SHCC WYSIWYG Article from January 2002

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This article appeared in the January 2002 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Music CD's from Records and Cassettes

by Jerry Carson

Q: Dear Ask The Expert,

I would like to put some of my records (those old black disc that look like over sized CDs) and cassettes on CDs.  I have a CD-R.  I just don't know how to get the music off my records and cassettes and into the computer so that I can make a CD.  Any ideas or suggestions?

Living without music


A: Dear Living without music,

One of the first things I did when I got my CD-R was to transfer all my old tapes to CDs.  And it's really not that hard.  First you'll need to connect your stereo to you computer.  Try to connect the AUX-Out of your stereo to the AUX-In of your sound card.  If your sound card doesn't have an AUX-In you might be able to plug into your MIC connector, but keep the sound turned down!  Radio Shack should be able to sell you the right cable.

Next you need some recording software.  There are lots available.  The shareware I use is CoolEdit2000 from Syntrillium.  You can get it from  It's $69, but if you don't need any of the special effects, you can get CoolEdit Lite for $39.  Well worth the money.  Just start CoolEdit, tell it to record, then start playing your record or tape.  Make sure your stereo has the sound going out the AUX port.  You should be able to hear your music through the speakers on your PC.  I usually record a side at a time then break it into songs.  CoolEdit makes this easy by showing the recording as a graph (actually two graphs, one for the right channel another for the left).  I just look for a time when it's quiet on both tracks.  There are other programs that claim to be able to do this automatically, but I haven't had much luck with them.

Once you have all the songs recorded, it's time burn a CD.  There are many ways of doing this.  I use Nero from  It does a good job and also allows me to design the CD labels.  Again there's a number of packages that will do the same thing, just find the one you like.

Really that's all there is to it!  A few things to watch out for though.

1) Watch the volume.  You'll find that the volume will vary quite dramatically from tape to tape or even from song to song.  This is another reason I like the graphical display.  I adjust the volume so the graph fills the display, without clipping off the top.  That way I get the most sound but very little distortion.

2) Watch you disk space.  Those music files take up a lot of room!  Usually I'll record a few tapes then burn them to a CD.  Erase all those and start over.

3) Use 80 Minute CDs.  They cost about the same as 74 minute CDs but you'll be amazed at how many records are 75 or 76 minutes long.  Even still, you might find some that don't fit on a CD.  Usually, I can find 1 or 2 songs to leave out.

4) Use the whole CD.  Most albums don't have even close to 80 minutes of music.  Repeat songs you like or think about taking the best songs from two different albums and making one great one.  It's your music, now you can have it the way you want it!


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