If you've got a load of tracks on vinyl or tape, and you want to MP3 them, it's really dead simple.


Firstly, you need a computer (doh!), preferably pretty quick, especially if you're going to rip on the fly.

In that computer you want a soundcard with a Line In socket. Don't be tempted to use the Mic in socket, as it'll probably blow your soundcard.

Next, you want a music system of some description. You can even use a walkman, so long as it has a headphone socket.

The final piece of hardware is a cable available from your local electronics shop (Tandy, or Maplin) which has a headphone-socket connection at both sides. If your hi-fi system has an old style connection, you'll want to get the adaptor to plug into it too. The cable will set you back about £2.50 ($3.60, or 8.80 Guilders), or £3 ($4.30, or 10.50 Guilders)(if you get the gold-plated connections).

You'll also need some software: you can use stuff like Windows Sound Recorder, but you'd be better off with something like Audiograbber (which I used because I had it on a shareware CD).

Setting Up

Stick one end of your new cable into your Line In port, and one end into the music system, after reducing the volume to its lowest level (to preserve your speakers). Check your volume levels - under Windows you can do this by double-clicking the speaker, Options, Properties and selecting Recording properties. Mute everything except for the Line In, which you want at maximum volume. Move back over to the playing settings, and make sure Line In is unmuted. If you've got a power chart, adjust the volume until it's just peaking at the top, and not staying there too long, then record using your chosen program - you may need to rip separately if you use a standalone WAV format.

To increase quality, use good quality hardware: gold cable, good soundcard, good source media and a good hi-fi system.