the best equipment to make music mix CDs which combine tracks form various sources

My question is: what is the best combination of equipment, software, and technique to make high quality, multi-source, music mix CDs most easily – with the least amount of time and effort required?  Convenience, not cost, is my prime concern, as I plan to make a hundred or more of these “mix CDs.”

I want to make a CDs which combine a track or two from various LPs, CDs, and even the occasional cassette tape. I also want to make copies of my homemade  “best of” CDs for my friends. I would prefer they NOT be able to make copies of my mix, but preventing that is not too important to me. My LPs are in excellent condition. So, cleaning up the ticks and pops or otherwise “enhancing” the audio is not important to me. Also, I don’t need the ability to enter track info. I will include a printed track list instead. Finally, I do not need a jukebox feature – I plan to store my music on CDs.

My MAIN CONCERN is  adjusting the levels from these various sources so the resulting CD does not change volume from tack to track, while still preserving outstanding audio quality.

I want a CD recorder which is hooked up to my stereo system, rather than rely only on my computer.

I currently have a P4, 3.0, 1 gig of RAM, 120 gig HD, Windows XP pro, and RoxioEasyCreator 7.

I am considering the Alesis MasterLink ML-9600 cd recorder, But I understand a great deal of its appeal and high price is some sort of “auto level” software. Unfortunately, I’m an idiot, and don’t understand what I’ve read about it. If it is just as good to make “rough” mixes on a cd, and then edit it for tract-to-track volume consistency on my computer, I am willing to do that – if it’s not a great deal more work, or gives markedly better results. I would prefer to do it all with my stereo system, however.

Any help you can give me will be very much appreciated. I hope someone can tell me what to buy – what combination of equipment, software, and technique will deliver outstanding results with the least amount of time and effort.

Thank you!

John Black
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JohnMackenzieBlack, i would say the 'best' software to make dj quality mixes and to beat match songs is:

Native Instruments Traktor DJ Studio 2

Hope that helps :)
I probably should have added that this software will have a main volume so when you record your mix all songs will be the excact same level. And you need to record your mix to a wav ( software will split into mix points ie seprate tracks ) then write to cd with your favourite buring software like nero or roxio. I use Traktor and love it, produces excelent quality mix's.

How professionals do this:

- Use a good professional sound card, which can record from analog sources (M-Audio, TerraTec, ... are some good manufacturers) to rip your analog data. Don't rip to MP3 as this is a compression technology - it 'crops' some of the audio info away. Lossless WMA may be a good option.

- Best is to store these tracks on your harddisk - even temporarily.

- Now you have to "normalize" these tracks - adjust all their audio levels to -0.1 or -1 dB. You can use Audiograbber (Normalize - advanced settings - use "average" volume in stead of PEAK, this will use RMS values) to do this (free!). Best results are achieved when using a pro program, like Adobe Auditon - however, this will cost you more than 200$.
- You can use a DJ program like Traktor or BPM Studio to mix your tracks (with CUE points, fading, beatmixing, ...), and choose to record your played music. Then you can burn this recorded set to a CD.

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So, in short, you need "Audiograbber" software to Rip (if you do choose to rip to MP3, use Fraunhofer codec) and to Normalize (equalize audio-level of different tracks).
You will also need a Pro sound card, like "Terratec EWX 24/96" - Audiotrak has some good cards too. You have the option to buy a card that supports recording from Phono, or you can attach the Phono to your own (good) amplifyer.

Of course, you need the necessary cables to attach all this to eachother. This will depend on what hardware you are going to buy.
Gaud-wo has some good recommendations here.  I use Exact Audio Copy to rip CDs to wav files, and for analog I use CoolEdit 2000 (now Adobe Audition) with an M-Audio Delta410 card to capture.  CoolEdit lets you set recording levels and has a hiss filter and pop and click filter as options.
You never stop surprising me - you even know something about pro music hard & software, and you've got a Delta410!

I got one too, and quite some other pro soundcards, but all for sale (I'm not a DJ) - and Adobe Auditon, but this still at work, I'm too lazy to rip myself. We got 65k+ of MP3 files (and I'm trying to convince them to re-rip all in some lossless format, hope I can build a heavy server for that ^_^) - why bother doing it myself?
Heh - I've got a home theater, too, and some nice photography equipment...I must assimilate!
JohnMackenzieBlackAuthor Commented:
I'm sorry. I'm afraid I wasn't as clear as I might have been. People seem to have read the title of my question more carefully than the text.

What I want, if it is at all possible, is to rely entirely on a peice of equipment which is part of my stereo system. I am considering both the Alesis MasterLink ML-9600 cd recorder and the Yamaha cdr hd 1300 both of which have a hard drive and built in editing software. What I can't figure out is whether their software is adequate for mixing the sound levels of various sources. I will use my computer, if I have to to get the best results. But, I'd rather not add that extra step.

Also Yamaha and Alesis both claim, because their units are designed specifically for music reproduction, the audio quality is better than any computer solution. Hype?

Thanks to everyone for your help so far.

Hype, imho - it may be better than standard music equipment, but not better than PRO PC Audio equipment.

This is a PC forum, and most people here like to do all with their computers, as this is more easy for us then additional non-ibm compatible hardware (like your Yamaha and MasterLink).

At work we sell pro DJ gear, all on pc - ok, you can get an external steering module, as most DJ's dont like a mouse or keyboard when they're playing. Still, the PC has the advantage that it's cheaper, upgradable, and you can just add a module or peripheral to fit your needs. When using external hardware, you're dependant of that (and it's price).

But, as I have no in-depth knowledge of those systems; I suggest you wait until someone with more experience comes along, or finalize this and go to a audiophile forum...

Axledental DJ site & forum has been a good resource for me: .
Have you checked the forums there? Hope you can find what you need...
JohnMackenzieBlackAuthor Commented:
yes, I sent my question to the site you suggested - no one there is familier with the two pieces of equipment I am considering. Thaks for your help, though. You really made an effort and I appreciate it. John
No problem, glad to help!
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