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How to Digitize an Audio Cassette Tape at The Freedman Center

How to use the AV stack to digitize audio cassettes at The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at KSL

Video Tutorial

Step by Step Guide - Cassette Digitization

Step 1: Before starting the process of digitization, check to make sure that your cassette has a little foam pad (the pressure pad) on the bottom of the cassette. If it does not have this pad, then the tape will not play

Step 2: All tapes have both an A side and a B side. The A side is the one that will face you when you are looking at a tape. You want all the tape in the cassette to be on the left side, meaning the tape is rewound. Remember that the tape moves from left to right when it plays, so you also need to make sure the tape player is playing to the right. 

Step 3: First, hit the 'Eject' button to open up the player. 

Step 4: Place the cassette A-side out and facing you. 

Step 5: Look at the player and make sure the direction it is playing the tape is towards the right. To rewind the tape press the button with two arrows pointing in the left direction.

Step 6: Locate the 'Reserve Mode' switch on the bottom right of the player. In the first mode, furthest on the left, that will rewind the tape all the way and then stop once it's complete. In the second and third modes, however, the tape player will start continue to play the tape infinitely after reversing. The middle switch is a little different as it will play the tape twice all the way through and then turn off.

Step 7: While working in the Freedman Center, make sure you check the right audio source and select your desired source. 

Step 8: Launch "Adobe Audition" to start digitization. 

Step 9: Select 'Edit' > 'Preferences' > 'Audio Hardware'.  You can see that the Input/Output devices have already been set as "USB Audio" and The Dell Monitor, respectively. In other words, the program will be listening to the cassette and playing the sound on your computer speakers. Click OK to save and exit. 

Step 10: Press the red record button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Once the 'New Audio File' box pops up, name your file, select 44100Hz as the Sample Rate, and change the Bit Depth to 16. Then, hit 'OK' to save the default settings

Step 11: Next, hit 'Play' on the TEAC cassette player

Step 12: Immediately save the file once the recording is completed on the D-drive and in a folder with your Case ID. 

Step 13: To change the zoom level of your audio, find the bar at the top of the screen and drag your cursor more to the left. This will allow you to see where your audio begins and ends to clean everything up. 

Step 14: Go to the beginning and hit 'Play' to start listening to where the audio begins. Click and hold the area right before the audio begins to highlight and delete. Do the same with the other end of the audio to trim the ends off and hit 'Save'. 

Step 15: To increase the volume of the tapes, start by selecting 'Favorite' in the top left menu bar > 'Normalize to -3 dB. This will analyze the tape and make the whole thing louder, including any background noise. Again, hit 'Save As' to keep two copies of the audio.

Step 16: Make one more copy of the file, go to 'File' > 'Save As'. Change the Format to be an MP3 Audio instead of a Wave Form. Make sure that you have just saved both the MP3 Audio and the Wave Audio from the previous step as MP3s are very destructive. Then, hit OK and 'Yes'. 

Step 16: Open your Files > This PC > D Drive > right-click your Case ID Folder to see file properties. Change the file from a "Music" to "General Format" file. 

If you have any additional questions, please contact freedmancenter@case.edu