feeling 80s

01/9/06 at 11:37 am | Posted in Tech | Leave a comment

If you grew up in the 80s like I did, then you’re probably familiar with the ritual of making a mix tape.

You’d listen to your favorite radio station on your cassette recorder, waiting for your favorite songs, your finger ready to press the “Record” button once one of the chosen tunes starts to play.

Of course, sometimes you’d end up cursing the DJ for not playing the complete song, or for starting to yak even before it ends. Or maybe sometimes you just weren’t quick enough to press “Record,” or you had to go on a bathroom break.

Yup, this was really how we did it once upon a time, back in the dark ages. With a cassette tape. Really.

If you feel like doing the digital equivalent nowadays, why not rip streaming audio while listening to your favorite Internet radio station? For your personal use, of course.

One of the best (i.e. free) ways to do it is to download the freeware Streamripper plug-in for the free Winamp media player.

Streamripper is an open source app that allows you to capture the streaming audio from the SHOUTcast Internet radio stations that you access through Winamp. Once you install Streamripper, you will automatically see the Streamripper pop-up when you listen to SHOUTcast Radio, and when you click “Start” you’ll start recording the streaming audio files, which are then saved as MP3s on your hard drive.

Of course, just as in offline radio, if you catch a song in mid-stream, you won’t be able to rip the whole tune. The good thing about Streamripper, however, is that it records all the songs an Internet radio station is streaming as long as you keep recording, and automatically separates them into individual MP3 files. You can also toggle the options to suit your preferences.

Since this is Internet audio, you have to accept sacrifices to audio quality, with many of the Internet radio stations I’ve tried so far offering a bitrate of 128 Kbps. As you might expect, I’m on an 80s trip right now, with Club Nigel for 80s alternative/New Wave; and Radio Skipper for 80s pop. For a dose of classic 60s, 70s and 80s rock, I’m also ripping tunes from Radio Free Colorado.

Streamripper isn’t perfect — sometimes you get some static at the start or end of a tune. Commercial alternatives are available, but for freeware, I’m happy with its performance so far.

Hmm, now where did I store all those old mix tapes?

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