How to digitize an audio cassette

Before you start

  1. Push the power button in on the TASCAM CD-A750. You should see an orange-lettered display above the CD player at left.
  2. Make sure the MONITOR slider on the TASCAM CD-A750 (between the EJECT button and the PHONES jack) is set to TAPE.
  3. Make sure the MODE slider on the TASCAM CD-A750 (just under the PLAY and READY buttons) is set to TAPE.
  4. Make sure the REV MODE slider on the TASCAM CD-A750 (to the right of the MODE slider) is set to the middle setting, which plays both sides of the tape and then stops.
  5. Push button IN 3 on the MT-VIKI switch dedicated to audio (note: not the one dedicated to video! You want the button labeled CASSETTE, not VHS). Audio Switch

Audacity and its settings

  1. Start the Audacity software by clicking on the Audacity logo Audacity logo in the ribbon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Check that the following settings are correct:
    • The button bar should read, left to right: “Windows WASAPI,” “Line In (TASCAM US-366),” “2 (Stereo) Recording,” “Speakers (TASCAM US-366).” Audacity button bar
    • At bottom left, Project Rate (Hz) should read “44100.”


  1. Push the EJECT button on the TASCAM CD-A750 to open the tape drawer (please remove any cassette accidentally left inside and take it to SLIS Library staff)
  2. Put your cassette in tape-side down and with the first side facing out.
  3. Press the rewind button. Rewind button Rewinding will stop automatically when it reaches the start of the tape.
  4. Click the Record button in Audacity. Audacity record button
  5. Press the rightmost PLAY button (arrow pointing right) Play button on the TASCAM CD-A750. Wait a minute or so to be sure Audacity is capturing the audio; most cassettes start with a silent section.
  6. You can monitor the sound with the Audio-Technica headphones, or by watching the blue lines jump around in Audacity.
  7. When the tape stops playing, click the Stop button in Audacity. AudacityStopButton
  8. Save your file (to your own USB stick or USB hard drive) by going to File > Export Audio. We recommend exporting to 16-bit WAV or AIFF (not mp3). If you plan to do more work on the file with Audacity, you can save it as an Audacity project (*.aup).


Do NOT save files to the C:\ or the Desktop on the computer. RADD has a 2TB spinning hard drive (E:\) for temporary file storage. Saving audio or video files anywhere else will max out the computer space very quickly, and possible cause your digitization process to fail if the file size is very large. There is a shortcut on the Desktop to the E:\ drive called “SaveWorkHere.”

If possible, always save your work to your own external hard drive or USB thumb drive, or cloud storage if you have enough space. If you forgot to bring a storage device with you, SLIS Library offers portable hard drives for check-out.

Post-digitization clean-up

If you wish, you can eliminate lengthy sections of audio silence in Audacity by clicking on Effects > “Truncate Silence” then clicking the OK button.

When you’re done

  1. Remove the tape and take it with you – people do forget!
  2. Make sure you have all your files on your USB stick/hard drive.
  3. Push the Power button on the TASCAM CD-A750 to turn it off.
  4. Exit Audacity.


I can hear the cassette through the headphones, but Audacity isn’t capturing anything!

Check the MT-VIKI audio switch. Was button 3 pushed?


RADD would not exist if not for a great deal of generosity and effort from many people at SLIS as well as in the larger UW-Madison community.

Equipment donors

The following people, as well as the School of Library and Information Studies, have generously contributed equipment to RADD:

  • Rick Burnson
  • Tim Czerwonka
  • Patrick Davis
  • Ann Engler
  • Catherine Pellegrino
  • Dorothea Salo
  • Cindy Severt
  • Amy Sloper
  • Ethelene Whitmire

Planners and builders

The following people, then students in LIS 644 “Digital Tools, Trends and Debates,” built, tested, and documented the book scanner that is part of RADD:

  • Jennifer McBurney (project manager)
  • Molly Dineen
  • Ryan Hellebrand
  • Trevor Kuehl
  • Sean Ottosen
  • Holly Storck-Post

The following people, then students in LIS 668 “Digital Curation,” did the original scope and budget planning for RADD:

  • Kat Arndt
  • Matt Grebe
  • Brian Miller
  • Scott Prater
  • Jordan Radke

The following people have given time and expertise to building RADD and making it work:

  • Will May
  • Greg Putnam
  • Dorothea Salo

Documentation and outreach

The following people have given time to documenting and publicizing RADD:

  • Anjali Bhasin
  • Ellen LeClere
  • Dorothea Salo
  • Kelsey Sorenson

Last but hardly least, RADD would not exist if not for Anjali Bhasin of the SLIS Laboratory Library, who cleared space and found furniture for it.

Washington County Historical Society

RADD’s first major project serves the Washington County Historical Society in West Bend, Wisconsin.

The prize of the collection, in my opinion, is this recording of the West Bend High School Concert Band:

West Bend High School Concert Band record cover

Much of the rest comes from the West Bend Corporation, longtime manufacturer of household gadgetry. The sales records (there are two) should be great to listen to, judging from the cover of this one:

"Selling is What You Make It" record cover

Also included, several VHS videocassettes (sample below) and one U-Matic:

West Bend VHS

And a substantial number of audiocassettes:

West Bend audiocassettes

“The work that 21st-century librarians do”

We were thrilled to have RADD chronicled as part of Isthmus‘s “Garbage Issue.” A lot of RADD’s parts and pieces are indeed donations or reclamations of equipment that would otherwise have ended up in a dumpster, or worse, as toxic waste shipped overseas.

Isthmus reporter Allison Geyer did a lovely job with the story, which appeared in the April 17 issue.

About RADD

This weblog serves as documentation for RADD: Recovering Analog and Digital Data.

What is RADD?

RADD is a collection of hardware and software in the SLIS Library designed for digitizing at-risk analog materials as well as recovering data from at-risk digital media.

Who may use RADD?

RADD is first and foremost a teaching machine. SLIS course-related uses receive priority. After that, it is open to the UW-Madison community.

Is there documentation for RADD use? Training?

We’re working on documentation; it will take time. Training can be arranged on an ad-hoc basis; email Dorothea Salo (salo at

I can’t do this work myself. Is there someone who can do it for me?

Yes! See our price list.

Who built RADD? Why?

RADD is the brainchild of SLIS Faculty Associate Dorothea Salo. After service-learning projects for LIS 668 “Digital Curation” kept foundering on the need for specialized digitization and capture equipment, Dorothea set a group of Digital Curation students to researching equipment and prices. RADD was the eventual result.