Importing from Tape Devices

If this has been asked before, I could not find the topic using search (but then my search foo is weak).

I have dozens of old audio tapes that I would like to convert to MP3. I can do so but getting them to the computer is a time consuming process because there is no way to move the analog signal faster that I am aware of.

Are there any creative solutions to this conundrum that users have found? I don’t mind putting a cassette in the deck and hitting ‘play’ and sending the signal via cable to the PC, but I need help dealing with the resulting file that is created. Is there a way to set up Audacity so that it could be told the source and have it either cache or write the incoming signal to a file w
which Audacity could, in turn, read and process and output as MP3?

In using Windows 7 HPE, Audacity 2.0.5.

Please . . . If I’m plowing a plowed field, please excuse me and point me in the right direction.


It’s only a couple of clicks and a file name, so I don’t think you’ll benefit much from automation. Is there anything you are having trouble with, or you just trying to make it quicker/easier?

It’s the recording that takes the time. It can also take time if you want use noise reduction, adjust the EQ, or otherwise try to “fix-up” an old recording. (Assuming these are music tapes, record the whole tape before splitting the recording into individual songs.)

You can do “batch processing”, but since most audio editing requires some human judgement, I’ve never used it and I can’t help you with it.

Again assuming these are music tapes, you’ll probably also want to take a few minutes to “tag” the MP3 with the title, album, artist, etc. I don’t think Audacity can embed the artwork, but if you scan or download the artwork [u]MP3tag[/u] can embed it. I also like to tag the song with the original release year. That can require some research if it’s a compilation or greatest hits recording and there are songs from different years on the same tape.

Thanks, doug!

I’ve resigned myself to the time required to get the analog files to the PC. What I’d like help with is specifics as to what settings to use in Audacity or other programs to 1) capture the analog feed and 2) get that data to Audacity and 3) how to process it in Audacity.

I’m at a loss as to how to proceed.

Have a look at this set of tutorials from the Audacity Manual:

This workflow tutorial also has some relevant information, though not all steps will apply to tape transfer:

If I get time I may consider writing up a similar workflow tutorial targeted at tape transfer, I’ve added myself a reminder to the development Manual.


This article from the Wiki may be useful too:


And by the way the rule of thumb I developed as I processed a lot of LPs and tapes was that the post-processing took roughly the same time as the recording took.


Thank you, WC!

I’ve been through the tutorial once and will go through it again before trying to record. I don’t know who wrote the tutorial but it is very well done. I hit a couple of issues with Windows settings being in a different place than as described, but I was able to find them all with a little noodling around.

I can see that there will be some time spent acquiring the necessary learning curve, but that tutorial is immensely helpful.

Thank you, again!

If you can tell me exactly what those “issues with Windows settings being in a different place than as described” are I can look into making any necessary corrections.

Windows does change its UI from time to time with different releases, so it 's sometimes tough to keep up.

Thanks for the feedback - it’s good to know that the material is useful.


Done - please see: