The 9 Best Cassette MP3 Converters
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in January of 2016. If you've got a dusty collection of cassette tapes wasting away in your garage or attic that you thought you could never listen to again once you upgraded your stereo system, think again. These converters are here to help you unlock the past. They'll have you listening to digital versions of your favorite analog tracks on a smartphone, computer or MP3 player in no time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 09, 2020:
If your goal is to digitize your old cassette collection for the sake of posterity or for casual listening in the car, you will most likely be satisfied by affordable options like the Reshow Portable and the Mypin Converter. In addition to being easy to use and providing decent sound quality, these models are both portable and won't require dedicated space on your desk or bookshelf.
While the audio fidelity offered by the aforementioned selections may be acceptable for hobbyists, audiophiles and those who require archival quality will most likely have to go with something more expensive. The TEAC W-1200 and Pyle Dual Deck are two such options that combine the design of a standard dual-deck cassette player with a USB audio interface. The usage of a high-quality tape mechanism and the presence of features such as a counter and noise reduction results in a superior recording quality, and makes them a great choice for those who still intend to enjoy cassettes in their original format from time to time.
If you happen to be interested in other physical medias such as vinyl records or CDs you should check out all in one models like the TEAC LPR660 and Digitnow Turntable, the former being the high-end version and the latter being the more affordable of the two. These selections allow you to playback and convert many types of media with just one device, saving both space and potentially money compared to acquiring several different players and converters. However, if you already have a retro hi-fi setup it is possible to record and create MP3s from your tapes without buying a new component at all. The Fly Kan Audio Capture Card and HopCentury Music Digitizer are compact selections that allow you to digitize music from cassette decks, record players, CD players, and basically any device under the sun that transmits audio over RCA or 3.5-millimeter cables.
July 04, 2019:
We've given this an pretty extensive refresh since the last time we compiled it. The previous top pick, the Wikoo Player, is gone because it is no longer available for purchase. Also out are the Bigaint EzCap and QFX J-22UBK, which have been replaced by new selections.
Some of the products we've added to the list do far more than just digitizing audio tapes. That's for a reason. If you've got cassettes lying around, chances are you've also got some vinyl records in the mix. Models like the TEAC LPR660 and Boytone BT-22M can play both and help you turn them into zeros and ones without the need for multiple devices.
Of course, if you're looking for something more specialized, the TEAC W-1200 is your machine. Because it has a noise reduction system, it can playback legacy tapes recorded with Dolby B NR without the distorted treble you might get on tape decks without that capability.
Hammacher Schlemmer Cassette to Digital Those with a nostalgic attachment to certain cassette players of the past may want to check out this offering from Hammacher Schlemmer. It closely replicates retro shoebox-style tape recorders, but adds USB recording functionality. hammacher.com
Finding The Right Cassette MP3 Converter For You
There are plenty of cassette to MP3 converters that can be connected to a computer via USB cable and which require only minimal setup of software.
Before you can chose a cassette to MP3 conversion system that will suit your needs, you need to complete an honest assessment of your technological prowess. If you still regularly listen to cassette tapes, you are likely going to want to opt for the simplest, most basic unit possible. If you're a smartphone using, app loving person who is comfortable with the digital age and you're trying to salvage a few songs, some family recordings, or other archival content from tapes cluttering a drawer, then you can likely handle any of the tape conversion systems on the market.
For the person who still sees cassette tapes as viable audio delivery tools but knows conversion to a digital format is a good idea, it's welcome news that almost every cassette to MP3 converter can also be used as a cassette tape player. And in fact, many of these tools are priced so low that it makes sense to buy one simply to enjoy your tapes, even if you think you will make limited use of the conversion capabilities. If you hope to enjoy your taped music or other audio while it's still on cassette, look for a unit that comes with a pair of headphones so you can enjoy the content right away.
If your primary concern is conversion of audio files rather than listening to them, then consider when and where you are likely to do the converting. There are plenty of cassette to MP3 converters that can be connected to a computer via USB cable and which require only minimal setup of software. Still better are the plug and play converters that require no drivers or other installation. These options handle the conversion internally and essentially just transfer a file in its new format.
Still a third category of cassette tape converters can serve in another capacity. There are several units available that don't even require the presence of a computer or other external device at all. These options record converted files directly onto a memory card, such as an SD card. These handy tools are great for the reporter or researcher who might get access to a cassette tape (or to a whole trove of tapes) that he or she is able to record, but is not allowed to keep. One such cassette tape to MP3 converter can help you store the same audio that would have required shelves or cabinets filled with tapes on just a few little memory cards, ensuring preservation of audio content is possible any time and anywhere.
Why Cassette Conversion Matters
The "lifespan" of a cassette tape tends to stretch from about 10 years all the way to 30 years. Of course a cassette tape can also last as long as five minutes, should its case be cracked or if the tape itself is suddenly damaged as by flame, water, or tearing.
Excessive playing puts stress on a tape, eventually stretching and wearing the film of the tape down to where it can no longer replicate audio or to where it breaks.
Beyond a sudden end caused by acute damage, myriad factors contribute to the demise of a cassette. The first and most obvious reason a tape will be see a shorter operational life is because it is played over and over again. Ironically, the better loved the content of a cassette tape, the less time that tape lasts. Excessive playing puts stress on a tape, eventually stretching and wearing the film of the tape down to where it can no longer replicate audio or to where it breaks.
Exposure to a strong magnetic force can also have a sudden catastrophic effect on a cassette tape, potentially destroying the tape's ability to recreate music, or else seriously impairing the quality of playback. Also, as time goes on, it will simply be harder and harder to find hardware on which to play cassette tapes even if they are still in working order.
Thus it is that cassette tape conversion matters. While a cassette tape is by its very nature ephemeral, a digital file, such as an MP3, can last indefinitely. Not only are digital files not damaged by repeated playback, but they can also be copied and recreated at the click of a button, making it easy to backup and protect the content thus stored.
A Look At Two Technologies
Casette tapes held sway in the world of audio for much of the 20th Century. They were the premiere format for most of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, finally losing their primacy to compact discs in the last decade of the century.
Just as the CD supplanted the cassette tape, so too would this format lose its spot in time.
The technology behind the cassette tape dates back to the 1920s, however. Magnetic tape was invented in 1928 and allowed for the faithful storage and reproduction of audio (and soon video content). Early magnetic tape was too large and expensive for everyday use, but over the decades, advances to the technology saw a reduction of both its size and price.
The compact cassette, as a cassette tape is properly known, was first released to the general public in the 1960s, and soon they were being used everywhere, both for the enjoyment of the listener and for recording content on blank tapes.
Just as the CD supplanted the cassette tape, so too would this format lose its spot in time. The MP3 is a digital audio format that is efficient and reliable, occupying minimal storage space on a hard drive, memory card, or other device. The algorithms underpinning an MP3's compression of audio content were developed and refined during the early 1990s, though the concept of digital compression predates the format by more than a decade.
The popularity of the MP3 dovetailed with the ascendance of the Internet; music was suddenly instantly available and in a reliable format that could be loaded onto a variety of devices.