You still find cassette players in older cars. Not quite up to date anymore, or can you still do something with it? In this workshop we turn the old-fashioned cassette player into a modern music player.

JohnV 2John Vanderaart

Cars these days last a very long time. This is due to the quality, the regular MOT inspections and perhaps also to the thriftiness of the owner. Everyone knows that it is cheaper to completely ‘drive off’ a car than to exchange it for a fresh one every three years. As a result, there are quite a few cars driving around that are still equipped with a cassette player integrated into the dashboard. There you are driving with your high-tech smartphone… Don’t worry, something can still be made of an old-fashioned cassette player.

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This is a fairly fresh youngtimer that is still equipped
of a fully integrated audio set. Caught due to minor damage

Okay, we’ll take a random one youngtimer and that’s what we’ll get to work on. Sun youngtimer you can usually recognize it by some damage left and right, but that’s besides the point. Just for the record: car radios were once very susceptible to theft. Which was the reason at the time that many car manufacturers designed these car radios tightly and built them into the dashboard. That made stealing such a car radio a lot more complicated and selling it almost impossible. But that was then and nowadays you can buy a built-in stereo solution for less than 30 euros that is absolutely delicious. And there you are, 25 years later, with your still beautifully integrated audio set and nowhere to be found (name something) Stromae on cassette tape.

Car Stereo 2

Car Stereo 3

Nowadays you can already buy a supersonic built-in stereo
solution for less than 30 euros.
Literally equipped with all options,
including the necessary bling-bling

MP3 and Bluetooth
But fortunately we can still benefit from the – shall we say – robustness of the old-fashioned cassette player. That is to say, the cassette player does not really care what kind of cassette events you put into it. Admittedly, a real cassette tape is preferable, but it can also be an accessory disguised as a cassette tape. Well, we would like to bring two of those attachments to your attention: the MP3 attachment and the Bluetooth attachment.

  41T4571 2 MP3 Player 2

This is a cassette tape in disguise
that is equipped with an audio cable
with a 2.5 millimeter jack plug.
The cassette player will connect via that jack plug
be provided with sound

It is a traditional MP3 player
which, among other things, is (still) provided
of a 2.5 millimeter Jack opening.
Nowadays it costs a few tens of euros
on the internet and is quickly provided
from 8 to 16 GB of storage space

MP3 attachment
The MP3 accessory comes in the form of a cassette tape that is equipped with a cable with a 2.5 millimeter jack plug at the end. Such a 2.5 millimeter Jack plug (= Male) must fit into the 2.5 millimeter Jack opening (= Female) of the MP3 player on – because that is also possible – the smartphone; then look in particular at the connection for the headphones.

Bluetooth attachment
The Bluetooth accessory also comes in the form of a cassette tape, but can be connected to – usually – the smartphone via Bluetooth. That sounds more attractive than the MP3 accessory, but practical experiences with the Bluetooth variant (as the reviews on the internet testify) are sometimes mixed. The Bluetooth accessory is also considerably more expensive than the MP3 accessory; also not unimportant…

  41T4574 2 This is a cassette tape
but disguised
with a bluetooth
That has the advantage
that you can do wirelessly
to work.
It is a bit more expensive
and the experiences
are mixed.
But if it’s good
works of course
really great

No Jack but USB-C
We will immediately focus on the fact that many modern smartphones are no longer equipped with a 2.5 millimeter Jack opening but with a USB-C port. You then have two options: you work with the Bluetooth accessory mentioned above or you convert USB-C to 2.5 millimeter Jack. We will do the second thing in a moment. But before that happens, we must point out that there are several ‘ways’ to get from USB-C to 2.5 millimeter Jack. We mention three:

Universal 2The universal USB-C
to 2.5 millimeters
Jack solution.
This solution is in
dozens of versions
can be found, also with
additional ports.
Just pay attention, because
it is never a hundred
percent guaranteed
that this solution
with your brand and type
smartphone works.
So always check
the compatibility
of such a universal

Own brand 2The USB-C to 2.5 milli-
meter Jack solution
which is special
intended for your brand
and type of smartphone.
You can enjoy it here
assume it right away
will work properly.
It’s usually something
more expensive than the
universal variant.

Audio 2The USB-C to audio
solution. In that case
you buy a real sound
card that is also
provided with a 2.5
millimeter Jack opening.
The relative disadvantage
of this variant
the price tag,
but it says like
advantage versus
that you have more audio options
gets: volume control,
microphone input, etc.

To work
With all this said, we can get started. And we do this with the MP3 form of the cassette tape in combination with the Bluetooth attachment. The universal USB-C adapter did not give the desired result: it took effort to connect via the audio splitter to connect and the sound was not pleasant to listen to, even after the settings were adjusted.

bluetooth attachment

The car there
Then the car comes along. Indeed, such a car has a cassette player that is completely integrated into the dashboard, so replacing it is not a simple matter and certainly not cheap. The only condition, of course, is that the cassette player still functions properly.

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Which means it’s time to involve the car.
Note the integrated dashboard containing the cassette player.
And the MP3 solution will soon be inserted into that cassette player

Now pay close attention, because the cable is on one side of the MP3 solution. That is the side that should be at the front (= the opening) of the cassette player. It’s a good thing that a cassette tape – “Remember oldie?” – has an A-side and a B-side. So insert with the thread at the front.

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Just keep your wits about you for a moment. The wire with the 2.5 millimeters attached to it
The jack plug will of course be located on the front of the cassette player.
That’s allowed, because a cassette tape always has an A-side and a B-side

Then press the button on the Bluetooth accessory to connect to the smartphone, after which a blue light will light up on the cassette to indicate that it is looking for a connection.
You have of course also enabled Bluetooth on the smartphone and you will find the paired device (in this case Y40) under Bluetooth Settings.
Then just look for a music app and start playing!
In terms of volume, pay attention, because we have (1) the volume of the car stereo and (2) the volume of the app/smartphone.

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The pieces of the puzzle are falling together at this moment. The cassette is inserted into the
cassette player and the Bluetooth attachment is connected to the smartphone.
Through the car speakers we hear the music selected on the smartphone

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HCC is always happy to help. Here we give the owner of the youngtimer something extra
instructions. It’s not difficult at all, but you have to know what you’re doing.