Whenever I go thrift store shopping with my wife, I enjoy checking out the consumer electronic section of the store and finding compact stereos and boomboxes at bargain basement prices. It’s really cool to get a nice bookshelf stereo for less than $25. But, vintage stereos were made before the era of streaming media, MP3 players, smartphones, and tablet computers. If a compact stereo doesn’t have an auxiliary input, there is almost no way to get your media into your stereo and out through its nice speakers. At least no way except for the audio cassette adapter. With all my retro technology, I had to go out and find one. This review covers the iEssentials Audio Cassette Adapter that I recently purchased from RiteAid Pharmacy for $12.99.
An audio cassette adapter looks like a cassette and plugs into the cassette player on your vintage boombox, compact stereo system, or car stereo. A wire runs out from the cassette adapter and plugs into the headphone jack of your media device. To operate the adapter, you set the volume of your media source to medium and start playing. Then you press play on your cassette tape player. You can adjust the volume using the cassette players volume controls.
I tested my iEssentials audio cassette adapter using the earphone adapter of my Nook Color and two cassette players: a Memorex Boombox and a Magnavox Bookshelf Stereo. It had been over a decade since I had last tinkled with an audio cassette adapter. Back then, they were called CD converters because they allowed personal CD players to be used in car stereos. I only used an audio cassette adapter a couple of times because i felt it was too much of a hassle to use while driving. I couldn’t remember if audio cassette adapters worked well or not.
The first test of the audio cassette adapter was in an inexpensive Memorex CD, cassette, radio boombox. It was a little tricky to insert the audio adapter and thread the wire out to my Nook Color. I didn’t want the cassette player door to cut the wire. However, when I routed the wired correctly and pressed play, the audio adapter worked. After first, there was an audible whirring noise that lasted for about twenty seconds, but the audio from my Nook played clearly through the Boombox speakers. The sound was akin to listening to surprise, surprise, a cassette tape.
My second test of the iEssentials Audio Adapter was on a Magnavox Compact Stereo. It was a nice bookshelf stereo with a three CD player, AM/FM radio, and cassette player. I had much better luck using the adapter with this stereo. The tapes are inserted with the tape side down into this unit and since the wire comes out of the bottom of the cassette it was easy to let it hang out of the cassette deck door and connect my Nook Color. With this stereo, I didn’t experience any whirring or clunkiness. There was some minimal noise associated with a cassette tape in play, but the sound was clear and audible. I was able to listen to podcasts and streaming internet radio without any issues and I was able to capitalize on the stereo’s speakers.
Overall, for an investment of about $12.00, I was able to extend the functionality of my vintage stereo equipment considerably. There are a number of audio cassette adapters available via internet retailers, but it was convenient to buy at RiteAid and know that I could easily return my purchase if I encountered a problem. If you have vintage cassette players, I highly recommend the purchase of an audio cassette adapter so that you can use more modern devices with your old stereo equipment.