Louetta from Franklin, Ohio wants to take her music portable, but has a question about it.  She writes “I can’t get my recording to save to MP3. Will one of the other options to save to such as wave allow you to transfer to CD? I very much enjoyed your explanation of how to record old Cassette tapes to CD.”

Thanks for the great question, Louetta… or should I say “questions”, because I feel like you need three answers for this.

First off, MP3.  MP3 is a compressed music format that takes up much less space on your computer’s hard drive or CD, but also won’t play on most CD players.  The result of the compression is that you lose some sound quality, mostly at the top or bottom end of the spectrum.  Really, you should only notice this loss if you’re listening to classical, opera or jazz.  Country, pop and rock, for the most part, rely only on the middle sound wave spectrum, and so shouldn’t be affected.  There are a couple of ways to change your music files into MP3.  My preferred method is to use the great program Free AC, but any good audio file converter should work.

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Secondly, as I said before, if you have a disc full of MP3 files, it won’t play on your CD player unless your player has MP3 functionality.  MP3’s are basically computer files, and so most CD players don’t know what to make of them.

In order to do this, you want to change your audio files into CD compatible files.  The best and easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to use Windows Media Player, create a playlist, and then burn the playlist to CD.  Not only will this allow you to use the resulting disc in any CD player, but WMP will also tell you, as you create your playlist, how much space you have used and have left on your CD.

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The third answer that I feel like your question prompts, albeit indirectly, is the question of buying tracks from a website such as iTunes or Amazon.  Many times when you purchase this music, you’re given an option of either buying it with DRM (Digital Rights Management) or DRM free.  The DRM free tracks are typically slightly more expensive, but if you purchase music with DRM, you basically can’t do anything with it aside from listen to it on the device that you download it on, without using that website’s proprietary player (such as iTunes for music purchased from the Apple store).

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Using that proprietary player will allow you to listen to music PURCHASED FROM THAT SERVICE on any device that you have the player installed on, or burn it to CD.  In other words, if you have some DRM encoded music from Apple and some from Amazon, you won’t be able to burn both to a CD using Itunes.  You would have to burn one disc with your Apple DRM music and one with the Amazon DRM music.

I hope that this answers your question.  If it doesn’t, please post a comment with any clarification needed, and I’ll be happy to help.

Thanks!

~ Randal Schaffer