Making a recording from a tape player to a laptop

I have a tape recording of my college senior recital that I want to make an mp3 of. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to transfer the tape from the tape player to my laptop and record using Audacity. I cannot get it to work. I’m guessing there’s a box somewhere that needs checking or one that’s checked that need to be unchecked. Could someone tell me exactly what I need to do? What cords/plugins to I need and what settings do I need to make? Thanks. Don

How to connect your equipment.

You also need to select the correct Recording Device (the line input on your soundcard, etc.).

You need a line input (blue on a regular soundcard). A line input will work with the line-output on a cassette deck or “tape-out” or “record out” on a receiver. It will also work with a headphone output.

If you have a laptop with only mic-in and headphone-out you need a USB audio interface with line inputs. The Behringer UCA 202 is popular and relatively inexpensive.

Thanks. I watched a video and that’s what was used. Are you saying I need to use an intermediary device? I’ve connected the tape deck to the computer using a cord attached to a splitter cord plugged into a usb mic plug.

My son-in-law just stopped by and solved my problem. He got rid of the splitter cord and connected directly from the tape deck to the usb mic plug and it works fine. I appreciate the response though.

Yes. Some options are the “famous” Behringer UCA202 Behringer makes some other similar devices as well as higher-end interfaces with switchable “pro mic” (1) and line inputs.

A lot of other manufacturers make similar higher-end interfaces. The “higher end” audio interfaces start at about $100 USD.

There are also some mixers with USB that can double as an audio interface. (They also start at around $100 USD.)

I have the ART USB phono plus which has switchable phono/line inputs and a recording level control. An analog recording level knob (also standard on higher-end interfaces) is “handy” because sometimes a hot signal can clip (distort) the analog-to-digital converter built-into the interface, and reducing the digital level with the computer doesn’t fix the distortion.

You should get “sound” but you won’t get good quality because a line-level signal is around 100 times stronger than a microphone signal.

Your laptop probably already has a microphone connection…

Most newer laptops have a single mic/headphone combo jack and it requires a special plug with an extra contact for mic connection. If your USB device is like that you might get “nothing”.

The mic input is usually also mono (your recording may be mono so maybe not an issue with this particular tape.)

(1) Stage & studio mics are not interchangeable with “computer mics”.