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DIY Transfer Record Tape Cassette or Mindisc to PC

Some Useful Tips for the Techie Audiophile

What Skill Level is Required to DIY Transfer Audio to PC and MP3?

Whichever device you use to play your audio, the process of capturing and editing audio on a PC is pretty similar. Someone with a good knowledge of audio recording techniques and a basic understanding of digital audio should be able to put together a DIY kit for audio capture.

The necessary ingredients to get started - apart from the player itself - are: audio capture software, a connection cable, a PC, Mac or laptop with a soundcard.

The connection cable will depend on the sort of output(s) available on the player. But even here there is a choice as to whether an OFC cable is used and the length used. The hardcore audiophile will probably go for a shielded OFC connection cable and the length being not excessively long if a short cable will do.

Realistically, the PC or laptop will be probably have been bought before anything else is chosen, luckily however, the soundcard can be upgraded at anytime.

The real choice comes in with software - here there should be something to suit any taste.

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Which Audio Conversion Software to Buy?

Well to start off, very good audio conversion software can be obtained free. Audacity - the open source audio editor - is probably the best free alternative at present. And Audiograbber - freeware available from the Audiograbber website is another decent choice.

Some video capture software can be tweaked for use primarily as audio capture.

One very good paid for general purpose audio processing software is Sound Forge by Sony. The appearance is superior to Audacity and the capabilities compare favourably. The Studio version of Sound Forge is good value - the cost is less than that of some dedicated vinyl to PC or tape to PC players and in the same bracket as the cost of soundcard based solutions like Magix's Tape and Vinyl rescue.

If you need to burn your recordings to CD then the choice is extremely wide. A trawl around will provide a good range of burners in both free and shareware categories.

Computer Hardware

When it comes to computer hardware, the key thing to remember is that audio takes up vast amounts of disk space. At least in uncompressed form - which is the form it will take when using most audio capture software. (I believe Virtualdub can be used to capture and compress at the same time but you'll need to demux the compressed audio from the video file.)

If your hard disk fills completely whilst recording, there is a good chance you'll lose the data already recorded. Try to always have a great deal of space left on your hard disk after recording is completed. This provides a margin of safety in case the recording goes on for longer than you originally estimated and allows the computer to use hard disk space efficiently.

A useful rule of thumb is that uncompressed audio takes up 10 times more space than an MP3 file.

Defragment Regularly

Defragmenting your hard drive weekly is recommended if you are using it for audio capture. This helps to keep your computer performing efficiently.

When you copy material which you didn't produce yourself, there may be copyright issues to take into account. Please respect others' copyright... and have fun!!