The era of the 8-track has solidly come to an end, but vinyl is a medium that just won't go away. Our strange obsession with the plastic platters keeps the record player atop the stereo system, and all our albums nearby. Do you treasure the fuzz and hiss that reminds one of an era long past? Do cracks, pops and scratches mean more to you than digital remastering? If so, we have the guide for you! Follow these few easy steps to make all your records into MP3s, and never fiend to drop the needle again.
Setup In order to convert your records to MP3 format, you must first prepare your PC with the proper hardware and software for the job.
To start, you will first need to connect your stereo system to your computer with a stereo RCA-to-headphone cable. One end of this cable should be connected to your amplifier's line-out, and the other end should be plugged into the line-in of your sound card. This cable is available for just a few dollars at Radio Shack or any audio component store. Connect RCA cables to your amplifier's line-out Connect headphone cable to your PC's
Second, you will need a software application that is capable of recording sound through the line-in jack of your sound card. We recommend Music Match Jukebox for its ease of use. Finally, you'll also need a recordable CD-ROM (CD-R) player in your computer to burn your MP3s onto a CD. CD-R is a recordable CD format that is used for both recording data and audio CDs. CD-RW is another type of recordable disc format, but it is better suited for storing data, as many stereo systems are not compatible with CD-RW discs. If you would like help installing a CD burner, consult our Beginner's Guide.
Step One To begin recording, start Music Match and choose your input source from the following menu path: options, recorder, source, and line-in. The "recorder" window will appear underneath the music library. (If it
doesn't, click the REC button.) Click on "artist" and "album" to change the name of the file and enter the song title on the right before recording.
Now, simply press the record button in the window and begin playing the record. When your recording is complete, press stop, and the new track should be recorded and placed at the bottom of your music library. Repeat this process for each track you record.
By default, each track is saved in 128kbps, which is more than sufficient for most high-quality recordings. Once you have completed your first recording, you should play the file and confirm that it was recorded at the proper volume level. (If the track is distorted or too soft, you can adjust the volume input level on either the stereo system or from within Windows by double-clicking the speaker icon on your task bar, which is at the bottom of the screen. In the "play control" window, select options, properties, recording, and finally, OK. A "record control" window should appear, where you can choose a proper volume level. Be sure that the mute button is not selected, or else you may record silence and frustrate yourself to no end.)
Music Match offers a host of additional, advanced preferences for recording as well. You can configure these options by choosing from the menu path: options, settings, recorder tab, and advanced. Options include fades, off-set, and more. As you become more familiar with making your own MP3s from records, these preferences can help you make near professional-sounding recordings from your old analog music. Once you have compiled 74 minutes (or less) of MP3s, you can make an audio CD.
Step Two Once you have garnered enough MP3s, you can organize a list of tracks that will be copied onto the recordable CD. The upper, right-hand window of the Music Match Jukebox is the playlist. To copy a song onto the playlist, drag any file from your music library to the playlist window. In general, blank CD-R discs hold up to 74 minutes' worth of music. (Music Match does not currently support the new 80-minute CD-R format.)
Once you have added all your tracks to be burned, press the CD-R button above the playlist. A new window will appear, which consists of many CD-burning options. Be sure to select audio (default) as the type of CD to
create. (By selecting data, the other option, you can store over 600MB of MP3s on a blank CD. However, this
format will not be playable on a traditional stereo system.) The status bar on the bottom of the window informs you of how much space you have left on the blank CD. You may add or delete songs from your song list in this window as well. In the options area, we recommend that you select "test then write CD" for more reliable burns. Also, if you are mixing electronic music, such as house or trance, you may want to leave "2-second gap" unchecked, avoiding the silence between songs.
When you are ready to copy your tracks to CD, drop a blank CD-R disc into your CD writer and press the "create CD" button.
Traditional CDs use a music format called Red Book Audio (RBA). When MusicMatch burns your tracks to the disc, it is converting the MP3 to a WAV format (which is compatible with RBA) before writing it to the blank CD-R disc. This process can take some time, and for reliable burning it is best if you do not use your computer while this process is taking place.
By registering the Music Match software (for only $30), you can get encoding speeds and CD burning rates that are six times faster and can print CD linear notes with track names and track times. If you plan on burning and archiving many CDs, we highly recommend purchasing the upgrade.
There, that wasn't so bad, was it? If you have any other MP3 related questions, you can be sure that our Beginner's Guide will have the answers you need. Good luck, and happy burning!