As a kid I spent hours recording tunes from the radio. I would even call to request songs and I hated DJ’s that chatted into the songs, making them worthless. My collection of music cassettes grew steadily. Growing up I started buying CD’s until I had internet access. From there on my need for hard drive space grew massively. Those were the days.
Today, it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to obtain legal MP3’s, but it does take some good tools. Here are three different programs to record streaming audio (i.e. from online radio).
1. ClipInc 4
ClipInc is available for Windows in five different languages, although its German base keeps surfacing. It comes with hundreds of preset internet radio stations, and with the free version you can record up to three audio streams simultaneously.
So let’s get started. First you will want to add some stations through Ctrl+F6 or >File >Add station… or the + button in the bottom left of the main window. You should only pick a station that comes with StreamTags, else your tracks will remain unnamed. A high bit rate is to be preferred, although low bit rates will produce smaller file sizes.
Once the three slots are filled, right-click on each station in the bottom left and select >start recording. This is also where you can remove a stream to add a new one. Songs are saved temporarily and can be viewed for each stream separately (click the respective station in the bottom left) or for all streams collectively (the button with four squares in the bottom left).
What I love about ClipInc is that you can listen to each stream while it’s being recorded or you can listen to any of the previously recorded songs inside the program while it’s still ripping up to three stations. The program keeps a timeline of when which song was recorded, and additionally you can view the lyrics and the matching video as far as available.
The correct recognition and subsequent cutting of separate tracks depends on the selected stream. When recording from regular radio stations the DJ’s will talk into the songs or a song will fade out straight into a jingle or the next song and the program may not recognize that.
To finally save recorded songs, pick the ones you like from the list, right-click the selection and click >save as…
Streamripper is a plugin for Winamp and as such it’s platform independent.
After being installed it will load with Winamp per default. Click ‘Start’ to launch a recording session. Streamripper automatically detects ID3 tags and saves them accordingly. You have full control over the output file pattern through the options button. A folder is created for each new stream, but not for artists or albums.
The drawback is that in some cases tracks are not recognized perfectly. As a result, previous or following songs, commercials and jingles blend into the recorded song or make it end abruptly. That’s very annoying. However, it does depend on the station, so select your stream wisely.
TheLastRipper is available for Windows, Linux, and in a beta version for OSX.
In my eyes, this is by far the best audio recorder, although it is limited to recording streams from Last.fm. Using the tool you log into your Last.fm account and then search music the way you would on the Last.fm website.
Recording will start instantly into the default folder /My Documents/My Music, which can be customized. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything because the tool is not meant to stream the music to your ears. Not being able to hear what is being recorded kind of makes the Love, Hate and Skip buttons pointless. The good thing is that even while the program is running, you can log into the Last.fm website and listen to a different stream, which of course will not be recorded.
Now what really makes this tool a winner is that you don’t have to deal with commercials, badly cut tracks or alternating quality. Furthermore, all tracks are ID3 tagged and neatly sorted into folders by artist and album, including the displayed album art. That way you can collect whole albums of your favorite artists, without any hassle whatsoever. Very simple and quite perfect!
We have previously covered two possible alternatives.
First of all there is Audacity, with which you can record any sound that passes through your sound card and edit it to your likings: Record audio files with Audacity written by Mark, available for Windows, OSX and Linux.
Then there is Screamer Radio, which works more along the lines of ClipInc, but can only record one stream at a time: Record streaming Audio with Screamer Radio written by Aibek; available for Windows.
How do you increase your music collection or do you spare your hard drive and thrive on what is being streamed to you?