All I need to do is burn my cassettes to CD's

I am new here. I just downloaded Audacity a few weeks ago and played around a bit to try to understand it.

I have old cassette tapes and do have an old sanyo cassette player and a newer sony cassette player with radio ones from the 80’s and the sony from the 90’s and a large Panasonic boombox from the 90’s with line inputs and dual cassettes one plays and records the other just plays so I can make cassette copies or even record off a CD to cassette or record to cassette .

I bring up what I have since some old cassestte taps play well and a few are not so good . It seems even if a tape drags a bit the panasonic boom box can play them at proper speed since it must have more power than the walkman players I have .

All three have only headphone outputs and all work off the volume pot and seem to show well on the DB graph on Audacity .

I have Realtek HD audio on my PC windows xp pro. I have the powered speakers on the PC and all the connections on the back of the pc so the speakers are on two speaker stereo out it has three more speaker outs I don’t use and it has a line in (blue) which I have the 1/8" stereo line cord plugged in to then plug into the cassette players headphone jacks.

I see the proper connections on Audacity and I can hear the cassette tapes through the pc speakers as I play or record .

My confusion begins on what is the simple way to record the cassettes to the audacity then I need Wav since I have a few CD players I use in my car that can play MP3 two are sony late model ones and one is a panasonic . but the better older cd players I have only play WAV so since all play WAV that’s what I’m going for. just in case you know. I use the cassette deck in my old car with a cassette adapter to play cd’s in my car. I use the PC to play them in the apt or one of the walkman type players in bed or walking.

If the cassettes play well then all I need to really do is record then as is and remove the hiss which I guess is something you do after recording , is that correct ? I don’t want to do anything other than record them and burn them on CD’s , don’t need lables of titles nothing fancy. a few I do want to skip some songs I don’t care for and on a few cassettes there may be 2 or 3 songs I like and other tapes the same so I can just record the songs I want on audacity then burn them . I have CD burner XP loaded to burn them and windows player to hear them . I used to use CD burner xp to burn MP3’s off an online radio show that had mp3 file format already there so I stayed with the same burner.

I am confused about the levels line and out . Audacity says to keep them out of the red MU area I understand that . I had my level on the Realtek line in all the way up and found even with the cassette headphone almost at 0 the meters were to high , I could keep them out of the red . Is it just trial and error to get the best sound? I know if the play level is to low you get hiss and lose the highs so is it best to keep the player up as much as possible and use the PC Realtek to lower the line input level then set it on audacity . Some where on audacity I read you use the audacity in and out to adjust the level yet isn’t it really only the line in I need to be concerned about and not the output level controls?

Man , I hope I make sense asking all these questions. I can see how it works sort of . I used to record on reel to reels and cassettes from LP’s but the reel to reels had MU meters so I was easy to see and I would simply plug the record player in the RTR and the cassette deck the panasonic I have , the line in sets the level you can’t adjust that you can only set the level of say the CD player headphone out . I used to use the boom box line in for my XP radio or a CD player . Like if I used the XP in my car and had the XM radio level to high the sound through the cassette adapter through the car player would be loud and distorted same as when I used the CD players through the car cassette player so I needed to put the level at about half way then I could get clear sound and turn the radio vol up or down to suit . Seemed to work fine . This is similar in that respect correct? .

it has a line in (blue) which I have the 1/8" stereo line cord plugged in to then plug into the cassette players headphone jacks.

Exactly correct. The magic words are “Stereo Line-In.” Two high volume audio channels, Left and Right. We tell people that nobody is breaking down the door to award quality prizes to sound cards. They’re usually pretty dreadful, but most of them do work. (we had one run of cards at work that didn’t. I still wake up screaming).

After the soundcard, it’s all digital so if you can get the show that far, the rest is button pushing.

As you noticed, the sound meters on the tape machines tend to be “VU Type” meters with a 0, 1, 2, 3 red zone in the top third. I remember the “0” VU Consumer DV conversion is about -12dB on the Audacity meters, although the conversion isn’t exact. So if you have a test tone on a tape (booooooooooooo), that’s where to put it.

As long as you get close in the raw recording, you can do corrections later in post production.

A little low is a very minor inconvenience, but too high is deadly. If the Audacity sound meters smack maximum or the blue waves go all the way up, that portion of the sound is damaged, probably permanently. So pay attention to the high peaks in the sound. Also, as you noted, too low will lead to hum and noise problems, although that’s usually more of an analog thing.

