What to Look for in Cassette-to-MP3 Converters
There are plenty of great options out there to convert your cassette tapes to MP3, and most of them will get the job done well enough. Choosing the best one for you will likely come down to style and extra features. Here’s what to look for.
- Conversion Capability: Obviously, if a device can’t transform your tapes into a digital format, it’s not worth buying. But consider how the device you choose does it. Do you need to connect it to a computer? Will you need to download special audio software to use it? Or can you directly transfer your tapes onto an external storage device like a flash drive or SD card? Each product in this roundup has its own way of doing it, so choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
- Design: Remember your favorite cassette player when you were a kid. Was it a walkman-style device, or did it have that shoebox design? Maybe you were a fan of boomboxes or those big dual cassette devices that were part of a more extensive stereo system. No matter what brings the nostalgia back for you, there’s a converter to match.
- AM/FM Radio: If you’ve got a box of old cassette tapes lying around, there’s a good chance you recorded what’s on them straight off the radio way back in the day. The good news is that you can bring the good times back with some of these converters. Even if you don’t want to record straight off the airwaves anymore, it’s always good to have an extra radio around.
- Modern Features: Some of the best cassette-to-digital converters do more than just transfer your tapes to a computer. Some offer more contemporary features like Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, wireless streaming, built-in microphones, and more.
Best Overall: Reshow Cassette Player
- ✓ Inexpensive
- ✓ Easy to Use
- ✓ Connects to your computer
- ✗ No bells and whistles
- ✗ Doesn't convert to external storage
If all you’re interested in is getting those old tapes out of that cardboard box and onto your hard drive, look no further than the Reshow Cassette Player. This Walkman-style cassette-to-MP3 converter connects directly to your computer to help you get that content into a digital format. However, you’ll have to download the free audio editing program to use it. But that’s okay because Audacity is free and easy to learn and use. Plus, it will be very helpful in allowing you to select what parts of your tapes you want to keep and which parts you want to discard.
This converter also doubles as a portable cassette player. You can plug your headphones into the 3.5mm jack and take it with you, just like the old times. However, you won’t get some of the more advanced features found in products further down this list, like built-in speakers, wireless streaming, USB slots, and a built-in microphone. We chose this as our top pick because it’s the most straightforward cassette converter device out there, it’s been around a long time and proven its worth, and it’s the least expensive of the bunch.
Reshow Cassette Player – Portable Tape Player Captures MP3 Audio Music via USB – Compatible with Laptops and Personal Computers – Convert Walkman Tape Cassettes to iPod Format
The most comprehensive way to convert your old audiotapes into a digital format.
Best AM/FM Radio Style: SEMIER Portable Cassette Player and Recorder
- ✓ Converts onto SD card or flash drive
- ✓ Built-in speaker
- ✓ AM/FM radio
- ✗ Doesn't connect to your computer
- ✗ No wireless connectivity
One of the main reasons people have so many old tapes lying around is because they would record live radio broadcasts onto their analog cassettes. Those broadcasts will never come again. So, getting them immortalized digitally seems like a good idea.
But you don’t have to stop there. Radio is still broadcasting. And if you want to revive that old habit, the SEMIER Portable Cassette Player and recorder can help you do it. This cassette converter comes equipped with an AM/FM radio, so you can record all the programs you want, just like in years gone by. Plus, its built-in speaker and headphone jack mean you can listen to your tunes or the radio wherever you want.
This cassette-to-MP3 converts a little differently than the Reshow Cassette Player. Instead of connecting to your computer, it saves audio files directly onto an SD card or USB flash drive (not included). This is really convenient, but it also means you won’t get the precision editing Audacity offers when importing the files. But that’s okay. Since Audacity is a free program, you can import your converted files later for editing.
Portable Cassette Player and Recorder, Cassette to MP3 Digital Converter, Support USB and Micro SD Card, AM/FM Radio Tape Walkman, Build-in Speaker and Microphone Powered by AC and AA Battery
Record right of the airwaves like when you were a kid, then convert to digital like an adult.
