What is a good app to record music file off a reel to reel?

By macx ยท 13 replies
Dec 9, 2010
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  1. I've got several reels of tape I'd like to put on CD or DVD,
    and am totally new to doing this kind of thing.

    I think I've got the old reel to reel hooked up OK -
    left & right channel RCA jacks to a single stereo mini-plug in the
    microphone input on the sound card - OK?

    If not, how do I cable to input? Is there such a thing as an adapter
    from 2 RCA jacks to i.e. USB? Would that be better?

    But what is a good app (preferably free, I'm laid off) I can use to
    record it into sound files on my hard drive and that I can then record
    onto disc? I've got the Windows Sound Recorder and also
    SoundMAX. Will either work, I suppose SoundMAX would be
    better if it works because of the adjustability.

    What kind of file should I use? wav OK?

    I might want to edit out some short sequences so would need
    some program I could use for that also.

    Thanks much!!
  2. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +456

    Use Audacity for all of it - save to the audacity project file or wav and then do all your edits - keep your original file and export to your desired format afterward. Leave as Wav if you're going to burn to CD - the burning process should give you the option to make it redbook.
  3. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    Thanks! AFter I posted this original post, I cont'd some research and eventually found out about Audacity on a good site with explanations on how to do this.


    Now another learning curve on Audacity, but sites like that wikihow are a godsend
    for folks that are "somewhat less" than IT wizards.
  4. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    Hi. I have used 'Audacity' for several years, there is one trick that is not mentioned on any info for it I have seen. That is, be sure to plug in the audio leads & plugs to your PC BEFORE your open 'Audacity'. It is a very good program, stick with it, but some of the options you might want are hard to find. One more thing to note, is if you want to save your recordings as mp3, you will need to have the latest 'LAME' encoder file already on your PC. (www.free-codecs.com/download/Lame_Encoder.htm) The Audacity program cannot include it, for legal reasons. Then when you first try to save as Mp3, you just 'browse' to the location on your PC where LAME file is, and 'ok'. As an alternative sound recorder, try http://music-editor.net/
    It is a little easier to use, has some peak meters on screen to set up the levels, but the only downside, in the free version, is it will only save as '.wav'. So if you want another format eventually, (wma/mp3/aac), you will need to do the conversion afterwards. Not a problem really. Hope that helps.
  5. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    Thanks for the info - I did have the unit plugged into the pc that I was trying to copy from.

    I'm just wanting to copy some old reel to reel tapes onto the pc, wav format is fine. I can
    deal with converting later.

    The problem with audacity is that besides going horribly slow from one action to the next,
    it always locks up at some random point before I get to the point it will record anything.
    Never at the same place.

    I've tried with all my security apps shut off, didn't make any difference. Reason I did that is
    that Online Armor kept asking me one question after another about allowing something to do
    with Audacity as I moved to the next step. I'm really getting tired of that, especially because
    the questions online armor asks don't give me a clue what the action is - I'm not an IT tech.
  6. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    Now I've downloaded and attempted to install music-editor and can't even get it to install, let alone run.

    I downloaded and scanned it with my security apps before I ran it to make sure it didn't pick up anything bad enroute, then as suggested I turned off all my Windows programs, incl the security apps, and it simply will not even run. I did note it's a huge program, too - something like 24k kb, versus just a couple k kb for Audacity.

    I have enuf RAM to run most any program so that shouldn't be a problem.
    And I've got nearly 65g free on my C drive.

    Again, Windows proves to be totally frustrating. (After using Mac for several years - then switching to Windows several years ago because of work)
  7. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    Ok. I would guess you could have problems if you have recorded a very large file, I normally record say, between 5 to 15 minutes, edit out unwanted data then save. I also use 'on-line armor' firewall, so if it asks for access to the 'net, tick the box that allows 'always for this application'. I have had a few problems with Audacity, such as not selecting the correct audio source, and it needs resetting in the options every time I launch it. So that's why I tend to use the other one I gave a link for. It does much the same, and is very stable. I know it has been released under several different names over the last 3 years, modifed here and there, but no trouble running it.
    I just went to the other site I know of; http://www.free-audio-editor.com/
    and you could try that one. Both versions run on my 5 year old Dell, so I don't think it needs any modern hardware to run. My use for it is to record music from the line-out of a VHS video recorder, into the mic socket on the Dell PC. I made the lead up using RCA phono plugs, to a 2 to 1 'Y' combiner plug with stereo mini jack. The program installs normally, I've used it on Vista 32 bit, and now '7' 32bit, can't remember any problems. But I might download it again, and see if I can find any problems. Hope this is of use !
  8. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    On the problems with Audacity, it was only a 15 second trial.

    There must be something going on with my computer, altho it scans clean with Avira, SUPER Antispyware, Malwarebytes, and didn't show any problems with Online Armor, because the
    other one won't even install or run, even with turning everything off. Online Armor opened window
    after window asking about blocking or allowing something - a window for every step of the way -
    I wouldn't mind if it was just a small number of windows, but I was spending more time answering
    those windows (without knowing what it really was in the first place) than I was spending trying
    to install the app.

    The mic input is about the only input I have available as I don't have an RC jack to USB cord.
    I do have a (2) USB jack to mini plug, so that's what I have been working with. Audacity did
    show recording activity on the channel / volume meter when I got that far on a couple occasions,
    but could never get it to either save it as a Project or to Export it as a wav file. I've only got so
    much patience for balky windows apps and I've about had my fill for awhile!

    I'll try the other link again and if that still refuses to cooperate I'll try the free-audio-editor. If that fails,
    I'll just chalk it up to Windoze and forget it for now.

    Thanks for trying to help!!
  9. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +456

    Audacity is Open Source software - there is no trial. I'm not sure what is giving youa 15 second limitation, but perhaps it's some plug-in you're using.
  10. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    I didn't say anything about a trial on the software - I was referring to the first time I was trying to record something and just did a short ~15 second clip as a first time trial to see if things were working.
  11. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +456

    ROFL - sorry I completely misunderstood.
  12. macx

    macx TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 718

    No problem - there's so many things that I don't understand - I just chalk it up to Windows
  13. bmaytum

    bmaytum TS Enthusiast Posts: 47

    Audacity works great for me

    To date I've ripped dozens of my old EPs to MP3s using Audacity. I just fed the pre-amp audio output from my home amp (2 RCA plugs to a mini-stereo jack, got that cable @ Radio Shack) into the mini-jack audio input on my 8-year old PC (2.4GHz Pentium4, WinXP Pro). My PC has audio integrated into motherboard, Audacity writes MP3s to an internal data hard disk. Works geat for me!
  14. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    'Audacity' is unusual for a windows program, in that the default save type is only to be used in 'Audacity', (.aup). So to be in a more generic form you need to use, 'File' 'Export' then the save dialogue appears, in .wav format, ready for you to type your filename.
    Once you get some results saved, it does become easier to understand, but if you look on their website they do provide some tutorials, although I kept using it till it worked for me. Another problem might be that if you have integrated sound and a separate sound card, I have found Audacity sometimes chooses the wrong one, so go to 'edit' 'preferences', 'devices', and check that the playback and recording options are correct. (Or change option and try it till you get results.) It does work well, but I wouldn't say it was easy to use from the start.
    Another sound recorder you might try out is at www.nch.com.au (then audio tools, then 'Wavepad') or ; http://www.nch.com.au/wavepad/index.html
    Not sure why you get so much interuption from 'online armor'. but you could try turning off the 'program guard' in the 'general options', until you have 'Audacity' downloaded.

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