Can't Record from Cassette Player

I’ve downloaded Audacity 2.1.0 to create digital copies of some of my cassette’s, although I’ve hit a brick wall, in that I can’t get Audacity to record any sound from the cassette player, which is a Sony TCM-939. It’s a fairly recent model of portable cassette player, 1990’s or thereabouts as far as I’m aware. Anyway, the only output from the TCM-939 is via a 3.5mm stereo jack, and thus I’ve connected the machine to a laptop (HP Pavilion 15-p144na, Windows 10) using a 3.5mm aux cable, and I have Audacity up and running on the laptop. The problem is, I can’t get it to acknowledge the cassette player at all, I’ve tried all three available recording devices in the drop-down list, which are as follows; Speaker/HP, Microphone, Stereo Mix. The first two only seem to record through the laptop’s inbuilt microphone, whereas the latter picks up nothing whatsoever. I’ve ensured that the volume slider on the cassette player is up, and the cable is functioning perfectly, as far as I know.

I’m not sure whether the cassette player is capable of outputting in stereo, there is only a single speaker built into it, and when I use headphones, sound is only delivered through one of the two speakers, although this could be because the recordings are in mono. Could this affect it? Although I’ve tried recording on both the mono and stereo channels, to no avail.

TCM-939 is via a 3.5mm stereo jack

No, probably not. It has a 3.5 jack. Nowhere in the instructions does it say this is a stereo machine. Sony isn’t bashful about promoting stereo if the machine will do it. I think this is a mono note-taker or voice memo recorder with playback abilities.

On to the computer. That probably isn’t stereo either. Unless the laptop connection is one of three and/or is blue, you plugged the cable into the pink mono microphone connection.

The above machine only has two connections.

Not only is the pink connection mono, but it’s super sensitive and easily overloaded, so it would distort even if you could get it to work. I can’t tell you how to connect to the Mic-In of your machine. I’m not a Windows elf.

So after you get access to a stereo machine (like in the illustration), you could connect it to a stereo to USB adapter such as the Behringer UCA-202 and plug that into your laptop. Pretend that thing on the right is your stereo cassette player instead of a stereo sound mixer.


Oh. I do have one. Forgive me.

You may have to zoom your browser window wider to see the whole thing.


Ah, ok, thank you for the help, looks as though I’ll need to obtain a stereo cassette player at some point then, my previous one of those went up in smoke a few years back. Anyway, thank you.

The latest version is 2.1.1: Audacity ® | Download for Windows.

So, Audacity is not showing you the External Microphone input, assuming it works. To correct that, do Transport > Rescan Audio Devices from the Audacity menu bar, or restart Audacity.

If you still do not see External Microphone in Audacity, open Windows Sound then follow the instructions in that link to show and enable the External Microphone.

As Koz said, you will also (probably) need a USB interface to provide you with a proper stereo line-in. Sometimes the External Microphone port on laptops is a “compatible” input that can accept stronger stereo signals, but such inputs are usually not as good quality as a proper stereo line-in that is only meant for strong stereo signals.