How to create CDs from your old tapes and albums
Not too long ago I was in my living room, hanging out with an old high school friend. We sat in rapt attention listening to old albums from a local band. I can't tell you how much enjoyment I got out of listening to those oldies. However, albums and for that matter, cassettes, don't last forever and my friend said to me out of the blue, "Why don't you just burn CDs from those albums? Then you won't have to worry about scratching or losing them?"
Honestly, with a family, a mortgage, a house that always needs work and a demanding job, the last thing I was thinking about preserving those songs! But my friend was right. For a lot of people like myself, there's a lot of sentimental value in those dusty records and tapes. For a very little amount of money it's easy to make CDs.
You can break down the process into two steps:
» Connect your turntable or your analog cassette player to your computer to convert the analog signal into a digital WAV file.
» Burn the WAV file to an Audio CD using your CD burning software (that normally comes with your CD writer).
Another option is to convert the WAV to MP3 format, and copy the MP3 files to a CD to be played back in a computer, MP3 CD Player, DVD player, or MP3 player.
For the purposes of this column we'll make a CD out of an album but the process is the same for a cassette. When recording music, it's better to record from an album because the frequency response is better. If you're recording speech a tape is fine.
If recording a tape, your player should have LINE OUT capability. If you don't have the LINE OUT option, you can use the headphone output of any tape player; however, the quality will lack. You'll also need a sound card in your computer with a LINE IN input. (Your computer may not have this so check to make sure).
Hook up the LINE OUT from the turntable or tape deck to the LINE IN of your sound card. (I went down to Radio Shack in Kahala and purchased an $8 cable to do this.)
Set up the proper sound card settings on the computer by double clicking the speaker icon in the task bar or go to Start Menu: Programs: Accessories: Entertainment: Volume Control.
Start your recording software and set up the recording software for optimal settings. Usually, there's a "test" or "preview" button so you can check the volume before recording.
You will now have one or two large WAV files. With your Audacity or other software you can wipe out the blank spot where the cassette reverses direction or for scratchy sounds from an old album. The WAV file can be directly burned to a CD-R using CD writing software. Note that your files can't be longer than 74 or 80 minutes (depends on the type of CD you have) or they won't fit on the CD. For more info (and good links to free software) check out: magicref.tripod.com/articles/tape2cd.htm.
Mac users shouldn't feel left out. You'll need a device called an iMic, says Rolf Nordahl, of MacMouse.com on South Street. Simply plug one end of the iMic into the turntable (or tape deck) and the other end into the Mac (via USB). iMic comes with software (called Final Vinyl) that allows you to rip music into MP3 or WAV files.
Remember to respect copyright laws and enjoy those oldies on your MP3 player.
, general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has been a telecommunications and computer expert for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org