How to Record From an External Audio Source

By Carla Slavey

Anyone can record from external audio devices such as record players.
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Record collectors need to transfer their tunes from vinyl to MP3. Musicians need to record their music from a keyboard to their mixing software. Teachers want to give each student a CD of classroom lectures that were originally recorded on video. Many reasons exist for needing to record sound onto a computer from an external source, and it's very simple to do. The key is using the correct cables and good recording software to create sound files on your computer.


A typical arrangement for audio input and output sockets on modern audio equipment.
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Find the output socket or sockets on the audio device and determine the type of jack needed for your connections. The types of jacks will vary, from having one simple output to having sockets for left and right speakers, to multi-channel audio with places for up to eight connectors.

You can use an audio conversion cable that can connect a stereo output to a single-socket input.
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Find the input socket or sockets on your computer. Many computers have a single-socket input with a picture of a microphone on it. Some may also have stereo inputs. If not, purchase a USB audio input device.

Connect the cable to the microphone input on the computer
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Connect the two devices using a cable with connections that fit both devices.

Open an audio recording program on your computer. Computers with Microsoft Windows have a program called Sound Recorder found under Accessories. You can also download free audio recording software, such as Audacity. For more professional editing, you can buy software such as Cakewalk or Audio Record Wizard.

Press the "record" button on the recording software.

Keyboards and other electric instruments can be recorded directly to your computer.
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Press play on the external audio device, or start playing the instrument you've connected to your computer.

Follow the recording software's instructions for saving the recording as an audio file.