How to Convert your Tapes, Vinyl Records or any other old timey source

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It's such a pain to find a book (or something) that's only on Cassette Tape (or Vinyl) into MP3 format, but it can be done.

Needed items:

Whatever source you are using, cassette, or Vinyl player, sake sure it has Stereo Out (Two RCA jacks out) which all component level ones should have. If one can not be found in someones basement, one can be purchased for a few dollars on ebay.


- 3.5mm Stereo MALE RCA to 1/8" Mini-Stereo jack (MALE) Cable

Phono cable.jpg

Computer with a soundcard (with line-in) and the Freeware Audacity installed on it.

Line in Motherboard.jpgorSound sound card.jpg

1. Get the male 3.5mm Stereo On the RCA Line-Out on your tape player, plug in the two 3.5mm (red & white) players into your computer's Line-In.

2. You may need to go into the computer's Play Control (Volume) and make sure that "Line-In - Mute" is unchecked for the time being:

Play control Unmute.jpgIn this picture, it is checked, you want it to be unchecked.

3. In Audacity, you may want to go play with your settings for recording. If it's an audio book, you have no need to be stereo, so kill the second track.


4. In Audacity, pull down the source where is says "Line-In" like so: (And Make sure your audio recording level is high:)


5. Now hit the record button and press play on your tape player. Be patient, tapes are slow. Eventually, when you start hearing sound, you should see Audacity recording:

Don't worry about the blank space at the beginning and ending of the tapes. This is SO EASILY removed, as will be discussed soon.

I like to zoom out a bit now (Alt 3) so you can see a few hours worth. You are recording and now can continue your goofing off on the internet. If you do not select "Line in" in Audacity, and select "what you hear" the same effect will happen, however, if you get an IM or start to play some music, Audacity will record that too. So I find it most simple to just choose Line-In and then MUTE it back in the Play Control. Audacity will keep recording it, but now you will not have to listen to it and can play around.

When you are done, you should have something that looks like this for a two sided tape:


Audacity really shines here, I suggest you save it as a .WAV, before you play with it. (File > Export > .WAV) (Note: .Wav's are easier to work with than Mp3s because mp3s are highly compressed and require lots of CPU power to open and edit, comparatively.

Now just select and drag where you want to delete. Press play anytime to play it.

Delete the empty space:

Delete turntapeover.jpg

and also you can trim out the "Please turn tape over to side 2..." etc:

Delete tape empty space.jpg

Now that you've trimmed it up, select one entire track, like so:


Then Edit > Cut (or copy) the track. Then start a new Audacity and PASTE that track into it.

Now you may notice that one side of the tape has higher volume than the other. This makes it annoying when you are listening to mp3s you made and you have to change the volume every track. This is just due to the inconsistencies and general wear of tapes. What is suggested that you

Normalize Volume Level on Tapes with Audacity. It's quick and very easy.

Now that the volume is normalized, and all of the silence and "turn tape over" is cut out, and you can export to MP3 or WAV. Remember to keep track of the file names. Which tape, what side, put this in the file name.

Personally, I export to WAV then use dbpoweramp to convert it because dbpoweramp is more powerful and I think makes higher quality encodings.

If you want to divide it up further, you have two options. Every one in a while, when you see a pause on the tape, (or at the chapter, etc) you can cut and save the piece out. (time consuming, but very nice) Or you can just save (export) the whole trimmed file to WAV or MP3 then use another nifty tool dbpoweramp has:

dbpoweramp length Split With this little plugin you can cut the mp3 in whatever amount of time you want, say 5 minutes or so. I think 5 minutes is just about right. the downside to this is often it spits it in the middle of a word, but it's not bad. You can choose to go back 5 seconds, if this bothers you, but I think listening to the previous 5 seconds is more annoying ever few minutes than a word stutter.

dbpoweramp length split guide for books from tapes