Audio tape to MP3?

What’s the easiest way to convert audio tapes to MP3s?


The only way I’ve ever done it is a little complicated…

Get a double-ended (male) 3.5mm headphone-type cord. Plug one end into the headphone socket of the tape deck (alternatively you could use a cord with one end in that A/V type - plugged into the tape deck, if compatible - and one end 3.5mm male headphone plug) and plug the other 3.5mm into the Line In socket on the computer. Then fire up Windows’ Sound Recorder, click record on that, and press play on the tape deck. Stop both when you’re done. Then find the file generated by Sound Recorder and encode it to MP3 with a WAV-MP3 encoder.

I’m sure there’s an easier way, but that’s how I did it.

  1. Go to any electronics store.

  2. Buy a short cable that has two 3.5mm stereo* plugs, one on each end. About NT$80.

*Stereo plugs will allow you to record in stereo as opposed to mono. There will be two lines on the plug, whereas mono would only have one.

  1. Go home and take out your tape and search your source tape player for an output jack (headphones-out = 3.5mm).

  2. After locating the jack, plug one end of your newly purchased cable into your tape player and one end into the microphone jack located (normally) on the back of your computer.

  3. If you have a sound recording device on your computer, you can then start recording. (There are many free and legal sound recorders available.)

  4. After recording and unless the above program allows you to record in mp3 format, you can use a free and legal .wav converter to convert the wav into an mp3.

I’ve done this many times. I highly suggest that everyone do this for important tapes they have in Taiwan since humidity and high temperatures can destroy them quickly.

[quote=“jwar”]5) If you have a sound recording device on your computer, you can then start recording. (There are many free and legal sound recorders available.)[/quote]Audacity is a good one;
(right now, link is down, but should be back up again shortly I imagine).

Yeah, I get the bit about the plugs.

I was really thinking of the best/easiest software. Ideally it would be one that would record straight onto MP3. And even better one which would let me edit on the spot to put in track markings without having to open up another program.


I bought a nice little MP3 player/recorder recently that has a line-in input that will convert any analog source to MP3. The player cost under NT$6,000 for the 256MB model, but there were cheaper ones available. An option?

Audacity seems like a good choice.

If the link doesn’t come back shortly, maybe just try Acoustica MP3 Audio Mixer.

It’s free for the first 30 days. You can buy the program for a mere US$25, which is not too bad.

I’ve used AudioXwith a Griffin iMicwith good success.

BIAS SoundSoap does a great job of cleaning up the noise that comes with recordings on tape.

The Audacity site is now back online. That program also has a good noise removal function. Just don’t set it too high or it will sound like a robot. The lightest setting is usually enough for me.

Thanks for the replies. I’ll try one of those out, when I have some time. (I just got about 200 cassettes from my youth sent over.

Just to clarify, were any of those programs mentioned straight to MP3 or were they all to wav first?


With Audacity, you have to “Export to mp3”. Easy to do though.