4. Recording: Setting Levels
Before you start recording your tapes or records, you need to make sure that the recording level is set correctly. If the recording volume is too low, you will lose quality. If the recording volume is too high, your recording will be distorted.
Image 1: RipEditBurn Plus's recording controls, set to record from "Line", showing record volume control slider (vertical) and pan slider (horizontal)
Image 2: RipEditBurn's recording controls, set to record from "Line", showing record volume control slider (vertical) and pan slider (horizontal)
Image 3: RipEditBurn Plus's and RipEditBurn's playback volume control (vertical slider), pan control (horizontal slider), and recording level indicators (vertical bars)
Choosing the Recording Source
In RipEditBurn Plus, choose Device from the Record From drop-down menu (see Image 1) to record from a device (such as a microphone, a preamp, a CD player, or other audio device).
To record from the USB 5.1 Audio Adapter, your program must be able to "see" the adapter. In RipEditBurn Plus or RipEditBurn, choose File->Preferences. In the window that opens, click on the Devices tab, choose USB Audio from the drop-down menu for the Recording Device, and click OK. Then, on the program's Edit screen, click the "Rec Source" button (located on the middle left side of the screen) until the text above it reads "Microphone", if you are recording from a mic, or "Line" or "Line In" if you are recording from the Line Input on the USB 5.1 Audio Device (used to record from a preamp, a CD player, a mixer, an electronic instrument, or other audio device).
To record directly from your computer's sound card, choose File->Preferences, and in the window that opens, click on the Devices tab, set the Recording Device to Default Recording Device or the name of your sound card, and click the Rec Source button until you find a setting that will cause the volume indicators to light up.
If you plug headphones or your speakers into the USB 5.1, choose File->Preferences, and in the window that opens, click on the Devices tab and set the Playback Device to USB Audio. If your headphones or speakers are plugged into your sound card, you will choose Default Playback Device or the name of your sound card.
Setting the Volume
The vertical slider to the left of the Rec Source button sets the recording volume (Images 1 & 2). Somewhere between half and full volume should serve as a good starting point. The horizontal slider controls the pan (relative strength of the left and right channels).
The vertical volume control slider in Image 3 controls volume during playback, and the horizontal slider controls the pan during playback, so you can listen to each channel separately. The vertical bars on the right in Image 3 indicate the volume level during recording and playback.
Set the output volume on your source. If you are recording from a receiver or amplifier, set the volume so that you get a good, full sound on the speakers with no audible distortion. If you are using a headphone plug on the source, use a pair of headphones to make sure the volume level is high but not so high that it distorts. If you are connecting directly through RCA jacks, the volume controls on the source will probably not affect the loudness; it should be set automatically by the equipment.
Start playing your record or tape and click on RipEditBurn Plus's or RipEditBurn's Record button (see Images 1& 2). You will see the "Choose Format" dialog box. Set the bit depth and sampling rate to 44100 Hz, 16 bits, and stereo for the best (CD-quality) recording. Lower sampling rates and bit depths are not as high fidelity but they use less memory space. When you record at 16 bits per sample, 44,100 samples per second, stereo, you are using 176,400 bytes for every second of recording. Each minute of a song takes 10,584,000 bytes on your hard drive. Make sure you've got plenty of room before you start!
Watch the recording level indicators (see Image 3). These dancing lights show you at a glance if you are recording at too high or low a recording volume. The higher the lit columns on the indicator, the louder the sound being recorded. You want to record as loudly as possible, but if the record volume is too high the recorded sound will be distorted.
When the volume level is too high, the amber lights at the top of the columns light up and stay lit for a second even after the level goes down (see image at left). Keep reducing the volume until you can play the loudest sections without the amber lights ("clipping lights") going on.
You can listen to the sound you have recorded by clicking the Record button again to stop recording, and then clicking the play button. Adjust playback volume and pan with the sliders illustrated in Image 3 above. When you are happy with the level, you can clear out your test recording by choosing File>New.