Bad Audio Quality from RCA

Hi there, I’ve been trying to rip cassettes from an old Technics player. I’m using an RCA to aux cable hooked up to my PC headphone jack and the player’s line out. The audio sounds incredible with my headphones directly hooked up to the player but call center quality when ripped onto Audacity. I’m trying to figure out if this is an Audacity problem or a configuration error or something else.
Since I can’t attach the wav on here, I’ve linked an example down below.

The sort of wobbly/modulating sound is really what’s bothering me, aside from the compression.

Before recording, yes I switched the aux cable to “microphone in” as there are no other options for a line in under Realtek from what I can see. I’m running Win11 on a ROG Zephyrus if anyone knows if this has to do more with my PC than the program. Thanks!

See: How to connect your equipment - Audacity Manual

The headphone connection is an output. The line out from the cassette deck needs go into an input. :wink:

I’m assuming you have a laptop with a mic-headphone combination jack. Regular headphones work but the microphone connection requires a special plug with an extra contact.

But the microphone input is wrong anyway. A line-level signal is about 100 times stronger than a microphone signal, and the mic input is usually mono. (Always mono with a combo jack.)

If you have a desktop/tower computer with a regular soundcard you can use the line input.

If you don’t have a line input you need an interface with line inputs. The Behringer UCA202 is popular and inexpensive. It doesn’t have a recording level control but if your levels are too hot you can plug your headphone-output into a line-input and headphone outputs always have a volume control. (If the level is too low you can Amplify after digitizing.)

Or there are lots of higher-end audio interfaces with switchable mic/line inputs.

The Audacity User Manual has some helpful tutorials.

You’ve got some kind of weird left minus right subtraction that’s removing the “center” and giving you a dual-mono file with the left & right out-of-phase. It’s unusual but it can happen with certain “wrong” connections or with a broken ground connection.

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Thank you so much for your thorough response! I’ll see if I can get my hands on that and report back with the results.

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