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Best (and cheapest) Way to Convert Cassettes to MP3s?

User is offline   Major Tom 

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#1

So a cousin of mine is sending over a bunch of old classic rock cassette tapes that he was going to throw out, and I'm hoping to find a good way to convert them to MP3 format.

Now, here's the thing: I went on Amazon and saw several listings for products that all looked exactly the freaking same. The first page of results for "Cassette to MP3 converter" had TEN products that all looked the same, under different names.....I have no idea if any of them are actually worth it. Thus, I turn to the inimitable expertise of the Duke4.net forum, hoping that someone here could help me find a high-quality (and low-price, as in under $30) way to convert cassette tapes to MP3s.

This post has been edited by Major Tom: 14 July 2017 - 05:29 AM

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User is offline   Fantinaikos 

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#2

1) Find a double jack wire, connect a head to the headphones hole of the cassette player and the other one to the hole that the computer use as audio input (usually it's the microphone hole).

2) Play the cassette and, paying attention to the volume, start record the audio with some tool. If your audio card allows it, I suggest to use the recording function of "sndrec32" located in C:\WINDOWS\system32 but first you have to record a silent track as possible (60,00 s) and copy/paste it until is long as the song you want to record. An advantage it's that you can easily cut the audio when you want to prevent the silence at the begin and at the end of the track.

3) If, like in the sndrec32 case that saves in .WAV, you will have a different format than MP3 you will have simply to convert it with an online tool.
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User is offline   Mark. 

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#3

Its not clear if you actually have a cassette player and need an adapter or if you need an all-in-one solution.
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User is offline   MusicallyInspired 

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#4

Don't plug the jack into the mic port. Mic in is mono and you'll lose all stereo information. Plug it into Line in. Also make sure your cable is a stereo cable (tip, ring, and latch).

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#5

I thought the same thing too but didn't bother to mention any cabling until its known if he has a cassette deck or not.
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User is offline   Jimmy 

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#6

All the products meant for doing this suck dick. You need a good stereo with an aux out jack + a capture card with an aux in jack.

Although unless you're archiving rare tapes with no other source you'd be better off just downloading CD or vinyl rips off the internet. Cassettes aren't the best of quality and unfortunately by design it includes noise when digitizing, and depending on your set up you could cause interferences that makes the digital recording sound worse.

This post has been edited by Jimmy: 17 July 2017 - 04:15 PM

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User is offline   Daedolon 

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#7

- Tape deck ($0 to $100)
- 2xRCA male to 3.5mm stereo male cable ($2)
- Audacity ($0)

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#8

Its been 4 days since the OP. I think he gave up already.
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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#9

View PostMark., on 18 July 2017 - 11:57 AM, said:

Its been 4 days since the OP. I think he gave up already.


I didn't give up. I just didn't have the cassettes until today.

Still waiting on the double-jack audio cable.

So, here's the haul for anyone interested:
5 Queen tapes (News Of the World, Made In Heaven, A Night at the Opera, State of Shock and Classic Queen)
3 Guns'n'Roses tapes (Appetite For Destruction, Use Your Illusion 2 and Lies)
2 Poison tapes (Look What The Cat Dragged In and Flesh And Blood)
Europe - The Final Countdown
Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy stinking Rich
Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
RATT - Dancing Undercover
Andrew Dice Clay - Dice Rules
Motley Crue - Decade of Decadence
Cinderella - Long Cold Winter
Sammy Hagar (self-titled album)
and a few others I can't recall off the top of my head.

Also, there were cases for AC/DC's "Back In Black" and a Quiet Riot album, but those were empty.

This post has been edited by Major Tom: 19 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

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User is offline   Fantinaikos 

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#10

But If they are all not unique songs from a local band but published and famous songs, and not even covers I suppose, it would not be easier just take the audio from a youtube video? This also avoid almost every audio problem derived by the direct cassette registration.

This convert video audio directly in MP3 without lose audio quality.
http://anything2mp3.com/

This post has been edited by Fantinaikos: 18 July 2017 - 01:01 PM

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User is offline   High Treason 

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#11

The problem being that often the songs on YouTube are re-mastered or have audience cheering sounds dubbed over. From digitizing tapes and such I have some mildly different sounding songs that you rarely see in the wild anymore.

