This entry is split into 2 parts – the first is going to explain what you need to transfer your old audio cassettes to mp3 files, and the 2nd is going to rant about the frustrating process I went through to figure it all out.
To transfer your audio files to your computer, you need a stereo lead with the right connections at both ends. This gets plugged from the headphone socket of your cassette player at one end, and into the “line-in” socket in your computer at the other end. Note: if you plug it into the microphone socket, you will only get a mono recording.
You also need software on your computer that will allow you to record the music. Audacity is a good wee programme that has the added advantage of being absolutely free.
You can also download a separate file from Audacity that allows you to save your recording as an mp3 file. As an mp3 file you can then download it onto your mp3 player, or use software you probably got with your computer to burn it onto a CD.
Fairly straightforward you would think.
But I REALLY wish that someone had put this simple information somewhere I could find it when I decided that I wanted to transfer some of my cassettes to CD – it would have saved me about 2 or 3 days of intense frustration.
When I was in my early 20s I used to compose and record various pieces of music – some on my own and some with my friend, Dan Blore. Unfortunately, the cassettes I recorded them on all those years ago are deteriorating. The quality is noticeably worse and at this rate it’s just a matter of time before they become unusable altogether. So it seemed like a good idea to finally figure out how to transfer them to CD.
Initially I thought you could probably buy a piece of kit that would do it for you in a simple and easy manner. Either you would have a CD burner that you could directly attach to your cassette player, or you would be able to get an all-in-one device. After a fair amount of searching I couldn’t find anything in the shops or on the web that seemed to offer what I wanted. Eventually an assistant in an electronics store said that it was easy enough to do through a computer these days so that’s probably why nobody was making hardware for it.
The first problem was finding a lead that had the right stereo connections at both ends. Then I had to discover the hard way that I couldn’t just plug it into the microphone socket if I wanted to record in stereo. After eventually finding out that I had to plug it into the line-in socket, I then discovered that there wasn’t one on my laptop, so I had to transfer my operations to the main desktop computer.
Then I had to go through the painstaking process of finding out that the music software I had on my computer was overly complicated and too difficult to use, so I had to find an easier one that would do the job (thanks here to my friend Dave for pointing me to Audacity).
In the end I got there, but bloody hell it would have been really useful if someone had just told me the info I typed in above.
Still, it all seems to be working, although it’s very time consuming. Now all I need to find is somewhere online that will host mp3 files for free (like flickr does for photos) and I might even inflict one or two of my old recordings upon my regular readers.