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January 15, 2009 - Dave Hecei
If you are like me, sitting in your basement, attic, or closet, are all the LPs and audio tapes from your youth. Depending on how much spare cash you had, this collection might be rather large. Why not convert them to a digital form. I suppose you could just go out and repurchase them as CDs or download them from iTunes or Amazon, but if you have an extensive collection this could be expensive. There are several ways to convert LPs and tapes and your Mac is the key to it all.
First you need something to play a record on. If you already have a good working turntable then there are a couple of ways to connect it to your Mac. Unfortunately, you cannot hook the turntable directly to your Mac. The output from a turntable is to low and needs to be amplified first. This can be accomplished by either connecting it to an audio receiver or audio amplifier. Then just take the output from there to your Mac using the proper RCA to mini-jack audio cable.
A better way is to use a USB audio device. The iConnex from iKey-Audio is just the ticket. It is a portable sound card that works with both Windows PCs and Macs. What sets this device above the rest is that it has true phono inputs along with line-level audio inputs. This allows you to hook a turntable directly to your Mac without the need of an amplifier or other cables. Just hook the left and right RCA cables coming out of the turntable to the iConnex and then plug it into an open USB port on your Mac. Software is included for both Windows and OS X. The iConnex sells for under $50.
If you don’t have a working turntable then you should replace it with one from Ion Audio. Ion makes several turntables with built in USB connections. These turntables do the analog to digital conversion internally so you only have to hook up one wire, the USB, to your Mac. The models run from a very basic unit to the top of the line model that has a built-in iPod dock allowing you to record directly to the iPod, no computer required. Another high-end model has a built-in CD burner, allowing you to record directly to disc – again, no computer required. The Ion turntables start at under $100.
If you plan on turning your collection into MP3s for you iPod or iTunes, then you have all the software your need. If you want to convert your collection into CDs, then you will want some more software. I highly recommend Roxio Toast. Toast is a CD/DVD burning application that contains several excellent additions that will help in converting LPs and audiotapes into CDs. You will use Toast to burn the disc and you will use CD Spin Doctor to record the audio. CD Spin Doctor helps automate the recording process. You can record an entire side and it will automatically split the tracks for you.
A very nifty new feature in Toast 10 is the ability to identify an audio track that you have recorded. It somehow can read take the audio waveform and looks it up in an online database and can tell you the track name. If you have dozens of LPs and tapes to convert this feature could save you days. Of course after you record your collection you now have a CD that can be loaded into your iTunes library and thus your iPod.
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