How to record a radio program with a MacBook Pro?
September 10, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

How do I record a radio program from my tuner to an audio file on my MacBook Pro? (Free copy of Wagner's Ring Cycle to anyone who can help me.)

Starting next week, CBC is broadcasting live the COC production of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. I would like to record the performances from the radio.

I have on older (but perfectly functional) radio tuner that uses RCA outputs to connect to my amplifier. My amplifier has a 1/4 inch headphone jack, if that is relevant. I also have a MacBook Pro (1.86 GHz). What connectors and (free or cheap) software do I need to record from the radio to (ultimately) MP3 format?

While I have faith in the selflessness of AskMe, I would be happy to mail a CD with the end product to anyone who can help me make this happen.
posted by Dasein to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Best answer: Easy Peasy Mate!

1/4 inch headphone out to the macbook pro Microphone In. All you require then is some capturing software which the mac does extremely well (I am linux and Windows boffin) but someone else will pop up with software suggestions.

However, the freeware Audacity, which is available for mac works a treat! Its a great program that allows you to create, edit, enhance, dub your recordings fairly easily.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2006

Best answer: It's better to use the RCA outputs then the headphone jack, as the headphone amplifier adds a certain amount of distortion. RCA to 3.5mm (like your MacBook has) cables are fairly easy to get hold of.
posted by cillit bang at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2006

I think you need Audio Hijack with which

"you can quickly and easily save audio from almost any application"
posted by anadem at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2006

No, Audio Hijack is for capturing audio from other programs. It's not designed for capturing it from external hardware (though the Pro version can).
posted by cillit bang at 10:29 AM on September 10, 2006

cillit bang is correct. RCA-headphone cables can be purchased at the source, aka radio shack. Audicity is also probably the easist and possibly also the best software, and it powerful and you can do a good deal of cleanup and editing afterwards.
posted by tiamat at 10:49 AM on September 10, 2006

Best answer: WireTap Pro.
posted by cribcage at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2006

I tried a few different applications and I second cribcage on WireTap Pro. You can use it to record external inputs or record whatever is playing on the internal sound system (thus record DVD audio, online audio, Real or Windows media files audio). The files are pretty good quality.

My older iMac doesn't have a microphone jack, so I use a USB audio connector - there are lots of options, I use an older model of this relatively cheap connector from Griffin and it works fine. Their lit claims that direct input/output jacks for audio are electronically "noisier" than using an external connector, I don't know about that, I've never regretted buying the thing anyway. You can google USB audio interface for plenty more options. I've used this setup to make digital copies of vinyl and cassettes from my stereo as well as live audio recordings from a microphone and I've been happy with the results.

Getting levels right takes some fiddling though so do some experimental files with as similar an audio source as possible in advance.
posted by nanojath at 12:27 PM on September 10, 2006

Best answer: why not just use garageband? your machine came with it. (other than that, yeah, all you need is an RCA->1/8" cable and bam.)
posted by mrg at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2006

Avoid Audacity for now, its Universal Binary is extremely crappy. It nearly never launches successfully on my MacBook Pro and when it does, it's freezy and crashy.
posted by evariste at 3:31 PM on September 10, 2006

You could skip the FM tuner and get a Griffin radio shark. Comes with the software you'd need and does the FM tuning for you. Neat timeshifting feature too. (I assume you're going to record CBC directly off the air.
posted by drmarcj at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2006

seconding mrg, i say just use garage band. i have done this with the 8th inch line in jack for radio bites. but if you don't have a sweet digital dial radio, make sure to work out all static and fuzz issues before (meaning, that you're right on the station when you start recording). The Ring Cycle is long long long. how are they splitting it up...?
posted by punkbitch at 9:48 PM on September 10, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the input. I'm going to try it with Garage Band to begin, but I'll likely buy WireTap Pro because it would be nice to be able to set the timer and not have to wait at home to start the recording every time it's on.

I meant what I said about sharing - anyone who wants a CD with the MP3s can email me and I'll send it to you once it's all done in about three weeks.
posted by Dasein at 9:50 AM on September 11, 2006

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