Peter from Nottingham writes:

I have downloaded Audacity and copied an audio tape. It seems to have copied, but I can’t get it on the CD to play.  I selected MP3 player.  I think I have done everything right, but I guess not.  HELP!  Thank You.

Hi, Peter.  I’m not 100% sure of your question, so I’m going to give you a couple of options here to see if I can cover it.

First off, for those who don’t know, Audacity is a great free audio recorder and editor.  For a free program, it does a LOT including mixing tracks, special effects and equalization.  I can’t think of any audio recording needs that a non-professional might have that audacity doesn’t address.  It can be downloaded from Sourceforge here:

Peter, here’s the first possibility that I hear in your question… that you have copied music from a tape to your computer using Audacity, transferred it to a CD and now it won’t play through your computer’s MP3 player program.

First off, to let you know, the default recording format for Audacity isn’t MP3.  It isn’t any sound file that your computer will play.  The default is .aup, or an Audacity file.  This is what you get if you choose SAVE PROJECT or SAVE PROJECT AS from your file menu.  What you really want to choose, if you want to play the sound file through your player is EXPORT.

When you click on EXPORT, you will get a list of file formats to choose from.

These include MP3, but, because Audacity does not come with an MP3 encoder, if you choose this option it will send you to their website to download the encoder.  Frankly, I assume that it comes with encoders for the others, but I don’t know for sure because I always use MP3 format.  The give and take of MP3 over other formats is that MP3 files will typically take up far less space on your hard drive, but you do lose some audio quality.  If you are recording spoken word, rock, pop, or country, you will probably never notice the difference in sound quality.  If, however, you’re recording classical, opera or jazz you may because the sound spectrum for these is much higher than it is for the first group.  In other words, the range of sounds from the highest high to the lowest low is much greater.

Once you’ve chosen your format and saved your sound file, you will be able to listen to it through any of your audio player programs.

Which leads us to the second possibility… that you’ve saved your files as MP3 format, transferred them to disc and are trying to play the disc but can’t.

If you have saved the files on a disc in MP3 format and tried to play it on most CD players, it won’t play simply because most CD players do not have the capability of playing MP3 format sound files.  They basically don’t understand the extension .mp3.  In order to play these through a stand-alone CD player, you’ll have to make sure that the CD player has the MP3 logo on it to play the files.

This is going to sound like a really obvious statement, but the other thing is to make sure that you are recording them onto a CD and not a DVD.  Your stand-alone CD player won’t read DVD’s.

The other option is to record the CD using your favorite CD burning program (Nero, Windows Media Player, Itunes) to burn these files to disc.  The program will automatically covert them from MP3 to a CD audio format. 

I hope that this helps, but, if I have completely misunderstood your question, please post a follow up in the comments section below.  I do check the comments on my articles and respond when I can.

~Randal Schaffer