October 20, 2006
Dear CNET members,
I thank you all for your participation each week! When we read your submissions, we always get warm fuzzy feelings because you are so willing to help one another out. And your time and efforts are appreciated by all! For those of you who are new to the CNET Community Help & How-to newsletter, I welcome you. If you are interested in participating in the Q&A section of this newsletter, please check out the submission guidelines so that you get a sense of how the process flows. This week our members came through in a big way for Ferdi, who would like to learn how to convert vinyl and tapes to digital, and we received a ton of great advice. By far this topic has been one of the most requested questions by our newsletter readers, so I hope that this week's topic will benefit many of you. To get you started, I present Barry's winning answer, who is no stranger to the newsletter spotlight--I've lost count of how many times his answers have been selected. More recommendations are listed in our honorable mentions and other advice from our members section, so please read through them all. If any of you digital-converted gurus have any additional advice to offer our community members, please drop on by the discussion and help us all out. Thanks, everyone, and have a great weekend!
Member Question of the Week
Hello, I have a project that's been brewing for a long time and am wondering if someone out there might have a similar one. I have tons of old vinyl records and tapes that I would like to convert into digital music--DVDs, CDs, and so on. I'd like to know if someone can give me pointers as to how to do it with the least cost. Please include choice of hardware, software, and other alternatives or options. My PC consists of a Intel P4 2.4GHZ, 1GB of RAM, and 80GB of disk space. I recently purchased an external DVD/CD burner to complement my system; my OS is Windows XP Pro. If anyone can give me helpful and constructive suggestions, it would be most appreciated. Thank you very much.
Ferdi, converting vinyl records or tape to digital music is straightforward and doesn't require anything particularly exotic in terms of hardware (details below), but it is time-consuming; you can easily find yourself spending 20 minutes per song doing a high-quality conversion from vinyl. Because of this, I usually recommend that if the music that you want is already available in digital format, that you just acquire it already converted rather than do a new conversion. In the long run, you will save a lot of time and possibly get much better quality as well. That said, many of us have songs on vinyl or tape that are not available in digital format, even if paying for them is not an issue, so at times, manual conversion is the only way to get an old audio track into a digital format.
Let's cover the hardware first. On the computer side, you need one with a sound system and line-in jacks. That excludes most laptops (most don't have such jacks) unless you use an add-on PC Card or USB sound card, but almost every desktop computer meets these requirements. However, if quality is important, you might want to use a computer with a high-quality sound card rather than the integrated motherboard audio systems that many PCs have these days. Don't get me wrong, audio on the motherboard will work and can do the job, but it often doesn't have the frequency response and freedom from electrical noise found in a more premium audio system.
Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio
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