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LPs to CDRs Is Easy When You Know How!

LPs To CDs & Vinyl To CD -
The Software Tutorial

Drew's Easy How-To Drewtorial on
Turning LPs and Cassettes Into CDRs Software,
Using MusicMatch As An Example.


How To Make
REGULAR ‘Redbook' CDs, MP3 CDs and MP3 Files.
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OK, Since I wrote the LP to CDR tutorial, I've had literally hundreds of our fellow DAKonians asking me to add a step by step ‘turnkey' ‘soup-to-nuts' step-by-step tutorial on using a readily available software program.
So, here it is. I've chosen to use MusicMatch software because there's a free download you can get and a $19.99 upgrade that lets you do just about everything to quickly convert your Vinyl LPs, 45s plus cassettes and virtually any other analog recordings into your choice of digital formats.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For your car, for your office, bedroom or kitchen maybe you don't want to make MP3 files. No problem. With this software, you can create EITHER standard CDs (called Redbook audio), or MP3 files to store on your computer. Then, when you want to make CDRs, you can again choose EITHER MP3 CDs with up to 10 hours of your favorite music, or regular 70 minute standard CDs.

Below I show you how to make each. And, with CDRs costing only between about $0.15 and $0.30 cents, you'll make several copies of each of your musical masterpieces for use in several places and for permanent backup. Of course I don't need to remind you that you can't sell any music because that would be
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a copyright infringement. And I'm not here to help you do that.

But I am here to help all of us save and enjoy our favorite music using today's latest digital automated perfection. And think about this. Now the music on your records and cassettes can be permanently preserved with no loss of quality. Now you can group songs, tracks artists into any playlist in any order you may ever want. All the choices are yours. All you need is a few minutes to permanently preserve all you musical treasures for yourself and your progeny.

Oh, and don't worry about space. I recommend using a small PC mixer with the RIAA curve built-in (Have you Checked out my suggested Turntable And PC Mixer with the free cable? Click to Open a new window for the Complete LPs To CDRs Solution.)

At well under $100 for the PC mixer you can plug it into your computer and then just put the turntable or cassette deck near your computer when you're actually recording. This really works for me.

So, let's get started.

SPECIAL NOTE: Although I've used MusicMatch for my example, you can learn more than enough to apply these techniques to any software you might ultimately choose.
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But, I do recommend that you at least give MusicMatch a try so you get a few good LPs converted to CDRs so you see just how easy it all is to get instant, perfect, programmable, portable access to the treasured music of your past.

Here's All You Need to convert LPs to CDRs.
Of course you need your computer.
You need a CDR to write your own CDs. (Whatever came with your computer is fine.)
You need a Turntable or cassette deck depending on what you want to copy.
You need a Mixer with a RIAA Phono Preamp built in like I have on the turntable page. Click to see the Mixer.
You need a cable to connect the mixer to the line input on your computer. I've included one free with my mixer/turtable.

OK, now let's get started.


HERE'S THE MAIN SCREEN ON YOUR DESKTOP.
Above you can see the main screen. I wanted you to see just how neat it looks and all you can do. Right now I'm playing an MP3 file of Any Dream Will Do. You can see at the upper left the File, Edit, View, Options and Help menus. We'll get to those in a few minutes. To the right, you see the songs that I have put into my playlist. That's the songs that I am currently listening to and that I can then make into a CD when I choose to burn one.

Just below the name of what's playing to the left are the familiar buttons just like on a CD player to play your music on your computer. You will really enjoy having your music with you at your computer. Of course it can play in the background while you surf and read reviews on the DAK website. : )
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Just below the buttons, you see another list of buttons. Currently I have “MY LIBRARY” selected so that you see all the tracks in your library. This really makes it easy to keep track of your music on your computer and to create ‘playlists' to make CDs with. In fact it's so easy, you'll probably create different CDs all the time. One for a trip to Maui :), one for a long drive cross country and others for your daily commute. At just about $0.15 each, why not make lots of them?