Now getting into music videos that disappear, that's a while different ball game.

Had fun seeing how long it took for someone to mention Audacity.

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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#12

View PostHigh Treason, on 18 July 2017 - 01:02 PM, said:

The problem being that often the songs on YouTube are re-mastered or have audience cheering sounds dubbed over. From digitizing tapes and such I have some mildly different sounding songs that you rarely see in the wild anymore.

Now getting into music videos that disappear, that's a while different ball game.

Had fun seeing how long it took for someone to mention Audacity.


The irony of this post: One of the tapes (the Sammy Hagar one) has the song "Hands and Knees" on it, which I had acquired via YouTube two weeks ago. I still intend to convert the tape and compare how the YouTube version sounds compared to the tape.

Basically, I had an old FLV version of the music video, but in converting it to MP4, the audio got screwed up---so I thought. Converting the FLV to an MP3 revealed the audio was fine, but the newly-created MP4 file was out of sync with the audio. I was trying to find a "fresh" MP4 of the music video, and ended up finding the song by itself uploaded by "Sammy Hagar - Topic", so I snagged both the video and the song.

Oh, and I didn't expect the Hagar tape in the collection (the only groups that had been mentioned were AC/DC, Cinderella, Metallica---there were no tapes of their music in the set---and I think Guns'n'Roses), nor did I expect it to include "Hands and Knees".

This post has been edited by Major Tom: 19 July 2017 - 12:30 PM

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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#13

Okay, new post because new problems.

I have an old stereo with a cassette player and a headphone jack---and the cable for the stereo-to-PC conversion arrived in the mail today. So I started on two tracks from the Hagar tape....

....then I decided to listen to the tape version of Hands And Knees compared to the MP3.

Maybe I'm just an audio snob or something, but.....the tape version (converted) sounded.....off. Not flat, like fake stereo (there was clearly different activity in the left and right channels), but.....it's hard to explain.

The only adjustments possible on the stereo are via the volume and "tone" nobs. Lower tone made the audio brickwall, and higher balanced it out.

I'm guessing most of the fine-tuning will be on the Audacity end of the conversion.....any advice?
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User is offline   MusicallyInspired 

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#14

Any way you can provide the comparison?

One thing is for sure, tape (especially cassette tape) degrades over time and there's always an inherent hiss to it on its best day. Converting old tapes to digital is never going to be an ideal process.

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This post has been edited by MusicallyInspired: 24 July 2017 - 10:06 AM

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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#15

"Hands And Knees" sounded....flat, at first---like it was missing something.

Lo and behold, messing around with the Bass/Treble filters in Audacity pumped a bit of life back into it---I have no idea what the industry standard is, but I went with about 3.5 for Bass and a full 15 for Treble. Also, on the advice of a video put out by Ben Minnotte (Oddity Archive), I ran a Low Pass Filter and a High Pass Filter to cut any noise above and below a certain threshold.

I'd upload, but I don't want the copyright police to get stupid and try to take the forum down or anything just because of a Sammy Hagar track.
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User is offline   Rellik 

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#16

View PostMusicallyInspired, on 14 July 2017 - 12:45 PM, said:

Don't plug the jack into the mic port. Mic in is mono and you'll lose all stereo information. Plug it into Line in. Also make sure your cable is a stereo cable (tip, ring, and latch).


If there's only a headphone and mic jack, some drivers can switch between mic and line inputs.

If the driver doesn't, then I would reccomend getting a USB input device like this.

View PostMajor Tom, on 22 July 2017 - 12:20 PM, said:

Okay, new post because new problems.

I have an old stereo with a cassette player and a headphone jack---and the cable for the stereo-to-PC conversion arrived in the mail today. So I started on two tracks from the Hagar tape....

....then I decided to listen to the tape version of Hands And Knees compared to the MP3.

