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Convert Records To CDs

This guide requires you to have software suitable for the creation of audio CDs, such as Adobe Audition 2.0.

Before starting, you will need to connect your tape player or turntable to your computers's sound card "line" [blue] input (not microphone [red]) and set your Windows Volume Control so that your recording input is selected. This is usually "Line In", but can also be called "Analog Mix" depending on your sound card. You may need to slide the input volume level slider up or down to prevent clipping. You may also need to purchase a pre-amp for your turntable if it does not have a line-level output. A "phono out" signal will not be strong enough for your sound card's line input.

Open a new document

Open a new document with CD specifications.

Sample Rate: 44100

Channels: Stereo

Resolution: 16-bit

Set the time scale

Before recording, set some important timeline settings. Switch the time format to Compact Disc 75 fps.

Set snapping off

Then get into snapping and make sure the only item turned on is Snap to Markers.

Record the album

Click the record button, then start playing the A side of your album. If your volume control is set correctly, you should see the sound being recorded. Record the entire A side of your album, then you can hit the pause button while you flip the record over. Then click pause again to continue recording and start playing the B side.

Monitor clipping levels

If you see the red clipping indicators while recording the album, you must turn down the input levels in your Volume Control so that clipping does not occur. It is ideal for your input levels to hover somewhere around -6 dB. This way, if there is a loud passage within the music, it will most likely not exceed 0 dB. If it does, turn down your input levels and start recording again. Clipping is very bad in the digital world. Very bad indeed.

Delete extraneous recording

When you're finished recording, there will be extra recorded material that you don't want in the beginning, between sides A and B, and at the end of the recording.

You will want to get rid of it.

Locate the beginning of the first song. Zoom in horizontally and vertically if you have to in order to locate the beginning.

Select about 10 frames of silence before the beginning of the sound.

Then, press the left arrow. It will move the cursor to the beginning of the selection.

Then press Shift-Home. It will select everything from the cursor to the beginning of the file.

NOTE: "What's with the 10 frames?" you may ask. This is a personal preference of mine, actually. Some of my CD players couldn't play sound that was right at the beginning of a track, so I've developed this habit of leaving a little "extra" at the beginning of the track so the sound doesn't get cut off. It's likely that most newer CD players don't have this problem, but I still leave a little extra for some breathing space.

Now that you have this extra recorded material selected, press the Delete key to remove it.

Now do the same thing with the recording at the end of the file. This may be trickier because most songs fade out, so make sure you don't cut too close to the actual song. Instead of 10 frames, you can select one or two seconds beyond the end of the song to be safe. Similarly, click the right-arrow to move your cursor to the right edge of your selection. Then press Shift-End to select the recording you want to delete. Then press the Delete key.

Now there's just the extra material between sides A and B.

You can observe the duration of silence between the other tracks within the album and try to approximate that duration. In any case, be sure to zoom in close enough so that you aren't deleting a chunk of the actual song(s). Once you are satisfied with the selection, hit the Delete key to get rid of it.

In this example, I left 10 frames of silence before the beginning of the song on the right (beginning of the B side), and about 2 seconds of silence after the end of the song on the left (end of the A side).

Here is the entire album zoomed out. It's clear that there will be 8 distinct tracks on this CD.

Optional: You may normalize the entire wave at this point (Effects>Amplitude>Normalize (process)...). Never use any of the other amplification functions, especially related to dynamics. They are destructive and will alter the original sound.

Now we need to tell the program how to split these up into individual CD tracks.

Set snapping on

This is one of the great features of this program. Turning snapping on will guarantee that tracks are split on CD sector boundaries.

"Wha-a-a?", you ask.

This prevents the annoying gap of silence you hear between tracks, especially on live albums, when using classic audio CD creation programs.

Turn on Snap to Frames from the Edit menu.

Insert markers

We'll indicate track breaks by using markers.

The shortcut key to insert markers in Adobe Audition is F8.

The first marker should be at the very beginning of the sound. Position the cursor at the very beginning (press the Home key), then press F8.

For each of your next songs, zoom and slide along the timeline.

Select about 10 frames before the beginning of the song (shown). You will notice the selection "snapping" as you move the mouse.

Click near the beginning of the selection and press F8 to insert the next marker.

IMPORTANT: Do not use the arrow keys for this procedure. Arrow keys do not honor the snapping rule.

A well-placed marker is shown here.

After marking the beginning each CD track, you must add one more marker at the very end of the file.

Press End, then press F8.

This figure shows all the markers in place. Now the markers need to be converted to CD tracks.

If it is not visible, you must open the Markers panel from the Window menu. I prefer to have a larger view of it, so I moved the Marker panel next to the Main editing window. You can see this in the figure above.

Currently, each marker is a Cue type. They need to be converted to Track marker.
Select all markers in the list, then pop up Type and select Track.

Convert markers to regions

Now the markers need to be merged so they define regions rather than cue points.

Select all markers in the list, then click the not-so-obvious Merge Selected button at the bottom of the Markers panel (circled).

There should now be one less line than before since two consecutive markers have been used to define regions, each with its own beginning and end point.

Regions to CD tracks

Back in the Files list, your wave file has a + sign to the left of it. Expand the list by clicking the +.

Select all the Markers, then right-click the list and choose Insert Into CD List.

Click the CD button or choose CD View from the View menu.

Here is your CD list. Confirm that there are the correct number of tracks in the list.

The pause value should be 0. If it is not, follow these steps:

Select one track.
Click the Track Properties... button.
Click Use custom track properties.
Click the Set as default button.
Check the Same for all tracks checkbox.
Click OK.

Write the CD

Finally, insert your blank CD-R.

Cancel any windows that pop up.

Click the Write CD... button.

Click the CD Device Properties... button. Your writing speeds will be listed. For best results, write your CD at about 1/2 the maximum speed listed. This will make the CD playable in a wider range of players.

Reset time scale and snapping

If you will be putting Adobe Audition to rest for a while, you might want to reset your timescale and snapping back to the way they were before you changed them. The timescale is normally set to Decimal, and for most purposes, snapping should just be set to snap to markers.

Notes

The screen shots used above were from an actual 12-inch vinyl recording of Atlanta Rhythm Section's "A Rock And Roll Alternative", with their hits "So Into You" (track 5) and "Neon Nites" (track 8). The entire wave was normalized at 100% (0 dB) before any editing began.

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