This is a perfect recording.

The sound on an Audio CD is not WAV files, but a special CD format. You need a Music CD Authoring Program such as iTunes or Windows Media to burn a Music CD that will play in your mom’s car and everywhere else. The CD sound is WAV quality, so keeping the computer files WAV quality as much as possible is a really good idea.

You get 78 minutes into an Audio CD. If you lead a good life you may get 79. Compressing the sound, MP3 and other tricks doesn’t help. The Audio CD format is fixed length and was designed before sound compression got good.

Scan past the part of this that don’t apply to you.


You can and should make the Audacity sound meters much larger. They tell you valuable things about the process. Click on the right-hand edge and pull sideways. The other tools will get out of the way.


On tape you would normally aim for a high recording level, perhaps “pushing into the red” on occasion but not too often. In digital recordings you can’t do that. Permanent damage starts as soon as you touch the red, so for digital recording the level should be far enough below 0 dB to ensure that the highest peaks don’t hit the red. 0 dB is an absolute limit in digital recording.

Peaks up to about half the track height (-6 dB) is perfect while recording (If necessary it can be amplified/normalized a little higher before exporting the finished audio file).

Getting optimum levels can take some trial and error. Different operating systems and different sound cards have different ways to set the levels, frequently requiring the level to be set in multiple places. Sorry there is no definitive guide, but often the controls will have a “normal” position that is about 3/4 of the slider range. That is a good starting point.

If your recording shows flat tops/bottoms to the waveform (like below) that indicates that somewhere between the sound source and Audacity, something is being overloaded.

Ok , hear is what I have found when I first tried this .

On the Audacity screen input source and output source show exactly where my input and output are connected to on the pc .

I tried the soundthrough setting but didn’t connect the pc in to the out I just marked the soundthrough and the playback had an odd sound. I un-checked the soundthrough and everything sounded fine . I can connect my cassette player from the headphone jack to line in on Realtek HD and already have the pc speakers connected to the Realtek speaker out and without even opening Audacity I can hear the cassette being played through the speakers .

What I don’t understand , rather what makes no sense to me refering to the second link kozikowski posted is it states to hear playback un-mute the line inputs and turn the vol up . Well is it not true if the line inputs were muted then there would be no input to record , ie the same as having no player connected to the line in?

When you refer in the replies to damage or permanent damage are we talking the recording or the sound card . I would hope it’s the recording and if so couldn’t the recording simply be done again. I refer to this part of the reply “A little low is a very minor inconvenience, but too high is deadly. If the Audacity sound meters smack maximum or the blue waves go all the way up, that portion of the sound is damaged, probably permanently. So pay attention to the high peaks in the sound” and here “On tape you would normally aim for a high recording level, perhaps “pushing into the red” on occasion but not too often. In digital recordings you can’t do that. Permanent damage starts as soon as you touch the red, so for digital recording the level should be far enough below 0 dB to ensure that the highest peaks don’t hit the red. 0 dB is an absolute limit in digital recording.”

One other thing . I have windows media player didn’t know I could burn from there yet isn’t it better to use CDBurnerXP? Or does it matter.

Sorry, I can’t find that. If it’s important please include a link to the actual page and an exact quote, then if it is an error it can be corrected.

Perhaps a little over-dramatic :wink: but many new users assuming that the most appalling distorted mess of a recording can be magically transformed to sound like a professional studio recording. Obviously that is not the case. “Clipped” audio is difficult to fix. Badly clipped audio is impossible to fix. When audio is “clipped”, the top/bottom of the waveform is missing and there is no way that Audacity (or any other program) can accurately work out what should be in the missing part. The best that can be hoped for from badly clipped audio is to try and make it sound a little less dreadful. The better solution for badly clipped audio is “delete → start again”.

Windows Media Player was one of the wonderful Microsoft features that persuaded me to switch to Linux :wink:

I’ve used CDBurnerXP a lot in the past. I like it. One of the best free CD burning programs available for Windows imho.
Sadly the default download of CDBurnerXP these days is bundled with OpenCandy, an adware installer, though a version without OpenCandy is still available as an “alternative” download option on the CDBurnerXP download page.

