BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2003

  

 

BOOT CAMP 277 (27/05/03)

 

LP TO PC TO CD, part 2

 

In the last instalment of Boot Camp we showed how to connect your record player or hi-fi system to your PC in order to copy your favourite LPs or tapes onto CD. This week we’re focusing on the software side of things

 

Before we begin a few words on the various stages involved in the process. The analogue audio signals coming from your hi-fi equipment must first be converted into digital data by your PC’s sound card or adaptor. Most PCs do a pretty fair job but for the best results you’ll have to invest in some high-end kit and an external A/D converter, but try this basic method first, you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

The data from the soundcard is recorded onto the hard disc as high quality ‘wav’ files, you will need between 500 and 700Mb of free space per album and before you start it’s a good idea to ‘Defrag’ your hard disc drive, to ensure a smooth flow of data (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools, Disc Defragmenter).

 

To record ‘wav’ files you will need some extra software. Windows Sound Recorder uses the wav format but it can only make recordings lasting a few minutes. Depending on the condition of your original recording you may need to edit the sound files, to remove pops, crackle and background hiss, but for your first attempt I recommend you proceed directly to the final stage, which is to ‘burn’ the CD. The simplest option is to use the software that came with your CD Writer, usually Roxio/Adaptec Easy CD Creator or Nero Burning. Get the basics right first then you can progress to more sophisticated techniques.

 

Now we’re ready so step one is to download a recording program. I suggest you start with a simple shareware program like RIP Vinyl or the slightly more advanced Polderbits (see web links). Demo versions of both programs are available but they either superimpose a short tone on each track or stop working after a few days; give them a try by all means but the fully-functional registered versions are very modestly priced at only £5 and £12.50 respectively.

 

Once you’ve installed your recording program make a short test recording to check everything is working properly. You can avoid the very common problem of a silent recording by ensuring that your PC’s line input isn’t disabled or set to a very low level. To do that double click the Volume Control icon in the System Tray (next to the clock) to bring up the Windows Master Volume Control. The ‘Line Balance’ slider should be displayed and set to about halfway and make sure it is not ‘muted’. If you can’t see it go to the Options menu click Properties and select ‘Line’ from the list. While you are there you might also like to select ‘Wave’ and ‘Microphone’, if they’re not showing, and mute both of them before you start recording (don’t forget to un-mute them afterwards or you might find your PC is unusually quiet…).

 

Check that the hi-fi system is properly connected to your PC (see last week’s Boot Camp) start playback of a record or tape. Launch your sound recorder program and if all’s well the level display bargraphs should be jigging up and down in time with the music. if not you need to go back and check the cables, the Windows Master Volume Control settings and the configuration of your sound recorder program and that it is set to record from your PC’s ‘Line Input’. When you are ready click the Record button and leave it running for a minute or two. Click the Stop button and the stop playback on your hi-fi system.

 

By default RIP Vinyl creates a data file in the My Music folder, double-click the newly created wav file icon to start replay via Windows Media Player, or your preferred player program. Polderbits has its own built-in player utility and this will appear automatically when you stop recording. All being well you will hear what you’ve just recorded.

 

Don’t worry too much about the quality at this stage, you will almost certainly need to tinker around with the quality and level settings in your sound recorder program and Windows Master Volume to avoid ‘clipping’ or distortion, so make a few more test recordings, and when you’re happy with it, set up the hi-fi and copy your first album or selected tracks.

 

Both programs can be set to automatically split the recording into tracks, determined by the silences in between, additionally in Polderbits you can split the tracks manually and fade them in and out.

 

The final stage is to convert the files into CD-Audio data and record them onto a CD-R disc. This operation will keep your PC very busy so it is vitally important that you disable the screensaver and shut down all other running programs. Any interruption to the flow of data, caused by software reading or writing files on the hard disc may produce a momentary blip or click in the sound, or ruin the recording.

 

In Easy CD Creator and Nero all you have to do is pop in a blank disc and follow the prompts to create an audio CD then use a Windows Explorer type interface to ‘drag and drop’ the recorded tracks into the blank CD window. Remember, they don’t all have to all come from the same album, you can easily create a ‘compilation’ of tracks and you have the opportunity to change the order of the tracks. Click the ‘Burn’ or ‘Record’ icon and don’t touch the PC until the disc has been finished.

 

If everything has gone according to plan you should now have a disc that will work in any audio CD player. Your first attempt probably won’t be perfect but once you have proved that the process works you can fine-tune the level and quality settings and progress to more advanced software (see Contacts) to edit your recordings.

 

CONTACTS

RIP Vinyl -- www.wieser.clara.net/ripvinyl/

Polderbits -- www.polderbits.com/

Cool Edit -- www.syntrillium.com/

Wave Repair -- www.waverepair.com/

CDRWIN -- www.goldenhawk.com/

 

Next week – Pictures on disc

 

JARGON FILTER

 

A/D CONVERTER

Device that converts analogue audio signals into digital data

 

CD-R

Write-once recordable CD format

 

CLIPPING

Distortion caused by excessively high recording level

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

Plastic CD jewel cases are notoriously fragile and take up a lot of room so if you prefer the simple ‘slip’ type cases here’s a web site that’s worth visiting. Go to: www.papercdcase.com; enter in the name of your album, artist, track names etc. and it creates a *.pdf file that you open and print using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Simply fold and along the marked lines and you’ve got a neat-looking case for your CDs. You can also add graphics a name and address and import information from commercial CD databases.

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