How do I convert my music CD's to MP3?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on September 25, 2000

Question

I keep hearing about MP3’s and how you can compress your music CD collection onto your hard drive. How do you do it?

-Mary

Answer

This question was answered on September 25, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


Many associate MP3’s with Napster and pirated music, but at the core of the MP3 file format is the ability to compress audio with very little loss in sound quality A typical audio track on a music disk is about 30Mb in size Converting the file to MP3 will reduce it to about 3Mb, which saves lots of space and allows you to squeeze 10 times the music into the same space.

Transferring your favorite music to your computer’s hard drive allows you to create the ultimate jukebox The number of songs that your “jukebox” can have is limited only by the amount of available space on your hard drive A 30Gb hard drive could potentially store 10,000 songs that could be easily accessed by a few mouse clicks And since you are the “program director” you can omit the songs on a CD that you don’t particularly care for.

Compressing your music CD’s onto your computer is quite simple and chances are you already have the software to perform the task Many music players such as Real Network’s Real Jukebox <a href="http://www.real.com"><font color="#003399">(www.real.com - Windows only)</font></a> or the Music Match Jukebox <a href="http://www.musicmatch.com"><font color="#003399">www.musicmatch.com – Windows or Mac</font></a> have the ability to convert your CD’s to MP3 Microsoft’s Media Player version 7 (free download at www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia) has the ability to copy music to your hard drive using it’s own compression type (*.wma), which is recognized by most MP3 players.

There are a few things to keep in mind when converting your music CD’s to your computer The “bitrate” is important because it determines the amount of compression used and the overall sound quality The higher the bitrate, the larger the file and the better it sounds The best combination of compression and size is generally at 128Kbps Microsoft’s Media Player and Music Match Jukebox both default to this rate, but Real’s Jukebox defaults to the lower 96Kbps rate, so be sure to increase it to 128Kbps before getting started Also, be sure to close all other programs and don’t use your computer while the songs are being transferred Depending upon the performance of your computer, you can cause small “defects” to the music files that sound like pops or scratches if you try to use the computer for other tasks while converting from CD’s

Once you have compiled your music library on your computer, if possible, connect the “Line Out” jack on the back of your computer’s sound card to the “AUX” input on your home stereo system so that you can listen to the music that is stored on your computer through your stereo system If your computer and your stereo are not close enough to connect them with a wire, you might consider getting a wireless 900Mhz transmission system, such as the SonicBox Remote Tuner <a href="http://www.sonicbox.com/store"><font color="#003399">www.sonicbox.com/store</font></a> that allows you to “broadcast” your computer based radio station to your home stereo!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on September 25, 2000

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