Modernly Recording Vintage Cassette Tapes With MP3 Files

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About: I love making music and using technology to make recording and composing easier. I am mainly a musician, but I like to dabble into the tech field on a regular basis.

With vintage cassette tapes popping up in pop-culture now more than ever, many people wish to create their own versions. In this tutorial, I will guide you on how to (if you have a tape recorder ) record your own cassette tapes with modern technology and get them looking as amazing as the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix!

Supplies:

1-Computer

1-TV with RCA input (Red, White, and Yellow Cables)

1- Rewrite-able Cassette Tape (Almost all cassette tapes are rewritable, but many have protection locks)

1-USB Flash Drive, SD Card, or Burnable CD (Not recommended).

1-Cassette Tape Recorder

1-Homebrew Hacked Wii or other USB to RCA (Red and White Cables) output device (Such as a DVD/Blu-Ray/CD player or any NON HDMI device)

2-Audio RCA Cables

Aesthetics:

-Vintage Cassette Tape Printed Design (Optional)

-Glue

-Pen

Step 1: Acquiring Information and Materials Before Beginning

1. Find The Total Play Time of Your Cassette Tape

2. Find The Total Play Time of Your Music or Audio to Match Cassette Tape Total Play Time

3. Identify the Types of Files of Your Music (MP3 Recommended. The web tool https://cloudconvert.com can be used to convert audio files that are not MP3)

4. Choose a RCA Audio Output Option:

-Homebrew Hacked Wii:

Personal Preference due to convince; however, not widely available to non tech/wii engaged community. If have an old Wii and are interested in technology, coding, and simple hacking, check out this: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-install-the-wii-homebrew-channel-2498513 and https://www.wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_Channel

-DVD/Blu-Ray Player:

Many modern DVD/Blu-Ray Players still have a RCA output option while many do not. For a device to be compatible it must have a USB input and a RCA output. If your device can play audio from a USB and connects to your TV with a RCA output, you are good to go. If not, do not worry, there are still more options.

-CD Player:

There are many old large CD players with an RCA output. However, if you use this method, it is required to burn your mp3s to a CD which can require excess work.

-RCB to Aux

You can buy an RCB to Aux and use your phone or even computer as an input to record the cassette tapes. You can buy one of these off of Amazon; however, for not using one, I do not know how good the audio quality will be. UpgradedTech made an Intractable using this method: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Mixtape-Awesome-Mix-Vol-1-from-Guard/

Step 2: Aquire and Organize Your Music

1. On a computer, create two folders for music

2. Aquire mp3s of music from your personal library and copy or place them into folder

IMPORTANT: Ensure once more that the run-time of your audio does not exceed the amount of play-time your cassette has. A good rule of a minute buffer will ensure that no music is cut off.

3. Rename the mp3 files with numbers as the first digit to organize your music in the order it will be recorded

NOTE:

To add to vintage appeal, record voice prompt saying: "This is the end of side 1 (or A). The (Tape Name) continues on side 2 of this cassette" (You can get way more creative or add background music)

4. Plug USB into computer and place the two folders inside your USB device

Step 3: Set Up the Recording Platform

1. Aquire your cassette tape, tape recorder, RCA output device, USB, and RCA cables

2. On the back of the tape recorder, plug RCA audio outputs from Wii or other device into input of tape recorder system

3. Plug the output of tape recorder into input of TV or other RCA system

4. Plug in Video output from RCA device into TV

5. (For Homebrew Wii). Plug in USB to right USB slot in Wii (using grill below as reference)

6. Turn on all devices

NOTE: Legodano goes WAY more in depth in setting up the cassette tapes and recording them. If you need a more in depth look into set-up (without the RCB output) check out his Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Record-Cassette-Tapes/

Step 4: (For Homebrew Wii) Install WiiMC to Homebrew Channel and Open WiiMC

1. Add WiiMC to your homebrew library

-http://www.wiimc.org/downloads/

Note: I am assuming that if you have Homebrew installed on your wii, you have the knowledge of adding scripts and applications to your device. However, if you are new to this process, check out this resource for adding apps to Homebrew.

Step 5: Begin Recording

Note before recording:

If the cassette tape has a recording on it, clear the tape by simply starting tape from beginning, hitting record button, and waiting for cassette to run to completion

Steps:

1. Test input sound level by playing one of the recordings. Level can reach, but should not fill the red portion of the cassette recorder meter. Turn the knob of the recording level down to compensate for loud input.

2. Ensure tape is on correct side and rewound to start.

3. Press the record button FIRST on the tape recorder and immediately select/play music on RCA device to ensure no long pauses.

4. After audio finishes, stop the tape recorder.

-Optional: Write down tape counter number for track list

5. Repeat steps 3-6 until all tracks are recorded.

NOTE: Legodano goes WAY more in depth in Recording the Cassette Tapes. If you need more help or want the very best recording, check out his Instructable:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Record-Cas...

Step 6: Playback

Rewind and play audio from cassette tape to ensure all audio recorded properly.

Step 7: Track List and Aesthetics

1. Use written tape counter numbers or actual length of each song (add on top of each other with a couple extra seconds for pause between each song recorded) to create track list on cassette tape

2. Print tape covers from online (Personally, I used the Awesome Mix cover found on google and used in UpgradedTech's Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Mixtape-Awesome-Mix-Vol-1-from-Guard/)

Step 8: Jam Out to Your Vintage Cassette Tape

Your new vintage cassette tape is ready to go! Use it in whatever way you want to: Personal playback, a gift for friend, on display, a keychain, you name it!

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    3 Discussions

    People still do record onto cassettes. Bands do it because it's the easiest method to self record onto in a physical format. Many people who have vinyl record to cassette as a stop gap to transfer it then into an mp3. (If more stereos had record to CD functionality [and CD burners were more common] this would happen less). Also a lot of people record to cassette because they still have a cassette deck (or an 8-track that they use a cassette adapter in) in their vehicle. <Cassette decks give you the most versatility in playing your music as you can play cassettes or anything else via a cassette adapter [they have ones for Bluetooth through the cassette deck and then your more traditional 3.5 headphone through cassette adapters]>

    Thanks! It was a fluke of an idea for a last minute gift for a close friend. I was aware that there were RCB to Aux adapters, but I didn't have one handy, so I got creative! :)