Best Dual Stereo: Pyle Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck
- ✓ Connects to computer via USB
- ✓ Dual cassette capable
- ✓ Serious piece of audio hardware
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Requires external speakers for non-conversion features
If you have a high-tech audio setup in your home and want to bring your cassettes back into the rotation, then the Pyle Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck is for you. This tape deck comes with a USB cable that you connect directly to your computer and import cassette content using Audacity. It’s a really simple affair.
However, the beefy nature of the machine is its real selling point. It’s meant to be part of a larger stereo system to bring your tapes back to life the way they were meant to be used in the first place. Plus, it’s pretty expensive, so buying it purely for its conversion capabilities doesn’t make much sense.
If you decide to go with this player, note that it doesn’t offer some critical features such as auto-reverse and track seek. If those are things you want out of a tape deck, you may want to check out some older or used models. Old cassette decks were made better than the new ones, primarily due to changes in licensing and manufacturing. For example, they don’t make high-end tape deck mechanisms anymore, and things like Dolby NR are no longer licensable.
However, the downside to buying an old tape deck is that it almost certainly needs new belts. But the price of replacing them would likely cost less than this model. So, buying this cassette-to-mp3 converter just for it’s tape-playing abilities doesn’t make sense either. Purchasing this device would only be wise for combination of its conversion capabilities and its nature as a hefty piece of audio equipment.
Pyle Dual Stereo Cassette Tape Deck - Clear Audio Double Player Recorder System w/ MP3 Music Converter, RCA for Recording, Dubbing, USB, Retro Design - For Standard / CrO2 Tapes, Home Use - PT659DU
Give your modern audio setup a retro component.
Best Shoe Box Design: Riptunes Portable Cassette Recorder Player
- ✓ Converts to external media
- ✓ Convenient carrying handle
- ✓ Built-in speaker
- ✗ No direct computer connection
- ✗ No radio
Now we’re getting into the pure design style models of our lineup. The Riptunes Portable Cassette Recorder Player takes the form of an old-school shoebox tape deck. It converts tapes onto a USB flash drive, so you can use them on any computer after digitizing them. It features a built-in microphone to record your voice onto a blank tape or flash drive.
Plus, it has a built-in speaker and a handle so you can walk around town carrying it around easily while playing your music. And the aux port means you can plug your favorite headphones right in. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with an AM/FM radio or wireless streaming like other models in our roundup. But it’s less than $50, so the price is definitely right.
Riptunes Portable Cassette Recorder Player, Tape to USB Audio Music Digital Converter, Retro Classroom Shoebox Cassette Player and Recorder USB Player, Cassette-MP3 Converter with Built-in Microphone
Enjoy your tapes wherever you go with this portable converter.
Best Boombox Style: Riptunes Boombox Radio Cassette Player Recorder
- ✓ Converts to SD card or flash drive
- ✓ Works as a Bluetooth speaker
- ✓ Classic 80s boom box design
- ✗ Doesn't connect to your computer for conversion purposes
Nothing brings back the memories of the 80s like a good old fashion boom box. And the Riptunes Boombox Radio Cassette Player Recorder has almost everything we look for in a cassette-to-MP3 converter. It converts your tapes right onto a Micro SD card or USB flash drive. No computer connectivity, unfortunately. But that’s outweighed by its classic 80s-style boom box design.
But this boom box doesn’t stay in the 80s long. It also comes equipped with a Bluetooth receiver, so you can pair it with any audio device you like and use it as a Bluetooth speaker. So, whether you’re using an iPhone, Android smartphone, computer, or whatever you want–and party like it’s 1999.
No boom box would be complete without a radio. This retro model features an AM/FM shortwave radio, so you can catch all the latest tunes and oldies stations you like, as loud as you like. It also features an AUX input port so that you can connect devices like microphones and other auxiliaries to capture your voice and other electronic inputs.
Riptunes Boombox Radio Cassette Player Recorder, AM/FM -SW1/SW2 Radio, Wireless Streaming, USB/Micro SD Slots, Aux in, Headphone Jack, Convert Cassettes to USB/SD, Classic 80s Style Retro, Black
Thump that bass as loud as you want while you convert your tapes to digital.