This page describes some of the methods that can be used to convert audio cassettes to CD. Whether you pay us, hire someone else, or do it yourself, we want you to know your options.
OPTION #1 – Hire Us
We charge by the hour for all of our time invested in a project. From start to finish, we include meetings, travel time, research, time on the phone, emails, and all aspects of completing your request. We charge our normal hourly rates.
If you pay us to transfer from any type of media (record player, reel to reel, cassettes, old 8mm film, slides, etc.) we will purchase (or rent) the necessary equipment to perform the transfer. To reduce clutter and overhead, we don’t maintain an inventory of vintage equipment. Instead, we purchase what’s needed, when it’s needed.
In making the equipment purchase, we’ll be sure to obtain equipment that meets your needs. For example, if your source media is a relatively high fidelity recording, we’ll use high fidelity equipment which may cost several hundred dollars. If the source recording is a voice interview, and won’t be used for commercial production (or doesn’t need the highest quality audio), we’ll use less expensive equipment.
When we’re done with the conversion, we ultimately return (if rented) or resell the equipment (usually on eBay).
Estimating the time involved really depends on how much work your project will require.
The following are not necessary, but they will help speed up the process.
- Have all your tapes in cases.
- Have all tapes and cases numbered.
- Have descriptions for each tape including what is on each side of the tape and how long the audio is anticipated to run.
- Make sure all tapes are rewound. If you have a tape deck you can use, run each tape forward and then rewind it entirely on side A. This should help ensure the tape is properly wound onto the reel.
- Indicate if any tapes are damaged.
- Indicate if any special editing or noise reduction will be requested.
We use high quality equipment that over time needs to be replaced due to wear and tear. This is why we charge the rates we do.
Waiver: Cassette tapes become old, weak, jammed, incorrectly wound, sticky, and have other problems. This can result in a tape becoming damaged even though it was thought to be okay.
OPTION #2 – National Services
Most commercial media conversion services charge by the item. For example, Southtree charges $15.95 per cassette tape. Considering the time required, and equipment necessary to convert from cassette to CD, this is a fairly economical price. At present, for those wanting a cheap service, we’d suggest a service like Southtree.
OPTION #3 – Do it Yourself
Amazon has a variety of devices that will convert from audio cassette to CD or (computer audio file). Click here to view the options.
Some of these are all-in-one devices that go directly from tape to CD. Other devices will go from a cassette player to your computer. Once in the computer, you can burn a CD or just use the audio file.
Another option would be to get an RCA to USB converter cable and then use an existing standard cassette player. This would let you import the audio into your computer using a free program like Audacity. Click here to view the RCA to USB converter cable options.
The nice thing about doing a project like this yourself is that you can focus on various details of the transfer and editing process. With a little training, you can probably get results similar to a commercial service. Once you have the equipment, you could provide the service to others.
An alternative would be to have someone else do the basic transfer, and then use Audacity to do specific detailed editing once you get the audio on CD or in audio files.
We’re happy to help you regardless of what approach you choose.
OPTION #4 — Iowa City Public Library
The Iowa City Public Library has a Digital Media Lab with the equipment and support services needed to accomplish a variety of media projects including cassette digitization. [Learn More]
Whether you do it yourself, or have someone else perform the transfer, cassette tapes can have damage that ruin the quality of the audio transfer. Audio can fade in and out, and in some cases, if the tape mechanism is old, there can be squealing that is picked up in the recording process. Tape can stretch or break. Sometimes the plastic leader tape at the beginning can separate from the audio tape. Thie requires delicate repairs using small scissors and office tape cut to size. You may need to purchase new cassette tapes to use for parts. Click here to view cassette tape purchase options.
For high quality cassette to CD conversion, the following equipment would likely do a good job.
- TASCAM CC-222mkIV Combination CD/Cassette Recorder
- TEAC AD-800 CD Player and Cassette with USB Codec (Black)
- Teac AD-RW900-B CD Recorder and Auto Reverse Cassette Deck with USB
- Teac LP-R550USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable
Have questions? Feel free to ask us for help using our Contact form.