fixing cassette rip eq

I bought a USB cassette recording device which does a so-so job of outputting cassette tape audio to my PC. It acts as a USB sound card in my OS and I have no trouble isolating and recording the audio in Audacity. Unfortunately the EQ is lousy and my recordings have very little bass. I’m positive the issue is the device and not the cassettes because they sound better on other cassette players I own.

Assuming it’s possible to fix this, I was hoping someone could assist me with improving the sound, and perhaps establishing a template I can apply to all future cassettes I rip with this device.

Here’s a 2-minute sample (5MB, 320kbps stereo MP3):

My sincere thanks in advance!

Try the equalizer in the illustration. There is a serious but not deadly low frequency droop and I more or less compensated for it. Note that the whole right-hand side of the graph is lower than zero. you need that to keep the correction from overloading.

Is this worth us talking you through capturing your better cassette player?

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Since you already have existing better cassette players why didn’t you just connect one of these to the line-in socket on your computer, or just buy a USB soundcard to sit between your cassette player and your computer? :confused:


Thanks for the replies, guys.

Kozikowski, thanks so much for the advice and the screenshot! I was skeptical about the high bass frequencies you were fixing but I tried plotting it out on my side and it sounds brilliant! May I ask how you knew which frequencies to adjust? That was my biggest issue - I was just stabbing around in the dark with bass boost settings previously.

The reason I don’t use my other cassette player is that it’s a battery-operated walkman and I have something like 100 tapes to rip. I don’t want to have to listen to them all to see whether the batteries started dying and slowed down the motors. It’s also a 20-year-old device and the 1/8" jack isn’t entirely reliable so sometimes audio only comes out one side or crackles depending on how I’ve twisted the cable. I had an A/C-powered component tape unit but that just failed on me.

Aaaaahhh - makes more sense now :slight_smile:

Part of the problem may be that the tape head azimuth setting is not correct on your USB cassette player (and it may not be adjustable). Googling will give you tons of advice on t’interweb regarding this - try “tape azimuth alignment” as your search term.


The USB cassette recorder I’m using is a $20 flimsy toy so I doubt it will have azimuth control but thanks for the great advice, waxcylinder. Maybe I’ll get lucky and can just tighten a screw or give it a nudge so that I don’t need to do any post-production work in Audacity.

It might be worth looking out for a proper cassette deck in a thrift/charity shop or boot-sale (yard sale) - I’m sure there are many mouldering away…


I did take a look at the local classifieds and found tons of cassette decks for sale but I just don’t think it’s worth it in my case. Most of the tapes are old rave and techno bootlegs and dubs that I carried around in coat pockets for over a decade and listened to on cheap portable players. It was a shoddy old tape that destroyed my nice Sony component deck so I’m wary of throwing more money at the solution. I’m ripping the tapes more for posterity than fidelity if you dig.

I dig, I’m hip to your kind of jive … :sunglasses:

All of my “reel to reel” cassette machines died from arthritic belts. My portable WalkMan/Panasonic Personal Music Player is still working just fine because it does not use belts. If you find a nice one, it will have Dolby and tape type switches.


  1. The original complaint was no bass.

  2. I selected a portion of the music that is obviously supposed to have a good bass line and selected it. Illustration 1.

  3. Analyze > Plot Spectrum. Illustration 2. I found a serious droop between about 500 and 50 or so. I transferred those numbers to Effect > Equalizer. Also, we know you can’t hear much below 20, so 20 and below has to go.

  4. I applied the Equalizer and the track immediately overloaded from too much volume. So I moved the whole Equalizer curve down 6dB on a guess.

And that’s the sound you have.

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kozikowski that is EXTREMELY helpful! I took a look at the spectrum analysis before posting here but I didn’t know what to make of it. I’m still kind of in that situation, to be honest.

Here’s the spectrum analysis of the first ~250 seconds of the recording straight from my cassette:
And here’s what it looks like after implementing your EQ fix:
I can see clearly that there’s more bass but it doesn’t make immediate sense to me why this sounds better than it did before your fix. It looks like it’s almost a logarithmic decline from the peak volume at about 80Hz down to where the volume cuts off around 15k-20k. Is this the right idea or am I misinterpreting? Is there a rule of thumb about the loudness of frequencies? Was the solution obvious to you from just visually looking at this graph? I’d love to be self-sufficient so that I don’t have to pester the community whenever I need to fix some audio.

Thanks again!

The human ear is not equally sensitive to all frequencies of sound …

If you look at the spectrum of the sound of a good quality recording of that type of music and use equalization to emulate it.

Thanks Trebor. I’ll use similar music as a spectrum analysis template.

Can’t thank you guys enough. What a helpful community this is.

If anyone’s interested, I’m depositing all my (non-commercial, non-RIAA, never sold in stores) tapes on a blog I set up: