playlist." Drag the MP3 version of the tape recording into the playlist.

Insert a CD into the CD drive. Click "Burn To CD" on the playlist interface.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with microphone or microphone socket
  • PC microphone
  • Tape player
  • Music player software
  • Blank recordable CD
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About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.