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Best cassette recorder 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2023

Roger BarnettHi! My name is Roger Barnett. Let’s discuss this topic to help you select best cassette recorder for 2018 and take your experience to a whole new level with aerators.

I have been writing about technology and entertainment since the early 90s from my secluded home in West Virginia. Now I’m going to recommend a few cassette recorder you can pick from to get started quickly and easily.

Let’s get to it!

Best cassette recorder of 2018

Here are the customer reviews of some of the best cassette recorder of 2018. However, after giving you the TOP list, I will also give you some of the benefits you stand to gains for using it.

Many models on the market may be confusing to a person who is shopping for their first time. You must have heard that the best cassette recorder should allow you to save money, right? Sure, but that’s not the only reason you should consider getting one.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
4 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
4 points
5 points
4 points
4 points
5 points
5 points
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Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the cassette recorder by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – DigitNow! Portable Digital Bluetooth Cassette Audio Music Player Tape-To-MP3 Converter and Cassette Recorder with Earphones

DigitNow! Portable Digital Bluetooth Cassette Audio Music Player Tape-To-MP3 Converter and Cassette Recorder with Earphones

With bluetooth function, can transmit the music to other bluetooth receivers
Cassette player: play your collected tapes, this retro-style music player allows you to return to the old days and relive your good memories past
One-touch recording: convert cassette tape into MP3 and directly save into TF card
For such a price and the level of quality it can’t even have any cons, only pick holes.

Why did this cassette recorder win the first place?

I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
















№2 – DigitNow! Mini Audio Retro Cassette Player Wireless AM/FM Radio and Voice Radio Cassette Recorder with Earphones

DigitNow! Mini Audio Retro Cassette Player Wireless AM/FM Radio and Voice Radio Cassette Recorder with Earphones

Cassette player: play your collected tapes, this retro-style music player allows you to return to the old days and relive your good memories past.
FM/AM radio: enjoy your favorite FM and AM stations when on the go or relaxing at home/outside, it is portable and lightweight with a detachable belt clip.
Exterior build could be improved.
Could be more durable.

Why did this cassette recorder come in second place?

The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
















№3 – Jensen MCR-100SB Portable Shoe-Box Cassette Recorder/Player & Voice Recorder & Built in Speakers Microphone & Power Adapter Included

Jensen MCR-100SB Portable Shoe-Box Cassette Recorder/Player & Voice Recorder & Built in Speakers Microphone & Power Adapter Included

► Portable Shoe-Box Cassette 6 Keys Personal Cassette Player Recorder
► Recording Button/Play Button/FF/FW/Eject & Pause Function, Auto Stop System, Shoe-Box Cassette
► Plastic Handle, Rotary Volume Control, Built-in Mic Input, Built-in Speaker
There is something wrong in the back.
Require more effort to use.

Why did this cassette recorder take third place?

It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new.
















cassette recorder Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy cassette recorder, right? No!

Sony WM EX194S

One of the last Walkmans to be built, the WMEX194S is a fairly basic player but it incorporates technology that provides extremely smooth tape speed and low power consumption. This gives it a claimed 2hour playing time from two AA batteries, which combined with good sound quality makes it a popular choice. Or for a cheaper alternative, check out little sister model WM-EX180 which has a great build quality for price.

Sony WM-D6C Walkman Pro

Sony’s Professional Walkman is one of the most desirable tape recorders ever made. Not only because its build quality is so high or that there are so many features squeezed into its compact form, but ultimately because it sounds so good. There aren’t many cassette decks that inspire enthusiasts to wax lyrical about sound but this is one of them, possibly the only one that isn’t a Nakamichi. Used by professionals to portable replace reel to reel recorder in the Eighties it retains a cult following but, thankfully, has not featured in any sci-fi movies to date.

Denon DRS-810

One of Denon’s later models the DRS-8mimicked the look of CD players to make it appeal to digital happy punters. A drawer loading mechanism meant that tape lies flat rather being exposed behind a door. It has the luxury of remote control although these aren’t always available as they controlled other Denon components. It offers Dolby B, C and HX Pro with bias adjust although the latter is ergonomically challenged, see fiddly.


