How to convert my old vinyl records and cassette tapes to CD?

Question

Is there a way to convert my old vinyl records and cassette tapes to CD?

- Jim

Answer

This question was answered on March 7, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Growing up with cassettes and vinyl records and having worked in the home audio business, I have many fond memories of the popping, clicking and hissing of those old analog audio formats.

The older the recording, the less likely that it is in today’s digital formats, so buying your old favorites on CD may not be an option.

You may also have some old cassette recording of your child’s piano recital or some other home made recording that you would love to preserve onto a CD.

Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to do and you likely have most of what you need to get started, with the exception of a simple cable and a free Internet download.

Here is the list of items that you will need:

- A Windows based computer with at least 500Mb of free disk space

- A CD-R/W ‘burner’ to make the CD

- An audio capture program such as MusicMatch (available free at

musicmatch.com)

- A Phono-to-Mini cable (available at Radio Shack – catalog #42-2475)

- A stereo system with available ‘Tape Out’ jacks

You will need to get your computer and your stereo next to each other so you can plug the phono jacks of the cable into the stereo’s ‘tape out’ jacks and the mini plug into the computer’s sound card line-in jack.

Once you have downloaded and installed the MusicMatch software, make sure that it is configured to record from the ‘Line-in’ source by clicking on the Options menu, then on Source Also make sure that the recording format is set to ‘WAV’ by clicking on the Options menu, then on Format

Test your configuration by playing something from your stereo and see if it comes out of the speakers on your computer You may need to double-click the speaker icon in the Systray (bottom right hand corner, next to the clock) and move the slider up for the ‘Line’ source.

Once you have established sound in the computer from the stereo, click on the red record button on the MusicMatch player to open the recorder window The audio levels are very important for a good recording so play with the volume control and make three or four quick test recordings at different levels so you can determine the best setting.

I would highly recommend that you record each track on an album or tape as a separate file, so you can access each song separately later.

Once you have captured the recordings as files on your computer, you can use your favorite CD burning software or MusicMatch to create an audio CD with those files.

The whole trick is getting the music into the computer as a digital file and the rest is no different than any other sound file You can also use MusicMatch to convert it to the MP3 format for use on portable devices.

If this all sounds too complicated, you may want to give the Sony EZAudio kit a try It includes the cable, capture software that also can reduce pops and hissing and even some blank CD-R disks to get you started It sells for $50 and is available through their web site at SonyStyle.com

(search for EZAudio).

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 7, 2003