Enhancing/mastering 1970's cassette recordings

Hello. I have a number of cassette tape recordings of my fathers band from the 70s/80s. My task is to make a nice CD anthology for our family. I have been researching for awhile the best way to make these songs sound their best and I’m still very confused. I have transferred them from tape to digital .wav from there I don’t know where to begin. I know there is a lot of processes I can use in audacity. I just still don’t understand the basic steps. First I would guess that I will separate the one file into individual files/tracks. At some point I think I should normalize. But I’m not sure what is best to do to master these recordings so that they sound their best when I burn to CD. I also have pro tools but I’m thinking that in this case something like audacity would work fine. Please point me in the right direction :slight_smile:


Start off with a read if this set of tutorials in the Audacity Manual: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/Tutorial_-_Copying_tapes,_LPs_or_minidiscs_to_CD

This article in the Wiki may be of help tool http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Recording_from_Cassette

When I transcribed my old tapes I treated my trusty old Nakamichi BX-2 to a professional service at the main agents to ensure I got the best results from the outset.


Thanks, that’s a nice step by step thing as I was looking for. If anyone else has tips/tricks please let me know. I am going to start playing around tonight.

My “tip of the day”: start with one or two of the ones that is least important to you - you will learn a lot as you go along and your skills & technique will improve - so save your favourites till a bit later on.

Don’t ask me how I know this is a good idea … :frowning: :unamused:


First step : remove infrasound , ( doing that makes processing the waveform easier ).

Add the limiter plugin to Audacity , using the limiter will automatically will attenuate any loud clicks which would otherwise limit the volume of the music when using “Amplify”.

I’m still trying to understand all of this, with those below you mentioned, I download and import into Audacity to use, right?

Yes you have to put a copy of Steve’s “limiter.ny” plugin into Audacity’s Plug-Ins folder, ( “Limiter” should then appear in the effect menu ).

Then import the “No-Infrasound” equalization-curve into Audacity’s equalizer , it then becomes one of the preset curves in the equalizer , see … Audacity Manual [see “manage curves” at bottom of that page of the manual ]
limiter.ny (1.3 KB)

Here is a sample of what I did to the recording. I am still trying to get the trained ear, can you take a listen and tell me of anything that I missed that really sticks out?

It sounds like compression has made the solo-drum in the middle go too loud,
that’s fixable with Audacity’s envelope tool to reduce the volume of that bit … http://forum.audacityteam.org/download/file.php?id=8664

Re: “enhancement” , there is an Audacity plugin which makes mono tracks sound like stereo, called pseudo-stereo

Thank you! Can you explain just a little how you did the envelope? I am looking at the manual on it but not sure exactly what i’m looking for to change.

You have to click on the tool icon with the blue line

to go into envelope mode …

To leave envelope mode, click on the icon that looks like a capital “i”.

thank you for the video, really helps. So I’m looking for peak areas and I level them out right?

It’s how they sound rather than how they look , the too-loud (or too quiet) bits may not actually be conspicuous on the shape of the envelope.
A compressor (or limiter) will try to make the waveform a constant amplitude, but to the ear this may make some things too loud, e.g. when there is a solo.

after looking at the spectrogram view on Audacity , I’ve had another go at the EQ …

New to these forums but not with using Audacity. Took a crack at the OP’s sample mp3 by first applying an EQ shown in the screengrab png, duplicated the single channel and turned it into stereo and applied AUMatrixReverb plugin selecting Plate with a 30% dry/wet mix.