A well regarded deck from 199the JVC TD-V66doesn’t need fancy chrome or metal tapes to make great recordings, it sounds sweet with basic ferric tapes which is good news if you want to play prerecorded cassettes. It looks great with its central tape bay and has all the bells and whistles including a CD direct input for recording purposes, Dolby B, C and HX Pro and like most of its ilk a quarter inch headphone socket. JVC was once a major player in the audio visual world and continues to make headphones, camcorders and boomboxes. This tape deck has the potential to sound better than most of those.

Pioneer CT-S740S

Pioneer Japan have a legendary reputation for build quality and occasionally they turned out products that sounded great too, such was the CT-S740S. Built in the mid nineties its reputation suggests that it competed with well regarded models from Nakamichi, the brand to beat in cassette decks. Features include Dolby S, that company’s last bid to rid tape of noise and one of its most successful. As a result of its cult status this Pioneer doesn’t come up so often but it’s worth looking out for.

Get connected

The next step is to connect your hi-fi to your Mac. You’ll find instructions on how to do this in your hi-fi amplifier’s manual. In essence, you’ll need to connect the left and right RCA phono ends of the RCA phono to 3.5mm jack cable to a suitable RCA analogue audio output on your amplifier, and then plug the 3.5mm jack in to the line-in audio input of the Griffin iMic and make sure that device’s Mic/Line switch is set to the Line position.

Before you get gung-ho with an audio recording app on your Mac, it pays to make sure the sound coming into your computer is as ‘clean’ as possible. If you’re recording vinyl, make sure your turntable is properly set up (its manual will explain how), its needle is free from fluff, and the record itself is free from dust and fingerprints by using a suitable anti-static brush or cloth and cleaning solution.

For cassette tapes, ensure your deck’s playhead and tape pinch rollers are free of gunk using a cassette cleaning kit. The end result will be worth it.

Make sure the Griffin iMic is connected to a spare USB input on your Mac, then go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Sound > Input and select Griffin USB Audio Interface. This ensures your Mac is ready and listening to sounds coming from your hi-fi source.

Now open GarageBand, Amadeus Pro or whatever audio recording software you’re using. The next step, if you’re recording from analogue sources such as cassette tape or vinyl, is to get your recording levels right. Most recording software measures these levels on a scale from -60dB (decibels) to 0dB. Ideally you want most of what you’re recording to be in the mid range (around -30dB to -20dB), with loud passages peaking at -10dB to -3dB and only very occasionally hitting 0dB.

If the recording regularly hits 0dB, you’ll experience ‘clipping’ – a form of audio distortion that you definitely want to avoid if you’re to capture your recordings at the best quality.

Perfect peaks

The best way to avoid clipping is to find out which part of the source sounds the loudest, play it, and then monitor it using your audio recording software. The software you’re using should show the majority of sounds you’re recording occur around -30dB to -20dB (often represented by green indicators), sometimes tip over into -10dB to -3dB territory (yellow) and very occasionally hit -3dB to 0dB (red).

If the sounds you’re recording are too quiet or too loud, you can usually manually adjust your recording software’s gain (or volume input controls) to make them louder or quieter. Your best bet when recording is to err on the side of caution. You can always adjust loudness later, once the initial recording phase is complete.

Another thing to consider is the quality level you want in the finished recordings of your old media. Most audio recording software provides a range of options from super-high-quality to CD quality, down to MPor AAC.

The level to choose depends on what you’ll listen to the music on, and how much space on your Mac you want it to take up. Amadeus Pro, for example, lets you choose anything from 128kHz/32-bit recording (highest quality) to 6kHz/8-bit (lowest quality), with many options in between.

The higher the quality you choose, the larger the resulting audio file will be, but with storage being so affordable these days your best bet would be to pick the highest quality available and save that as a ‘master’ recording, which you can then convert for listening on your iPhone or elsewhere.


I went to Cape Cod with my family this past weekend and as is my custom, I ended up taking pictures of half the cars I saw. One of the more rare vehicles I found was this BMW Bavaria, but even more rare was the accessory inside.

First off, a cassette player in any car between 197and 197was fairly rare. 8-tracks were still enjoying their peak of popularity around the time this Bavaria was purchased.

But what makes this cassette player particularly rare is that it not only plays cassettes, but records on them, as well, as evidenced by the big, red RECORD button, and the dynamic microphone beside the console.

Sony ICD-UX560.

