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Music on you computer, recording it and storing it

 
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
Posts: 18265
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:21 pm    Post subject: Music on you computer, recording it and storing it Reply with quote

Thought I'd throw this one open as this year I really want to attempt to sort out my music on my computer and maybe my mini discs and cassettes as well. I'll be the first to admit that mine is in a bit of a mess so wonder how everyone else does theirs?

To start with I don't use Itunes, but wonder if I should? I don't buy much music these days at all, tend to listen on radio and to what I already have.

Also I'm probably a bit odd in that I like to keep tracks got from one place separate from stuff from another which also complicates things! I've got a lot of single tracks in 'My Music' which are before a certain date. I then opened another document file which contains another huge amount after that date.

I use Windows 7 but hate 'Libraries' and will probably disable them sometime soon. Again I like things in one place not copies all over the place.

I have VLC and Windows Media Player but don't often bother with playlists since I got this laptop.

Then there is where to put recordings on cassette, mini disc and LPs/singles and how do you copy them so that the tracks remain separate rather than 1 file per side of a record or cassette?

Lastly what rate do you save at?

A mixed bag but there are so many possibilites!

H
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88 - 91 FM this is Radio 2 from the BBC!

I said it live on air in the studio with Jeremy Vine on 10/3/2005
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 916

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Music on you computer, recording it and storing it Reply with quote

Helen May wrote:
Then there is where to put recordings on cassette, mini disc and LPs/singles and how do you copy them so that the tracks remain separate rather than 1 file per side of a record or cassette?


That's actually quite easy, Helen. If you use Audacity (for instance) you can place named track markers along the timeline such that when you export the recording it will automatically slice it up into individual named tracks.

Helen May wrote:
Lastly what rate do you save at?


It depends where the digitised track is to go. If you want CD master quality then choose 16-bit, 48kHz stereo (or mono, depending on the source). If you then want to output an MP3 file, select a bit rate at or above 128 Mbps (megabits per second). [/quote]

I can't advise on the Windows stuff because apart from one remaining Windows 7 PC in my office I only use Apple Macs (two in the office, one at home and a Mac laptop on which I'm typing this on the kitchen table!). I use iTunes to sort my whole library, which is stored on a main network drive attached to a machine upstairs and which is accessible across my home network. I find iTunes is the best media file organiser - although not as good on Windows, imho.
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
Posts: 18265
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Colin! I can see it's going to be a long job so hope you won't mind a few more questions later!

I've not used Audacity apart from having a go on a very old machine but found it not as easy as Total Recorder but my version of Total Recorder doesn't allow for track division but the next one up does. Maybe it's time to upgrade, and the $ rate is very favourable right now!

I'm guessing I could download Audacity as well so may give that a try but am very much used to TR.

I've always resisted iTunes because I don't have an iPod and my tracks are all MP3. Isn't iTunes something different? Also am I right in thinking that I can have things 'copied' into iTunes while still leaving the originals where the are just now?

H
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I said it live on air in the studio with Jeremy Vine on 10/3/2005
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 916

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helen May wrote:
Thanks Colin! I can see it's going to be a long job so hope you won't mind a few more questions later!

I've not used Audacity apart from having a go on a very old machine but found it not as easy as Total Recorder but my version of Total Recorder doesn't allow for track division but the next one up does. Maybe it's time to upgrade, and the $ rate is very favourable right now!


Total Recorder is OK but it's fairly limited in what it can do with your recordings once they're captured. As well as being completely free, Audacity has better track editing features and as a result you have much better control over adjustment of levels, fading out and fading in, crossfades, filters, effects, etc.

There's a bit of a learning curve with it if you're a novice to audio editing but it's worth persevering. I have Audacity on literally all my machines - even the Apple Mac editing systems that have much more sophisticated (and expensive) applications like Audition and SoundTrack Pro.

I've recently completed an assignment for the Bletchley Park Trust where I digitised over 100 hours of oral history recordings with code breaking veterans for a new digital library archive they're creating and I actually used Audacity to create the initial 16-bit captures. I'm doing the same now for Stevenage Museum, digitising a 1980s oral history collection about the building of the new town in the 1950s and 60s. Audacity is very good for that kind of thing - especially since it's free!

Helen May wrote:
I've always resisted iTunes because I don't have an iPod and my tracks are all MP3. Isn't iTunes something different? Also am I right in thinking that I can have things 'copied' into iTunes while still leaving the originals where the are just now?


