Tech Tuesdays With Benspark #16

This originally written by me and posted on FuelMyBlog’s Blog

So, today I have a high tech/low cost way to turn your old tech into new tech. This was the post I wanted to do last week but I hadn’t had the correct low-tech equipment for the job. Today I do.

Today’s Tech Tuesday post is about how “Heaven is a Place on Earth” or maybe “Here I go Again on my Own” or what “Could’ve Been” last week. This week I’m talking about turning your old Tapes into MP3’s. I did a search on this and found quite a few different sites that talked about how you could do this. There are even devices that you can buy for $199.00 and up to install into your computer to turn all your 80’s music into MP3s. Well, I have a baby on the way and no use for spending tons of money to convert all those old Mix tapes into MP3s. But I do have a computer, a $4.95 wire that has a headphone jack on both ends and some freeware.

I did some searching today and found that Windows comes with a sound recorder that is great if you want to record in 60-second intervals. Not so great when you want to convert all your Harry Potter Books on tape to MP3 so you can listen to them on your iPod or Zune. So I searched for how to make tapes into MP3s and most of the articles were exactly the same, in fact they were copied from previous articles. So here is what I found on my own and how I adapted it. I tried first to use the free download of Music Match to be able to record from the line in on your computer, unfortunately you had to pay $19.95 to buy the full version. No Dice.

Eventually I turned to one of my favorite sites for shareware and freeware, They helped me out again. I found Audiograbber. This is a freeware program that did exactly what I wanted it to do, rip music from a line in device and convert it to MP3 format. So I took my wife’s old Sony Walkman, some borrowed batteries, and her copy of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven on Earth (Her copy of Tiffany and Whitesnake was also in the running but I have a special place in my heart for Belinda Carlisle) So I recorded Heaven is a Place on Earth and for the heck of it I also recorded Circle In the Sand. Both songs took me back to 8th grade and freshman year dances.

Setting up the software was the easy part, remembering which way the tape is going and whether I was fast-forwarding or rewinding was the frustrating part. Seriously I used to know what the buttons and the switch meant and I could tell what side I was on at the time. Can you make heads or tails out of this now?

So I employed an additional piece of hardware.

I cued up the song I wanted and then plugged in the wire and connected it to the Walkman, then the other end I connected to the mic port on the front of my computer. Here is where I also ran into some trouble but decided to power through it and take the issues that I had and just record the MP3. That was my sole intention for this. I needed to create an MP3 from a tape. And I did that. I just got a ton of noise and interference because the computer I used has two additional microphones, one on the monitor and the other on the web cam. So I was picking up crickets, my typing and my wife working in the other room. But I was able to get the music directly off my tape and make a wav file, which Audiograbber then converted into an MP3.

There are settings in Audiograbber that I could use to make the audio better and I would need to learn more about the program in order to do that. I will because we have a dining room full of stuff including all those 80’s Mix Tapes from both my grade school and high school and college years as well as those of my wife’s. And now I have no tape player in my car but I do have an iPod and a Zune (I was notified that I won one today) on the way I will be able to convert all of our tapes, and make room in our home as well as recapture the magic of years gone by and preserve those memories.

So for the grand total of $4.95 and a few hours of searching for the right program and then the time it took to play two songs I was able to create a couple MP3s. I’ve done the legwork, dust off those Tapes, LPs, and even 8 tracks if you have them (we have them and a working player in the basement and resurrect your whole collection of music, you now have the technology and a little direction to make your music stronger, smaller, faster, better!

BenSpark Writes four blogs, is an avid kayaker and a Transformers fan, he also takes at least one photo every single day and posts it to his BenSpark Blog. You can visit him at The BenSpark, BenSpark 2: Electric Boogaloo, Flatwater Tech or The Wired Kayaker.

Benspark is also a contributing writer for blogs such as, The Blogging Den and most recently Blue Ribbon Bloggers. He is also expecting his first child in October and never sleeps and will somehow sleep even less in a month.