Mac Lab Report

Digitizing Your LPs and Cassettes with Your Mac

- 2003.08.14

I got a number of responses to How to Digitize Your Old Tapes and LPs with Your Mac, my article about converting cassettes and LPs to digital format.

Several readers wrote to recommend software and/or hardware if you have more music to convert than I do and don't want to go through the complex rigmarole I concocted.

Ken Watanabe reports an option which will be handy for OS 9 users: "If you do a follow-up that includes Mac OS 9 applications, you should mention Coaster by Christian Roth.

"Although it is no longer being worked on, it is the best application I have found for converting analog music into digital format. And it is freeware."

Here's a suggestion from William McHargue: "A quick note. Even though I use Mac OS X for everything else, there is one application that I find it is worth booting into OS 9 to use when converting entire tapes or albums. Please checkout Coaster. I so wish this was an OS X application, but the author has no plans to Carbonize it. Still, it allows you to set it and forget it, and convert all the tracks to individual files. including nicely trimmed lead-ins and outs."

John Konopka recommends Coaster as well and has other suggestions: "I recommend AudioCorder X for recording music. I've tried a number of recording apps, and this works reliably for me. No dropouts or clicks in the recording.

"I'd also suggest the Griffin iMic for recording LPs. With their free software, this is supposed to be able to record LPs directly from a turntable, no intermediate preamp required. Pretty cool. I will add I haven't tried this personally.

"In OS 9, the best app is Coaster (free). Besides being very reliable,å it has a number of cool features to make it easy to record LPs. One is that it will automatically split up the recording to multiple files when it hears dead time as between tracks on an LP. You can also do this manually. Hit the split button, and it instantaneously starts a new file."

Matt writes about an OS X application I heard about some few weeks ago: "Jeff, use WireTap. It's free, and it works great - much easier than iMovie imports and hoop jumping. Outputs a high quality AIFF file you can drag into iTunes to convert to MP3.

"WireTap will record anything playing on your Mac, so be sure to turn off alerts, etc."

Thanks to everyone who wrote in, and I hope that passing on the information helps you get your collection converted. Don't toss those old LPs, though - in fifteen years MP3 format may be long forgotten, but you will still be able to play LPs with a needle and a paper cone.


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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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