Need help with converting my cassette tapes

hi all, I’ve got some old cassettes, a walkman and was thinking of recording the cassettes onto Audacity. I know that I need an audio interface (the popular option here seems to be the Behringer UCA202 interface), but will an M-Audio Fast Track Guitar USB interface work the same?

Thinking of using one line input which plugs into my macbook, although still not sure if I’m on the correct path.

It might work. I won’t hurt to try it!

Do you have a link to the interface information/specs?

Is the interface mono or stereo? Are the tapes mono or stereo?

Does the interface have line inputs? Headphone-out CAN go to line-in on the interface, and then of course, the interface connects to the computer via USB.

A guitar/instrument input usually has a little more gain than a line input, but your Walkman has a volume control and presumably your interface as a recording level control so it should be fine. On some interfaces, line & instrument are the same.

Guitar inputs are very-high impedance (1M Ohm or more) but higher impedance on an input is always OK.

Headphones are about the same signal level (voltage) as line-level signals, except headphone outputs always have a volume control and sometimes line-outputs don’t.

And headphone outputs are capable of driving lower impedance loads. Headphone impedance varies, but 32 Ohms isn’t unusual. Line inputs are usually around 10K, so again, no problem. (But you shouldn’t go the other way and drive a headphone with a line-output.)

Line level signals are about 100 times stronger than a microphone signal (depending on the sensitivity of the mic and the loudness of the sound hitting the mic). And “pro” XLR mic inputs are balanced and about 1K Ohms. So they are not interchangeable, except many interfaces have XLR/TRS combo jacks, and sometimes plugging-in a TRS (3-contact) or TS (2-contact like a guitar) plug switches it automatically. (The “computer mic” input on a laptop or regular soundcard is incompatible with XLR mics.)

I’ve got the link to the specs here. All my tapes are in mono, and my Walkman does have volume controls, and a 3.4mm headphone output jack.

I’m thinking of running it thru USB from the interface to the computer, then record it via audacity by selecting the usb audio device. Hope that helps

It’s got a guitar/line switch so it should be good!

I would be best if you get a left/right “splitter” cable/adapter, leaving one of the Walkman’s channels unconnected. With the wrong adapter going from stereo-to mono, one of the channels may be shorted to ground or the left & right may be shorted together and the sound could be damaged, and there’s even a small chance of damaging the Walkman. You probably won’t find the perfect adapter so you may need a combination of cables, maybe something with RCA connectors in-between.

I’ve got a couple more comments (and I’ll look for a link to some adapters if you need that) but I gotta’ go offline for an hour or so…

…I’m back.

Just to clarify - The Walkman is stereo but with a mono tape the left & right audio will be the same. You can connect to either one, but not both, since the interface has only one line-input.

Your interface is “stereo” with mic on the left & guitar/line on the right. (You don’t want to use the mic input.)

This combination of cables or equivalent will work.

This Adapter plugs into the Walkman.

This Adapter plugs into the interface.

An RCA Cable in-between.

Note - There is a “quirk” when you use only one input on a stereo interface…
If you record in stereo (both Windows and Audacity set to stereo), of course the left-microphone channel will be silent. After recording, you can delete the silent channel to make a mono file and it will play out of both speakers.

If you record in mono (both Windows and Audacity set to mono) the signals will be cut in half (-6dB) so they don’t go over 0dB or clip when the mic & guitar are combined. With the microphone channel unused, the peaks can’t go over -6dB (50%). You can amplify after recording, but you generally want to leave some headroom (to prevent accidental clipping) and amplify later anyway.

Digital recording levels are not critical as long as you don’t “try” to go over 0dB. If you remember analog tape, you wanted a hot signal to overcome tape noise. But with digital, no tape noise! And you can digitally amplify losslessly after recording. Also, analog tape was more forgiving as you went over 0dB where it began to soft-clip (or “saturate”). Digital is absolutely hard-limited to 0dB and the analog-to-digital converter (inside the interface) will hard-clip if you try to go over.

…If you ever want to digitize a stereo tape, you’ll need a different interface with 2 line inputs.

Hi, sorry for the late reply. I’ve decided to get a Behringer UCA-202 instead, as the seller of the other M-Audio unit said he wasn’t selling it anymore :slight_smile:

Will a standard RCA to 3.5mm from the interface to the walkman work? I’ve heard it’s just that and plugging the black cable into the USB port.