There are two types of audio file formats, compressed and uncompressed. Generally, higher compression means lower quality sound. You should buy a recorder that allows you to capture uncompressed audio in AIFF or PCM (Wav) formats. Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) and Pulse Code Modulated audio (PCM) are audio file formats that store the audio in its raw uncompressed format, meaning you maintain the original recording quality. High quality voice recorders enable you to record your interviews in an uncompressed audio format.


When the neighbors start complaining, it’s time to throw on the cans. Headphones are an often-overlooked part of a stereo setup, but can also provide the most rewarding and enveloping experience, allowing you to fully tune out the world and get lost in the music. Over the ear models are recommended for the best quality. Look for headphones that can reproduce the entire audible spectrum from 20Hz~20kHz, and that are terminated with a 1/4” plug.

Recommended Brands: Grado, Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, AKG, Sony.

And one to avoid…

Sixo. This is a system that promises to let you select what you want to dream about. How? By playing acoustic signals while you sleep, which supposedly makes your brain retrieve specific information from your memory. This will apparently inform your dreams.

Vintage or New

Vintage and used gear can be a great option for buyers on a budget, as most high-quality home-audio equipment was built like a tank and designed to last for decades, says Geoffrey Bennett, sales manager at Decibel Audio in Chicago. “In lower price brackets, vintage will usually give you better quality,” Bennett says. But buyers should consider the cost and viability of getting their vintage gear serviced and cleaned. “A receiver that’s been sitting in someone’s garage for 30 years is going to need some sprucing up,” he adds. Other considerations include the availability of parts and the cost and effort of having the gear serviced in the future.

New gear will offer fewer choices, especially if you’re shopping at local big box stores, which tend to feature surround-sound home theater systems that aren’t optimal for two-channel audio playback. It does, however, offer some distinct advantages, Marra says.

New equipment likely will come with a warranty and user support, Marra says. It also is likely to be more compact and offer more contemporary features, such as remote control and more inputs for computers, iPhones and other digital devices.

The beauty of home stereo equipment is that you can mix and match vintage and new components. So if Grandpa gives you a sweet vintage turntable, you can connect it to a modern amplifier. Both vintage and new equipment are cool in their own right, Marra says.


Nowadays, a radio not only has to sound good but it can look good too, enhancing your environment with some serious eye-candy. Recently we’ve seen a rise in the availability and popularity of retro radio cd players, combining classic good looks with a high quality sound, providing the ultimate in music enjoyment.

If that appeals to you, you will be pleased to find that there is a stunning range of classic designs available on the market today. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a old-fashioned design means lack of quality or choice, these modern-day classics feature everything from radio CD players, to MPcompatibility, USB ports and even bluetooth options.

You have more choice than ever before, so whether you are looking for an ultra modern slimline design or a classic 1950’s rock ’n roll radio, the world is your oyster.

Radio Options

Far from a thing of the past, radio is more popular than ever. Gone are the days where you had to listen to your favourite shows through a mess of static interference, today’s tuners are easy to operate and feature multiple auto-tuner options.

Of course we are no longer limited to local radio stations either, so take some time to think about the music that you want to listen to, maybe it’s an internet only channel? Maybe the station you love to wake up to is available on DAB radio? Or maybe you are just happy with basic AM/FM channels.


With a wide range of different radio stations, one-click station presets are incredibly useful as it allows you to quickly tune to your favourite stations without searching for them.

Essentially, the more presets a radio CD player has, the more stations you can save for later access. You can spend your precious time listening to music, not trying to find it.

Some CD players have DAB radio, which offers more radio programmes and better quality audio and signal strength.

DAB Radio

DAB radios pick up a digital radio signal, offering you a much higher quality that your usual FM channels, to put it in context, it’s rather like moving from an analogue to a digital tv signal.

Not all radio stations are available on DAB, although there are also some that are DAB only too but this does vary from area to area, so take a few minutes to see if your personal preferences are available.

There’s nothing worse than bringing your shiny new DAB radio home and realising that you can’t connect to your favourite station.

Internet radio offers a fantastically clear sound and connects via your home wifi connection, so while it may trump the rest with quality and a massive choice of radio stations from all over the world, you are limited to where you can use it and it certainly adds quite a lot to the price of the unit.

