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Digitize a tape recording using a PC Using your PC to digitize pre-recorded sound

Learn how to take sound from a tape recorder and inputting it into your computer to create a digital sound file. Connect the cassette player's headphone jack to the computer's microphone jack (you can get a cord from Radio Shack) and then you record it using Sound Recorder to record it.  It gives you 60 seconds. Then save it as an MP3 file from there.

For very basic digitizing, you can use the Sound Recorder on your PC. The sound recorder is generally found in your programs folder under accessories under entertainment.

1. Click on it and you will see the following window appear:

2. You must be certain that the sound recorder will record at CD quality mono settings (44.10 khz., 16-bit, mono). To do this, click on the File menu and select Properties:

3. You will then see the following window. Note that at this point the default sound properties are set at 22.050 Khz, 8-Bit, Mono. Click on the button: Convert Now...

To set the parameters for quality recording, use the "Attributes" pull-down menu to match what you see in the window below. You will be selecting 44.100 Khz, 16-Bit, Mono. (This is CD Quality Mono)

To avoid having to reset the parameters every time you return to Sound Recorder, save these parameters with a new Name. Just fill in a new name and press the Save As... button. When you open Sound Recorder later, be sure to follow steps 1,2,& 3 and select the name. We have named our saved parameters "my parameters":

4. After you have saved your parameters as "my parameters", press OK. you will now see the following screen:

5. Press OK on each window. You will now be returned to the controller in 1.

Use a audio patch cable to connect your computer to the tape recorder. The cable will have a 1/8" stereo plug on both ends. (the plugs looks like this):

Plug the cable into the sound in jack of your computer. Your computer may only have a microphone input jack. If so, plug the cable into that. The other end of this cable is plugged into the sound out or headphone jack of your tape recorder.

You must also activate the input jack on your computer.

Press the record button on the sound recorder, and then play the tape recorder to feed the sound to the computer. Your sample will now be re-recorded and digitized onto your computer. You may not be able to hear the sample as you record it, so watch the green waveform to see the sample recorded. Watch the levels to make sure you do not distort the sample, so keep the volume control of your tape recorder at a low setting. Save the sample to your disk.

Remember, these sound files are very memory intensive. 60 seconds of recorded sound may take up to 5 megabytes of space. Listen to your sample after you have recorded it to make certain it sounds right to you. Save the sample to your hard drive as a .wav file or an .aiff file.


Activating the Line-in Jack
To digitize pre-recorded sound, you must activate the line-in jack in your computer (Some computers only have one input jack). To do this, double click the yellow volume icon on the task bar. A window will open. Click on Options, and select Properties. You will now see a window like the following:

Be sure to select Recording. After that, put check marks into the boxes next to Microphone and Line (as shown in the window above). (On some machines, like laptops, you may see Stereo Mix instead of Line. Select it) Press OK.

Now you will see the recording control that includes panels for Microphone and Line:

Be sure to select Line (as shown in the window above).