Ok I recorded one cassette once I got the cassette to work as best as I could by putting the tape into a different shell . I played it back and it sounds as good as the cassette did . Now how to I save this so I can burn it to a CD ? I don’t need lables . where and how do I save it to burn it? I read the part on saving but I’m confused . Do I save it to media player or CDBurnerXP . I’m lost now.

You need to “Export” it as one or more WAV files.
If you export it as one WAV file you will get a CD with one audio track that plays from start to end of the entire recording.
If you want multiple tracks on the CD you need to export each “song” as a separate file - that’s when you would use labels and “Export Multiple”.

To export a single WAV file, use “File menu > Export”.
The file may be exported to anywhere on your computer that you have permission to write, for example in your Documents folder or the Desktop.
After that it’s over to CDBurnerXP.

thanks Steve : that’s what I did . I ended up with one long CD with one track containing all the songs. I now realize what I did wrong . It sounded fine but I need tracks to I can see and skip . Right now all I have are RW disc’s but then I didn’t finalize the brun thinking i could burn more on later , doesn’t work that way. I did finalize the recordable disc can’t rerase that one . I need to get more discs . most of my players will play RW discs and once I learn this thing I can go back and erase . Then get readable discs and just do this one cassette over again and then on to the rest .

After they are finalized, single-shot CD-R disks are the most compatible with store-bought Audio CDs. I think you can force CD-RWs to work, but it takes much longer and some older players might not know what to do with them.

I record whole hour-long radio shows and that works, but even then I occasionally wish I could skip between the three major segments of the show. Chopping an album up into songs is highly recommended, but you need to know that Audio CDs don’t naturally carry song titles. When you slide a CD into a computer, the computer goes on-line and looks up the titles for you making you think they’ve been there all along. Of course, that doesn’t work so well in the car.


This set of tutorials from the Manual may be useful to you:

especially this one:

and this one:


I tried last night to burn separate tracks yet I screwed the entire thing up and I recorded off the cassette again to do this.

I could not figure out how on earth to get Audacity to separate the CD into separate tracks . I have gone over the Audacity info again and again and still can’t figure out how to setup track numbers so I can export the recording . I know how to burn it . Can anyone tell me how this works ? I need it so it just shows a track number for each song .

It seems you have to due any changes on Audacity before saving the recording or if there’s a way to save then come back later and edit the Audacity . I tried to save the Audacity recording and it said something about saving changes , I have yet to figure this out.

All my CD players only show track numbers and on the PC it shows song titles but I don’t need that , I never needed it with cassettes and it was never offered .

I tried reading through as much of Audacity as I could until my eyes glazed over .

See .

Same answer - .

If you recorded the songs on one Audacity track, click in the blue waves between song 1 and song 2, CTRL + B to add the label, then repeat between song 2 and song 3 and so on.

If each song is on its own Audacity track you don’t need to add labels.

In either case, File > Export Multiple and choose the 16-bit Microsoft WAV option. This exports each song as a separate WAV file.

If you don’t have time to finish then you should File > Save Project and give it a name. Don’t type any of these characters in the name of the project:

  /  :  *  ?  "  <  >  |

Then you can exit Audacity.

When you come back, open the saved AUP file - you can see it at File > Recent Files.


I recorded off the cassette again to do this.

When you captured your cassette the first time, you should have Exported the whole thing as one long WAV file which you then burned to the CD. Where did that WAV file go? You should be able to Open Recent, click on the file and go. No re-recording needed.

There are some dangerous misconceptions about managing files for production. The top one is you have to do everything in MP3 because it says so on a stone tablet somewhere. MP3 is a delivery medium designed to get music to your ears from your Person Music Player. It does that by compressing the sound and causing musical damage. It’s the last thing you want when you’re making a high quality CD or doing production, filtering or effects.

The next thing people do is capture a cassette (for example) and then either delete the original file intentionally or record over it while they’re working on it. This is a terrifically bad idea because one mistake and you have no “good” music to go back to. A bad mistake becomes fatal. You can just record your cassette again, but there is a posting of someone who is doing live interviews like that and they can’t go back and do it again.

The first transfer of sound is the Master, should never be touched except to play back, and should be backed up for emergencies. Then you can make the MP3 if you want to listen to it while you walk to the 7-Eleven/Tesco to get a cup of coffee. But that’s all the MP3 will be used for.


