to preserve your music. If your budget is low, the quality of the sound captured will probably be low. A higher budget can produce excellent results.

The first problem is digitizing the sound. One alternative is to use a plug-in device like Creative is now making for laptops. It should plug into your machine's expansion port, and will deliver a high quality sound. You will need cables to connect your tape deck to the Creative unit.

You will then need an audio recorder running on your computer which can capture the output of the Creative device and write it to your hard drive. Be sure that the recorder can write to disk while recording. Some programs can only record what will fit in the computer's memory. I suggest something like the Studio version of Sound Forge. You should capture the audio in a wav format which will retain the best audio quality.

Sound Forge is an editor, so you can break up the incoming sound in any way that you wish. Be sure that the recording processs does not 'clip' at any point in the recording. Clipping occurs when the volume level exceeds the maximum possible digital value. The volume above the maximum level is 'clipped' off since only the maximum can be recorded.

Record at a moderate level. After the recording is complete, the volume can be increased so that the highest volumes are at, but do not exceed, the maximum digital level. Once the wav file is complete, it can be burned to a CD at the standard CD quality level. The wav file can also be used to produce an MP3 file.

There are many ways to do this. I've tried to outline a high quality method.