LAST UPDATED: September 12, 2019
Best Cassette Adapters: Play Digital Tunes in Your Classic Car
Listen to your favorite digital tunes in an older car with these cassette adapters
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON September 12, 2019
Music helps you get through a long trip, but what if you drive an older car that only has a cassette player? You can either upgrade to a costly modern car stereo system or buy an inexpensive cassette adapter, which will allow you to enjoy your favorite music from a modern electronic device. Check out the best cassette adapters on the market in this handy buying guide.
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Benefits of Cassette Adapters
- Save money. Upgrading your entire head stereo unit can be expensive. Cassette deck adapters are quite cheap, so there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on stereo equipment when you can spend just a few dollars on an adapter.
- Continue to use old hardware. It is still possible to listen to music from your iPhone, Android, CD player or another device through a cassette player that appears sorely outdated. Fortunately, it can still be of use.
Types of Cassette Adapters
Many of the cassette adapters you will find today online and in stores have cords. You simply insert the tape into your cassette player and plug the corresponding cord into the player as well as into your portable audio device.
Wireless or Bluetooth
These types of cassette adapters do not require a cord, which can be cumbersome. You simply connect the player to your portable electronic device using Bluetooth technology. One downside is this type of adapter tends to be more expensive; however, it also has a good audio quality.
Carwires is based in Arizona. It manufactures audio cables, power accessories, speaker wire, and other auto accessories. A popular product from this brand is the Carwires Premium Car Audio Cassette Adapter.
Scosche, based in Ventura County, Calif., was founded in 1980 when Roger and Scotia “Scosche” Alves started car audio consulting the business in their garage. The company currently has 150 employees that design and deliver more than 4,000 consumer technology, Powersports, and car audio products. We recommend the Scosche PCA2 Universal Cassette Adapter for iPod and MP3 players.
Cassette Adapter Pricing
- Under $15: At this price point, you can find car cassette adapters with basic features, such as mini-plugs to insert to your smartphone or MP3 player. They may include an adjustable design to fit front- and side-load players. However, they may be noisy.
- $15-$20: You will find improved features in this price range. They are lightweight with a portable design and, like less expensive units, are compatible with MP3 players, CDs, tablets, and other electronic devices.
- Over $20: Here you will find premium and top-rated cassette adapters. Most of these work wirelessly and require no cables. They support Bluetooth, can often be used while charging, and come with a built-in microphone to make hands-free calls.
A short cord can be inconvenient. Look for an adapter that has an aux cord that is long enough to connect the tape player to your device. A long aux cable for car cassette players gives you more flexibility and also allows the backseat passengers to control the music from a portable device.
Always look at the headphone jack to determine if the adapter is compatible with your electronic device. Some will work with MP3 players but may not work with smartphones. A universal car audio adapter is compatible with a variety of devices.
The best cassette player adapters will include a silent mechanism to reduce mechanical noise in the background. You will get a clearer sound with fewer disturbances on a long road trip or during your commute.
- Durability: If you love listening to music, a cassette adapter is something that you are going to use often. Therefore, choose the best MP3 cassette adapter that has a high-quality construction that can endure constant plugging and unplugging from your electronic device.
- Warranty: There is a possibility that your electronic product can develop a defect. That is why it is important to choose a product that is supplied with a warranty. If it is faulty, the manufacturer should issue you a refund or provide you with a replacement.
Best Cassette Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Arsvita Cassette Bluetooth 5.0 receiver allows you to answer phone calls, change the volume, and play, pause, or skip music. It's compatible with phones, tablets, MP3 players, and other devices equipped with standard Bluetooth technology. The premium chip provides a stable and fast transmission for superior audio performance.
The built-in battery provides up to eight hours of play and talk time, 168 hours of standby time, and it only takes 90 minutes to fully charge. It also comes with a 16-month replacement warranty. It works seamlessly to transmit high-quality audio. Overall, it makes your system sound crisp and full.
However, there have been some complaints that it produces some buzzing noise in the background. Also, there is no way to recharge it with the tape in the player, so you have to take it out regularly to charge it. There have also been complaints that it only plays on the passenger side speakers.
The Reshow cassette adapter is our budget-friendly selection. You can listen to digital music by connecting your electronic device via a 3.5mm headphone jack. The unit allows you to adjust the audio between the music player (i.e., an iPod or smartphone) and your car's speaker settings.
Overall, this cassette adapter works really well, has a light cord, and does exactly as is advertised. It has an option to flip the side of the tape based on the way your particular stereo works. In addition, the quality sound it produces through the speakers is really good. It produces excellent bass and mid-range sounds. The Reshow also comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
One problem is the device makes the classic sound a cassette makes when it's running in the player. In addition, any light movement of the cord may cause pops, hisses, or static. Finally, the jack may not fit tightly into your electronic device, causing it to fall out easily.
This cassette adapter's design fosters a secure connection, while its dual shielding, polished metal molding and corrosion-resistant gold-plated plugs ensure reliable performance and minimal signal loss. It's compatible with phones, tablets, MP3 players, and other devices equipped with a standard 3.5mm jack or AUX-in port.
The audio cable is durable and provides tangle-free operation. Its step-down design provides a secure fit with phones in nearly any type of case. It works well with music with a lot of bass and treble, and even though you can hear the cassette spinning when you turn the music down, it's hardly noticeable.
The sound quality is good but only if you control high volume through the radio, not the phone. Maximum volume on the phone may cause distortion. The biggest complaint is that similar to its sister product, the Arsvita Cassette Bluetooth 5.0, it may only work on one side of your vehicle's speakers.
- Don't turn the volume up too high on your device. In some cases, this might cause distortion.
- Eject the adapter after each use, and put it a storage compartment. This increases its lifespan.
- Ensure that the phone’s volume and the car’s volume are on the same level. If the car’s volume is turned on but the phone’s volume is turned off, there may be some background noise.
Q: How do cassette adapters work?
A: Although they look like regular tapes, they operate differently. A cassette adapter has a transmitting head that connects to an input cord that leads to a music source. Once you connect your MP3 player, a signal is sent to the internal inductors, allowing the head unit to transmit the audio through your car’s audio system.
Q: Why doesn’t the deck tape on a cassette adapter reverse?
A: The inner mechanism of cassette adapters is different from traditional cassettes. Inside, there are magnetic inductors and a series of gears that “trick” your car’s head unit into not stopping or reversing.
Q: Can I use a Bluetooth cassette adapter and charge it at the same time?
A: It depends on the product. The Bluetooth cassette adapter we selected does not support charging while it is in use.
Our pick for the top cassette adapter is the Arsvita Car Audio Bluetooth Cassette Receiver. It has eight hours of play and talk time, and overall it provides a stable and fast transmission for superior audio performance.
A less pricey alternative is the Reshow Cassette Adapter for Cars.