USB Port

MP3’s are the most widely used digital forms of music available today and many of us love nothing more than the ability to listen our own tunes. Some of the best radio CD players will likely have a USB port. If so, you can pop your songs directly onto a USB stick, plug it in and listen to them.

If you enjoy burning your own music cd’s you should also check the supported formats of any CD player you might be considering, as not all of them, even in today’s market will be compatible with the MPformat.

Wireless Bluetooth

Bluetooth is another little ray-of-sunshine in ever increasing ways to enjoy music. Chances are, if you enjoy your music and you have a smartphone, you’ve played around and connected it to a portable bluetooth device at some time.

Bluetooth connectivity is wireless, it provides the means for your smartphone or tablet to connect and pair with your radio, allowing you to stream your favourite songs, by directing the audio directly to your new bluetooth unit.

Wireless NFC

NFC (near field communication) is another name you may see mentioned. This is quite similar to bluetooth and can offer a much faster connection from one NFC chip-enabled device to another but if you like to wander round the house while belting out your favourite tunes, it’s not for you.

NFC has a very short distance imitation and is often used more for data transfer than playing music.

The best radio cd player on the market will be no good to you at all if you like to lock yourself away from the world and unwind at the end of the day, but find your beloved pair of headphones have nowhere to connect.

Whether you want a closer listening experience or you simply don’t want to disturb anyone else at night, you’d need a 3.5mm headphone jack to plug in your earphones or headphones.

An Auxiliary (AUX) or Line-In port also allows you to connect other audio devices including speakers and amplifiers. Some radio CD players even have two seperate ports for headphones and another audio device.

Clock Radios

This isn’t a term you hear as much of nowadays but there is still no shortage of people that like to wake up to the sounds of their tried and tested breakfast radio presenter and of course, a bedside radio is of little use without a reliable and clear clock face.

Again some units have these and some don’t; whether you want one is down to you but there are many options available, from a traditional ticking time face to a glowing digital display that lights up the entire room.

If you struggle to drag yourself out of bed in the mornings, you might also need one that features a full-blown alarm, loud enough to wake the dead, so have a look around and find one that works for you.

The PX470 is a bit bulkier than our main pick, and its audio quality isn’t as good, but it has a similar layout and navigation system. It does best in quiet settings with minimal background noise.

If you’re on a budget, we recommend Sony’s ICD-PX470. The PX470’s buttons and navigation system are very similar to that of the UX560, but our listening panel didn’t rate the PX470’s audio quality as highly. Recordings were understandable enough, however, and if you don’t need the absolute best audio quality, the PX470 will save you some money. It also has longer battery life than the UX560 at 5hours, but it isn’t rechargeable—you have to remember to keep AAA batteries on hand. It’s also physically larger, measuring twice as thick as the UX560.

If you don’t want a physical recorder, or need to only occasionally make recordings, we also have picks for the best iOS and Android voice-recording apps.

How we tested

We tested recorders in common settings and asked a listening panel to score recordings based on quality.

Most of the recorders have options to select recording modes for scenes like lectures, meetings, interviews, or dictations. Recording modes do the work for you: Selecting a scene automatically changes the recorder’s settings for that situation.

Wirecutter writer Anna Perling recorded MPaudio at the highest bit rates available on each device in order to get the best possible audio quality—this showed what each recorder was capable of. That meant 19Kbps for all recorders except for the Olympus, which maxes out at 12Kbps (though even this should be good enough for voice recordings). For the lecture scene, Anna sat in the back of Sahithya Reddivari’s engineering class at Georgia State University in Clarkston, Georgia, and lined recorders up next to each other, with the mics facing toward the lecturer. For the coffee shop scene, she headed to a crowded Starbucks and sat near the bar with her mom. The two read a Seinfeld dialogue, with the mics facing toward the “interviewee,” or main speaker, to mimic an interview. For the office scene, Anna read a different Seinfeld monologue in a quiet room in her house to mimic dictation, placing recorders on a table feet away from her mouth. Once she had the recordings, she noted how each recorder and app let her store the files, and how easy or difficult it was to transfer those files to her computer, label and organize them, and then upload them to Dropbox.

Anna then conducted a blind listening panel: Four Wirecutter staffers listened to 15-second samples of each unlabeled recording and rated the overall audio quality and intelligibility of words for each.

