Improving Oldies But Goodies: Clean Up Old Cassette Tape Recordings

Do you remember recording songs directly from the radio? How about making your own recordings if you're a musician? Or recording other people making music? Remember—not everyone grew up on CDs, DVDs and thumb drives. Lots of people grew up recording music onto cassettes.

Do you remember recording songs directly from the radio? How about making your own recordings if you're a musician? Or recording other people making music? Remember—not everyone grew up on CDs, DVDs and thumb drives. Lots of people grew up recording music onto cassettes.

 

Sure, you can't listen to those cassettes anymore. But, there's a way to listen to your old favorites again.

 

Technology can preserve your old cassette recordings. Yes, you can digitize your old cassettes with audio recording software! It works whether you make music or have recorded others playing music. In fact, as long as you have an old cassette tape and a cassette deck, you can do it. Not only that, it's easy to eliminate sound distortion by using what's known as multi-band noise reduction software.

 

Clean Up Your Old Recordings: The Software You Need

 

When it comes to cleaning up old recordings, multi-band noise reduction software works best.

 

Sound On Sound's Paul White talked about how multi-band noise reduction software works. This software basically finds sound distortions within the quietest sections of your cassette recording. This type of section could be, as he suggested, between each track on the tape. The multi-band noise removal software eventually starts its process of establishing multi-band expander thresholds. The software lowers the bands' levels when their signals fall below the threshold level.

 

This software also has a slight setback, as mentioned by Paul White. Increased noise reduction could produce chirpy side effects heard in the cleaned up recording. Despite that, multi-band noise band reduction software is often recommended for cleaning old recordings.

 

Many sources recommend WavePad, Waves and SoundSoap for Mac for cleaning old recordings. Audacity is another free, 'hands-on' solution for cleaning your old cassette recordings.

 

Recording Your Old Cassette Recordings: Try Using Audacity

 

Audacity is a popular option for recording and cleaning up old recordings from cassette tapes. To start, just transfer your old content directly from your cassettes tapes. Audacity is also great for recording directly from vinyl records.

 

To use your cassette deck, connect the device to your computer via its aux out, line out, or tape out jack. An RCA to stereo 1/8 inch (or 3.5 mm) mini-jack cable or adapter usually does the trick. The other end of your adapter cable goes in your computer's line in jack. The Audacity Team's official Wiki recommends these jacks for optimal recording output.

 

By now, have your cassette deck connected to your computer. Then, start up Audacity to begin recording. Before recording an entire cassette side, record about 30 seconds of sound to test. Once you're satisfied, you can continue on with recording. Audacity also offers several tools to clean the recording to your liking.

 

Preserving old cassettes is pretty much like preserving old tunes from vinyl records. So, if you have vinyl records to save, you can pretty much follow the same directions. Pretty neat, huh?

 

For more information about recording old cassettes or old vinyls to your computer, check out Digital Trend's handy guide: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/digitizing-your-record-collection/

 

References:

http://manual.audacityteam.org

http://www.digitaltrends.com

http://www.tested.com

http://www.cnet.com

http://www.soundonsound.com

The SongCat Team
About the Author
The SongCat Team

We believe in supporting artists of all levels of their musical journey, from the 40-year music business veteran, to the burgeoning songwriter who are looking to polish their craft. We also believe that creating professional, high quality, and expertly mixed recordings shouldn’t be limited to high budget record deals.

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