I don’t know what quality your original tapes were, or what condition they are in, or whether you have “AM” or “CD” ears, so I’ll put this out there and add that whatever is good enough to keep you happy–is good enough.

I would suggest picking up a “dual capstan” tape deck. As tapes get old the media degrades, and they don’t always wind smoothly. A dual-capstan deck actually uses two rollers, one holding the tape back and the other pulling it forward, so there is very even tension on the tape and you won’t get distortion (pitch changes, etc.) from old tapes. You will also find that using a tape deck, instead of a boom box or a Walkman, gives you better audio quality. If your Walkman, etc. sounds good enough–again, you are the judge of that, but if your original tapes were good quality, it should make a difference. If your original tapes were commercial, store-bought, then you are less likely to hear the difference.

There are no short cuts and the learning curve with the equipment can drive you nuts, but Audacity Is an outstanding tool to work with. You will still have to manually tag each track but at least once that is done, they can be exported in batches.

Having recently finished moving all my music to digital–and it was a really long process–I’d suggest you also consider storing the digital files in multiple formats. A lossless format like WAV is great because it is lossless, and as you note almost everything plays it. Although, if you have an old CD player they don’t play WAV files, they play the “cda” files that you burn on a CD, from WAV or other audio formats. By now, any CD player that doesn’t play MP3 files is long in the tooth. I retired one and upgraded another because stacks of CDs actually cost MORE than a new way to play the music. Consider that.

I wound up making one library in WAV form because it is lossless and well supported, but the music I listen to is saved as MP3 VBR-2 format, which takes up a fraction of the space and to my ears sounds just as good. (With zero background noise, great equipment, and young ears you might, only might, be able to tell them apart on a good day.) The difference is that the WAV library might be 500GB in size and take up 1000 CDs. The MP3 library fits on a single 128GB SDXC card or 128GB USB stick, each of those costs less than $50 now for brand names.

1000 CDs to keep the old player happy…or a new player and a $50 memory card/stick. Think about that. I’d suggest that the CD is now about as obsolete as the 8-track player, before you burn a stack of them, you might pause on that. A keychain or postage stamp can hold 1000 albums, at CD quality.

One of the reasons to use WAV as an archive standard is you can always go down to lesser quality formats, but you can’t easily come back up. People who download a marginal quality MP3 and then try to edit and create a new MP3 frequently have bubbling, gargling and honky sound compression problems as the MP3 damage increases.

You should get a young woman to tell you there’s no difference.


Koz, I really shouldn’t get a young woman, all I could do is get in trouble that way.

As I said, with my ears, and my stereo, and my ambient listening situation, there’s no difference. And I made those qualifications because they are all part of the equation. When I was 19, I could literally hear ultrasonic alarm heads and traffic detectors, and that’s like getting your teeth drilled when you have to pass by them. Add enough “average” hearing loss and I know, I’ve checked and confirmed that I can no longer hear 19kHz tones at all.

So if the OP is 19, has no hearing loss, and has a great stereo…lossless is the way to go. Except, typical home made cassettes played back on a boombox or typical Walkman are likely to be no better than FM radio quality to begin with.

When I hear how vinyl is back and LPs are collectible again…I wonder which Twilight Zone I’ve crossed into. Ain’t no way to listen to an LP, even a Direct Digital, a couple of dozen times without SOME degradation, and at that point all the arguments about how digital is cold, sterile, inferior…take a back seat to the record washing, don’t they?

Done the whole audio salon double-blind high end business, years ago. Really don’t care about objective standards for the audio quality right now, since there’s no objective way to filter it through my subjective ears. And if I get a young woman who wants better music, I’ll find one who can bring her own.

One of the radio engineers where I used to work years ago could hear reliably out to 19.5 KHz. Life must have been interesting for him although he never complained about about anything.

I have a CD called “In the Digital Mood” (Grusin-Rosen Productions). The object was to produce a perfect digital music recording. They went to dead quiet studios with top quality equipment, etc. etc. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it is without question one of the worst, unlistenable recordings of Glenn Miller I’ve ever heard. It’s one of my favorite CDs for the wrong reasons.

The discussion wasn’t necessarily how wonderful compression schemes were. They do very well, but compression schemes are all designed to work perfectly from a perfect source. Successive compressions never go well.

“I downloaded MP3 music files to use in a mix, but after I exported the finished mix to a similar size file, the sound is terrible. It’s all bubbly and honky.”


It is.