Have you found yourself listening to that same REO Speedwagon cassette tape every time you take a drive? Even if your car isn’t the newest, you don’t have to rely on tapes anymore! With a cassette adapter, you can use your phone or iPod to play music through your car stereo, meaning the only thing from the 80’s in your car is the playlist you sing along to when no one’s listening (and we won’t tell if you won’t).
Best Cassette Adapter – Comparison Table
To save you the hassle, we’ve done some research and found the best cassette adapters available today. Take a look at the list below for a quick overview of our most highly recommended products:
|Product Name||Cable Length||Additional features|
|Monster iCarPlay||36”||Spring loaded head, supports side loading decks|
|Walkman CPA-9C||48”||Silent mechanism, spring loaded head|
|INSTEN Cassette Adapter||40”||Silent mechanism, spring loaded head|
|Scosche PCA2||24”||90-day warranty|
The good thing about these adapters is that they’re a pretty inexpensive way to modernise your sound system, although if you buy a super cheap one, don’t expect it to last. That said, we’ve ensured every adapter on this list will stand the test of time and is of a high quality. So, without further ado, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these products and weigh their strengths and weaknesses, starting with the Monster iCarPlay.
Monster iCarPlay - Best Premium Cassette Adapter
Cassette adapters are inexpensive in general, but the advantage of this is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a premium one. Take, for example, the Monster iCarPlay. For under twenty dollars, you can own a cassette adapter that can be used in any tape deck. Some models only support side loading, that is, decks where you insert the narrow side first, but this one has a movable cable to allow for wide side first playback too.
Additionally, this adapter has dual balanced conductors which reduce the amount of distortion and additional noise that comes with converting digital audio to analogue. Further, the cassette head itself is spring loaded to help maintain a good connection with your tape decks player head. If you’ve ever listened to a cassette tape on a bumpy road, you’ll realise exactly why this is so useful, but if you haven’t, it stops your tape from cutting out when your car is shaking.
We liked that although cassettes are old technology, the adaptor has a modern colour scheme and the cable itself looks like something you’d find on a fancy set of earbuds. The three-foot long cable ensures that it’s long enough to pass to passengers in the backseat too: it’s just long enough to be versatile, but not long enough to be a nuisance. If you’re looking for the best available, you’ve already found it. The Monster iCarPlay is the one for you.
- Reduced audio distortion
- Modern design
- Fits any tape deck
- A little expensive
- Straight jack connection increases potential for damage to occur
Walkman CPA-9C - Best Cassette Adapter for Road Trips
Sony is a company known for not only their wide range of hardware but also the effort they put into ensuring high build quality. There’s a reason they’re one of the biggest tech companies in the world, after all.
The Walkman CPA-9C is a light, yet solidly built cassette adapter with a few valuable features. Firstly, it shares the spring-loaded cassette head that the Monster iCarPlay has, but in addition to minimising musical interruptions caused by uneven terrain, its silent mechanism ensures that you won’t even hear any rattling in your tape deck itself. Maybe you have an older 4×4 or SUV? In any case, if you regularly drive on bumpy surfaces, this is perfect for you.
This adapter has the longest cable of any we’ve reviewed, and at four feet, it’s more than capable of being passed around the car, although this can lead to tangling, so maybe consider limiting it with a cable tie if you’re concerned about this. Also, despite it being a little thinner than expected, we didn’t run into any problems where durability is concerned.
The design of the adapter is subtle and the dark grey plastic casing pays homage to the earlier generation of Walkman cassette players. Some people might find this a little plain for their tastes, but we found it to be a welcome and unexpected throwback to our younger years. If you like to let your passengers choose the music whilst you drive, the Walkman CPA-9C is just what you need.
- Long cable allows you to hand musical control to someone in the backseat
- Retro inspired design
- Silent mechanism reduces mechanical noise
- Long cable is prone to tangling
- Cable is a little thin
INSTEN Cassette Adapter - Best Mid-Priced Cassette Adapter
The INSTEN cassette adapter strikes a compromise between the last two products on this list. It features the Walkman’s spring-loaded cassette head and silent casing mechanism but has a cable that’s longer than the Monster model’s and shorter than the Walkman’s. In practical terms, this helps relieve some of the tangling potential present with a really long cable, whilst still being long enough to hand off to someone in the backseat.
