LoboLinks | How to Convert Music from Tapes to MP3 Files

How to Convert Music from Tapes to MP3 Files

Date Added: June 19, 2008 06:30:39 PM
Copying music from tapes is a bit trickier than ripping straight from CDs because some extra hardware is required. There are probably more technological (and expensive!) ways to do this that will preserve the music at a higher quality, but doing it this way will preserve it at about radio quality. Copying from a tape will never be as good as CD quality anyway because the media itself is not as good.

Hardware needed:
  • A computer: Windows 95 at least, XP recommended; no guarantees if you have a Mac or Linux computer, although there should be software available for those systems now as well
  • A tape player: any kind, as long as it has a headphone jack
  • A cable that can plug into a headphone port on both ends: a male-male 1/4'' cable which can be bought for a few dollars

Software needed:
  • A music file conversion program such as dbPowerAMP or BladeEnc
  • A wave recording program: many music players bundled with Windows can record, as well as many downloadable programs.
  • A music editing program such as WavePad (somewhat optional)

  1. Connect the cable to the headphone port on the tape player and the microphone port on the computer.
  2. Place the tape you wish to copy into the tape player and advance it to the song you want.
  3. Open the wave recording program. Make sure that it is set up to record from the microphone jack and that the microphone is not muted.
  4. Simultaneously press play on the tape player and record in the recording program. Wait until the song is over, and then stop recording before stopping the tape player.
  5. (Somewhat optional) Edit the recorded wave file in the editing program to remove any excess leading and ending silence, or to remove any overall hiss. Because the connection through the microphone jack is not the best sort of connection, there is often a bit of background hiss that can be greatly reduced by using a filter in the editing program.
  6. Once you have the final form of the wave file, use the conversion program to convert the wave to an mp3.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 for each song you want.

Many editing programs can edit either wave or mp3 files, so if hard drive space is an issue, it is possible to switch steps 5 and 6 and perform the editing on the mp3. Keep in mind, however, that mp3 is a "lossy" format, which means that you will get better results by editing the original uncompressed wave file and then converting rather than converting first and then editing.

Make sure that you have plenty of fresh batteries on hand, or use a tape player that can be plugged in. Tape players do tend to slow down when their batteries run low, and that severely affects the output sound. It may take a few tries per song to get a recording you like, and this can eat up battery power fairly quickly.