Caution

Don't use the microphone input on the computer. Although this might produce sound, the electrical characteristics of microphone and line inputs are slightly different, so you won't get optimal results. On many sound cards, the microphone input is also an inferior input; it might support a frequency response range that's less than the frequency response range of the line-in jack.

After the connections have been made, you can follow these steps to record the stereo's audio input:

1. Set your stereo to direct an appropriate signal to the computer. If you use a switch box like the one shown in Figure 11.9, you might need to use it instead of, or in addition to, the stereo to select the desired input source.

2. Use a Linux mixer application to un-mute the line input, as shown in Figure 11.10.

Figure 11.10

GNOME's gmix is one of the better Linux mixers available when it comes to intuitive controls to select and un-mute an input source.

Figure 11.10

GNOME's gmix is one of the better Linux mixers available when it comes to intuitive controls to select and un-mute an input source.

3. Start your recording application and begin recording.

4. Stop recording after capturing a few seconds input, and check that the recording levels are OK. If they're not, adjust them using your mixer application and try again.

If you set your recording level too low, you might be able to amplify the signal at playback by turning up the volume. This will also amplify background noise, however. If you set the recording level too high, the result is clipping—the digital recording stores a series of maximum or minimum values, which ends up producing a harsh, grating sound. In extreme cases, you might hear nothing but clicks in a severely clipped recording.

5. When you've adjusted your recording level to your satisfaction, begin recording in earnest, and stop whenever you're done.

Tip

Aside from turntables, the electrical requirements of most stereo equipment are standardized. You can therefore connect, say, a cassette recorder directly to your sound card's line input if you want to record a cassette, without going through the stereo system.

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