Cassette to CD - files very quiet

Complete beginner here. I’m trying to transfer all my old cassette tapes to computer and then subsequently to either CD or mp3.

I did a test run. Recorded in Audacity using a 3.5mm jack plugged into the mic port on my laptop and it recorded fine, exported using the most recent version of lame as mp3s. Couple of problems with distortion because of the volume of the cassette player but these were easily fixed. When playing back, or listening while playing, in Audacity the volume was fine. I exported as mp3 clips to make ‘chapters’ from the book I had been recording and when playing back in Media Player the result was VERY quiet.

My laptop has pretty good speakers and I had to have them at full blast to hear it properly. On the second house laptop the speakers are awful and its inaudible on there. The same applies to the CD which were subsequently burnt from Media Player. They are very quiet when played on really very good sound systems.

Am I missing a step when I export which will maintain the volume?

MP3 files are lossy. When you export MP3 files they do not preserve the volume accurately unless the software intervenes to attempt some adjustment, but the differences should be barely audible.

The only thing that should affect the volume on export is the -…+ gain slider on the Track Control Panel to left of the blue waves. Set the slider at 0 then it won’t change the volume.


Before you export the MP3s (and after all your other editing) use the Normalize effect. IIRC the default level is to go to the maximum 0dB but that sometimes causes problems for some players and payer software - so Normalize to say -1.0 dB to give some headroom.

Personally I Normalize to -3.0 dB which I find plenty loud enough - the orinigator of Audacity, Dominic Mazzoni, when he first wrote the Normalize function he had it hard-wired to -3 dB - good enough for me :sunglasses: