How to record tape from Mic IN?

Hey guys, so I am back again after some years seeking to transfer some tapes to wav/mp3. This time I am trying to record from the Mic Input on a Dell Inspiron 3647 so I plugged the dual RCA OUT from the Realistic tape deck SCT-74 into the Mic Input on the dell.

I have looked at a couple youtube videos and also read the manual but with Audacity open nothing is listed in the drop down menu next to the mic icon. When I click on the Rec button this is the error message in the image attached so I’m stuck, help please?

See the green box in this FAQ:

Thanks Steve, works. If I may ask for your advice, when exporting as wav, these are the settings I have used, would you recommend any better settings and after that what would you recommend I do to get the best audio for saving as mp3 files please?

Audio CDs are 16-bit, 44.1kHz. That’s generally better than human hearing and much better than cassette (or anything analog) so it’s good-enough for anything. If you’re burning a CD that’s what you’ll want to use. If it makes you “feel better” you can use 48kHz. That gives you a little more high-frequency range and a proportionally larger file but you’re not going to hear a difference. Up-sampling doesn’t gain quality so if you want a higher sample rate you have to record at a higher sample rate to begin with.

MP3 is kind of tricky… The (theoretical) best setting is 320kbps constant bitrate, and joint stereo. Personally, I use “V0” joint stereo, which is the best variable bitrate. Variable bit rate uses a lower bitrate with easier-to-compress sounds for overall smaller files. And with variable bitrate you are choosing the quality and the LAME encoder chooses the required bitrate moment-to-moment. (Joint stereo is always the best choice for stereo files because it always makes the best-use of the available bits.)


Longer answer… As you may know, MP3 is lossy compression. Information is thrown-away to make a smaller file. But it’s “smart” and it tries to throw-away sounds that you can’t hear because they are masked (drowned-out) by other sounds. A good quality MP3 can often sound identical to the original. There is no easy answer because some sounds are easier to compress than others and some people are better at hearing small compression artifacts.

The bitrate (kbps) is kilo_bits_ per second. There are 8-bits in a byte so you can divide by 8 to get the file size in bytes-per-second (excluding any embedded artwork adding to the file size). Lower bitrates give you more compression (more data thrown away) for a smaller file and potentially lower quality.

But… MP3 is always lossy and every sample will be altered to some extent, even with the best settings. We can only say it’s “better” if it actually sounds better. At higher bitrates, there can sometimes be other side-effects unrelated to “throwing-away” data so the sound doesn’t get better with a higher bitrate. Or more often, something like 192 or 240 kbps sounds identical to the uncompressed so we can’t say 320kbps is “better”.

Thanks. I am not seeing an option when exporting saving as Wav to choose 320kbps? Also I would like to Equalize the track before saving, the eq is flat, is there maybe a preset anywhere which might give it an auto eq setting please or would I need to manually set the eq?

WAV doesn’t have compression settings because it’s not a compressed format.

Information is thrown-away to make a smaller file.

But that might not be the worst MP3 problem. If you try to make an MP3 into anything else, it will try to throw away information again. MP3 is not a production format. It was designed as part of a legacy video system and is used to put music on your portable player so you can go running on the beach.

Master recordings are much better as WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit even though those can be much larger. That’s the exact format pressed into Audio CDs and you can, if you wish, make a WAV (copy) into an MP3 to go running on the beach.


Well right, the audio is to be payed back on my DJ softwares so I absolutely need mp3 as the final file. So my previous post is asking how best to optimize the recorded before converting to wav?

I would like to Equalize the track before saving

Equalization needs to have a goal. It’s not an end product. Do you not like the way it sounds? There is no Auto EQ because there’s no way to predict the goal. Do you want it brighter? More bass? We should also remember that transfers like this come with built-in noise and distortions and that will get brighter and more bassy, too.

This is a good place to use your very good quality headphones or music system, not the tiny speakers on your computer. They don’t do bass very well and you could create some serious distortions and just not hear it.

It’s also possible that equalization may create its own distortions and they will be forever.


I absolutely need mp3 as the final file.

You need it as the production or show file, not the Archive Master. That should always be WAV. Once you make an MP3, the damage is burned in. If you start with an MP3, the WAV will always be one layer damaged. The WAV doesn’t undo the damage. It just preserves it really well.

MP3 gets its tiny files by gently re-arranging musical tones and leaving some of them out. The effect is forever.


I see, thanks for the knowledge.