There's more, but I really want to get you up and running fast.

OK, here we go.


Step One. Options Menu
Here's the first step. This is the options menu and I want to copy an LP and make a CD fast, so were going to ignore anything we don't need. So, Click options and then mouse down to Recorder, then over to Source and finally we're going to select line Iin. As you can see, we could have chosen either of my CD ROMs or a Mike or the system mixer.
But today we are copying an LP that we're playing on the turntable, then using the mixer to connect to the sound card and that's all we need. One note here. Look back at the Options menu and then over to the first drop down menu. Do you see just above source that we used, the word Format? Well that's where you could decide whether you want to record this music as an MP3 file or as a WAV file. The MP3 file will use just about 6 megabytes per minute. That's why you get up to 10 hours on an MP3 CD.

The WAV file is what we call Redbook audio and it's the format that you have on regular CDs. It takes up about 60 megabytes per minute. So, you can decide here which format to use.
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Here's what I recommend. For the most part you can't hear the difference. So, why don't you record a few really great sounding tracks two times? Record each track using each format. Then carefully play them back and decide which format you want to record in.

It's just that easy. The big difference is in the space required. It's about 10 times more space if you're using regular WAV files. There's no answer, it really is up to you.

OH, one more thing. Do you see Settings at the bottom of the menu? You'll see settings on most of the menus. Click it now and scroll down.


The Settings Menu
Here we are in settings. There are lots of tabs to choose from but we really only need Recorder today. As I said above, you could have selected MP3 or WAV from the drop down menu, but I wanted to show you the Settings Menu, so here we are.
All you need to do here is select MP3 or WAV from the pull down menu. Isn't that easy? You can also choose the quality of the recording, but leave it at CD quality for today. The rest is really to fit more files onto the portable MP3 players that use memory chips.
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Since they are quite small, you can only get an hour or two of music on them. It's not like MP3 CDs or the big hard drive jukeboxes. And while I don't think you'll hear the difference between MP3 and WAV, you will definitely here the difference when you start reducing the quality. But give it at try.

You can see that Line In is selected at the arrow at the bottom left. We did that already with the pull down options menu.
OK, now click the ADVANCED tab at the upper right of the Menu.


Advanced Tab.
Here you can do some neat things. You can have your tracks fade in and fade out and more. But all you really need to do here is to decide if you want to use Auto Song Detect. What's Auto Song Detect? OK here's the deal.
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When you copy analog sources like a record or a cassette, your computer doesn't know where one song, track or movement ends and another begins. So, an entire side of an LP would be viewed as one long track. And that's OK if you want to listen to the whole thing. It works fine. But what if you want to hear track 3, or just the 3rd movement. Or, what if you turn it off and want to get back to where you were. Well, no way. You listen from start to finish or not at all.

So, you have to manually break up your LPs into their individual tracks. It's helpful to think of each track as being a separate LP that you've decided to put together. So when you think about it the fact that they are together on a record is just somebody's choice, there's really no tie.
The same goes for the order of the songs. You can change them now while you make your CDs. Leave off ones you don't like, change the order by simply dragging and dropping (I'll show you) and more.

OK, so what do you do? Well you have two choices.

Choice one. Click the box and turn on Auto Song Detect. What does it do? Simple. The fist box ‘Gap Length' let's you say how much silence your computer should look for before it automatically decides to arbitrarily create an end to one track and the beginning of another.
This is really neat. You'll see it in action when you're recording. The number in this box represents milliseconds. And 2000 equals 2 seconds. More or less a record track gap runs about 3-4 seconds. But yours will probably vary. Somewhere between 1.5 and 3 seconds is about right.

The second box is Gap Level. This refers to the amount of sound power between tracks. You might think it would be zero, but, it's not. There's record noise on LPs and hiss on cassettes and more. So, about 10% is average.

