Burn a Cassette to CD

Cassette tape

Enjoy the best of old and new technologies by learning how to burn a cassette to CD.

Why Transfer?

As technology advances, yesterday's record or cassette tape is left behind in favor of digital downloads and other modern music listening options. Some people still enjoy the ambience of these older methods of enjoying music, though. The scratch of the needle on a record or the analog hiss of a cassette brings to mind great memories and gives the music a more organic, less prepackaged and produced feel.

However, tape decks are becoming harder to find in automobiles, so many cassette fans transfer their favorite tapes to CD so they can continue to enjoy them while driving. Some people may also turn to CD burning to preserve treasured cassettes. Whether it's a mix tape from your first boyfriend, a recording of your child singing, or an out-of-print title from your favorite band, time can be unkind to tape.

How to Burn a Cassette to CD

Burning a cassette to CD is actually a fairly simple process as long as you have the necessary hardware, software, and some familiarity with computers.

Supplies

  • Cassette player
  • CD burner
  • Sound card with line in terminal
  • RCA/Mini Adapter
  • Audio recording software
  • CD burning software

Process

  • Connect the line out from your cassette player to the line in of your sound card.
  • Check the line in volume and balance in your computer's volume control, and make sure the line in is not muted.
  • Select the line in as the recording source in your audio recording program.
  • A few seconds of silence at the beginning of each recording can be helpful, so start the audio recording software a few seconds before you press play on the cassette player.
  • Once you have recorded a song, you must decide whether to save it as a WAV or MP3 file. The advantages of a WAV file are that it offers better sound quality and is playable in any CD player when burned to CD, but with its higher quality comes a larger file size. An MP3 file is more compact, taking up less space on your hard drive and allowing you to fit 100 or 200 songs on a single CD. However, there will be a decrease in quality and not all CD players are capable of reading MP3 files, so your final CD won't be as portable. Of course, you could always save a file in both formats for maximum flexibility.
  • Your recording program may pick up the click of the cassette recorder's play button. The click should be identifiable as a single line at the beginning of the file, and you can use the controls in your program to delete it. Depending on the program you're using, you may also have sound clean-up options available to remove background noise.
  • If you want your CD to have separate tracks, make sure you start a new recording for each song. Otherwise, you may create one large file for the entire cassette, making the file more difficult to edit, move, and burn.
  • Burn your songs to CD. The specific steps will vary depending on the burning software you use. In general, you will simply need to select the files you would like to include on the CD and click on a button to start burning.
  • Enjoy your newly transferred music.

Available Software

If you don't already have a favorite audio recording or CD burning program, the following programs can help you burn a cassette to CD:

  • Audacity is a free audio recording and editing program.
  • CDBurnerXP Pro is a bare-bones CD burning program.
  • A long-time favorite for burning CDs, Nero now includes recording capabilities.
Burn a Cassette to CD