View Full Version : anyone converted cassettes to digital?

Susan Wayward
12-11-2004, 09:39 AM
I have a ton of cassettes, mainly interviews and live shows, that I'd like to convert to digital files. I think I have a handle on it and can just connect my tape deck through the mike jack on the computer, then record with a sound program, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice for doing this, or a particularly good, free, program I should use.

12-11-2004, 06:18 PM
The mic jack on your computer won't handle the output of your cassette deck unless it is switchable to "LINE" level. Also, the mic jack is mono and the cassette deck is most likely stereo. This means that, if the tapes where recorded in stereo you won't get both the left and right channels going into your computer. I don't know what kind of system you have but it's possible that it may have a stereo mini line level input. You would have to check you manual.

The best way to dump the cassettes onto your computer is to use a USB audio preamp that will take the left/right outputs from your cassette deck and send a line level signal to your computer. The preamp costs anywhere from $75 to $150 depending on where you live and what kind of stores are located near you. The software you will need comes with the preamp. M-Audio makes a few different models and they are available in many computer stores or on line. Their stuff is decent and affordable

Keep in mind that you are dumping a vastly infereior sound source onto your computer. You will be able to archive the stuff but any hiss or distortion that is present on the cassettes will be present on the digital files as well. The oold expression "garbage in garbage out" definitely applies here.

An added bounus if you go with the external preamp: If you like to play music off of your computer the USB preamp will sound much better for playback than your comps. built in audio card.

Susan Wayward
12-12-2004, 12:10 AM
ahhh. Thank you. I'm not really concerned too much about sound quality as it's not great to begin with; I just want to save these things for my own archives. I don't listen to a lot of music on my computer, but I guess that's probably going to change in the near future. I mean, you're talking to someone who still uses her turntable here.

12-14-2004, 09:32 AM
I'm not sure you need to go the pre-amp route. If you know anyone with a decent cassette deck, and a CD-burner deck (not in a computer), then you can just connect the "out" jack from the cassette deck to the "in" jack on the CD Burner with cheapo RCA cables that you can get for a couple of bucks at Radio Shack. Once hooked up, push play on the cassette, and record on the burner, and is should copy right over. The CD burner is receiving the analog signal from the tape, and converting it to a digital file to burn to the CD. I've done this many times with a Mini-Disc recorder, so I don't see why it wouldn't work with a CD burner.

The other option would be to get on of those bridges like "Dazzle" or something similar that does the same as above, but it provides a connecting bridge between your analog source (cassette deck), and digital receiver (computer).

If you don't want to mess with any of this techie stuff, there are lots of places that will do it for you for a pretty reasonable price.
Good luck!

12-14-2004, 11:12 AM
The CD burner/cassette deck idea will work just fine as well. Ultimately, if you want the files to wind up on the computer, you will have the cd's as a back up after you load the files that you burned onto them onto your PC. As long as you have windows media player or something like it on your pc you will be able to load the CD files with no problem.