Listening to Your Cassette Collection in a Car

Keep those mixtapes alive in the digital age

Although cassette players are no longer standard equipment in new cars, you can still listen to your cassette tapes in a modern car audio system. Here, we discuss a few effective ways.

Connect a Portable Tape Player

The easiest solution is to connect a portable tape player, such as a Walkman, to your car's built-in auxiliary input with an auxiliary cord.

Aux input on car radio

No auxiliary input in your car? Hook the tape player to an FM modulator or transmitter. Transmitters are easy to use, although they can be a little touchy. For instance, they don't work well in urban areas where the FM dial is full of high-powered stations. In those cases, you'll have trouble finding an open frequency and will hear interference.

Modulators are similar to transmitters, but they allow you to install an auxiliary input by tapping into your car radio's antenna.

Aphaca Wireless Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

Digitize Your Cassette Collection

Another option is to digitize your cassette collection and, if necessary, upgrade your head unit to a model that has built-in storage or a USB connection that accepts a thumb drive. This is labor-intensive, but it's cheaper than repurchasing your entire collection in a digital format.

To use this method, hook your tape deck to your computer, record your tapes onto the computer's hard drive, and then compress the files into MP3s. Then, transfer the files to a USB thumb drive, which can hold thousands of songs.

Digitizing your collection has another benefit, too: You'll preserve your music without the inevitable degradation that affects tapes.

Swap Out Your Head Unit

Although the last vehicle equipped with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cassette deck rolled off the line years ago, the format isn't completely obsolete. As long as there are people who want them, the aftermarket for car cassette decks will live on. So, if you're willing to junk your cassette-less head unit, replace it with an aftermarket cassette deck.

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