Pull Quote

The Sony UX560’s extra features make an already-great recorder stand out from the rest.

The UX560 also has a rechargeable battery that charges via that USB plug. This means you won’t have to worry about having disposable batteries on hand. The UX560 doesn’t come with a wall charger—you’ll need to use a USB charger or connect the recorder to a computer to charge; if you have a recent Apple laptop or other computer with only USB-C ports, you’ll need an adapter. With a full charge, you can record for 2hours in the commonly used MPformat, or 2hours at the 560’s highest-quality setting (uncompressed LPCM audio at 44.kHz, or “CD quality” audio). Anna recorded for about two hours, and the battery indicator showed that the recorder was still fully charged.

The recorder comes with GB of storage, which allows for roughly 3hours of recording time using MPformat at 19Kbps; that’s comparable to what you get with most of the recorders we tested. A covered but easily accessible microSD slot allows for 3GB more of storage space if you need more recording hours. The UX560 offers a range of file and recording formats so you can opt for better audio quality or smaller file sizes.

Selecting the Clear Voice function during playback helped reduce background noise in our coffee shop and lecture recordings but didn’t make as big of a difference as the noise-cancel feature on the Olympus. The UX560’s other playback options, however, made it overall a better choice than the Olympus for people looking to transcribe interviews or lectures: an A-B Repeat function lets you go back and replay the same section repeatedly, and digital pitch control lets you adjust the playback speed if you need to listen more closely to difficult-to-decipher passages. The UX560 has a transcription mode that will give you a cleaner interface with fewer distractions while transcribing if that’s something you prefer, but you can still fast-forward, rewind, and adjust the digital pitch control in regular playback mode. Oddly, you won’t be able to use the A-B Repeat to replay the same section repeatedly in transcription mode.

For better audio quality, you can plug in an external mic, though we think that would be unnecessary for most people given the good results we were able to get with the onboard mics in our varied test situations. The UX560 also has a headphone jack for monitoring recordings and listening to playback.

The UX560 is a small, compact recorder that feels nice in the hand, and its matte plastic and sleek design make it look a little less cheap than others that were tested. At just inches tall, 1.inches wide, and 0.4inch thick, the UX560 is the slimmest recorder we tested. It can easily fit into a shirt pocket or in the pocket of skinny jeans, while the other recorders are almost twice as thick and fit better in a purse or bag.

The UX560 is half as thick as the PX470, making it easy to fit in a shirt or pants pocket.

Like all of the recorders we tested, the UX560 also comes with a strap loop if you want to add a wrist strap or lanyard; you’ll need to provide your own, though it’s easy enough to find an inexpensive option.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The screen on the UX560’s fades and eventually shuts off during recording, which is a little disconcerting, but an LED indicates that you’re still recording. This recorder also lacks a convenient erase button, so you’ll need to navigate through its menu to delete recordings.

Although its audio quality isn’t as good as our main pick’s, the Olympus WS-85has more internal storage and longer battery life.

If you can’t find the Sony UX560, or its price increases dramatically, we also like the Olympus WS-85for its superior combination of storage space and battery life, each of which was better than with everything else we tested. The Olympus didn’t do as well as the UX560 in our listening tests, ranking lowest overall for audio quality by our panel, though its recordings are still understandable and it scored well on the lecture test, tying with the UX560. The main complaint from listeners was that the lecture and coffee shop audio samples sounded “tinny.” We also found that the Olympus’s menu system is less intuitive than that of the UX560.

The Olympus’s GB of storage is double that of most of the models we considered, including the UX560, and you can expand it even further with a microSD card. The Olympus boasts 1hours of battery life when recording in MPat 12Kbps, or about four times as long as our main pick.

With GB of internal storage, the Olympus has the most memory of the recorders we tested.

The Olympus has one of the largest screens of the models tested, larger than that of our main pick. The larger screen makes the menus slightly easier to see in daylight, but the Olympus’s screen isn’t backlit, making it harder to use in low-light settings. Navigating the menus is also more difficult than on our top pick. It seemed counterintuitive to navigate using the up and down buttons to access different folders, and to have to press the side buttons twice to select items; it’s also missing a back button. On the other hand, it does have a convenient erase button for one-step file deletion.