You don't need any Apple device to use iTunes effectively - you can just use it as a library manager. I think it's much better than Windows Media Player (or whatever it's called these days). Apple's software does create a variant of MP3 which isn't compatible with all players, but as a library management system it's second to none, in my opinion. Of the archive recordings I have got round to digitising, they'll all in iTunes and therefore searchable. If I'm going on a long journey I simply plug my iPhone in and throw a bunch of recordings into the relevant playlist and sync it all to my phone. Done! My wife has her own playlist within the same shared collection and she now does the same.

As for originals, yes all your originals remain intact regardless of their format. So, if you have CD-quality originals in either WAV or AIFF format, these stay where they are. When you "Add To Library" in iTunes, it merely makes a copy of those tracks and compresses them to MP3. I keep all original audio files on a separate hard drive on the shelf.

If you choose to "share" a playlist contents out to either a CD or external device (e.g.: USB stick) you can then choose what format they should go in.
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
Posts: 18265
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your work sounds so interesting Colin!

I'm not that keen on WMP either, I used to love Music Match donkeys years ago but never seem to have time to do playlists these days or to listen to them.

I think if I upgrade my TR I can get most things you mention that aren't on the standard edition for $18 which isn't that much and you get free updates etc. Maybe I'll put Audacity on to our XP machine and have a play with it.

I'm fine with mini disc editing, both types, which is very similar to airline passenger reservations for groups that want to be divided and change various sectors! I remember it wouldn't sink in at first then something reminded me of the airline system and it made sense immediately! I know digital will be a bit different but I guess if you know what you want to remove or add you're halfway there.

I think I'll hold off with iTunes for the moment until I sort out the recording.

Going back to recording. I've a load of mini discs that I've made up that I would like to have on the PC. What rate would I save them at? I guess I want them as good as they can be. Is it the same as for a CD master copy?

H
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88 - 91 FM this is Radio 2 from the BBC!

I said it live on air in the studio with Jeremy Vine on 10/3/2005
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 916

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helen May wrote:
Going back to recording. I've a load of mini discs that I've made up that I would like to have on the PC. What rate would I save them at? I guess I want them as good as they can be. Is it the same as for a CD master copy?


Yes it would be. The chances are that you'll be taking the sound signal out of the MD as normal analogue, in which case your capture settings will be the same. MiniDisc was a very clever system of compression that results in sound quality equivalent to CD but using a third or less of space. So, in answer to your question use the same settings as CD, because it means that you have a good start point from which to make different versions (e.g.: MP3).

Another point worth considering is that a lot of regular CD players can actually handle discs that contain MP3 files. My car stereo can, with the advantage being that you can cram more than 10 CDs worth of audio onto a standard 650MB CD disc (the average hour of stereo MP3 uses between 55 and 65 MB of data, depending on content) and that's a good way to archive your material, too.
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
Posts: 18265
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mini discs are brilliant a shame they didn't take off as well, probably because of computers.

Funny you mentioned about MP3s on CDs as I did make a few for the car years ago now and wondered about the compression rate. Can't remember how many tracks I got on them now.

H
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88 - 91 FM this is Radio 2 from the BBC!

I said it live on air in the studio with Jeremy Vine on 10/3/2005
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 916

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helen May wrote:
Mini discs are brilliant a shame they didn't take off as well, probably because of computers.


Indeed. The problem for Sony is that they couldn't persuade enough other brands to licence the technology, and just when they approached tipping point along came MP3 devices. What really killed it was Apple and the first iPod. MiniDiscs are still used in some radio studios for cueing spot jingles and effects because they're instantly accessible and easy to cue up and fire in a hurry.

MiniDisc uses a system called ATRAC which is an ingenious method of compression. I do some occasional oral history training work with the National Sound Archive at the British Library in Euston and a couple of years ago I heard some really interesting side-by-side comparisons of a test audio recording playing back from a professional TASCAM MD player and also an Ampex studio reel-to-reel tape player through very expensive amp and speaker systems in one of their recording studios. I couldn't tell the difference!

Helen May wrote:
Funny you mentioned about MP3s on CDs as I did make a few for the car years ago now and wondered about the compression rate. Can't remember how many tracks I got on them now.


You can usually bank on being able to compress 14 average length music CDs onto a single disc when converted to MP3. It does depend on content and length of each recording, of course!
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
Posts: 18265
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I copied some old reel to reel recordings and cassettes on to mini disc several years ago and the sound was somehow 'lifted' and brightened without doing anything other than copying. The cassettes were very early ones and a bit muffled to say the least but the content was no longer available.

R2 had mini discs in the old studios, can't remember if they were in the new ones.

H
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I said it live on air in the studio with Jeremy Vine on 10/3/2005
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