As far as design is concerned, it’s pretty much as plain as they come. The black plastic with white writing is pretty standard and the cable itself is thin, roughly the same thickness as the Walkman’s. We didn’t notice any fraying or audio problems when testing it, but we’d suggest maybe giving it a second layer of protection with some black tape, just to help guard your investment. Like the Walkman, the cord has an L-shaped head, which is great since it helps prevent the jack from bending when pressure is applied, meaning you won’t suddenly be left with an adapter that only works if you hold the cable exactly the right way.
In short, this cassette adapter is a deceptively good product, especially when you weigh the fact that it costs less than half the price of the two above. By keeping the casing standard black plastic, INSTEN was able to focus on adding useful features like the silent mechanism and the end result is an adapter that’ll do its job to perfection, without breaking the bank.
- Cable length is just right
- L-shaped jack connection
- Silent mechanism and spring loaded casing
- Bland design
Scosche PCA2 - Best Budget Cassette Adapter
We’re aware that not everyone wants the fanciest product all the time. In fact, sometimes you just want something that’ll do the job without any fuss, something that won’t break or cause you any hassle, something reliable. Well, for these people, the Scosche PCA2 is just right.
This model will work in any tape deck that takes the narrow end first and comes with a two-foot long cord. Whilst this might not reach the backseat, it’s still long enough to give to someone in the passenger seat, and with such a short cable, there is no risk of knotting or tangling. You can also connect it to your device, begin playing music and just tuck it away in the glovebox or up on the dashboard.
You might expect more distortion or mechanical noise since this adapter costs a fair bit less and doesn’t come with the fancy noise reducing chassis some other models do, but actually, distortion is no better or worse than any other model in this price range. Sure, there’s a small amount of noise in the background, but that’s true of any cassette adapter and there was little to no rattling or shaking noise even when driving on unstable surfaces, meaning this product really does punch above its weight in terms of quality.
The icing on the cake is that this model comes with a free 90-day warranty, so even if something does go wrong, you can have it replaced at no additional cost. Coupled with the low price tag, this is the perfect “starter” adapter, and really, what do you have to lose?
- Very inexpensive
- Cable is short enough to avoid tangles, long enough to be comfortably used
- Free 90-day warranty
- Lacks the features of more expensive models
- Shorter cable means it's restricted to use in the front seat
Best Cassette Adapter - Buyer's Guide
A cassette adapter is a pretty simple piece of hardware, and as such, there are a lot of ways in which each model is similar, however, there are one or two ways in which they can differ, and we’ll discuss these below.
How Does It Work?
At first glance, a cassette adaptor looks like a strange mashup of media from the last twenty years, and that’s because it is! Using one is extremely simple, though, you push the cassette part into your car’s tape deck, and plug whatever you want to play music from into the headphones jack. That’s it!
This refers to the length of the cable which plugs into your device via its 3.5mm headphone jack. If the cable is too short, your phone will be suspended in mid-air in front of your dashboard, if it’s too long, your car will look untidy without some kind of cable management, although it’s easier to pass to someone in the backseat. It would be wise to think about how much cable you’ll need.
Some adapters offer simple enhancements such as a bass boost, although the effectiveness of these really depends on how good your stereo system is. It’s also worth noting that the adapter will add a small amount of background noise to your music as a result of conversion from digital to analogue. An optimist would argue that this makes the music sound more “genuine” but overall quality will be reduced. For more information on analogue to digital conversion, you can read the helpful guide here.
As you’ve seen, most cassette adapters are actually quite similar, however, some are more reliable than others, or create less background noise, making them slightly superior. One such product is the INSTEN Cassette Adapter. It blends attractive attributes from more expensive models, whilst improving upon their main weakness: cable length.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you. Maybe there’s a product in here that’s caught your eye, and if so, we advise you to buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that our research has been, as ever, comprehensive and in depth. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again next time.