The top 1/0
Or how to digitize your music
Record/album/LP/vinyl : A flat, groovy disk, usually black, containing recorded music from back in the days before Keith Richards had to climb into a palm treeÂ just to get high.Â It is played on another old-fashioned thing called a turntable, which after you digitize your music becomes a fantastic lazy Susan for storing all those hard to reach spices in your kitchen (as well as herbs for those of you who remember why Keith Richards didn't used to have to climb into a palm tree to get high.)Â
Speaking of kitchens, some records make a Ginsu knife look bloody useless.Â Why buy a lot of expensive kitchen gadgets, when you can use a simple tool like "Michael Nesmith Live at the Palais" to slice, dice, and chop your vegetables and make pasta too?Â (If you don't know that I'm a dastardly and probably armed and dangerous joke thief by now, you really need to see this video.)
CD: A flat, smaller disk, silvery, containing recorded music from back in the days before teenagers could annoy their parents by carrying their entire Britney Spears collections in a hip pocket permanently wired to their ears, except when they insist on connecting the pocket to the car stereo.Â
I'm an old fart and totally out of touch with what teenagers are listening to today.Â It could be the latest American Idol for all I know.Â I just hope the latest American Idol isn't Laura Bush singing "Stand by Your Man."
At least the iPod in their pocket leaves less room for the herbs they stole from your new lazy Susan.Â You'll need those in case Keith Richards comes over, especially if you live in an area without palm trees.
iPod: The thing preventing your teenager from finding any room in the teeny tiny pockets in the microscopic pants they wear nowadays for those herbs you would really rather be sharing with Keith Richards.Â To get music into the iPod, you first have to convert the music to ones and zeros, which is pretty much what your bank account looks like after you buy the iPod.
How you get all of those groovy kitchen gadgets off of your lazy Susan and into your teenager's microscopic pocket is the subject of this series of articles.Â In the process, you may even enlighten your teenager about what music and kitchen gadgets were like before Britney was born.
Before I start with the actual instructions, there are a few things you should know.
I am not an audio geek.Â I'm not one of those guys who can discuss the mathematical values that can be used to describe music, tell you what brand of stereo to buy, or have a strong opinion on the merits of tubes versus chips.Â I'm just a person who enjoys music a lot, although my participation is usually limited to singing along at the top of my lungs and wiggling enthusiastically.
My goal in converting my records to digital was simply to have the music sound the way I remember through the fog of whatever altered states I may have been in at the time.Â I was able to achieve that (minus the pretty colors) using the steps I'm about to describe to you.Â
If you're an audio geek, you may know a better way or you may need more precise instructions that I can't give you.
The second thing you should know is that converting your records to digital takes a very long time, unlike almost everything else in the digital realm these days (yeah, right.)Â By the time you get it done, the technology will have changed.Â
I'm pretty sure that by then, we'll all have chips implanted in our heads that just play our favorite songs whenever we think of them.Â The obvious drawback to this is that they will also play that song you have stuck in your head on an endless loop.Â Just be sure not to think too much about Abba, Barry Manilow, or that frightening person who had the "Hey Mickey" video when I was in high school.
Nevertheless, if you're like me, you love nothing more than a lost cause.Â This is a great reason to start converting your records now, even though by the time you finish we'll all be driving around in flying cars.
What you will need:
- A computer with a decent sound card -- I don't know what the technical definition of a decent sound card is, but if you can play music on your computer and it sounds good to you, I would think you have one.Â These instructions are geared towards a Windows machine.
- A turntable amplified through a stereo receiver.
- A stereo cable that comes out of the receiver's output and plugs into the sound card's input.
- Sound recording and editing software -- I recommend PolderBits.Â It's inexpensive, easy to use, and has comprehensive and comprehensible English language documentation, in spite of the fact that it's made in Belgium.Â This is the second software package I tried when I recently converted my record collection to digital.Â It far surpassed the other one I tried.
- iTunes, or any other software that is capable of burning music CDs and/or converting .WAV files to MP3 files or your preferred audio format.
- Clean records -- Clean every one of your records before you record it.Â You're only going to do this once, and you want the sound to be as clean as possible.Â Record cleaner is hard to find these days.Â I used something called Monster ScreenClean that I got at RadioShack.Â It's normally for cleaning monitors, but the RadioShack manager said he had a large record collection himself and recommended it.Â It seems to work fine, and comes with a microfiber cloth.
Next time, getting started.