Fix damaged audio from a warped tape?

Running Audacity 2.0.3
On Windows 10

I have some audio I recovered from a damaged cassette tape. It’s some jam sessions from a noise-rock band. It was recorded on the type of tape recorder one might use to record an interview. I transcribed the tape using a cheap cassette-to-USB converter. The tape was damaged; the volume oscillates like someone is turning the volume down every few seconds. The faded-out sections come at regular intervals, perhaps every two seconds or so. This pattern goes on for almost thirty minutes.

I have tried taking a small sample of the audio and playing with effects like Normalize, Leveller, Amplify, and Adjustable Fade. Normalize and Leveller didn’t do anything useful, they changed the volume of every part equally. Using a combination of Adjustable fade and Amplify, I was able to make one of the faded-out sections roughly level with the surrounding audio. You can definitely hear the damage, but everything is audible, if not entirely decipherable.

I have also noticed that the fades are worse on the right channel than on the left, so I split the stereo track and I’m now only working with the left channel. Once I fix the fades, I plan to copy it to a new stereo track so I have music on both sides. I don’t care that they’re identical.

Because the audio is noise-rock, quality is not especially important. In fact, for this band, low quality is actually kind of their thing (it’s a long story). The upshot is, I’m willing to sacrifice some quality to get everything at least audible. Is there a way I can adjust the volume for all these faded sections at once? I can fix them one at a time, but that will take weeks. Could I use a Phaser or a Wah-Wah something like that? If so, how would I adjust it?

I’m not very skilled with Audacity, I haven’t used it much, so PLEASE talk to me like I’m five (I’m not joking). I have basically no recording/audio production background. I’m just trying to archive this stuff so that interested parties can hear it.

Any help is appreciated!

Please upload a representative sample in WAV format, including a faded section, before you applied any effects to it. See How to post an audio sample.


Dynamic-range-compression will even-out all the variations in volume in one go, ( but it won’t correct any variations in pitch caused by any variations in tape speed ).

It will, but if you need help with the Compressor settings as in “five year old child”, we will need to hear an audio sample. I am rather expecting there is more than fading wrong with the recording.

If there are azimuth errors on the tape leading to phasey sound, Stereo Tool might help.