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I somehow can't seem to find any answers to this anywhere else. I am recording to a cassette tape for the first time and it worked for the most part, but I noticed a LOT of static when I play back the tape, and I'm not too sure where it's coming from. I am recording from my phone through a JVC system. Here's what I've done so far:

  • The parts were definitely very dusty, but I cleaned everything as best I could using a Qtip and alcohol (as the user manual suggested).
  • My AUX wire may not be the BEST but sound directly from my phone plays through the speakers without any static so my guess is the wire/speakers aren't the reason.
  • I kept my phone on airplane mode to avoid any magnetic interference.
  • The system was next to a TV and an Xbox, but these were powered down so I don't see how it could interfere (but I could be wrong).

Is there still dust that could be causing the static? Anything else I should be doing? Thanks.

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    Do you have experience listening to cassette tapes? If no, I suggest trying that to see whether your sound quality is in fact consistent with what cassettes produce. They were not the highest fidelity medium.
    – Aaron
    Dec 21 '20 at 22:07
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    Um, why do you record to cassettes in 2020? The only way this could possibly make sense is if you want to get the particular analogue quirks – noise and tape saturation – but then what's the point of the question? Dec 21 '20 at 22:39
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    “I used a bad recording medium and the recording sounds bad” is kinda what this read like to me. Maybe it has a problem that tape wouldn’t necessarily have but if you’re going from a phone though an aux cable to speakers and then recording using the built in mic on the tape deck that is one of the worst ways to make a tape. Dec 21 '20 at 23:44
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    You need to give us better information on the equipment and just how it is all connected up. Dec 21 '20 at 23:48
  • I did end up comparing to another brand new cassette and there was significantly less noise on that. Also, no I am not recording using the speakers/mic, my recorder is a bit newer and able to record straight from aux input. The problem turned out to be my input volume!
    – EmilyAnn
    Dec 22 '20 at 5:13
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I noticed the volume on my phone was only about 60% or so. I changed it to max volume and recorded again and it totally fixed my problem. Turns out the volume I was recording at was just too low, so it ended up being sort of drowned out by the normal amount of static, so it was more noticeable. Thanks to all who offered input!

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    The cassette deck should have meters showing the levels (needles or LEDs, and my apologies if my terminology should be wrong) and a way to control the recording levels. I suggest that you play with those to learn the effect of having too high or too low levels.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 22 '20 at 13:54
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Tape is historically notoriously noisy. In the late 80s/early 90s when it was still a popular format for pre-recorded music there were a number of innovative noise suppression technologies (Dolby B, Dolby C, Dolby S) but the crux of the problem is the density of magnetic particles in the emulsion and the tape speed.

Best bet for high quality recording on tape is to get the highest quality new old-stock tape and a recorder/playback unit with a high speed option. But there are still drawbacks. High speed cuts down on your recording time. And recording with noise reduction on will cut your available dynamic range.

A good source for more info is this video (and others) by Techmoan.

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