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More and more readers have been asking about converting their old vinyl records to CDs and/or MP3 files. I've written instructions that involve hooking up an existing record player to a computer and downloading free conversion software to do the job. However, many folks no longer have a record player — and those who have one often say that doing the hookups and learning to use the software is too complicated.
Well, there are a number of high-tech record players available that claim to connect to one's computer and do the whole job automatically. Some have a built-in cassette converter while others even have an 8-track converter. If someone has used such a device, I would love to post any comments here for the benefit of other readers.
In the meantime, you can read about these devices by typing "convert vinyl to cd" or "convert cassette to cd" into any search engine's Find field. You can also go to sites like www.Amazon.com or www.PCWorld.com and use their Search boxes to find all kinds of user-reviews on these devices. They range in price from simple record player deck for about $150 to devices enclosed in cabinets designed to look like radio-phonographs out of the 1940s for up to $500.
ION iTTUSB USB Turntable Crosley CR248 Songwriter CD Recorder
NOTE: I have had no personal experience with the products
illustrated above. They are just two of several devices
advertised on the www.Amazon.com web site.
If your need is to convert music CDs to MP3-player files, this can be done easily with Windows Media Player 11. Insert a blank CD and click on Rip to see options for converting songs to MP3, WAV, and/or various versions of WMA (Windows Media Audio) files.
You can also click on Bit Rate to choose from a number of different compression ratios for your conversions. Minimum compression will produce a high-quality sound file while higher compression rates will generate lower quality sounds with smaller file sizes.
If the songs are just for your own computer, today's mammoth disk drives allow one to save lots of large high-quality songs. Likewise, most MP3-players have lots of storage capacity nowadays. However, a large file sent to a friend as an e-mail attachment may be rejected by size limitations along the way.
Also, if you (like I) have hearing limitations, medium-sized music files often can't be discerned from the large better-quality files. Only you can determine which compression ratio is best for your needs.
Speaking of bit rates, some Windows XP computers came with "Windows Audio Converter," a program which lets you easily experiment with various compression ratios. Use Start>Search>All Files & Folders>Audio Converter to see if you have this program. If not, it can be downloaded from www.Microsoft.com
A word of caution, however — be sure to send an altered file into a different folder — or — to give it a different name if you want it to stay in the same folder. Once a music file has been compressed it cannot be made whole again. Always keep a copy of the original.
(The same holds true for JPG image files.)
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