Not getting usable sound quality

relevant facts / specs:

  • Lenovo all-in-one PC running Windows 10

  • have tried connecting cassette player to PC via both

  • male to male from player’s head phone jack and

  • red and white (RCA?) from the player’s “out” jacks

  • I’ve made sure both the default RealTek and available lenovo mic drivers are current

No matter what I try, when I attempt to record in Audacity, the visual sound wave in the audacity screen is very linear with almost no vertical dimension…and, the audio quality, if I can hear anything at all, is very static-y, like an out-of-range AM radio station.

The sound quality of my tapes is just fine, via both the player’s headphone jack and speakers. And, the PC’s speakers are fine when I play off iTunes.

From all I’ve read (and hopefully understood correctly), I cant figure out what other failure points could be causing the problem. Could it be some kind of feedback or interference if cassette player and PC are too close (my cables are both ~ 3 ft)? Could the mic jack itself be defective, independent of the driver (I’ve never used it before). Could there be some obscure setting I need to turn on/off?

I have over a hundred cassettes I want to convert to mp3s and this is very frustrating.

Could the mic jack itself be defective,

A microphone input is “wrong” for a headphone-level or line-level signal plus, it’s usually mono.

Does your computer have line-inputs? (They are usually color coded blue on a desktop/tower computer.)

If not, does your computer have separate mic-input and headphone-output jacks, or does it have a combo jack?

No color coding on the PC. Just two jacks…one with a mic icon (which is what I understood to be the correct choice) and one with a headphone icon. I tried that as a process of elimination, but no go.

You raise a point that has concerned me. Would the mic jack not separate the two stereo channels? The cassette player’s headphone jack does, so I hoped that would carry thru in audacity via the mic jack.

As an alternative, can I record to Audacity via one of the PC’s USB ports, in stereo? If so, Would I use the stereo’s two-line out (red and white) connection, or would the headphone jack also work?

To input analog (line-out) audio into a USB port you need a $30 interface which converts USB into line-in,
e.g. …

Awesome, thanks for all the guidance