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Can I Make My Cassette Tapes Sound Better?

By Shelby Burr

We all have had our fair share in collecting cassette tapes. Whether you would trade some with your friends, or copy your own mix...the cassette tape was the hot ticket item for music back in the day. You could play them in your car, play them in your portable boom box at a party, or play it on the go in your walkman. Those were those days. And now? Your cassettes are probably sitting in a box or in your glove compartment of your car right now.


Over time, your precious audio will start to fade and won’t sound as crisp as they once were. So, can you make your cassette tapes sound better? The short answer is yes, but it does require work and a steady hand. Truthfully though, you have to go into this knowing that your tapes are sensitive and should be digitized the moment they are clean (or even before). We definitely want to help you make your cassettes sound better, but we also want you to preserve them before the damage takes over the entire tape. So, let’s begin…

Step 1: Clean Your Play Heads

When looking at your cassette tape, the play head is that smaller open area where the tape is being transferred through. What you’ll need to clean the playhead is isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab. Make sure the isopropyl alcohol is 92% or higher - that way you won’t leave cotton residue behind. The alcohol works to clean the play heads and this will help keep the tape of your cassette clean and free of debris. Any dust or debris on the play head can contribute to the degradation of the cassette tapes. 

Step 2: Clean your pinch rollers

Keeping your pinch rollers clean is also crucial. These parts are what help drive the tape past the play heads, so any dirt or dust on them will coat the tape as it passes through. This can cause your audio tape to fade, as well as degrade! One important tip when cleaning your pinch rollers: DO NOT use isopropyl alcohol. This will dry out the robber wheel on the pinch roller. If the wheel is dried out, it will crack and break… which can also ruin the tape down the road. Instead, use Naptha and a cotton swab for these parts. 


Step 3: Remove Magnetic Field

Over time, the cassette deck will start to build up a magnetic field the more tapes are played. This can later corrupt the data on any of the tapes you play. In order to fix this, use a tape demagnetizer to remove the magnetic field. What does a demagnetizer look like? It looks like cassette tapes and all you have to do is put one inside the deck and press play. You can find this on Amazon! Just be careful keeping your demagnetizer around your other tapes - it can erase the recorded audio on other tapes! 


Cleaning and taking good care of your precious memories are important. Yes, you can clean your cassette tapes to make the sound better - but overall, you want to preserve your memories as soon as possible. Legacybox can digitize your cassette tapes, preserve the audio and make it shareable on CD, Thumb Drive and Digital Download! You never have to worry about your memories fading again. 

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