But there's a problem with Auto Song Detect. Depending on your records, it might not work very well. It works fine on many LPs, but if there's talking or very soft music at the beginning or end of a track, it can create 2, 3 or even 4 tracks containing virtually nothing between songs. This wouldn't be a big problem because you can just delete them.
But if some of them contain a few quiet notes then you have a problem because you've got notes unconnected to the song in which they appear. And you're likely to have a few seconds of silence between these notes and your song because whenever a track is put in it adds a fixed amount of silence just like a commercial record or CD.
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So try it out and play with the Gap Level. It's the biggest problem. Either you get too many tracks or your songs can end up with no breaks for tracks at all. And experiment in both directions because the number you put in I find to be counterintuitive to what I was thinking. But move it up to 11 or 12% or down to 9 or 8% and see how you do.

Option 2. Do it yourself.

This is really easy, and it's the way I've made most of my digital copies. Here's all you do. Either using headphones connected to your mixer, or using the speakers connected to your computer, simply start your LP and click record on the computer. It's just like making a cassette.

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When you hear the track end, click stop. That's it. You're done. I mean you do have to sit there at your computer, but it's really not so bad, and you wouldn't be recording the music if you didn't love it. A side of a record usually has 6 or 7 tracks, so that's all you do. Do it once and you've got it for life.

OK, that was the only hard part. Let's get going. Honestly, it's all really easy once you get started.


Your Computer. Turn it on.
Here's the tray at the bottom right of your monitor. Just Double Click the speaker Icon.

Your Windows Mixer.
Did you know you had this? Well no problem. All you need to do is make sure that the 'Lline In' slider is up about where I have it, and that it isn't muted. I think it comes muted by default. If you don't unmute it you won't hear your source material coming in from your LPs through your sound card. After you have the LP playing, you can adjust your volume here. Of course I recommend you control it at the mixer because it's easier and every LP, cassette or other source will be different.

Onward.

Let's make a recording.


Main Screen For Recording
Here's the main screen again. Remember we saw this at the beginning. Now I want you to click the record button. Don't worry, we're just bringing up the recorder. You're not making a recording yet. You may have to click it more than once to get the recorder up. That seems to vary.


The Recording Screen.
So now the recording interface has popped up. See it says Recorder? It may not be instantly obvious, but you can click on each of the areas where I put the red arrows so you can type in the name of your artist, album and song. A Note. At least add the Artist and Album. If you don't all the tracks you record will be stored in one big list. By making each artist or album different, you'll find your housekeeping immeasurably easier.

See next picture.


The Recording Screen Filled in.
See how I've listed the Artist, Album and Track one? This is easy and worth the effort. By the way, this is a great album by Glen Yarbrough. He's one of the original Limeliters, my favorite group. If you get a chance, go hear them or at least get a CD or some LPs. They are the best of the best when it comes to Folk Music.
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OK HAVE YOU DONE ALL THAT? Well, Gentlemen Start Your Engines. We're ready. So, Start your Turntable, Set the Mixer and Lay the needle in the track. Done, then click Record. Wow, we're making our first digital copy. Enjoy.



The Recorder Time Screen.
Are you using the Auto Song Detect? As your recording is progressing, you can see if it's working. Just look at the screen and if you have track lengths of 1-4 minutes, everything is great. If you see track lengths of 1- 6 seconds, you might as well stop and delete the tracks.
Just reset the auto song detect time or per cent and get started again. It's really easy and you can see if it works on the particular LP or not. If not, just switch to the manual mode I've already described. It's easy either way.
And Guess what. When you're done with this you're going to be able to make your CDs using any, some or all of the tracks you've recorded. Essentially you're done. You see, it really was easy.

Now let's make a CD.


Choosing the Tracks to make a CD Screen.
This is just like playing the songs on your computer. Just select the songs you want on your CD from the ‘My Library.' You can either double click them, you can highlight them all or groups. Anyway all you have to do is get them into the playlist at the top right.
As you can see I've just double clicked ‘Close Every Door'. You see it in the track playing to the left and the playlist box to the right. When you've got all the songs you want to record in your playlist, click the Burn Button just under the playlist on the right. And you'll get the Burn Screen.