As with the Sony UX560, a pop-out USB 3.0 plug lets you easily upload files to a computer and recharge the two replaceable AAA batteries, which takes about hours. The Olympus doesn’t have quite as many high-quality recording options as the UX560, but it still has a range of formats that let you optimize quality or maximize storage space. It also has a low-cut filter to reduce excess low-end rumble. Although the Olympus doesn’t have a scene setting aimed at recording music like our main pick, it has presets that tailor recording settings for dictation, meetings, conferences, and telephone recordings. Like the UX560, the Olympus has a voice-activated recording setting to automatically stop and start recordings based on volume levels so you don’t have to manually pause if you’re recording a lecture or conversation with lots of breaks.

While playing back audio, the WS85can compensate somewhat for problems you might have run into while recording: a noise-cancellation setting can reduce overall background hiss (though this comes at the expense of battery life), while a voice balancer setting can even out recordings that were made with the mic sensitivity set too low or high by compressing the overall level for a more even sound (though you might run into increased noise).

During our testing, noise cancellation was effective at reducing background hiss, clangs, and the noise from the coffee grinder, while the voice balancer did even out recorded levels though it made voices sound flat. The effects of both features were more obvious than Sony’s Clear Voice mode and did help make recorded voices clearer, but the Olympus lacks Sony’s handy track mark list, dedicated transcription mode to let you fast-forward and rewind, and digital pitch control to slow or speed recordings, making it overall less useful for transcribing than the UX560.

A neoprene case protects the Olympus from bumps and scratches.

The Olympus is made of shiny plastic and has raised buttons that some people will find easier to use. It’s the only recorder we tested to come with a case—a neoprene sleeve—which is useful for protecting the recorder during storage.

Sony ICD-UX533

The Sony ICD-UX53outclasses even pricier recorders in reviews. Its stereo recordings sound better than rivals’ in nearly every situation — bustling cafes, echoing lecture halls, hushed boardrooms. Thoughtful features make it an owner favorite: It’s slim and light, with easy-to-use buttons, and its slide-out USB connector makes it easy to recharge and transfer files to your PC or Mac. It includes extras you won’t find on cheaper recorders, including a backlit screen, microSD slot and multiple record/playback formats.

Finding the perfect digital voice recorder

VERDICT: Buy if necessary, but expect thinner vinyl.  If earlier pressings or good reissues exist, research the difference between pressings.

VERDICT: Buyer beware.  Besides being thin and flimsy, records from this era often introduced digital remastering to the process.  Digital anything, for an analog format, is an oxymoron.

The 90s

As the 90s rolled around, the vinyl lp seemed obsolete. Production equipment sat unused and experienced staff retired as demand evaporated.  Over the next 20 years, digital files and streaming killed the cd as well.  By stripping music down to its most basic element, art became intangible.

Choosing a Recorder

You have a number of options for how you approach recording audio, and each has its own advantages. For many, a computer-based recording setup using audio software is the most versatile and convenient solution. Others like the physical control offered by hardware. We will take a look at these different approaches and walk you through the buying considerations for each.


These days, most home-based recordings are made using a computer or iOS device rather than hardware-based recording consoles or tabletop recorders. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software offers features and capabilities that would otherwise be quite expensive in a hardware-based setup.

Now, you most likely already have a desktop or laptop computer that you have thought of using for your recordings. However, you’ll want to take note of some specs that are important when it comes to deciding whether your computer can handle the job.

The computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is the component that processes instructions sent from your computer programs. How quickly and efficiently a computer can do this is determined by its clock rate (measured in GHz), and the number of processing cores it has. Since you will be plugging in a number of peripheral devices and layering multiple tracks, it’s important to have plenty of processing power. That means you’ll want a minimum of two cores (preferably four) running at a minimum of 2GHz.

Random access memory (RAM) is a type of memory that programs use to perform audio processing tasks. Typically, audio software and the devices you plug into your audio workstation will require a lot of this type of memory, so more is better. For your recording setup to run smoothly, you’ll want a computer with a minimum of 4GB of RAM, and preferably more for complex recordings. Look for a computer that offers plenty of RAM expansion capability.


The audio files you’ll be creating are quite large, taking up roughly 800MB per 80 minutes of recorded audio. To store all this, you will want a hard drive with a minimum of 1TB of storage. You can also purchase high-speed external hard drives designed to work well with your audio files.

