Ezcap USB Cassette Capture, Audacity & Static

Hi, I would appreciate if anyone can render valuable advice for this problem I face in using ezcap USB cassette capture:

I’m currently converting audio cassette tapes into .aiff files via Audacity 2.0.5 on Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 (MacBook Pro, Early 2011). I get too much random static that overlaps with the voice. When I stop the cassette, rewind it approximately to the point the static began, and play the cassette again, the static is either gone or the static reappears at different places. Occasionally, the static is soft. Sometimes it is repeated and loud. I believe this is a problem with Ezcap USB cassette capture, not the cassette. I have tried using different USB cables and even 2 male 3.5mm audio cable; the static is still produced. I have attempted to clean the tape heads with cotton buds, but the static still remains.

Previously, I had serious problems with 120 minute tapes such that 3-4 tapes were slightly damaged. I guess the motor of Ezcap USB Cassette Capture is not strong enough for such tapes, thus now I only dare to convert 60min or 90 min tapes. What would happen is that the 120min tapes will be played to a point where the amount of tape is somewhat equal on both reels and it gets a bit tight in the cassette. The ezcap device will then automatically change the direction in which the tape plays and play the audio recorded on the other side of the tape. In response, I would press and hold the “DIR” down to ensure the direction does not change on its own. This resulted in the tape coiling excessively on the tape head because the take-up reel refused to turn, or turned less than it should. The play button would then jump up on its own (and the tape would stop playing). I wonder whether this has damaged the device, creating the frequent static. Before facing this problem with 120 minute tapes, I did successfully convert 90min tapes with fewer occurrences of static (at that point in time, I thought the static was due to poor cassette quality).

  1. would like to hear if people have been successful in converting 120min tapes using EZCAP USB Cassette Capture.
  2. How should I clean/repair the EZCAP USB Cassette Capture device such that the static is not produced?
  3. If you do not think the problem lies with the device, how then do you recommend that the static be removed? Note that this static cannot be removed by the “Noise Removal” function in Audacity because it overlaps with the voice. I have tried. Also, the static is not heard whatsoever from the cassette when I play it on another radio cassette-corder.

Thank you to all in advance.

See http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Recording_from_Cassette for how to clean and adjust cassette mechanisms though I doubt it is your problem.

2.0.5 is obsolete and does not support Yosemite. Please upgrade to the latest 2.1.0 from http://audacityteam.org/download/mac. 2.1.0 fixes a problem that could cause playback of a correctly made recording to crackle in some circumstances.

Then try Audacity > Preferences… choose the “Recording” tab and experiment with a low “Audio to buffer” size. Take it as low as it will go without the recording cursor failing to move, then set it a few milliseconds above that and see if that helps.


Thank you Gale for informing me of my outdatedness. However, upgrading it to 2.1.0 did not resolve the static occurrences.
Experimenting with low “Audio to Buffer” size likewise did not remove the static. I tried 0ms, 3ms, 30ms and the default 100ms.

I strongly believe the problem lies with the Ezcap device because the static can be heard while playing the cassette and listening to it via earphones without even using Audacity to export the audio.

We can only help you with settings or bugs in Audacity that may cause a recording that is transmitted without faults to be recorded incorrectly.

If you hear crackle when you connect headphones to the EZCap and play the tape without the USB or 3.5mm cable connected, then it seems likely that the device is faulty.

If the noise appears in the headphones when you connect either cable, but without recording, that still probably indicates a problem with the device. It could be a problem with the Mac but it is unlikely. If the noise appears in the headphones only when you start recording in Audacity, it could again be either the Mac or the device, but with more likelihood that the Mac is the cause.

In case you were not aware, Audacity does not make EZCap, only the Audacity software. If you determine from the above tests that EZCap is faulty, then if it is still in warranty I suggest you return it for repair or refund. Look at the return instructions that came with it.