Signal from tape recorder

I try to record the signal from a cassette tape recorder to Audacity, obtained through a zip file into Win xp, using a cable between the headphone jack of the cassette recorder and the microphone input of a laptop. The maximum signal obtained, which is not adjustable in the cassette recorder, is much lower on the software recording meter than the suggested -6 dB when the “line in” option of the sound card is chosen as an option for the input. The signal cannot be increased by adjusting the volume control of the sound card, since it seems to be connected with the volume control for the recording in Audacity. As a result, the recording is not audible. The signal becomes much higher than -6 dB on the recording meter when I choose “microphone” as an option for the input, and it creates massive clipping. The signal intensity does not decrease on the recording meter when the slider is moved but only disappears when the slider reaches its lower limit. Again, the “independent” volume control of the sound card seems to be connected to the volume control of the software recording.

I face the same problem when I connect the laptop and cassette recorder via RCA-cables connected to the rear of the recorder and the microphone input of the laptop. I have tried two different laptops with win xp, with essentially the same result. One of them allows me to adjust the maximum input signal to around -6 dB for tapes with a very low recording signal, using microphone as the input option in Audacity.

I would be happy for suggestions to solve this recording problem.

Most Windows Laptops don’t lend themselves to casual recording like this. Scroll down to Connections.

You need a cable between the line-out plug of the cassette deck, and the line-in plug of the computer sound card. In Audacity, record from the sound card driver “line-in” “device”.

You need a cable between the line-out plug of the cassette deck, and the line-in plug of the computer sound card.

If you have one. Most Windows Laptops do not have a Stereo Line-In and that’s the leading cause of distortion like you have. See web publication.


Here is from

“Toshiba and Acer are two brands I know of that often have a line input jack. I’ve heard rumors that built in sound cards in laptops have poor audio quality. I don’t know if that’s true (I probably wouldn’t be able to tell, anyway), but maybe that’s why a lot of them don’t bother with a line input. So if high sound quality is important to you, and compactness isn’t, then you might end up buying the external USB sound card even if you get a laptop with 3 inputs. One example of an external USB sound card is Creative Labs “Sound blaster Live!” ($45 at Tiger Direct). I have the older, lower sound quality model that preceded it, and I like it a lot. I use it to record mp3 files from my old Lap’s.”

Here is from

“This is your new USB PRO audio adapter. Just plug it into your USB jack and you’ll instantly have a great stereo Line In jack. That’s all it does. It’s actually an external sound card. It gives you a Line In Jack so you can use your Notebook or Laptop PC just like a desktop. There’s no special software or anything you need to do as long as you are running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP. Just plug it in and it will become your computer’s sound card until you unplug it.”

Here is from

“The Griffin Technology 9066-IMIC2 iMic/USB Audio Interface, the original USB audio adapter, lets you connect virtually any microphone or sound input device to any Mac or PC system with a USB port. iMic supports both mic and line level inputs via a selectable switch, and has a variable level output for connecting speakers or headphones.

The iMic really shines as the essential tool for converting your old LPs and tapes into MP3s and CDs. Griffin’s audio recording software, Final Vinyl for Mac OS X (provided for free exclusively to iMic owners), makes recording old records and tapes very easy with its advanced features, including waveform-based cue editing and built-in 10-band EQ. You can use Final Vinyl to equalize LPs without having to connect a turntable to a pre-amp. iMic is also an ideal solution for your podcasting needs and for use with GarageBand, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro.”

You might also want to have a look at this product:

maybe that’s why a lot of them don’t bother with a line input.

As in that publication, the reason they don’t bother with the Stereo Line-In is they’re business computers and are outfitted with everything you need to Skype call the home office from your hotel room.

The hard one to develop is the Mic-In. That’s the one with the high gain and susceptibility to hum and buzz. Stereo Line-In is relatively easy, although trying to jam all that into a Laptop is a challenge. Some laptops switch one input between the two services. I think we have a Lenovo laptop that has all three physical connections – but that’s not the rule.

The iMic has a long history much of it not very rosy. The original iMics didn’t filter the USB power very well and many people found they could tell when their hard drive spun up because the high-pitched whine would appear in the show. The Mic-Line switch wasn’t anything to write home about, either, the difference wasn’t all that great and you found you could get overload with either position. I hope they did better in their later products.

Behringer makes a very nice turntable preamp, the UFO202 which electrically matches the turntable cartridge, has RIAA equalization built-in and a place to put the third wire – the ground strap to help suppress turntable hum and buzz. We get too many people posting with bad results trying to do all that in software. You can switch off the phono part and use it as a Stereo Line-In.