I’ve had a couple of questions lately about transferring cassette tapes to digital files on your PC.
It’s not necessarily difficult to do, but it is time-consuming since the music on a cassette tape is in analog form and must be transferred in real-time. However long it takes to play the song is how long it will take to transfer it to digital. You’ll also have to stop down between each song if you want them as separate files or cut them up later with a digital audio editing program.
But you should first ask yourself if it’s truly worth your time. If the music is available in a digital format, you are probably better off to just repurchase it. Not just because of the time, it takes to transfer, but also because the quality of a cassette tape begins to deteriorate after a few years. Unless it’s a one-of-a-kind recording, it’s likely not worth the effort unless you really enjoy a project.
If you still want to copy cassettes to a digital format, there are a couple of ways to go about it. If you already have a cassette player with RCA audio outputs, you can try a cable like the Vstop USB Analog Audio Grabber. This would also work with a turntable to transfer albums, an 8-track, or a CD player. Plug the audio cables into your stereo and the USB end into your PC.
At the time of this writing, it was $18 on Amazon. Click here to check it out.
I like this device because it also has a 3.5 mm jack. That means you can plug that into an old Walkman or any device with just a 3.5 mm headphone output and record the audio from that as well. Some cables of this type only offer either the RCA cables or the 3.5 mm output and this one offers both.
If you don’t currently own a cassette player, there are models like the Reshow Cassette to MP3 Converter that allow you to convert the music to an MP3 file and plug directly into your computer. It runs about $35 bucks.
Interestingly enough, cassettes, like vinyl records, are making a bit of a comeback among younger music buyers and there are actually cassette boomboxes available for sale again. Artists are even releasing new songs on cassettes.
Keep in mind that tape is a very fragile storage medium, though. Old cassettes could easily break or gunk up the player.