How do I transfer my old music tapes to my CD-R(W)?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on January 15, 2001

Question

I'm interested in converting some analog tapes to CD using a Read/Write CD. Can this be done by going directly from the tape earphone jack to the input jack of the computer and then doing some form of file conversion? People I've spoken to mention MP3 and Wav files, but I haven't found a general description as to what they are and how they can be utilized. Could you shed some light on this for me?

-Jim

Answer

This question was answered on January 15, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


Transferring older analog recordings to your computer and eventually to a CD is a long, somewhat complicated process, but is worth the hassle if you really want to preserve your recordings The basic steps are to connect your source (tape drive) to your computer, create a raw sound file on your computer, then transfer/convert it to a music CD.

First, lets review the difference between a *.wav file and an MP3 file They are both digital methods of capturing sound, but MP3 is a compression format that will save you space, while the *.wav format will generally give you a slightly better recording.

The MP3 format provides you with roughly 10:1 compression, allowing for 10 times the music to be stored in the same amount of space on your computers hard drive A typical 3 minute *.wav recording will take roughly 30Mb of space while the same recording in the MP3 format will only take 3Mb The slight loss in sound quality is likely to go unnoticed since the source is analog.

As far as connecting your tape deck to your compouter, get a Phono-to-mini headphone jack adapter cable (available at Radio Shack - Catalog# 42-2475) Plug the phono (RCA plugs) into the tape deck’s output jacks and the mini headphone jack into your sound cards line-in jack

Once you have made this connection, you will have to choose a program to actually create the recording Windows includes a simple program called Sound Recorder that is in the Accessories section of the Program menu (Depending upon your version of Windows, it may be in either the Entertainment or Multimedia section).

Volume levels are also important in creating recordings that are not distorted You can control the level of sound from the Line-in jack by double-clicking on the small speaker icon in your Systray (bottom right next to the clock), which opens the sound mixer panel Do a few test recordings at various levels to determine the best setting for the item that you are recording.

If you want to encode in MP3 or *.wav, you can download the free MusicMatch Jukebox from <a href="http://www.musicmatch.com" target="_blank"><font color="#003399">www.musicmatch.com</font></a> Once installed, change the MusicMatch record setting to Line-in by pressing Ctrl-Shift-S and clicking on the Recorder tab at the top Look for the Recording Source box at the bottom and change it to Line-in While you are on this screen you can change the recording format from the default (MP3) to *.wav if desired.

Once you have made the changes, press on the Record button to open the Recorder window Follow the on-screen instructions to create the recording Once you have created the recording, you can burn it to your CD-R by putting your new recordings in the playlist and clicking on the CD-R button Choose the Audio CD Format option for recording and this will convert it to a format that standard music CD players can understand.

All CD-R(W) drives come with software for creating music disks, so your exact method of recording and creating the disks will vary Just remember the key to the process is the special cable and choosing the Line-in option in whichever program you choose to use.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on January 15, 2001

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