Converting Vinyl LPs & Audio Tapes
With the growing popularity of MP3 players, a lot of folks have been asking
how to convert their old vinyl LPs and audio cassettes into digital music
files. Most PCs nowadays come with sound cards that include a "line-in" jack
into which an 1/8" stereo "line-out" plug from your cassette or LP record
player can be inserted. The cable normally has two RCA plugs at one end, for
the left and right stereo output ports from your phonograph or cassette player, with
a single stereo mini-plug at the other.
Not all sound cards have a line-in port, but they all have a "mic"
(microphone) input jack. However, using the mic input for anything but a
microphone can distort the sound badly. If your sound card doesn't have a
line-in port, a new card will be needed. Some come with two line-in ports,
in case you want a cassette player and an LP player connected to your
computer at the same time.
Sound cards are relatively inexpensive and can be easily installed in most
desktop towers. Yes, there are expensive cards available that are often
preferred by gamers who want to play special sound effects to their best
advantage, and by media enthusiasts who use their PCs in home theater
Sound card ports are normally color-coded, with blue indicating line-in, red
meaning mic input, and green for your stereo speakers output.
If your LP music source will be a stand-alone turntable you will need to
feed the signal into an amplifier before sending it to your PC's line-in
port. If your record player has a built-in amplifier, the two RCA line-out
plugs can be used directly. Cassette players always have a built-in
amplifier, but sometimes use a single stereo mini-port for speaker output.
If so, your cassette player to PC cable will need a stereo mini-plug on each
In addition to the above hardware, you will need software that converts the
analog sounds generated by your tapes and LPs into digital sound that is
recognized by iPods and other MP3 players. Roxio Easy Media Creator 8 and
Nero 6.0 Ultra Edition appear to be the most popular commercial products.
When connecting your hardware devices it's best to have them turned OFF,
with any volume control knobs or levers set to very low. Before turning on
the devices, double-click the speaker icon near the digital clock in your
Taskbar. This will display a line-in volume control, with which you will
monitor the sound signals coming from your analog players.
Once you've launched your software, you'll be ready to turn on your record
or cassette player and start converting analog to digital music. Just as you
did when recording music onto audio tapes, you will want to keep the level
indicator as high as possible without its frequently jumping into the red
Many of the full-length vocal/orchestral songs on my site are also WAVs and can be downloaded to any PC.
As for downloading songs from this site, detailed instructions are included on the various music pages:
Swing Era Popular Songs,
Gospel & Patriotic Songs, and
LatinAmerican Favorites, among many others.