The 7 Best Cassette MP3 Converters

Updated November 28, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

7 Best Cassette MP3 Converters
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you've got a collection of 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 cassette to MP3 converters are here to help you unlock the past and have you listening to digital versions of your favorite analog tracks in no time, on your smartphone, computer, MP3 player or, well, you get the idea. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cassette mp3 converter on Amazon.

7. Ion Tape Express Plus

The Ion Tape Express Plus creates digital files out of analog audio, and it comes with a step-by-step guide to walk you through the potentially daunting transfer process. It also features an audio output jack for playback over headphones or speakers.
  • powered via included usb cable
  • records both sides automatically
  • included software is finicky
Brand ION Audio
Model iTR06H
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. ACTPE Capture

The ACTPE Capture can record directly to a micro SD card rather than having to be plugged into a computer. It also works as a tape player if you want to give your collection an authentic listen before upgrading it for the 21st century.
  • can automatically partition tracks
  • runs on 2 aa batteries or usb power
  • release latch is a bit delicate
Brand Actpe
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Tonor Portable

Rediscover your old favorites and bring them to life for the new millennium with the Tonor Portable. It includes everything you need to upgrade your collection, including a software CD-ROM and a USB cable for powering the device and transferring audio.
  • compatible with third party software
  • straightforward playback controls
  • audio subject to signal interference
Brand Tonor
Model pending
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Momoday Portable

The top-loading design of the Momoday Portable is reminiscent of the Walkmen of yore, so it'll give you a familiar feeling when you slide in your first tape for a quick listen or to convert its tracks into digital files via the USB port.
  • works like a standard tape player
  • has an auxiliary output
  • sound quality is inconsistent
Brand Momoday®
Weight 9.1 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Quantum FX J22UBK

At virtually the same price as its competition, the Quantum FX J22UBK provides much more bang for your back as a fully-fledged boombox. Its tape player can record audio to a USB thumb drive or SD card via front-facing ports for quick and easy digital transfers.
  • can also record onto tapes
  • built-in am and fm radio bands
  • old school 1980s style
Brand QFX
Model J-22UBK
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Arrela USB Portable

You can use the Arrela USB Portable to just enjoy your old tapes with its included set of earphones, or you can use it to create digital files from your collection that won't ever get worn down or ruined by the ravages of time.
  • compatible with pcs and macs
  • plug and play operation
  • works with free audacity software
Brand Arrela
Model Arrela-HI-0036
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Ion Audio Tape 2 PC

For a sturdy solution that will fit right in among your other home stereo equipment, the Ion Audio Tape 2 PC has got you covered. It has dual tape decks and is compatible with metal and CrO2 cassettes, so you can upgrade your whole collection with ease.
  • built-in noise reduction
  • works with most operating systems
  • includes rca and usb cables
Brand ION Audio
Model iTR01
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Finding The Right Cassette MP3 Converter For You

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.

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.

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.

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Last updated on November 28, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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