Converting cassettes to CDs
This is a compilation of responses Naomi Stephan got when she asked for
information on how to transfer music on cassette tapes to CD. I successfully
transferred my first cassette to MP3 this evening! Thanks to Naomi and the
contributors who are unknown to me.
Mr. Jussi Doherty
From: Naomi Stephan [mailto:femcomposer(a)naomimusic.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 3:20 PM
To: Doherty, Jussi
Subject: Re: Tape to CD
Here is the compilation:
1) Download a freeware sound recorderthe windows version isn't clean
2) Plug the output of the cassette deck into the line input on your
computer. (not the mic input.)
3) Set the sound recorded to record from the line input.
4) Set the sound recorder to "record" and play track one on the cassette
5) When track one finishes, save it with the name of the piece of music.
6) Repeat until all cassette seletions are recorded.
7) Open a create cd program, and tell it to copy the files you just
Try getting a copy of CAKEWALK PYRO software. It's fairly easy to use. You
just run an audio cable from your tape machine or amplifier into the sound
card of your computer. You can separate selections into various tracks, et
al. The directions with the software are pretty straightforward as to how to
hook things up.
I've had great success with this.
This really needn't be difficult. Explaining how to do it probably takes
more time than doing it. So solution 1 is "find a friend who can do it".
Solution 2 is to use your own computer - quite feasible if you have a CD
recorder and a competent sound card. You'll also need a good cassette player
and audio leads to connect it to the sound card. Beyond that, you need
software: something to digitise and file the audio signal (e.g., Sound
Forge) and something to write it to an audio-format CD (e.g., Roxio Easy CD
Creator). There are dozens of such packages, and also plenty that combine
the two functions.
Solution 3 - go to a professional - becomes necessary if you want
commercial-quality publishable recording. It's not as expensive as you might
think. There are one-man-and-a-dog pro/am sound engineers all over the
place, most of them extremely skilled and happy to take on small interesting
What I always do is take the tape(s) to a recording studio (make certain you
do research before you commit as they can get very expensive). Explain that
you are a composer and just need to transfer a tape to a master CD. Bring
your own CD to save money. If they won't let you bring your own CD, don't
use them... this means that they want to charge you an exorbitant amount of
money to provide a $2 CD. You want to find someone who is "composer"
friendly. They usually charge by the hour, so if you have anything else to
copy, it would be in your best interest to take as much as possible with you
and have it put onto one master CD. Once you have the master CD, make copies
(if you have a CD burner) and archive both the tape AND the master CD
somewhere very safe! (I recently used my master CD for a presentation at a
church and lost the master. It's going to cost me a lot of money to replace
it... luckily I archived the original DATs, but should have archived the
master as well) If you do not have a CD burner, have the recording studio
make you 2 copies, one to archive and one to use for reproduction. Remember
to shop around! People who want to charge you a huge amount to do this
should be avoided at all costs as they really just have to press a couple of
buttons! A couple of other options are to find a friend who might have the
equipment to transfer the recording, invest in a CD burner for yourself and
figure out how to hook it up to your tape player (though this option could
get VERY expensive as I think that you would need to purchase editing
software), or contact a local music school to see if they have a student
recording studio where you can have a student do it for a fraction of the
Anyway, good luck and ALWAYS archive your originals!
On many computers this is an easy job. First, obviously, you need a tape
player with an audio out. The headphones jack may work. Second, your
computer will need an audio in-line port. Usually these ports are 1/8 inch
jacks. If the port coming out of your tape player is too big, converters are
readily available at places like Radio Shack. Plug in the tape player, then
go into your computers system preferences. (I work only on Macs so the names
may be a little different if you use Windows; they do have the same things
though) In system preferences go to sound, then locate audio in. Make sure
the audio in line is selected. Next, you will need some kind of software to
record the music coming in from the tape player. If you are on Windows,
experiment with applications like Windows Media Player. It might work. If it
doesn't try an application called "Audacity". Just do a search online; it is
free. Once you record the tape into the computer you will need to put the
new music file into what ever software you use to listen to music on the
computer. Again, for Windows this is probably Media Player/ for Macs it is
iTunes. From there it is a simple step to select the file and burn it to a
Record it on your computer to produce a wave file (*.wav) and then use your
CD burning software to produce the CD.
At minimum you need a CD recorder (burner), a machine that will play back
your tape (cassette player or reel-to-reel deck) and something called a
preamplifier/amplifier, which has recording outputs which will mate with the
inputs on the CD burner. Put the tape in the playback machine, put a blank
CD in the burner, select the correct inputs on the preamplifier, watch your
meter settings and let them roll.
Already too complicated, isn't it? And we haven't even mentioned doing it
with a computer. You would be better off economically going to a commercial
outfit and letting them do it. In my area (Northern Va) there are several
companies that provide this service. If there is a Penn Camera store in
your area, you might give them a call - the ones here do transfers of
videotapes to DVD, and they may be able to do audio transfers as well.
Other AV companies can help (check the yellow pages), and the price would be
much cheaper than buying the gear you would need to do it yourself, assuming
you don't already have it.
DK makes a unit that will record from an external analog source directly
onto CD. You can make individual tracks, etc. I use it frequently with
success. DA5700 is the model. I got mine from j and r music world. online.
It was about $225. You can also make dubs of CD-it has 2 trays.
Their website is www.jandr.com
Pinnacle Software makes a product called Pinnacle Clean. There are two
versions. The software is identical, but the deluxe edition has a pre-amp
device that you can plug a tape player into (with standard RCA plugs) and
runs directly into your computer via a USB port.
The deluxe version is about $50.00
I love it. As a choir director I am saving many of my old cassette
performances and accompaniment tracks to CD before the tapes finally break!
You can also transfer your old vinyl albums using the same software.
The software is incredibly easy to use!
There are a couple of ways I transfer tapes to cds - one way is I hook my
tape deck directly into a cd recorder that I have. Its a Marantz PSD300.
Once its plugged in I just play the tape and push record on the cd recorder
and it burns the cd. Its almost like dubbing one tape to another.
The other way I use is to hook my tape deck into my computer. I use a mac,
so I use a cable with 2 audio plugs on one end and one stereo audio plug on
the other that I plug into the mic jack of my computer. I then play the tape
and record it into a program called Sound Studio (there are lots of programs
out there that you can use). It saves it as an AIFF file and then I place it
into Itunes and burn it onto a cd.
What I do is take a tape recorder, connect the recorder to the computer via
stereo cable (my husband says 1/8"inch stereo cable), plug into the
recorder's headphone jack and the computer's microphone jack. Then using a
sound recording program (we use goldwave, but there are lots out there),
click on record and play your tape. You can edit pauses, make separate
tracks, whatever you want.
If you need more information or help, don't hesitate to write.
Now, you will need a cassette player or reel to reel player, depending on
what kind of tape you have. I am assuming you have a cassette.
You will also need a CD recorder, then get a couple of jacks, the mini kind,
not the big quarter inch plugs, and copy the tape onto the CD recorder.
I use a Superscope PSD300 and it works great. If you don't own a CD
recorder, then go to a good music store and see if they will let you dub the
tape right in the store.
If you have a CD burner on your computer, that won't help much, since you
have no way to get the cassette audio onto the computer to burn to the disc.
(There is, but you'll have to buy the right software and connect up a tape
deck through your sound card, etc.)
If your CD burner is a standalone one, with regular recording capability,
the manual should give instructions for connecting it up.