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I have a small collection of cassette players that I am playing with and would like to record onto. The problem that I'm experiencing is that I don't hear any sound on most of them when a microphone is connected.

The cassette players I'm using are:

  • QFX Retro-39
  • General Electric 3-5157
  • Continental C-693A
  • Radio Shack CCR-81

All of these cassette recorders play tapes just fine. All of them have built-in microphones; the QFX and Continental work with these, but The Radio Shack and the General Electric do not. The Radio Shack has an LED indicator that does not light up when dictated to. The General Electric has an LED that does light up when dictated to (when it can hear sound) from both the internal microphone and when a microphone is connected to he mic jack, but there is no voice on the tape when played back (just white noise).

Only the QFX will record audio from the "Line In" jack. All of the other cassette players are labeled as "mic", and do not seem to record my voice. I also tried using a stereo-to-mono adapter, which did not change the result.

Why do I not hear anything from the vintage recorders when using the mic jack to record? It's possible that the Radio Shack unit has a problem, since recording doesn't work at all, even with the built-in microphone, I don't think the recording mechanism would be faulty on all of the other ones in the same way. The General Electric is also off in that I can see the indicator light up, but there is no voice recorded.

Do I need to use a powered microphone when using these players? Is this simply how it was done at the time and expected? Or am I using the wrong kind of microphone for these players.

The microphone I am using is a brand new Vivatar VIVMIC826 that works fine in a computer via the pink microphone jack, and in the QFX.

What might I be doing wrong?

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    The mic is a condensor microphone and requires plug-in-power. Older casette decks does not supply power.
    – ghellquist
    Sep 19 at 20:12
  • It's possible to build an adapter circuit which feeds the few volt DC power to the mic and extracts the audio for the tape recorder mic input. The included USB adapter does the same, but the audio signal is converted to digital. Without having the mic in one's hands it's impossible to decide what the included USB adapter feeds and expects. If one has them in his hands he may find the right circuit by trial and error assuming he knows the low cost electret mic construction principles and generally can work with circuits including making measurements.
    – user287001
    2 days ago

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