The Glyph StudioRAID mini offers compact and reliable external storage of your audio files with capacities ranging from 1–4TB.

Mobile recording with iOS

An alternative approach to mobile recording that can yield excellent results is to use your iPad or iPhone with peripherals designed for the job. You’ll see a range of options available on the Musician’s Friend site to turn your iOS device into a miniature recording studio on the go. With hundreds of recording, mastering, and effects apps to choose from, the sky’s the limit in terms of of iOS-based recording possibilities.

IK Multimedia’s iRig Pro Duo Studio Suite Deluxe  comes with all the hardware you need to produce greatgreat iOS recordings. Even better, it’s compatible with Mac/PC and Android.

The rapid development of musician-friendly apps on the iOS platform has led to the introduction of lots of iOS-enabled gear. These days, your iPhone or iPad can be transformed into the command center for all your audio productions. Harnessing the iOS-aware microphones, mixers, interfaces, and controllers found in the Musician’s Friend iOS Store is a highly portable and affordable way to develop your music production skills while creating projects that can rival professional work.

The Shure Motiv MV5large-diaghragm condenser mic connects directly to your Lightning-equipped mobile devices plus Mac and PCs and produces astoundingly detailed recordings with plug ’n’ play simplicity.

Multitrack recorders

If you opt to go for dedicated hardware for your recording rather than a computer-based system, there are a number of options. One of their greatest advantages are dedicated physical knobs, buttons, and faders that can be much easier to use than delving through the often complex multi-layered menus of computer-based software.

When you’re choosing a multitrack recorder, pay attention to how many tracks you get: audio, MIDI, actual and virtual, as well as how many you can record and play back simultaneously. All but the most basic multi-trackers should give you some editing and mixing features to polish your recordings.

A great option to wading through software menus, the Tascam DP-32SD Portastudio offers real hands-on control of all major functions and up to 3tracks of simultaneous playback.


Some computer interfaces include hardware controls, some have software controls, and some have both. They also often include mixer software to handle routing of the I/O and level meters.

The Mackie Big Knob Studio Monitor Controller Interface features dual Onyx preamps, up to 192kHz/24-bit recording and playback and offers plenty of monitoringchoices.


All computer audio interfaces have some latency, or delay, but very good ones have so little you don’t notice it. Most good computer audio interfaces will provide a way of measuring and controlling latency. Some provide a workaround, such as hardware signal monitoring. An interface with too much latency makes it nearly impossible to perform normal multitrack operations like overdubbing or real-time monitoring. A slower computer will contribute to latency.

Choosing Software

Without audio software, computers would not be the music production powerhouses they are today. And there are plenty of software options capable of handling your audio production at every point from start to finish: recording, mixing, editing, mastering, duplicating, and in some cases even songwriting.

An industry standard software suite you will see in most modern recording studios is Avid’s Pro Tools. With lots of professional-grade features and plug-ins, Pro Tools is an excellent choice for those seeking the highest quality audio possible and nearly unlimited sound processing options. However, Pro Tools is a relatively complex program for novice users and involves a steep learning curve.

Pro Tools is the de facto DAW choice of many world-class studios thanks to its sterling sound, amazing plug-ins and capabilities that will let you conquer the most elaborate audio production challenges.

Explore the capabilities of Pro Tools 12—arguably the most advanced DAW software available today.

For those looking for lots of tools to help create music, in addition to recording and editing it, Propellerhead’s Reason is a very popular choice. With a sequencer loaded with synths, samplers and other music creation tools, it’s easy to produce music from start to finish. There’s a Reason version to match most needs and budgets.

Reason is a favorite among producers thanks to its huge set of drums, synths, and effects wrapped up in an intuitive DAW interface.

We’ve just touched on a few of the most popular audio production applications. Explore our huge selection of music software for more great choices.

Choosing Recording Microphones

To get your music into your recording setup, you’ll need at least one good microphone, and probably several. The main types to consider are condenser, dynamic, and ribbon microphones. Each type has different sound characteristics and is used for recording in different situations.

The large-diaphragm MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is very modestly priced, yet captures highly detailed sound from voices and instruments.

Choosing Audio Monitors

Listening to the playback is an important part of the recording process, and you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right kind of speakers to handle the job. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what makes a good set of studio monitors and cover some concepts to keep in mind when you’re making your selection.

