How can I record a cassette onto a CD-R?

I finally retrieved one of the only existing cassettes of my old ska-punk band, which consists of some unmixed studio recordings and one live show we played years ago. While the music isn’t fantastic, being in this band was probably the most fun thing I was ever part of in my life. (I was the sax player.)

Now I’d love to dub or record this cassette onto a CD, if possible. I don’t have any friends anymore with studio access who could do this for me, so is there anything I could do at home? I have a CD burner in my computer, but my home stereo with the cassette player is more of a boombox, with no input/output jacks for a receiver, surround sound, etc.

Am I out of luck? Should I be content with the cassette and hope for the best? Or is there anywhere I could turn? I’d even pay a little money (not too much, granted) to turn this into an actual CD.

I used to use this method for my MDs -

Get some kind of a tape player with an output jack for heaphones, a walkman for example.

Buy a cable that can plug into the output jack from one end and into the mic jack on your computer from the other. I forget what this is called, but you can buy it at an electronics store for real cheap.

You can figure out the rest. I mean, as long as you have the appropriate program on your computer, just set it up to record, press play on the walkman, and I guess you’re set.

see this

Wow, thanks. I saw this thread and realized this was a question I’d been wondering about myself for sometime now!

As long as you have the headphone out/line in cable (1/8th male to 1/8th male) you should be able to do it. If you don’t want to pay for an app for this, you can use Windows Media Recorder (included in older versions of Windows, shareware otherwise), hit play onn the boombox, record>line in on WMR, and you’re set. The one drawback is that you can’t adjust the audio settings on the recording.

Thank you all so much! I will buy the cable as soon as possible, and I’d love to get started on this process soon. I have a few more questions (hopefully not stupid ones):

  1. How would I differentiate tracks on the CD? Stop the cassette and stop the recording process, and then start it again for every track/song?

  2. I’m going to use Music Match Jukebox, since I already have it. That’ll work, right?

  3. For over a year now, the microphone jack on my computer hasn’t worked. It doesn’t record in Sound Recorder when I talk into it, and doesn’t even pick up ambient noise or other sounds. I have tried switching out the little mics a few different times, so I think it must be a short somewhere. (Has anyone ever heard of this?) In that case, I should just use a friend’s computer with a CD burner, right?

I’ve never used Music Match Jukebox, so I don’t know about the first two questions, but if your mic jack doesn’t work, then you won’t be able to record. Use your friend’s computer. It doesn’t even have to have a burner, you could e-mail the wav files to yourself, or put them on a floppy.

To differentiate tracks on your CD, you can either stop and start the cassette and recording to create individual tracks, or you can record one side of the cassette as one big WAV file, and then use software to split it into different tracks. I did a search on and found this freeware program for extracting part of a WAV file.

If you have a line-in jack on your sound card, try using that instead of the mic jack.

Just so you know, the WAV files created will be quite big, so putting the files on floppy or emailing them may not be practical. I checked an MP3 file I have here, and for 00:02:49 of music, at 128kbit, the file size is 2,644KB. Your WAV files will be even worse, since they are not compressed.

Cool Edit 2000 is a great program for doing this. Make sure you get your recording levels right before doing a long section or it will be too quiet or too distorted.

We’re trying to figure it out right now.

Whoa! I’ve been wondering this myself for quite a while! Thanks from Teelo!!

Well, I bought the right cable, and I’m currently using Music Match Jukebox to do this. I actually got a song from the cassette recorded onto my computer as an mp3 (which for me, is even more manageable than a WAV file). So I have that going for me, which is nice.

My only problem, which seems to be a real problem, is that the mp3 is almost impossible to hear. I can only hear it if I turn the volume on my speakers up all the way, and even then it is low, with lots of noise in the background. Obviously this won’t come out if I burn a CD of these tracks. What might I be doing wrong? Is there a way to better set the volume levels?

I recommend downloading Cool Edit 2000 or Cool Edit Pro. Another great program, but maybe too much for what you want, is Sound Forge XP, which has some great volume adjusting and everything.

Do not use your microphone jack to record. Use the Line In jack. Make sure that you’ve got the recording volume up and the output on your walkman is turned up. There should be a meter when you record. You want the loudest part of the tape to be almost at 0, as close as you can get without going over.

Most of the time, you’ll end up with a recording that is still too soft. What you want then is called “Normalizing” which is available in both Cool Edit and Sound Forge. It may be available in MMJ. Also look for options on noise reduction.

What I recommend is recording to WAV format, doing all the editing, then converting to MP3. You’ll get better results that way. Also, record each song individually, then work on one song until it’s the right volume and clarity for you. Then just do the same thing on the other songs. Use the programs to just cut out extra time before and after the song itself.

Make sure your Line-In volume is up. In the Playback Control properties, make sure Line-In is checked. IIRC, it’s not checked by default. That means your Line-In volume may be quite low, but you’re not even seeing the setting when you look.

It’s also possible that you just have a crappy soundcard. You can get a new one dirt cheap, y’know. They even have them at Wal-Mart.

You also may want to try an audio normalizer, such as this freeware command-line program that is very fast and works quite well, IMHO. Of course, it only works on WAVs, not MP3s, so you’ll have to rip to WAV, normalize, then convert to MP3.