NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2011
Un-trapping Old Music
By Diane Fahlbusch, Secretary,
Icon PC User Group, New York
July 2010 issue, Icon Graphic Newsletter

secretary (at) iconpcug.org (click to email author)

Technology has made audio a new experience, and provides a plethora of choices. Hours of music can now fit comfortably in your pocket, as well as the players. Music files can be transferred with the click of a few buttons. But what good is it all if your music is still trapped in vinyl and tape?

One of the easiest ways to digitalize your music is to download it. Be careful about offers for free music. Some sites are merely malware and virus… traps, while others will bombard you with adware and spam. If you have an extensive collection to transfer, buying downloaded music can become an expensive proposition. Also, internet based music may not be a high enough quality to suit your ear.

Another solution is to rip CDs. It’s fast and easy. If you are connected to internet during the process, album information can be filled in automatically – a huge time saver. Don’t overlook the free resources available from your public library, including the inter-library loan. There are plenty of freeware programs to accomplish this. But what if you can’t find what you want on CD?

A third choice is to purchase a USB turntable. They all come with software, the primary price determiner, and connect directly to your computer. Unfortunately, they are not quality turntables and often do not accommodate 78s, which require a wider needle. And your tapes are still trapped. So what else can you do?

Thanks to software and a few simple inexpensive connections, especially if you shop around, you have another alternative. Simple Y connections can be used to bring sound out from your headphone jack and in through the microphone connection on your computer via RCA cables. Standard headphone jacks are ¼? (6.3mm), and microphone and ?mini? headphone jacks are ?? (3.5mm). Be aware that there is a smaller jack that is referred to as a mini-plug. Another alternative is to connect to the speaker out jacks. To prevent feedback, use long enough RCA cables to keep your computer away from your stereo. Both of these methods require you to adjustments to the volume on your stereo system, as well as your system’s microphone settings and the software’s recording levels. The best connection is from the RCA ?record? jacks designed for tape decks from the amplifier. You will still need to adjust the system’s microphone level and the software’s recording levels.

That’s all really need. Remember that by not using ?professional equipment?, such as a mixing board, you are staying within the legal limits of copyright laws. And for software, try Audacity. It allows you to record and edit your audio files. And it’s FREE. But for removing hiss and crackle, you may want to investigate paid software. Look for ones that allow you to try them to see if you can learn them, work with and do what you need to, even if they leave a watermark.

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