In this roundup, we’ve assembled the best portable cassette players and recorders. Whether you want to relive one of Bob Marley’s classics, bump to Taylor Swift’s Midnights cassette tapes, or simply get a taste of the golden era of music, you can easily do so with one of these best cassette players.
Cassette tape players now feature more modern hardware. However, they tend to try to recreate that 90s vintage retro design. If you were born or alive in that era, you might get nostalgic looking at them, but don’t get carried away. Here’s what to look out for:
- Supported Tape Type: The cassette players in this roundup can record to Type I and Type II cassettes. Type III and Type IV Metal cassettes are not supported.
- Functionality: Along with traditional functionality, like recording and AM/FM playback, modern tape players often allow you to digitize your tapes for playback on a computer or phone.
- Controls: Portable cassette players are big on physical buttons. Depending on your needs, watch out for key buttons like the play, pause, record, rewind, fast-forward, and stop/eject.
- Audio/Microphone Jack: The audio jack is one of the key ports you’ll find on a portable walkman. It lets you plug in your headphones and enjoy music on the go. The microphone jack allows for external recording. (Some tape recorders use a single jack for both headphones and microphones.)
- Power: Since the cassette players in this roundup are all portable, they require AA batteries to function in the wild. That said, some models can run on DC or AC power.
- Built-In Microphones: Some tape recorders feature a built-in microphone. Ideally, you should use an external microphone (over the 3.5mm headphone jack), as it will provide better audio quality with less interference than the built-in microphone.
- ✓ All-in-one cassette player, recorder, converter
- ✓ AM/FM radio function with complete function buttons
- ✓ 3.5-millimeter audio jack plus belt clip
- ✗ No auto stop function
- ✗ Mono sound
ByronStatics makes some of the best record players available. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that the ByronStatics Portable Cassette Player is our best overall pick. This versatile all-in-one walkman is a cassette player, recorder, converter, and AM/FM radio combined. It features a function switch that allows you to easily switch between tape and radio modes.
It also has a built-in mic and dedicated play, pause, stop, record, fast forward, and fast rewind buttons. It has a manual volume control, a USB port for conversions (MP3, wav, etc), as well as a 3.5-millimeter audio jack for your headpones (and yes, headphones are required for FM radio functionality). It has a belt clip, uses AA batteries (or a DC power connection), and is available in black-white, pink, and teal.
- ✓ Affordable radio cassette player with antenna
- ✓ Full complement of control buttons
- ✓ Features a 3.5-millimeter audio jack
- ✗ Does not convert tapes to digital formats
If you want a portable cassette player/recorder just as versatile as the ByronStatics Cassette player but a little cheaper, then get the Retekess TR606. It’s a powerful multipurpose cassette player, recorder, and AM/FM radio with an 18.9-inch antenna for a better reception than the ByronStatics Cassette Player. It also has retro vibes just like the best turntables of these days.
The Retekess TR606 runs on AA batteries or DC power. The only downside is that it can’t convert tapes to digital formats.
- ✓ Solid cassette-to-digital converter with Audacity installation kit
- ✓ Cassette tape player with auto-reverse
- ✓ 3.5-millimeter audio/aux-in jack
- ✗ No recorder functionality
- ✗ No AM/FM radio function either
While the Retekess TR606 Portable Cassette Player lacks a dedicated converter, the Reshow Portable Cassette Player is one of the best cassette-to-digital converters. It also doubles as a cassette player (with auto-reverse), but lacks a recorder and AM/FM functionality. It comes with an Audacity installation disc (Windows, macOS X) for audio-to-digital conversion and a matching USB cable.
This allows you to convert your favorite cassette tapes from way back into digital formats that you can play on your phone or PC. The Reshow Portable Cassette Player is powered by DC or a pair of AA batteries. It has dedicated open, play, stop, rewind, and fast-forward buttons, plus a headphone jack.
Best for MP3 Conversion
- ✓ Cassette player/recorder with AM/FM functionality
- ✓ Retro-styled with acoustic cavity design for best sound output
- ✓ Rod antenna with 3.5-millimeter audio headphone jack
- ✗ No converter functionality
While the Reshow Portable Cassette Player and Converter lacks a dedicated recording function and AM/FM radio, the SEMIER Portable AM/FM Radio Cassette Player and Recorder is a robust AM/FM radio cassette player and recorder. This retro-styled audio player features a high-quality DSP chip, HD mic, and acoustic cavity design.
Built with premium materials, it also features a rod antenna, a 3.5-millimeter audio headphone jack, a microphone jack, a top-mounted volume control knob, a side-mounted AM/FM dial scale, a function switch, and play, stop, record, rewind, and fast forward buttons. This compact and portable vintage-style walkman is powered by AA batteries or DC power.
Best With AM/FM Radio
- ✓ Battery and AC-powered cassette player and recorder
- ✓ Has full complete function buttons with auto-stop function
- ✓ 3.5-millimeter audio/aux-in jack
- ✗ Buttons tend to jam easily
If you’re a chronic tapehead who’s into retro gear, this premium shoebox-styled JENSEN Cassette Player and Recorder will likely tickle your fancy. It has dedicated record, play, rewind, fast-forward, stop/eject, and pause buttons. This is great for voice memos and meetings and if you prefer physical touch buttons. It also has an auto-stop function.
This compact and featherweight cassette player comes with a carry handle and a built-in condenser microphone. It comes with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, volume control, and automatic record level control. It also has a dedicated external microphone jack, an aux-in jack (to record the output of your phone or another audio source), and can be powered by a 120-Volt AC adaptor (included) or 4x ‘C’ (UM-2) batteries (not included).
Best Shoebox Style
JENSEN MCR-100 Cassette Player and Recorder
The JENSEN Cassette Player and Recorder is another vintage shoebox-styled portable walkman with a carry handle, built-in condenser mic, audio jack that is both DC and AC-powered.