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Easy audio & video software

since 1995
Last updated: 2012-01-18
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Sound Recorder and Editor

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How to connect

 

This page helps you to connect your audio equipment to your PC so you can start using the PolderbitS Sound Recorder and Editor and get your recordings to CD or MP3.

You can use our software to digitize music on LP's, cassettes, tapes, minidisks or other sound carriers, being played back on a regular home audio set, traditional or USB turntable, cassette player, minidisk player or tape deck for example.
To record from either one of these sound carriers, you have to connect the audio output connection on the player to the audio input connection on the computer.

Tip Cables with the right plugs on each end are sold at any appliance store for a couple of bucks.

This page covers the following topics:


The audio input connection on your computer

From an audio-connection point of view, you can consider your computer being a cassette or tape deck on which you want to record. You have probably done that before.

  • Desktop computers

    Desktop

    The audio input connection on a desktop computer is typically a 1/8" mini-jack on the back panel, labeled Line-In, usually marked with a light blue color, close to where the speakers are connected to a similar type of jack (usually marked with a green color).

    The Line-In connection is sometimes marked with the symbol Line-In symbolwhere the arrow points inwards, which is not to be confused with the speaker output marked with the symbol Speaker symbolwhere the arrow points outwards.

    To record from the connected audio equipment, you typically select the sound source named Line-In in the Sound Recorder:
    Sound source selection

  • Laptop or notebook computers

    Laptop

    Most laptop or notebook computers only have one 1/8" mini-jack input connection, marked Mic or Microphone, usually marked with a red/pink color, close to where a headphone can be connected to a similar type of jack (usually marked with a green color).
    To record from the connected audio equipment, you typically select the sound source named Mic or Microphone in the Sound Recorder:
    Sound source selection

    Tip If your laptop or notebook (or its docking station) has a blue colored Line-In connection as well, then it is preferable to connect the audio equipment to that connection. In that case you typically select the sound source named Line-In in the Sound Recorder.

The plug that goes into the input connection of the computer, has to be a stereo 1/8" mini-plug, similar to the one for the computer speakers:

Stereo plug
Note that this stereo mini-plug has two black plastic rings at the tip and this is not to be confused with a mono plug that has only one black plastic ring at the tip:

Mono plug

Using a mono plug to connect the audio equipment to the computer, typically results in sound coming in on the left channel only.


The audio output connection on the audio equipment

What the audio output connection type on the audio equipment is, depends on the kind and model.
It is usually marked Play-Out, Line-Out, Audio-Out or something in similar wording (Out being the keyword here):

  • DIN connectors
    This type of connector is usually found on older European-made audio equipment, like on this Uher tape deck:

    Tape deck  DIN plug

  • RCA connectors
    This type of connector is most times found on modern audio equipment, like on this JVC cassette deck:

    Cassette deck   RCA plugs

  • Mini-jack connectors
    This type of connector is most times found on portable players, like on this Sony minidisk player:

    Minidisk player

    Stereo plug

Connecting a traditional turntable (vinyl record player)

To record from vinyl records, you will need a (pre-)amplifier connected in between the turntable and the computer. The signal strength of the turntable output is too weak to be connected to the computer directly and besides that, the pre-amplifier applies so called RIAA correction on the signal.

If your home audio set does not have a pre-amplifier built-in, or if it has no Rec-Out, Line-Out or Audio-Out output, then you can buy a separate turntable pre-amplifier. These are sold for approximately 50$ at any well-equipped appliance store.

Your home audio set will have a pre-amp built-in, if it has a Phono input connection to connect the turntable to and a Rec-Out output connection to connect to the computer, like on this Kenwood receiver/amplifier with a Technics turntable connected to it:

Turntable   Detail

The Rec-Out connection on the amplifier must be connected to the computer. This is the same connection that is usually connected to a cassette or tape recorder to record on tape the traditional way.

Some type of amplifiers like the one on the right, have additional switches (either on the front or back-panel) allowing you to adjust settings of the pre-amplifier.
In that case it is especially important to select the right type of cartridge (pick-up element) that is installed on the turntable, with the phono selector switch on the amplifier. Consult the manual of the turntable for the right type, for example MM (Moving Magnet) or MC (Moving Coil).
Selecting the wrong one will influence the sound quality and the Click and Crackle filters in the Sound Editor may not be able to filter clicks or scratches in recordings.
Phono selector switch
Do not forget to also connect the ground-wire from the turntable to the amplifier. This eliminates hum, picked up by the sensitive pick-up element on the turntable.
A ground wire connection on the amplifier (GND) typically looks like the one in the picture on the right.
Ground connection
If you do hear hum in recordings and
  • the amplifier has a ground connection,
  • and the turntable does not have a separate ground wire,
  • and the turntable has a cable with a DIN plug like the one shown on the right,
  • and the amplifier does not have a corresponding DIN PHONO connection, only RCA connections,

then you are up for some DIY (Do It Yourself):

DIN plug
  • Get a DIN-to-RCA adapter cable like this one.

    Make sure to get one that is meant for DIN output connection (as opposed to DIN input connection), or get one with four RCA plugs (one pair for output and one pair for input connection; the latter is simply not used).
DIN-to-RCA adapter cable
  • Get a piece of regular electrical wire and strip three or four inches off the insulation on one end, and one inch on the other end.
Stripped electrical wire
  • Connect both DIN plugs without fully inserting them, to leave some of the metal exposed.
Connected DIN plugs
  • Twist the longer stripped end of the electrical wire firmly around the exposed metal.
    Then push the plugs into each other, for as far as still possible.
Twisted wire
  • Connect the other shorter stripped end of the electrical wire to the ground (GND) connection on the amplifier.
    The two RCA plugs on the DIN-to-RCA adapter cable go into the PHONO jacks.
Ground connection

 


What if I only have headphones or speaker outputs?

Some audio sets like boom boxes don't have audio output connectors other than for headphones or speakers.
The signal strength of these outputs is most times higher than desired for the input on your computer and their signal strengths depend on the volume control setting for that output.
Special care is therefore required to connect such outputs to your computer.

Before you connect the headphones or speaker output to the computer, make sure to set the volume control on the audio equipment at zero first!

  • Headphones output connection

    If your audio set has a headphones output connector, then it is preferred to use that one as opposed to the speaker connections.

    You will have to experiment with the volume control level for the headphones connection, to see which level results in the best recording quality. The headphones volume control on the player, in combination with the recording volume control in the Sound Recorder, determine the end-result.

    As a rule of thumb we can say that the recording level peak meters in the Sound Recorder should hover in the yellow zone near the top, during the loudest fragments.
    To achieve this, set the volume control in the Sound Recorder window at approximately 75% of the full scale. Then playback something loud and slowly increase the volume control of the headphones output, until the recording level peak meters reach the yellow zone.

    Setting the headphones output volume too high will result in distorted sound, no matter how low you set the volume control in the Sound Recorder window.

  • Speaker output connections

    If your audio set has speaker connections only, then you need to take very very special care when connecting this to your computer.

    Pre-manufactured cables for this type of connection are not for sale and if you want to connect this way anyhow, then you will need to create some wiring yourself.

    Speaker outputs are designed to drive the speakers with relatively high signal voltage levels. These signal levels can be too high for the input on the computer, if the speaker volume is set too high.
    These high signal levels might even damage the audio input of your computer!

    For best sound quality results, the same rule of thumb applies as with connecting to the headphones connection (see above).