Wonder software will give you MP3 files

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 May, 2005, 12:00am

I've got a question and maybe you computer people can help me out. Last year I bought a mini disc player to record conversations and business meetings. I purposely chose to steer clear of the MP3 format because I felt more comfortable with the tried and tested MD, as I generally find it more reliable and less prone to glitches.

Some of my friends tell me they have failed to record important events because the MP3 fails for one reason or another. The problem is, I would now like to transfer my library of MD recordings on to my computer for storage and playback. How can I do this and what kind of software do I need to covert the MD to digital file?

Please note that I am using a Mac, which may make it harder to transfer over to MP3 files.

Thanks for all your help.

Discovery Bay

Your question is interesting on many different levels. I remember fooling with an early MP3 player and not getting good results. Then something happened and everything I worked on disappeared.

It was not the MP3 format that was the problem, it was the particular device. This is a fairly common thing to confuse.

Strictly speaking, MP3 is simply a standard format for recording sound digitally. You could buy a poor quality device for a few hundred dollars and if it did not work, it would not be the fault of the format.

The same would be true of MD players, if they had not been superceded by MP3 players.

It is a pity for you that you went with the MD technology, but the good news is that digital technology can usually be copied and, in this case, it is fairly straightforward. (It is, of course, this very ease of copying that has Hollywood and the record labels so worried.)

With a Mac, it will be even easier, but for readers with a PC you only need to know a little bit about your sound card. Unless you have a very old machine, your sound card should be fine. The process for recording is similar to the process described in Tech Talk a few weeks ago for copying cassette tapes, except that this time you are hooking up an MD player.

The same cable that was able to copy from a cassette player can be used for the MD player.

There should be little or no degradation in sound quality this time, however. Unlike the cassette player, we are not dealing here with conversion from analogue to digital.

Once again, I must recommend Audacity as the software of choice for recording. This free software works wonders and it also runs on several platforms. It is a pity more people do not write software this way.

The following site is specifically for PC users who wish to do the same thing. It is an extensive description of how to make the copies: http://www.minidisc.org/charman/mdtomp3.html#recording

The Audacity site for all comers: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Questions to Tech Talk will not be answered personally. E-mail Danyll Wills at tech.talk@scmp.com.