Note: Oh, and at the bottom, please be sure to rate my LPs To CDs & Vinyl To CD - The Software Tutorial. Please)

BURN IT NOW
After you've hit Burn, you'll get this screen showing all the tracks that you have in your playlist. And here's where it gets even more fun. You can uncheck any tracks that you now decide after looking at your creation that you don't want.
You'll only be burning the checked tracks. Plus, you can drag any titles to change the order. So, drag them up, drag them down, you can make them appear in any order you want. OK, there's just one more thing to do. Scroll down to the next screen.



MP3s or WAV Standard Audio
Remember when you decided whether or not you were going to record MP3 or WAV files? Well, now you get to decide again. And this is really neat. Maybe you want to have both regular CDs and MP3 CDs. It's up to you.
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Either way, you can now decide how creation is to be. Click options, scroll down to Disc, over to Change type and then click on MP3 disc, or Audio Disc. That's it. Now you're ready to Go. Oh by the way, look just to the left of the options menu where I've pulled it down.
Do you see the little music button and MP3 button, just about covered by the menu? Well you could have just clicked one of them to decide between MP3 or regular, but I wanted you to see the actual menus to really make it clear.


The Burning Screen.
While your CD is being created, you'll see the progress on the burn screen. Here you can see the Track, Artist and Album as it's being burned.

Finished Burning Screen
I wanted you to see this screen because it's really useful. I usually make 2 or 3 copies of everything I do. As I said before,. it's cheap, it's easy and I like to have my music in lots of places. Also, once I make a couple of backup CDRs, I feel more comfortable about erasing the files from my computer.
I can always reload the backup CDs if I want. My newest computer has 2 60 gigabyte drives, so space isn't a problem. But in the past my drives weren't so big and space was a factor. So depending on your own drives, copy and delete. It's up to you and your particular circumstances. Now all there is to do is take your CD out and start enjoying all your music wherever you are from now on.
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Why not take another look at my Mixer, Turntable and cables? You're very close to creating, protecting and persevering a whole generation of your favorite music. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine.


One More Thing
MusicMatch and in fact most of the recording programs you can use have tons more great features that you will love to use. Here's the popup equalizer that you can use to sculpture your sound to make it come alive.
Spend some time and you'll find that there are included enhancements that really do dramatically improve the sound, the usability and well, the enjoyment you'll experience as you convert your treasured LPs into CDRs. You can visit MusicMatch by Clicking here. And I haven't even gotten into the ability of this system to match your albums and name all your tracks.
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It's fast, it's free and it's amazing how neat this can all be. Plus there's a built in print utility that will print out all your tracks for each CD you make. I could go on, but this tutorial was just about getting your LPs and Cassettes converted to CDRs. And now you're fully ready to go. Enjoy.


 
 
 
A few last things that I want to mention.
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Here's one more tip. I always make two copies of all my CDs. Since I have 12 CDs in my car and since it gets really hot when I drive in the desert I don't want to take any chances.
I think it's always a good idea. Need I remind you at this point that it's illegal, immoral and fattening to share your musical treasures with others? Don't make copies for friends. Don't sell them. And well, don't cheat. It's easy to forget that our old treasured albums are still under copyright. But chances are that they are still protected.
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So why not head for the beach, the park or the hills and sit down and listen to your great sounding music. And whether you're listening to standard audio CDs or the new MP3 CDs with up to 10 hours per disc, you've just given yourself a lifetime gift that you'll enjoy for many, many years to come.

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Still have questions? Did I miss something in my LPs To CDs & Vinyl To CD - The Software Tutorial (probably)? I'll add it if you write to me.

Enjoy. . . Drew


Tutorial Review Please.
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