Transferring cassettes to computer, recording high-numbered channels on satellite or digital cable

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 12, 2007

Q: I have several cassette tapes that I would like to transfer to my computer, which uses Windows xXP Media Edition. I am using a laptop and the only audio imput that I have is the mic jack. How can I connect my cassette deck to my computer?

Leo Houston, Atlantic City, NJ

A: You can get a miniplug to RCA adapter cord to accomplish this. Just connect the RCA plugs to the cassette deck’s RCA outputs and the miniplug end to the mic input.   The cord can also be used in the other direction, for example to send audio from an iPod’s headphone (or preferably, an iPod dock’s line level output) to a stereo receiver.

Miniplug to RCA cords are available for $10 or less. If you have a camcorder, you may already have a miniplug to RCA adapter with three connections, yellow (composite video) red (right audio signal) and white (left audio signal). You could use this to accomplish the task even though the cassette deck does not have a video connection. Just insert the plug and only connect the red and white terminals.

Q: I recently switched from cable TV to satellite TV. I have a DVD recorder that can’t record the higher numbered channels on satellite TV. Is there a machine on the market at present that will record channels higher than 125?

A.J., Pittsburgh, PA

A: It can be done with your existing machine, but you are going about it the wrong way. The tuners in the DVD recorder and in the satellite box tune entirely different kinds of signals.

To record any channel from the satellite box, connect the audio/video outputs from the satellite box to the audio/video inputs of the DVD recorder, then take the outputs of the DVD recorder to the inputs on the TV. Select the corresponding inputs on the TV and recorder. Now any station tuned on the satellite box will be recorder by the DVD recorder. Using the audio/video connections instead of the tuner channels will get you better picture and sound quality, too.

You will not be able to watch one channel and record another unless your satellite box has two tuners, which is possible but unlikely. I recommend you look into your satellite company’s DVR boxes, most of which will now allow you to watch one channel while recording another, or to record two channels simultaneously. Not only are DVRs unbeatable for convenience, they make nice partners to DVD recorders, too. You can set your DVR to record whenever you want, then burn the recorder programs to DVD at your convenience. Just cue up the program on the DVR and put a blank DVD in the recorder, press record on the recorder, then play on the DVR. The program will then be archived to DVD for you.

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