Saving streaming to mp3

Posted on 2012-08-11
Last Modified: 2012-08-28

Back when I was a young kid, I used to listen to various DJ's on FM radio and record them onto cassette so I could listen at my leisure.

Nowadays, everything is streamed via the web it seems. Does anyone know of a decent software I could use to convert music being streamed into mp3 (or similar format).

I am running Windows 7.
Question by:richlionel
    LVL 44

    Expert Comment

    Thanks to the DMCA, that's pretty-much not legal to do here in the USA.

    You can still record all you want off the radio, though.  :-)
    LVL 26

    Assisted Solution

    Audacity, which is free, does that.

    Even in the USA.
    LVL 38

    Accepted Solution


    I'm not going to get into a discussion about legalities, so I will keep this quite general.

    It's possible to record anything that is being played back through your default sound device (integrated sound chip or add-on sound card) to your choice of audio file type as long as the software allows you to:
    1. Choose your sound chip/card as the input source
    2. Choose the type of encoding and quality.

    Depending on what CD-Burning software and sound card you have installed you may already have the tools at your disposal without installing any additional programs.  Some sound card software installs additional programs in addition to the drivers and the Control Panel access to the settings.  Check your Start Menu shortcuts.  For example, the Creative Sound Editor could be installed if you have a Creative sound card installed, but you don't necessarily have to have a Creative card to download and install the software to use.  The popular retail CD-Burning software (or free "lite" versions that come on CD with CD-RW drives) eg. Roxio and Nero usually have a sound recorder and editor installed.

    Audacity, as mentioned above, is excellent for the purpose, but there are other free sound editors.

    Note: I haven't tested any of the above, so I cannot say whether they pack additional "optional" software into the installers, eg. browser toolbars, to supplement them and get advertising revenue.

    NCH, an Australian company, has trial versions available for most of its excellent software including Wavepad which is quite similar in appearance and use to Audacity:
    Their idea is that having tried out the free standard edition you may later be inclined to buy the master's edition if you need additional features.
    Their SoundTap software just records, whereas Wavepad allows editing:

    That's a consideration you have to take into account.  With a cassette tape you can pause recording during adverts then resume again when the jingles stop.  That's fine because it is all just on a tape and you don't have to bother with file sizes.  On a computer if you just allowed recording from the source and encoding to MP3 for several hours it would create one massive MP3 file.  Some of the free software MIGHT have the option to create new MP3s every 5 or 10 minutes irregardless of content and interrupted continuity.
    You could alternatively sit at the computer ready to hit the pause button on the software, or else later use an audio editor like Audacity, Wavepad, etc on the large file to chop it into smaller files in between songs or adverts.  There are small command line programs and those with user interfaces that can split large MP3 files into preset file sizes or playback lengths, or even split at points of silence, although you don't really get logical silence in radio as you would do if you were recording from a source like a connected record player where there are separate tracks on an album.

    Generally you would be looking to encode the MP3 files at no less than 192kbps (Kilobits Per Second) where there is music, although you might choose 128 if it is just voice.  192 kb/s used to be generally regarded as being comparable to "CD Quality", but 256kbps is closer to that quality.  320kbps often just creates very large files with no discernible increase in quality over 256, and it would certainly be a waste if the input sound source wasn't of that quality to begin with.  Of course, you would have to make sure it was recording in Stereo.

    Another setting you might see is CBR (Constant Bit Rate) or VBR (Variable Bit Rate).  Put simply, VBR constantly adjusts the bit-rate depending on the complexity of the audio. More complex audio sections get higher bit-rates and simpler sections are given lower bitrates, while still maintaining the same quality, in an effort to minimize the file size.  Test with both and see if you can hear the difference, which you probably won't.

    So, any software that allows you to set the input source to "What U Hear" or to your default sound card and can encode MP3s at 192 or 256kbps will do the job, but to chop it into smaller separate files you need audio editing functionality.

    I hope this helps.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Thank you richlionel

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