Background noise while recording cassette

Hello, New to forum and new to Audacity. I bought a cassette player with usb cord to convert audiobooks on cassette to mp3 format. Mac MBP 10.9.5/Audacity 2.0.6 downloaded from web, although cassette unit came with cd for Audacity 2.0 so tried to load that but ended up in my 2.0.6 version somehow (did I say I’m sort of low techie?) Recording went well but there is background noise throughout…checked for answers online and tried suggestions with no change. Most answers are for people using microphones. Selected correct input in System Preferences on Mac and set up Audacity per cassette booklet instructions. Uploading sample in wav format but also have sample in aiff. Soooo grateful for any suggestions!!!

I’m afraid all “solutions” will be rather technical.

The problem you’re dealing with is tape noise (hiss). It’s in the original tape and there’s not much you can do about it. Adding to your pain is a USB whine, which is due to the quality of the USB player, I think. Macs in general don’t have much noise on the USB ports.

You could try a much shorter USB cable, or one with ferrites clamped around it. If you have some USB cables laying around, there’s a good chance you already have one of those. It is a longshot, however, as these are built to avoid RFI, not audio whine.

If it sounded better on your previous tape deck, that’s probably also because it was recorded on that deck. The USB player probably has playback heads that are not well aligned and that gives less signal, hence more noise.

If you still have that previous deck, connecting to the stereo line input of your Mac may yield far better results and is the simplest workaround I can think of.

Personally, I’d send that USB thing back. There’s far too much rubbish produced these days. It might be very affordable, it’s just a big pita in the end.

Thanks for your response. I tried a few suggestions made elsewhere in this forum for people with a different brand of tape converter than I bought but I’m guessing mine is still the same cheap product. I tried moving the player farther from the laptop and turning the volume up (I had it down) that were a couple of those suggestions and neither worked. Also tried the other usb port on my MBP with no change. In fact, the high-pitched whine now also has a static like buzz. The tapes were professionally recorded but are not available otherwise in a format that can be listened to on my iPod…hence the desire to convert them to mp3s.

Before purchasing this unit, I searched everywhere for just a cord with usb on one end and a connection to my more expensive tape player which I thought might be better than the cheap, flimsy unit in the catalog. However, I could not find such cord…got a resounding ‘no’ from Apple store, Radio Shack, etc. and the ones online that looked like they might be for that purpose all had reviews that said they didn’t work with Macs for the people who had ordered them. My Mac has the port that is output/input all in one and I was trying to locate a cord that would come from the tape player’s headphone jack and go to my Mac’s usb since I could see that Audacity would recognize my exterior mic that had a usb connection. Oh well, I guess it’s time to send it back. Thanks again.

This is not insurmountable. You may have asked for the wrong thing.

This is a Behringer UCA-202 connected to my analog mixer. I have two (the adapter, not the mixer).

Highly recommended.

It’s also certified for zero latency overdubbing should you get an insane urge to overdub your voice into a one-person trio. That’s why the headphones/earbuds are there. We can do this.

There other adapters.


If you shop around, the UCA202 could be on sale for around 15$, as it’s going to be replaced with a newer model.

The UCA202 sounds like it might work…guess I would have to also get a cord with 3.5 plug on one end for the headphone/output jack in my (better) cassette player and also has the red and white RCA plugs on the other. Thanks soooo much!!! Thanks especially for the photo!!!


it’s going to be replaced with a newer model.


If we cast our minds back, the transition to a Newer Model gave us Frying Mosquitoes / Yeti Curse. Older equipment didn’t do that.

I can’t wait…


The new ones are very solid, just like the old ones. It took a long time, since the provider of the chips took a long time to get the quality right. According to the grapevine, Behringer will be making its own chips, under license now, to avoid delay.

That doesn’t mean there are no problems, of course, but these are mainly for the 8 channel and up devices (the X-range), as these are USB2. And Microsoft left out the USB2 audio class driver in Windows 10. I’ve installed and tested several of the new ones on OS X and these perform well.

The new mic preamps seem to have inherited some quality of the Midas acquisition too.

But there’s no more FCA202 (Firewire) anymore. If you want one of those, you’d better hurry.

Ok, now you lost me at the bakery (Rowan and Martin as 2 spies “Laugh In” reference)! The first photo has red/white RCA connectors and the second photo has red/black…one in the same?

Red/Rouge is almost always Right, The Other One is almost always left. bLack (English) or bLanc (French-White).

The only time this has ever failed me was a shipment of adapter cords we got which was wired wrong. Rather than send them back, I put correct coloured plastic over the connectors. They’re still in service.

Too Much Information.