Recording All Cassettes -- Stopped working -- recording room noise

I’ve been working on transferring old cassette tapes to digital. I’ve been through the tutorials, and all has been going quite well. I’ve managed to complete over 100 songs so far. Now I’m running into problems.

First the techy details:
I’m using Audacity 2.4.1
My laptop is running on Windows 10 Pro

I’m using one of those ‘cheap’ USB cassette capture decks from Amazon. I know…I know…I’ve read enough forums to know that I got what I paid for…or less. But hey, it says it’s “super” right on the front.

Anyway…here’s the problem.
For some odd reason, the recording is picking up room noise and not recording ‘internally’ any longer. I’ve done nothing different. I’ve checked that the settings are correct. I’ve rebooted my laptop – two times. I’ve checked all the plugs. I’m kind of at a loss as to what else to check. “Playthrough” is set. I’ve checked my sound settings in windows. I’ve checked all the ‘set up stuff’ in Audacity.

Any ideas? Kind of frustrated as I’m only halfway through my project and it WAS working just splendidly!

Thanks for any insight you can give.
jo

If anything happens to the player or the connection, Audacity will forget the connection. Start Audacity last, after you get everything else set up and working. Open the Windows Control Panels and see if you can find the player. The display should have a little bouncing light sound meter.

Win7SoundPanel.PNG
When you start recording the room, it means Audacity gave up trying to reach the player and is now recording the built-in microphone.

Restart Audacity with everything connected and open the list of inputs next to the microphone symbol. You probably won’t find a setting for “Cool Cassette Player”, but you might find a setting for USB Audio CODEC or something like that. Sometimes you have to work backwards and choose the only one you don’t recognize.

Just to throw water on everything, if you don’t find the player it may mean the player isn’t electrically there any more. If a change of USB cable doesn’t do it, it may be time for a new player.

They’re designed to drop dead right after the last tape. Sometimes they drop dead a little too soon.

Koz

Hey, Koz.

Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I do appreciate you taking the time to give such detailed instructions.

Well…I’ve got some other issues. Surprise. Surprise.

Last night, I was getting a lot of feedback when I tried to record. After searching the forum, I discovered that it had to do with my internal laptop mic trying to record along with the device… at any rate…feedback. So after wiggling the connections…plugging them in and out…rebooting…trying again…etc… I finally got it to stop and actually record --without recording the room noise --although at a much, much lower volume than before. After ‘normalizing’ the recording, it turned out satisfactory.

Now…I want to record another cassette today. Ugh. Feedback. Again. I took a look at the Windows Sound properties as you suggested. Although the USB device is selected as ‘default’, the bouncing green lights are showing for the “Microphone Array/Realtek Audio” and the “Stereo Mix/Realtek Audio”. I tried to disable them so that the only option would be the USB device, but then I get an error message in Audacity saying “error opening recording device”. So…any thoughts?

I’d love to get it working for a few more cassettes. But…I’m having my doubts.

Should I bury the ‘super USB cassette’ device in the backyard? If I did that, what do you suggest I use instead? I don’t really want to spend a large amount of money on another tape deck that I won’t use much. I do have a very old Aiwa stereo system that might work if I had the proper cables. I’m missing Radio Shack at the moment. (You may be too young for that reference. Ha!) At any rate, I will await your expert advice.

Thanks!
jo

You get feedback when you have a microphone and a speaker running in the same room and they’re turned up too loud. eeeEEEEeeeeeee. This is like the band at the club you like to go to and they get a new sound guy. “Can you hear me OK? eeeeeeeeeeee?”

if I had the proper cables.

And adapter.

That’s a Behringer UCA-202. sitting between my analog sound mixer and computer. I have two.

This problem does ring bells. This is one condition that happens when you try to do normal computer jobs with a machine that’s been set up to record internet shows or Youtube music. It has to jigger the sound channels so the computer plays back the web site music to you, and then turn it around and send it back down the recording channels to record it, effectively running both sides of the computer at the same time. One of the techniques of doing that is to record Everything Playing On The Computer.

This changes with the machine, but this is the instruction page for doing it.

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tutorial_recording_audio_playing_on_the_computer.html

I’m not a Windows elf.

Koz