Copying audio cassettes to computer: easiest way

I have a bunch of home-grown audio cassettes that have only the music I want to listen to, and not a bunch of filler tracks. What’s the most practical way to copy them to a my hard drive?

There’s a thread about usb turntables that covers the same idea.

Although, cassettes are easier. Any usb audio adapter will work.
this one is $29

it doesn’t have a phono pre-amp. but it’s fine for cassettes.

plug you cassette player into the adapter. plug the usb into the computer. use a free program like audacity to record it. done.

Buy a male-to-male 3.5mm cable for under $5 from any decent electronics store. Plug one end into the headphone jack of your recorder and one end into the microphone jack of your computer. Depending on what sort of software is on your computer, you may or may not need to download a free sound-recording program from, say

The hard part isn’t the actual act of copying the cassette to a WAV file. The hard part is dividing the tracks into individual songs and naming them.

My technique is to capture each full side of each tape to a WAV file, then divvy them up. Hard drive space is cheap and abundant, while your time is limited. By capturing full files, you can start one, then do something else while it captures, and not notice until you hear the clunk of the tape stopping. Then load the full side into an audio editor that can find the spaces between tracks and mark them for separation into individual songs. The free program Audacity has a Silence Finder feature in the Analyze menu. Then find the one track you want, select it and export the selected portion, naming it to save.

You might also wish to explore the Noise Removal plug-in in the Effect menu. Cassettes are noisy.

I did this with some tapes, the microphone jack on your sound card is easier (and cheaper) than buying some kind of USB adapter. I had tried several (free) programs to create the .wav files and audacity was by far the easiest to use.

The Audio to USB connector I bought (now discontinued) came with pretty decent software to do the division, and excellent noise reduction software. The cassettes I had were recorded on reel-to-reel tape 37 years ago and moved to cassettes 30 years ago, and the CDs I made from them sound great. It also does phonograph records very well.
It shows you the audio waveforms with times, and that lets you put the divisions in just the right places, especially useful when there is a good bit of background noise which makes the divisions not all that obvious.

I have a USB turntable with a jack, a male/male cable from the cassette player to turntable works like a charm. I don’t even bother any more dividing the music I just record the whole side as a single WAV file. So you have “songs” 45 minutes long.