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how to digitally record a radio broadcast?


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In a pinch, you could just hook the output of a home stereo tuner (or the "rec/tape out" from a receiver) to the line-in of a computer's sound card (using a patch cable with 2 RCA plugs on one end, and a 1/8" stereo plug on the other). You'll need a recording application on your PC (if you don't have one, CD Wave can do the job), and will have to be careful of the recording levels (do a "sound check" using whatever's coming over the airwaves before the program starts), but the quality will be pretty good.

Aloha,

Brad

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thanks Brad. is the sound card line-in the same connection as the Mic In connection on a laptop?

No, mic-in expects a very low-level signal, while line-in expects a much higher one. If you plug a line-out source (like a tuner's or a tape deck's output) into a mic-in jack, it'll very likely overload. You could certainly try it, as any overloading that may occur won't damage anything, it'll just sound like crap. (For testing purposes, the headphone out jack of a portable music player can be used in place of the line-out jacks of a home stereo, you'll just need a patch cable with a 1/8" stereo plug on each end.)

Aloha,

Brad

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i'll try that, but it doesn't sound too promising. doesn't look like I have the gear to make this happen, as my laptop doesn't have a line-in to the soundcard. i don't even think i have a sound card. is that possible?

thanks

on a related note, if anyone feels like making a recording of an hour-long show this saturday afternoon, i'll do something to make it worthwhile...

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my laptop doesn't have a line-in to the soundcard. i don't even think i have a sound card. is that possible?

Well, laptop (and most desktop systems) motherboards have integrated audio (rather than a separate "sound card"), but the audio gear that laptops typically have is notoriously crappy (it's designed more for on-line talking-voice-only conferencing, rather than music recording and playback).

It's worthwhile hauling out your laptop's manual and seeing if you can find a diagram of all the jacks it has, as there might be a 1/8" line-in jack hidden on the back somewhere. (Alternately, just look at all the jacks on it, and figure out which is which.)

Aloha,

Brad

Aloha,

Brad

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yeah i've recorded stuff that way before but not sure the quality is all that great. in a pinch i will do that. would really like to get the best quality possible. oh well.

and brad, i'll dig out the manuals tonight and see if there are any hidden jacks, but i'm fairly certain there aren't.

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You can do it with a program called Audacity. You can set the source to record whatever is playing on your computer. I imagine the quality should be just as you hear it because you record directly to WAV file.

There's other ways to do it but I've tried this and it works. Audacity is freeware, just google it for the link.

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yeah, i have the recording program for streaming stuff and am very familiar with that, i just think that an FM signal will be of a better quality than a internet stream signal.

so ollie are you talking about recording the internet stream or sending an FM signal through the system somehow and recording it?

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You can do it with a program called Audacity. You can set the source to record whatever is playing on your computer. I imagine the quality should be just as you hear it because you record directly to WAV file.

The snag is that audio that's streamed over the internet is, at best, 64k MP3 (or another compression scheme), and converting that to WAV won't improve the quality. It'll work, but it'll be as if you took an audio CD from an uncompressed source, compressed it to 64k MP3, and then converted the MP3s back WAV, with sound being lost in the process.

You can find Audacity at

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Aloha,

Brad

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if these other suggestions dont work for you, AD, pop over to radio shack and grab a $5 attenuator pad

2740300l.jpg

this will take the signal strength from a line down to a mic. you can then use the "line out" from your stereo into the "mic in" on the laptop.

Excellent! I have been wondering why, ever since I got a new computer, the old way I used to transfer from my mixer to my computer didn't work. The old computer was a line in, I bet, and the new is definitely a mic in. I get a ton of horrible feedback now.. problem solved though with this device, I hopes.

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this device is sometimes called a 'pad'. its a very common connector that is in every taper's case.

technically, AD, yes it does degrade the quality of the signal by decreasing the strength of it. (it attenuates the amplitude of the wave, ie., turns down the volume). normally, audiophiles would want to use the full strength "line in/out" signal, but in their infinate wisdom, audio component manufacturers have come up with three standards for signal strength: line in/out (full strength); microphone in/out (-10 dB which essentially assumes an unamplified mic at half the "volume"), and turntables; (-5 to -20 dB, which assume signal strength from 70% to 25%). [The "dB to volume" conversion is 10db = 2 times the 'volume'. 70db is twice as loud as 60dB. or in other words, -10dB is half the "volume", and -20dB is a quarter the "volume".]

The basic idea is that the receiving unit either has an input interface that can only handle X amount of signal strength (like the mic in on the laptop) or the output device doesn't have an internal amplifier (the opposite of the attentuator). You just have to match up the expectant input with the output (else you get distortion on one end, or silence on the other). Normally, if you had a high end recording device, it would have both a line in and a mic in, and you would choose whether you want to feed your signal (mics? line? etc.) into the recorder via one or the other input. In this case, you only have the one mic in jack, which is built to an industry standard that assumes that your mics are not amplified, and your computer automatically amplifies the weak signal. And in this case, you would be amplifying the already strong line signal, which would cause major distortion.

Normally, you would not really want to do what Im suggesting, because you are essentially taking a full strength signal from your stereo, attenuating it (by using this pad), feeding it into your laptop soundcard which then automatically amplifies it back up again. Is this a bad thing to do? The purist would say yes, the realist would say no, sometimes it's the only way to deal with things.

Also, I just looked specifically at the pad that I linked to and it is a major attenuator that decreases the signal by -40dB (that's 1/16 the signal strength and its brutal.) Your laptop mic-in would presumably automatically increase a signal by 2 times, so you are still looking at a net signal loss of about 1/8. You would then have to turn up the recording levels on the software to max to get an acceptable signal. I think that RadioShack sells a less brutal pad but I cannot find it online. Ideally, you'd want a -10dB (the taper's standard) or even a -20dB would be much better.

Sorry, it gets technical and confusing. Also, the pad I linked is mono, so that adds a bunch of issues as well.

Check the manual for your laptop, it may tell you how to change the setting on your soundcard input from a mic in to a line in. If you can do that, that's perfect. Do it. What it would do is to tell the computer to expect a louder signal and to deal with it as is (not amplify it) versus expecting a weak mic signal and automatically amplifying it.

Sorry, I got carried away ... I hope this helps.

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  • 1 month later...
if these other suggestions dont work for you' date=' AD, pop over to radio shack and grab a $5 attenuator pad

2740300l.jpg

this will take the signal strength from a line down to a mic. you can then use the "line out" from your stereo into the "mic in" on the laptop.

Excellent!

Does anyone know where I can get one of these things? The Source people look at me blankly when I ask. I tell them to check out their website for some info on them. Their website does not seem to have a stereo model, only mono. I've poked around elsewhere... no luck.

Thanks for any assistance.

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I have a few adapters that run from rca cables to an 1/8" stereo jack. I got them at the source awhile back. Just browse through their adapter section and you should be able to find something. It seems that I can find stuff quicker myself rather than asking a sales person as they generally have no idea what I'm talking about.

pRS1C-2266317w345.jpg

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103710&cp=&sr=1&origkw=adapter+rca+stereo&kw=adapter+rca+stereo&parentPage=search

Edited by Guest
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i would have figured it would be easy found at radio shack, but if they havent heard of it, they havent heard of it.

the only other thing i can suggest is to call (go to) a small, local, higher end stereo shoppe and ask them. the pad is a very common audio device (well, it thot it was)

what are you using it for, backbacon?

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