Converting your minidisc backing
to mp3 isn't as difficult as you think
If you've read some
of our other articles, you'll probably know by now that we at
MP3 Backing Trax favour the mp3 format for the playback of backing
tracks in preference to all other backing track formats (including
CD, Minidisc, Cassette, DAT etc).
If you've come to the same conclusion as us (and we can't think
why you wouldn't - mp3 is a fantastic format!), then it's time
to go about the task of converting your present library of backing
tracks to mp3.
purposes of this article, we will assume that your backing tracks
are currently on Minidisc, but even if they are on cassette tape
or DAT, the process of converting them to mp3 is still the same.
There is no "quick" way of recording from Minidisc to
mp3 but there are a few tips we can give and software that we
can recommend which will make the job a whole lot easier and save
you a lot of time, trouble and headaches!
The process of recording your backing tracks from
Minidisc to mp3 involves "playing" each song
on your Minidisc player and "recording"
the resulting audio in to your computer (ie a laptop or
a desktop PC). To do this, you need to connect your Minidisc to
your computer via a suitable cable.
of cable you need will depend entirely on the output jack(s) that
your Minidisc player uses and the input jack(s) your PC or laptop
uses. Many Minidisc players have Optical/Digital outputs (and
some of the more expensive PC sound cards have Optical/Digital
inputs) but most standard PC's and Laptops have simple audio ins
and outs, so for the purposes of this article, we will be connecting
the Minidisc player to the PC or Laptop via an audio cable.
or Laptops have a 6mm stereo line-in jack, so the cable you use
will need to have a 6mm stereo jack (often called a mini-jack)
at one end. PC soundcards do differ though, so make sure you check
before buying the cable! It's also important to note that many
cheaper PC's and laptops have cheap soundcards installed so the
inputs may NOT be stereo which means your backing tracks will
only be recorded in to the computer in mono and you really don't
want that - in fact using a cheap soundcard will seriously affect
the quality of your recordings so should be avoided. If you're
unsure about the type of soundcard and inputs it has, refer to
the owners manual that came with the soundcard or the computer
and check the spec to make sure it supports "stereo in".
If you find you have a soundcard that can only record "mono
in", consider replacing the soundcard
or buying an external sound card.
decks use 2 RCA jacks for the output (these are sometimes
referred to as PhonoPlugs). However, smaller personal Minidisc
players (Walkman types) usually have a 6mm stereo mini-jack output.
So, again, check the output before you buy the cable!
determined the type of output jack(s) of your Minidisc and the
type of input jack(s) of your PC or Laptop, and bought the proper
cable, it's time to connect them together. One end of your cable
should be connected to the "output" of your minidisc
player - the other end of the cable should be connected to the
"input" or "Line-In" of your PC or Laptop.
Before you can record the audio from your Minidisc player to your
PC, your PC needs some sort of software program which can record
audio. Windows already has a built-in sound recorder (you'll find
it at Programs/Accessories/Entertainment), but the bad news is
that, not only is it not very good, you will still have to convert
the audio to mp3 even after Windows has recorded it!
you can save yourself a bundle of time, frustration and a thousand
headaches, by using a proper dedicated program like Soundforge
to handle the recording. It's pretty much an ALL-IN-ONE solution
which will do just about everything - it'll record your songs
from your Minidisc and it'll convert them to mp3 for you (CLICK
HERE for more info).
Once you have your recording
software installed and you've read through the operating instructions
for the software, you can now begin to record your backing tracks
from your Minidisc player to your PC or Laptop.
Press "Record" on your
PC or Laptop to begin recording. At the same time press "Play"
on your Minidisc player. The Minidisc will begin playing the first
song and at the same time your PC will begin to record the resulting
audio. You may have to adjust the volumes of the PC or the Minidisc
player (or both) until you get a good signal/volume.
Try to get the input signal on the PC as near to 0dB as possible
but don't go over this as it will cause your recording to distort.
Also remember that the loudest parts of a song often come near
the end of the song, so although you may think you've got a good
healthy volume setting at the beginning of the song, you could
end up with a distorted recording when the "dynamics"
of the song increase towards the middle or end!
The PC's recording software should give you some sort of indication
as to the input volume (usually it'll show little red lights when
the signal is too high to warn you that the volume is peaking).
Repeat the process for every song
you want to record, saving each song to your PC or laptop hard-drive
as you go along (save it to a folder you'll remember like My Documents/My
Music or alternatively you can save it to the recording softwares
And, that's pretty much it...
It's worth bearing in mind that
most software recording programs (such as the built-in Windows
Sound Recorder) only allow you to record in WAV file format. This
means you will need another different program to convert the WAV
file to mp3. That's giving yourself a lot of work - you also need
loads of hard-disk space on your PC or laptop, and to be quite
blunt, it's really not worth the trouble! For the cost, you would
be far better investing in an all-in-one program like Soundforge,
especially if you intend doing this sort of process regularly.
It will take you some time
to record all your Minidiscs on to your PC or Laptop - each song
has to be recorded individually and in real time (in other words,
a 4 minute song will take you 4 minutes to record). However, the
benefits of having all your backing tracks saved on your PC or
Laptop in mp3 format are immense.
As well as being a better way to work when you are performing
live onstage (see our article on Using
a Laptop Onstage), one day you may be very glad that you have
all your backing tracks backed up on your PC.
We've had a customers in the past who have reported experiencing
a Minidisc fall to bits in their hands(!) or had all their musical
equipment stolen and lost ALL their backing tracks - don't let
that happen to you!
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
(all rights reserved)