How to Convert Cassette Tapes to MP3s for Free on a Mac

by Doug Felteau on July 19, 2010

Now that you have your physical connections squared away, let’s setup the software. I used Garageband, which is part of the iLife suite of applications.

We’ll first create a new voice project by clicking on the New Project then the Voice icon and finally by clicking the Choose button.

Garageband New Project


Next you can name the song and click the Create button. You can disregard the Tempo, Signature, bpm and Key.

Name New Project

Next the default setup for Voice including a Male Basic and Female Basic track. I like to remove the tracks, add a new track, bring up the Editor and change the LCD to Time from Measures.

Click on each of the Tracks (Male Basic and Female Basic) and choose Track | Delete Track. Next create a track by clicking Track | New Track, click Real Instrument and click the Create button. This will create a No Effects Track. Next bring up the editor by choosing Control | Show Editor. Finally click
Control | Show Time in LCD

Setup Project in Garageband

Finally, you need to setup the input to only be the Line In and not the Microphone or all ambient noise will be picked up while recording. Click on Garageband | Preferences… and click on the Audio/MIDI tab and change Audio Input from System Setting to Built-in Input. This only needs to be done once where all the other steps on this page can be repeated for additional tapes or tracks.

Set Garageband to only use Audio In

Now you’re ready to record from the tape player. This is actually the easy part, click play on the tape player and click the red record button. When the song is finished, press the Stop on the tape player and the red button in Garageband. Trim the front and back to remove unnecessary silence.

Record from Tape on Garageband

You have now digitized the tape cassette into Garageband! Continue reading to learn how to move that into iTunes and create a fully shareable copy with proper metadata.

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Jens Hegg Dec 16, 2010 at 7:18 PM

You don’t actually need a tape deck with 1/8″ out. Most of those are walkmans with really poor sound quality. If you want to hook up to your stereo deck for better sound you should get some adapters from Radioshack or Amazon. Get 2 RCA male (the red and white stereo connectors) to 1/4″ TRS (large, mono headphone jack type) connectors. Then the corresponding female 1/4″ TRS to stereo 1/8″ headphone type jack. You’ll get much better sound from your stereo deck (assuming the tape is decent and you clean and demag your deck) than you ever will from a walkman.

Mike Jun 23, 2012 at 9:43 AM

It was probably long ago when you posted this but it worked great for me! Thanx!

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