Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bringing my audio into the 21st century -- suggestions?

OK, so from time to time I wander through different stores and see stereos or other devices that are built to play old audio formats (records, cassettes, etc) and at the same time to digitize them to an MP3 format or straight to a DVD.

The price point usually keeps me from thinking seriously about it (they usually range from $100-150). So even though I have many dozens of LPs and Cassettes just collecting dust, I haven't been able to justify the cost. There have been a few times where I've just gone ahead and bumped up to the CD/iTunes version of the album. Part of me didn't want to "buy it twice" but I really wanted to have it in the new format.

Anyway, the question came up at work today and so I did a quick search and found a couple of options. First, there are the full-on devices that are stand alone stereos but will also convert to MP3 or DVD. Then there are lots of instruction sites talking about just plugging into your microphone jack on the computer and using your OS audio recording software coupled with a lot of freeware software. Now, I didn't really want to pay the price for the big stereos…but also, even though I'm technically savvy enough, I've been burned sometimes by the full "do it yourself" method, especially with some of the freeware software out there that claims to be very simple and also very robust but once you dig into it and start using it doesn't turn out to be either of those.

Behringer UFO202 U-Phono High-Quality USB Audio Interface with Built-In Phono PreampSo I found a few "middle ground" areas. Some "premium" software products that provided more user-friendly capture/edit capabilities. Exploring this avenue, I found the following product and I'm wondering about it…basically it includes a device with the audio-in ports (so you can get stereo channels rather than a mono through the microphone jack) that then go into a USB. Furthermore, it claims to include a robust software package with some software names I recognized from the forums I was just searching.

Soooo…after a lot of rambling, here's my question for the blogosphere.

If any of you have done audio encoding from old formats…what are some of your recommendations? Does this $30 product from Amazon look like a good investment considering it looks to provide multi-channel encoding support as well as some reputable software to do the capture/edit/cleanup work?

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