The Easiest and Cheapest Way to Convert Your Records, Tapes, 8-Tracks and More into CDs or .MP3s – Part I

Just a few years ago, before it was easy and cheap to record onto a CD, we used cassettes for recordings, mix tapes, band practice, and tons of other purposes. Before cassettes, it was 8-Tracks, Reel to Reel and Vinyl. Now that old collection of cassettes, records, and other media is gathering dust in the basement, closet or attic.

For quality and durability reasons, I’d never advocate throwing out vinyl although it can take up a ton of space. As a former DJ, I know how much fun it is to lug around crates upon crates of records from place to place. For tapes and other magnetic media, they will deteriorate over time. A common question that I’m asked is “How do you transfer these tapes / records onto the computer?”

Its actually easy but it does take time. OS X comes equipped with all the software you need to do this on a basic level.

Step 1: Purchase the proper audio cable.

In order to get the signal into your computer, you will need the proper adapter. Depending on your stereo set-up, you may need one of the following cables or adapters:

Cables and Adapters for importing audio into OS X

They can be bought in most electronics sections of stores (Target, Best Buy, etc) or in electronics stores like Radio Shack. Don’t worry, it’s not expensive. Also, you can use the 1/4″ to 1/8″ or 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapters which will turn either size plug into a different size.

This cable is for connecting your tape deck, or anything else, to the computer. For record albums, connect the turntable to your stereo first and then connect this adapter from the stereo to the computer. The reason for this is the record player’s signal needs a boost before you can record from it. If you have a stereo with an auxiliary out, use that RCA plug. If not, use the headphone jack.

Note: If you are using an iBook G4 or earlier, there is no built-in audio input. You will have to buy an audio interface to get the sound in. I recommend the iMic from Griffin Technology. Its cheap and gets the job done. Once you purchase it, follow the instructions to set it up and then continue with this tutorial.

Setting up Garageband and your stereo: Page 2

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