Does it bother you that broadcast radio can be easily recorded with a tape player, though internet radio can't? Actually, there is a way to capture audio streams to MP3s. Replay Music can record almost anything you throw at it, and might even foil DRM. Even if the the legality of this is questionable, the software is readily available.
The Replay Music 2 demo comes with the ability to record and tag 25 tracks. After purchasing the full version for $49.95, you can record an unlimited amount of tracks (unlike version 1, which was limited to 5,000 tracks). It will install in a small 7.4 MB, but donít bother with it unless you have a lot of extra hard drive space to store all your new music files.
As you can see, the user interface is about as ugly as they come. Of course, what it does is more important than it looking like a graphic designer gave up halfway through.
The greatest things about the program is that, when set to record from your sound card, it basically records anything that comes out of the computer speakers. Anything that the computerís sound card spits out gets looped back into the recorder. Play a DVD with Replay Music on, and youíll have all the audio ripped to an MP3. Have a conversation on a VoIP service with this running in the background, and it will record everything your friend says. Play any stream with audio over the net, and itís now part of your MP3 collection. It will even split the songs it processes and tag them for you (though tagging doesnít always work).
Of course, donít expect CD quality. Itís not. Because it isnít encoding the actual audio file, there will inevitably be some quality loss. If you have a crumby audio card, the MP3s youíre making will reflect this. This is especially true when recording from audio streams, which may be far less than CD quality. If the stream is low-fi or quiet or has skips, it wonít make a very good file. You need broadband and a subscription service (Yahoo! Unlimited, Napster, Rhapsody, etc.) to listen to the stations of the highest quality. You can see how this program starts to require more and more stuff in order to be useful.
Where things get really sticky is with legal issues, like when recording companies start implementing DRM (digital rights management) on their CDs. Letís take a look at the legality of a program like this and then check out the program itself in more detail.
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