Studio Monitors

Studio monitors are critical to good recordings. Intended to provide you with an accurate picture of the audio you are recording, overdubbing, mixing, editing and mastering, they are your first defense against bad sound. Most monitors used for recording today in homes and studios are near-field monitors. A near-field monitor is small enough that you will primarily hear sound coming directly from it—not sound reflecting off of the studio walls. When considering monitors, look at the frequency response and THD specs to get an idea of the monitor’s accuracy.

The biamped M-Audio BXCarbon is a trusted monitor in countless home studios due to its flat frequency response and accurate stereo sound field.

For connections, monitors usually have 1/4”, XLR, RCA or S/PDIF jacks. Some offer only unbalanced or balanced I/O, and some have both.


If you record beat and bass-heavy music or TV and movie soundtrack material, a subwoofer or surround setup will be helpful in monitoring the extended low-frequencies and extra channels necessary in those types of music.

The ADAM Audio Subhas a compact footprint, yet can reproduce frequencies down to 50Hz. Motorized controls allow easy frequency tweaks and wireless remote control.

Audio Playback

In addition to your monitors, you might want to include some decent-quality, consumer audio speakers to get an idea of how your recording will sound on consumer devices. If you need some speakers designed for that job, take a look at the Musician’s Friend selection of audio playback equipment.

Listening using consumer-market headphones also can give you valuable insight about how your mix will sound on headphones that are voiced for the listening pleasure of the average music fan rather than 100% accurate sound as day-to-day recording and mixing headphones require.

Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x headphones are a great choice for studio headphones. In addition to offering studio quality sound, these headphones are incredibly popular on the consumer market, making them a perfect choice to audition your mixes on.

Choosing Headphones

Headphones are generally used for monitoring during recording and overdubbing, but high-quality headphones can be used for nearly everything, including critical listening and mixing. When considering headphones, look at the frequency response and THD specs to get an idea of their accuracy. Driver size will also affect how accurately a speaker can reproduce audio, since larger drivers can reproduce low frequencies more accurately. For recording, be sure to get at least one pair of closed-back headphones, which have better acoustic isolation that open-back models. This design prevents sound from the headphones from “bleeding” into the microphones.Listening using consumer-market headphones also can give you valuable insight about how your mix will sound on headphones that are EQd for pleasing rather than accurate sound.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO-80 Headphones have a closed-back design and deliver highly accurate sound reproduction making them a popular choice among recording and mixing pros.

Read Can I Record & Mix Music Just Using Headphones?

Headphones use either an 1/8” jack or a stereo 1/4” jack, and usually include an adapter for convenience when plugging into equipment that has one, but not the other.

Choosing a CD Duplicator

Between the writable CD-ROM drives available in many computers, and the proliferation of digital media, you might not have considered specialized equipment for duplicating CDs. However, there still is a demand for the CD format, and discs still are a great way to distribute demos and recordings locally.

If you will be making lots of CD copies, you may want to invest in a tool that will make it quick and easy. At Musician’s Friend you will find a range of CD/DVD duplicators that can quickly make multiple discs at once from a single source.

Choosing Recording Accessories

Some accessories are really necessities, and some simply make recording a little easier. You might need monitor stands, a recording desk, a patchbay, acoustic room treatment materials, a power conditioner, or a rack for your processors. You most likely will also need cables, mic stands, and recording media and extra storage for recorded digital audio.

At Musician’s Friend you can buy all the recording accessories you’ll need to have a great audio studio setup. And if you’d like to get a complete package to get you started, Musician’s Friend has a range of options available on our recording packages page. These packages take the guesswork out of putting together a recording rig since all components are carefully selected for compatibility with each other.

We carry multitrack recorders, computer audio interfaces, computer hardware, computer software, microphones, preamps, signal processors, mixers, headphones, and monitors from great brands like TASCAM, Fostex, Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Presonus, Digidesign, M-Audio, E-MU, MOTU, Cakewalk, Alesis, Apple, Steinberg, Sony, BIAS, Event, JBL, Mackie, AKG, Shure, RøDE, MXL, Audio-Technica, TC Helicon, ART, Avalon, Lexicon, Universal Audio, Allen & Heath and many more.

Job Site Radio

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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your cassette recorder wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of cassette recorder



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