While new cassette tapes haven’t been sold by the major music labels since just after Sony stopped producing the Walkman in 2010, there are millions of older cassettes still sitting in cabinets and drawers. To say nothing of the amateur audio preserved on the tapes. And eventually, most people with cassette tapes are going to want to move that audio onto a more modern digital audio format – such as MP3.
If you are wondering about the best ways to transfer that audio from cassette tape to MP3, this guide will answer all of your questions. Sure, you could pay someone to transfer the audio for you. But that’s expensive and do you really trust your precious cassettes to a stranger? This is a job you can easily do yourself for a lot less money and whole lot more piece of mind.
Cassette To MP3 Converter – Buyer’s Guide
When you are looking for the best way to convert cassette tape audio to MP3, there are a few different ways you can do it. Each method has its positives, but it really gets down to which best cassette adapter works best for you.
If you want to do the conversion on your laptop or desktop computer, there are a couple of variations of products that include conversion software and a cable to connect from your computer to a cassette player. There are a couple of advantages to this method. Computer conversion software tends to be a bit more flexible – you change the encoding rate, for instance. And the software also stores the converted MP3 files on your computer or secondary hard drive, removing a step from the process required by other methods.
Another option is the handy Walkman-type cassette players that can serve as a traditional cassette player, but they also offer the option of converting the tape into MP3 files and storing them on a USB drive or on your computer. The advantage of these players is ease of use. The downside can be that you might not have as much control over the way the files are encoded. What is the best mp3 converter for you? Look at our recommended players/converters below and choose for yourself.
And once you’ve chosen the best cassette to mp3 converter for you, make sure you have a secure place to save all of those music files. There is nothing worse than spending hours converting audio only to accidentally lose it all. You can store them on a secondary hard drive, burn the files to CDs or back them up on one of the many online cloud storage services.
This retro-looking cassette player both plays the tapes and converts them to MP3 files. To encode the files, plug the player into your computer, insert a tape and press play. The audio will be converted into MP3 files and stored on the computer or on a USB thumbdrive. The encoding software detects the silence between songs, so it will automatically create separate files for each song.
But the advantage of this player is that you don’t even need a computer to encode the files. You can plug a phone charger into the player, stick a thumbdrive into the player’s USB slot and the unit will take care of everything else. It’s also a nice, compact size. Slightly narrower and slightly taller than the original old-school Sony Walkman cassette player.Check Latest Price
The big advantage of this product is its flexibility. You plug one end of the cords into your computer and the other end into a cassette or CD player or even a turntable that has digital outputs. Then you can easily convert audio from any of those sources to an MP3 or WAV format. The enclosed software is relatively easy to install on your computer and while it’s not quite as intuitive as using on the cassette player/encoder units, you don’t need any particular technical skills to make this easily work.
But if you do have some technical skills this audio capture card offers some helpful features, including support for more advanced audio editing software such as Audacity. That allows you to easily adjust audio levels and edit audio on the fly.Check Latest Price
Eleshroom Standalone Cassette Player, Portable Cassette To MP3 Converter Retro Walkman Music Recorder with Earphone
One of the things that differentiates this model of portable cassette player and encoder from some of its rivals is the way you play tapes. Most of the other similar units use old-style push button control to turn the players on and off. This player has a control dial similar to older iPod music players. It doesn’t necessarily make it any easier or harder to use than the push button models, but it is a different look and approach.
Another advantage of this unit is that it can be powered by two AA batteries. Most other similar units need to be plugged into a computer or a cellphone charger in order to run. This allows you to use the unit as a traditional Sony Walkman-type cassette player.Check Latest Price
USB Cassette to MP3 Converter, Portable Cassette Audio Music Player Tape-To-MP3 Converter and Cassette Recorder with Earphones
This converter works like others in this category: you insert a cassette tape in the player, add a USB thumb drive and start to encode. No computer required and the player can detect blank segments between songs and create individual files for each song on the cassette tape.
But one of the really helpful features included on this player is the ability to record and encode audio from both sides of the tape. So you can encode the audio from both sides in one session without having to stop to manually flip the cassette tape halfway through the process.
This audio converter and encoder have a USB plug in one end that you plug into your Windows or Apple iOS computer. The other end of the cord has a series of RCA plugs at the other end which you can plug into a cassette player, CD player, a turntable or even an old iPod. The enclosed software encodes audio from any source you can connect to with RCA plugs and that means generally any audio device made in the last 40 years.
Another plus for this converter is that it works well with both Windows 10 and the latest version of Apple’s iOs. And that is not the case with many similar converters. So this unit offers a great deal of flexibility both on the encoding and software sides, making it a solid all-around choice.Check Latest Price
DigitNow!Portable USB Audio Recording Cable, The LP, And Cassette to Digital Converter
This audio converter works like other similar ones on the market. The big difference is that it includes several different plug options, which increases the number of sources you can use to encode audio. Along with the standard RCA plug (in the form of a 2 Channel RCA split adapter), there is also a 3.5 mm audio out port plug. That flexibility helps set this converter apart from many of its competitors.
This package comes with basic audio editing software, but if you are looking for something more sophisticated, it is also compatible with other audio editing programs such as Audacity.
This unit is a great choice for someone looking for an audio conversion system that is both stand-alone and more robust than the standard Sony Walkman-style unit. This dual cassette deck audio conversion system is compatible with Windows and Mac computers and requires no drivers in order to be used. It can dub from cassette tape to cassette tape or you can play a cassette tape and encode the audio into an MP3 file that will be stored in your computer. It works with Metal and CrO2 tapes
Other extras include two audio-in plugs, which would allow you to hook up a secondary source device to the unit like a turntable or CD player and also record and encode the audio from that device.
The major downside to this encoder is that it exports all completed files to iTunes by default. That’s less of an issue for Apple users, but if you’re a Windows user and don’t normally use iTunes, it could be an annoying feature. This deck also can have a pretty steep learning curve because of its many encoding and audio compression settings, You can output the files in one or multiple channels and export them at a variety of encoding rates. While all of that flexibility is really helpful, it can be intimidating for the casual user.Check Latest Price
Cassette Player,Cassette to MP3 CD Converter Via USB, Portable Cassette Tape Player Converter
If you want to convert cassette tapes to MP3 files, but only have a few to do you might be looking for a stripped-down, simple player/converter. This product fits that need perfectly. The portable cassette player hooks up to your Windows PC or laptop and all you have to do install the enclosed software, press play on the cassette player and encode. While this converter works perfectly fine, it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. It doesn’t include a headphone, it doesn’t support alternative audio editors such as Audacity and while it works on any modern Windows computer, it only works on Apple computers running software earlier than version 10.5.
So the bottom line is that this is a good choice for someone who will only need it casually and doesn’t need the best mp3 ripper. But if you plan on encoding large numbers of tapes, you’ll want a more robust player/encoder.
Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you’ll need to pick the best cassette tape-to-MP3 file converter for your needs. You should have a better understanding of how the process works and what features to look for when you’re choosing a converter.