Flat line recording - used to work fine

Windows 7 ultimate
Audacity 2.3.0

Audacity has been working for me fine with my ROHS Super USB cassette converter. Then all of a sudden it stopped working. I’ve checked all the recommended settings and they hadn’t changed any and I hadn’t messed with them. I even uninstalled Audacity, re-downloaded and installed it. I reset all the recommended settings and nothing changed. The only thing I can think of, and it doesn’t make sense, is that I ran a tape head cleaner through the cassette but am unsure of the timeline with respect to when it stopped working. Is it possible that it could have somehow demagnetized the heads of the cassette recorder? I don’t see how it could have, but I can’t think of anything else as nothing else had changed. I’ve read everything I could find in the online manual. Nothing just makes sense to me. Thanks.

Unfortunately these “Super USB cassette” devices are not very reliable. They are sold under a variety of names and are manufactured very cheaply in China. There’s a fairly high chance that the device has died, but before you bin it, there’s some simple tests that you can do:

  1. Shut down the computer completely and disconnect the device.
  2. Visually inspect the USB lead carefully for possible damage.
  3. If the lead looks OK, plug it back into the computer and ensure that the plug is secure in the socket.
  4. Reboot the computer.
  5. Insert a “known to be good” cassette into the device and press Play. Check that the tape is going round.
  6. While the tape is playing, open the Windows Sound Control Panel and look in the “Recording” tab. You should see a USB recording device listed, and there should be a green meter that is jumping up and down in response to the sound from the cassette player.

If (5) or (6) fail:
7) “Safely remove” the device (see: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/4051300/windows-10-safely-remove-hardware)
8) Unplug the USB lead from the computer and plug it into a different USB socket.
9) Repeat steps 5 and 6.

If still no joy, try the same steps on a different computer.

Let us know how it goes.

I’ve checked all the recommended settings and they hadn’t changed any and I hadn’t messed with them.

Make sure you’ve selected the USB device as your [u]Recording Device[/u].

Is it possible that it could have somehow demagnetized the heads of the cassette recorder?

No. Tape heads are supposed to be demagnetized. And, magnetized heads won’t cause it to fail completely but they can (theoretically) degrade sound on the tape.

With [u]Listen To This Device[/u] you should be able to hear the cassette player without running Audacity (or any other application). If that works, you should be able to get sound “into” Audacity. But if Windows isn’t getting anything, it won’t work with Audacity.

If that doesn’t work, try a different USB cable.

I assume the cassette player has a headphone jack? Plug-in headphones/earphones (or regular “powered” computer speakers) to see if you are getting sound. If not, the Cassette player is bad (or you’ve got a blank tape).

If the analog output works and the USB output is bad, you can record the analog output. If you have a desktop/tower computer you can plug-into line-in (blue) on the soundcard. If you have a laptop with only microphone-in, you’d need a USB interface with line-inputs.

Thank you for your response. i went to my old desktop computer, got it all set up and working and still the cassette player would not work, so I’m assuming that it is not ever going to work.

I know this player is produced for many different companies. I found that out by looking online for another one and found all these look-alikes and semi-look-alikes out there, all for the same price. I thought about the boom box-looking one for a bit more but read all the comments and they were pretty much all negative.

Is there anyone out there that makes a good cassette player/mp3 converter? I have an old Ion record player/converter and it still works, but then I hadn’t used it in a long time. The weird thing about the cassette player is that it was working just fine. Came back to it several weeks later, and nothing. Can you or anyone recommend a good cassette player/mp3 converter? They pretty much looked all the same to me. And, thanks again for your detailed response. I really appreciate it.

I use a “hi-fi” cassette player that I’ve had for many years, connected to the computer via a Behringer UCA202 (about $30). Both the sound quality and reliability have been miles better than any USB cassette player that I’ve seen.

The only drawback of this setup is that the UCA202 does not have a recording level control, which isn’t a problem provided that the output of the cassette player isn’t too high. For this reason, I’d recommend getting a UCA202 from somewhere that has a good “returns policy” so that you can send it back if you can’t get it to work with the cassette player. (The UCA202 has worked fine with every cassette player that I’ve tried, but, “just in case” :wink:)

Is there anyone out there that makes a good cassette player/mp3 converter?

[u]B & H[/u] has a few options.

I can’t say they are “good”, but they sell a few audio component-style units for about $100 USD.

Thanks for the options. I’ve checked out both the UCA202 and B&H. In looking at the UCA202, I’m a little confused. I see the USB cord and I see some input ports, if that’s what they’re called. But where does a cassette fit into all this? I don’t have another cassette other than the mp3 converter which no longer works.

As far as the B&H products go, I can see several mp3 converters around $100 or more, less for used, and even an *ion one, which is in the same basic shape mine is and is probably made by the same company that made mine, right?

I have an *ion LP player/mp3 converter that works well, except that I haven’t figured out a way to make the arm slightly heavier, as, if there ever was a user manual, it has long since disappeared and *ion apparently no longer supports my model, and they’re not keen about answering queries about it, as it’s not in their list of products you have to use in order to send them an email.

Anyway, to end this rambling, I’ll have to think about shelling out $100 for one of these nice-looking units or take a chance with a used one. I’ve never bought used electronics before, so there is that.

Again, thanks for your responses. I appreciate them. Have a great day.

As I wrote previously, the UCA 202 can be used to connect a cassette player to a computer. Of course that means that you would need a cassette player.

If you don’t already own a cassette deck, you could look on ebay, or even freecycle for a second hand cassette deck. Cassette decks have lost popularity over the last decade, to the extent that people are often willing to sell fully working cassette decks for just a few dollars, or even give them away free. Note that old cassette players may suffer from stretched drive belts or badly worn drive mechanisms, so if buying an old one you should check that it will play cassettes at the proper speed, and that “fast forward” and “rewind” work.

Sadly it now seems to be impossible to buy a good quality cassette player new, as no-one makes them anymore. Even ones that “look like” a traditional “hifi” cassette deck only have cheap and nasty mechanisms inside. Update Not actually true; There are still some good quality cassette decks made, but they are very expensive. For example: Tascam 202 MKVII (around $500), Teac W-1200 (around $480) … but I can’t find any decent new ones under $400.

In looking at the UCA202, I’m a little confused.

If the headphone output on your cassette player works you can use an external audio interface or the line-input on a regular soundcard in a desktop/tower computer. If you have other uses for the interface it’s probably a good investment. (You’d also have to buy an adapter-cable if you don’t have it already.) If you are only going to use it with your “bad” cassette player that’s an economic decision (or gamble) for you to decide.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy a used cassette player because they are complicated mechanical devices with rubber belts & wheels that and other moving parts that deteriorate and wear-out.

This is very true, and should be considered before spending money (I did mention this in my post), however, there are still a lot of good cassette players around that work perfectly well. I wouldn’t buy a second hand cassette player unless I was able to try it myself before buying, except perhaps a refurbished model from a reputable outlet with a guaranteed returns policy (I would be very cautious).

Thank you for your help. I appreciate it very much. One of my talents is that I’m a little slow in ingesting new information, so I appreciate your patience. Good advice about not buying used. Thanks.