How to Transfer Audio Cassettes to a Laptop Using a USB

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How to Transfer Audio Cassettes to a Laptop Using a USB
A USB adaptor can connect a tape deck to a laptop. (laptop image by Jorge Figueiredo from

Audio cassettes were once the dominant audio technology for storing and listening to music. Advancements in digital music mediums, such as CDs and MP3s, have made analogue music recorded on cassette tapes obsolete.Transferring music from cassette to a computer is an easy way to convert the cassette from an analogue format to a digital one. On laptops, using a USB audio converter essentially acts as an external sound card and facilitates the transfer from analogue audio to digital.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Audio cables
  • Tape deck
  • USB audio adaptor
  • Laptop
  • Audio recording/editing software

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  1. 1

    Plug the USB adaptor into the laptop's USB port.

  2. 2

    Connect the audio cables from the audio output jacks in the tape deck into the audio input jacks in the USB adaptor. Be sure to match the left and right channels on the tape deck to the corresponding channels on the USB adaptor.

  3. 3

    Plug the USB adaptor into the computer's USB port. There is no additional software needed to use the adaptor. It will automatically work with the computer once it's plugged in.

  4. 4

    Launch an audio-recording/editing program on the computer. Audacity (see the Resource section) is a freeware program and works well for this simple recording task.

  5. 5

    Press "Record" in the audio-editing program and press "Play" on the tape deck. The audio will travel from the deck to the USB adaptor and into the computer. It will appear as visualised waves in the audio-editing program.

  6. 6

    Flip the tape over and play the other side of the tape. Press "Stop" in the audio-editing program to stop the recording session.

  7. 7

    Export the audio ("File > Export" in Audacity) and choose an uncompressed format such as AIFF or WAV as the output format. Press "Save" to save the recorded audio.

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