Transferring Old Cassettes to Digital (Reaper)

I hooked up an old Technics double cassette deck to my Scarlet audio interface and I’m transferring some old cassette tapes (80’s and 90’s) to digital, using REAPER.

This seems like a pretty straight forward job. Is there anything that I need to be aware of that might help me? Obviously the signal level shouldn’t be clipping, but is there anything else I should pay attention to?

Most of the transfers will simply be stereo tracks, so I’ll make 2 mono tracks and pan the 2 interface inputs in Reaper. Then once everything is recorded I’ll have to split the tracks into individual songs and render all of them separately to WAV files. I also have quite a few multi-track recordings that were made on one of those old 4 track cassette recorders. So I’ll transfer each of those tracks individually.

If I transfer one full cassette (let’s say approximately 20 songs), I’ll have all those songs in one continuous line on 1 or 2 tracks in reaper. Is there a quick and easy method of separating each track individually? I know it’s likely a very easy process but I just want to avoid taking the long route if I can help it.

It’s about as straightforward as you would imagine it being. Hit play on the tape deck and record on the computer. You probably don’t want to sit there for the whole thing, so set a timer and come back when it’s done.

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I’ve done this a million times. It’s set to mono by default so be careful with that. You can set it to be stereo if you go into the track options. Just arm the track for recording, select the input device, and hit play. Really easy.

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I think maybe you could set up markers in the timeline for start/end of each song (same marker in dead space between end of last song and start of new song?), and then just time-select markers for your renders. That way you’re not slicing and dicing, just rendering the songs in place. Don’t ask me how, I have barely used markers in Reaper (used them all the time in Pro Tools) but from what I remember that could be helpful to you.


Thanks for the help everybody.

Just as I was about to start transferring my cassette, I noticed a little sticker that I had put on my cassette a few years ago, that said " This tape copied to hard drive"…That was what I had put on all the cassettes that I have already transferred. I didn’t notice it until I was almost ready to begin the deed !

But, even though I don’t have many important cassettes left to transfer, I thought I’d try what @Stan_Halen mentioned. I threw in 4 or 5 songs onto one track in the DAW and put markers between each of them. Then I went to render, but nowhere in that section was I able to create separate renders for each song. I’m sure with a little digging I’ll figure it out, though.

Thats usually called batch export. Which daw are you on?

You might have to select from marker to marker (time selection) for each individual render, and then go to the render window and choose time selection in the options. It was easy in Pro Tools, and I may have done it once in Reaper but can’t recall for sure. The markers are just flags in this case for you to lay out your planned time selections. It may still be a manual process, but a bit more organized.

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In REAPER this is a 'Queue Render". Select each desired region and then select Render, then Queue Render. Be sure to click Render Time Selection in the main Render window.

Alternately, you can place markers at the start of each selection, using # as the first character of the marker name, then render to bin/cue file after setting the silence between tracks, etc. and clicking the box which says “use only markers starting with #”

All of this is in the manual.
Hope it helps.



I’m using Reaper.

I’ll look for batch export. Thanks Jonathon.

I’ll mess around with it tonight or tomorrow to see what I can come up with. I may just have to highlight a time selection and render 1 file at a time but I’ll try to see what I can do with markers before I do that. I should also do as Jonathon suggested…I’ll look for something called “batch export”. Thanks Stan.

Ah, excellent!
I’ll try this either tonight or tomorrow. I got a feeling this will be what I’m looking for.
Thanks DK !