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[Back to Top] How To Record an MP3

MP3's are typically created from WAV files, thus this tutorial will cover how to create a MP3 file from a WAV file. Also for composers who want to create MP3s of their MIDI compositions, read on!

Unfortunately, there is no way that I know of to record a MIDI to an MP3. A Midi File (.mid) doesn't actually contain sound. It merely contains a definition of how and when to play what sounds, but relies on your soundcard to supply the right instruments and create the sound itself. This is why MIDIs can sound different on different computers.

A Wave File (.wav) blindly stores the actual waveform of a sound, paying no attention to structure. This is why it's impossible to convert a MIDI to a WAV. You must instead create a Wave File by recording a MIDI as it actually plays.

[Back to Top] Recording MIDI to WAV

This task can sometimes be a problem, as some soundcards cannot record and play a MIDI at the same time. In this case, you're out of luck unless you have some special recording equipment. However, most soundcards have different Synthesis Modes to choose from, one of which may allow you to record while playing a MIDI. Test it out - if you are using Windows 95 or higher, go into your Control Panel and take a look at your midi settings in Multimedia.

Now you need to find an appropriate sound recording program. The Sound Recorder for windows only allows up to 45 seconds of recording. Look on the internet for another tool that you can use in place of this disgraceful tool by Microsoft.

From here on, it's fairly easy. Before recording, make sure that there are no programs running that may interfere with the recording, for example, something that may spoil the recording by making a sound. Have your midi and sound recorder running. Start the WAV recorder, and then quickly start playing the midi. Wait until the midi finishes and stop the sound recorder. Save the WAV file onto your harddrive.

Congrats! Proceed to the next section to learn how to convert this massive Wave File into an MP3.

[Back to Top] Converting WAV to MP3

MP3s are a compressed audio format, and can be used for anything from music to talking. In order to create an MP3, you need a Wave File (.wav) and an MP3 Encoder.

The Wave File is the sound that you want to convert into an MP3. These files are usually massive: approximately 10 megabytes for a minute of CD-quality sound. MP3's can deliver the same CD quailty sound for 1/10 the size, about 1 megabyte per minute. This is why MP3s are desirable for distributing music over the internet.

An MP3 Encoder is a program that converts the Wave File to an MP3 File (.mp3). There are many such programs to be found on the internet, some free and some not. Find something that suits you. The MP3 Encoder that I use is a component of MusicMatch JukeBox [OFF-SITE LINK], a program that must be registered before allowing the encoding of CD quality sound.

An MP3 can be encoded at various Bit-rates. CD quality sound is 128 KBPS (Kilobytes per second). By encoding an MP3 below 128 KBPS you reduce the file size, but there is a loss in sound quality. Encoding an MP3 above 128 KBPS is called oversampling. Most of the time this increases the file size without a very noticeable improvement in quality. However, MP3s encoded at 128 KBPS are still prone to some loss of sharpness or distortion, and oversampling reduces the likelihood of this occurring.

This concludes the Recording MP3 tutorial.

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© 2000 Rob Diaz-Marino. All rights reserved.