Maybe I'm just an audio snob or something, but.....the tape version (converted) sounded.....off. Not flat, like fake stereo (there was clearly different activity in the left and right channels), but.....it's hard to explain.

The only adjustments possible on the stereo are via the volume and "tone" nobs. Lower tone made the audio brickwall, and higher balanced it out.

I'm guessing most of the fine-tuning will be on the Audacity end of the conversion.....any advice?

Might want to look into cleaning the heads if it's an older deck, lots of good tutorials out there to google, essentially rubbing alcohol and a q-tip.
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User is offline   ReaperMan 

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#17

Buy an old Pioneer CT-F 8080 Cassette Deck should have everything you need except a cable. Then just plug it into line in and play.
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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#18

Right, everyone who wants to compare and contrast, download this ASAP.

http://www.mediafire...finition%29.mp3

Then compare it to this:



This post has been edited by Major Tom: 24 July 2017 - 06:42 AM

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User is offline   Mark. 

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#19

For my tastes I would have deepened the lower bass a little, decreased the mid bass a little, and boosted the highs from say 6-10K for a brighter sound.

But it depends on what system you are playing it back on and what sounds good to your ears. But for casual listening I would just turn up the treble on my amp to listen to yours. Its decent enough. And the price was right. ;)

This post has been edited by Mark.: 25 July 2017 - 06:23 AM

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User is offline   MusicallyInspired 

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#20

Dang I forgot to listen to this when I got home from work yesterday.

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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#21

View PostMark., on 25 July 2017 - 06:06 AM, said:

For my tastes I would have deepened the lower bass a little, decreased the mid bass a little, and boosted the highs from say 6-10K for a brighter sound.

But it depends on what system you are playing it back on and what sounds good to your ears. But for casual listening I would just turn up the treble on my amp to listen to yours. Its decent enough. And the price was right. ;)


Audacity didn't have settings to deepen mid, lower or high bass---they just have a "Bass" slider and a "Treble" slider for that filter. I did crank the treble to maximum on a separate version of the MP3, though.
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User is offline   Mark. 

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#22

I'm pretty sure Audacity comes with at least one or two equalizers for finer control. There are a ton of plugins available but it should have at least one stock eq

This post has been edited by Mark.: 25 July 2017 - 02:51 PM

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User is offline   MusicallyInspired 

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#23

Audacity definitely has more functionality than such a simple EQ that you're describing.

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Legacy of Grabbag Metal Medley
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User is offline   Mark. 

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#24

IIRC its about the 8th choice down in the effects dropdown menu. "Equalization" Click on a preset in the box, then click on flatten, then start adjusting the sliders.
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User is offline   MusicallyInspired 

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#25

Just listened. The tape copy could definitely use some more high end. I don't know what you're going to get out of that cassette recording without a heck of a lot of tape hiss, though.

Roland SC-55 Music Packs
Duke3D, Doom, Descent, Hocus Pocus, and more...
Legacy of Grabbag Metal Medley
01010100 01110010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01010100 01001000 00110001

This post has been edited by MusicallyInspired: 25 July 2017 - 06:47 PM

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User is offline   Major Tom 

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#26

View PostMark., on 25 July 2017 - 03:02 PM, said:

IIRC its about the 8th choice down in the effects dropdown menu. "Equalization" Click on a preset in the box, then click on flatten, then start adjusting the sliders.


I did try Equalization, though foolish mortal that I am, I thought some of the presets would help me out. No dice (though AM Radio was good for a laugh or two).

View PostMusicallyInspired, on 25 July 2017 - 06:47 PM, said:

Just listened. The tape copy could definitely use some more high end. I don't know what you're going to get out of that cassette recording without a heck of a lot of tape hiss, though.


Oh, the tape version of "The Final Countdown" has it even worse. You know the beginning, with that low droning hum? I had to run noise reduction on JUST that part and slap a fade-in on it just to kill the tape hiss!
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User is offline   SOAR 

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#27

try experimenting with Low Pass filter in the Effects menu of Audacity to help rid of noise and hiss.


This post has been edited by ImaManNotaMachine: 08 September 2017 - 03:05 PM

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