Q. How can I burn music from any online radio station? Is there any software available that will do a good job? — JP
A. If you’re an old-timer like me, you fondly remember the days when recording music from the radio was the pinnacle of cool.
All the latest stuff could be recorded for free as long as you were willing to deal with the commercials and the lessthan-desirable songs that usually accompanied the hits.
While over-the-air radio is still a possible source for recording free music, the Internet radio stations that broadcast a clean digital signal are a much better choice.
Instead of the old-school method of capturing the songs on an analog cassette tape and fast-forwarding through the junk, capturing audio streams from the Internet in a digital format gives you much better control of what can be done after the recording. Once you capture audio from an Internet stream, you can edit what was captured to eliminate commercials, purge the less-than-desirable songs and save each piece as an individual song.
In many cases, the audiocapture program can detect pauses in sound as the logical beginning and end of a song and save each song separately on the fly. Just about anything that passes through your sound card can be captured with this type of software, much of which is free.
One of the easiest-to-use programs that I have tested is called Freecorder from Applian Technologies (www.freecorder.com), which actually integrates as a tool bar into your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox). Once installed, the Freecorder tool bar will appear in your browser with simple options to record, stop, pause, play and change the settings of the program.
Depending on how your computer is set up, you may have to play with some of the “Record from …” settings to make sure you capture your audio properly, but within minutes of installing the program, you are ready to go.
I tested it first with one of my favorite online music sources, www.pandora.com, which creates personalized radio stations with no commercials based on artists and songs that I start with.
I clicked on the record button in the Freecorder tool bar, then started my Pandora music channel and let six songs play before hitting the stop button on the recorder. Next, I hit the play button, and a window opened with the newly recorded music.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that each song had been saved as an individual file. Even my Outlook “new mail notification sound” was captured as individual files, so make sure you turn off your e-mail audio alerts or they will get captured as well!
From there, I can simply rename each file (the default format is MP3 at 128kbit/s) and then stage them to be burned for an audio CD or add them to my iTunes library to sync to my iPod.
If you are more of an audiophile or want to be able to schedule recordings, there are a host of programs that you can buy that will give you much more control over the finished product.
Some of the higher-rated products that contain a scheduler include the i-Sound WMA MP3 Recorder Professional (www.abyssmedia.com — $29.95) and the Total Recorder series from High Criteria (www.highcriteria.com — $17.95 standard edition, $35.95 professional edition).