How to Record a CD From the Radio

Written by christopher godwin
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How to Record a CD From the Radio
Recording a radio program on a CD is a great way to save rare performances or shows. (vieux poste radio image by Jacques PALUT from

Recording a CD from the radio is a simple task that can be achieved with a minimal amount of effort and equipment, most of which you may already have. Whether you are trying to record a once-in-a-lifetime, on-air performance or simply a favourite weekly show, there are a variety of ways to achieve your goal, depending on your final needs. Some options are faster than others, though some allow for simple alterations and edits once the program has been captured.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Radio or tuner
  • Standalone CD recorder
  • Cabling to connect radio and CD recorder (depends on models used)
  • Blank CD
  • Computer with CD burner
  • Cabling to connect radio and computer

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    Using a Standalone CD Recorder

  1. 1

    Connect your radio to a standalone CD player using the appropriate cabling. Most radios and tuners will have a stereo RCA output, and many standalone CD recorders have stereo RCA inputs for easy connection to other devices. However, some CD recorders, particularly those intended for semi-professional purposes like home recording studios, will have 1/4-inch cable input connections. If your CD recorder has a stereo 1/4-inch connection, you will need to get a special stereo RCA-to-1/4-inch cable. These are widely available from stores that sell home audio equipment or musical instruments.

  2. 2

    Put a blank CD in the standalone CD recorder and put it in standby mode.

  3. 3

    Check the audio level that the standalone CD recorder is getting from the radio or tuner. You want the volume to be as close to the 0dB mark as possible, but you do not want it to go over. You may have to watch the CD player's input reading while changing the input level for a few minutes to find the right level. The input level should be clearly shown on an LED meter or other meter on the front of the unit, but the display will vary based on the brand and model used.

  4. 4

    Record the audio you wish to record from the radio after checking the volume level to make sure it is correct.

    Using a Computer

  1. 1

    Connect the radio or tuner to the input of the computer. Most computers have 1/8-inch mini stereo connections on the back control panel to accept sound, though some computers have RCA connections. If your computer has an RCA connection, you can use a simple RCA-to-RCA cable, but if not, you will need a special RCA-to-stereo 1/8-inch cable.

  2. 2

    Open your sound recording program. Most computers have simple sound recording programs, though some computers, like Apple computers, have special recording programs like Garageband that make the recording process easier. Set the input on the recording program to receive audio from the input on the back of the computer.

  3. 3

    Check the input level on the sound recorder to make sure the recorded volume is close to 0dB but not over. Change the input level as necessary. The input level should clearly be shown in the display screen with the recording and playback tools, though more sophisticated programs like Garageband will display input levels on particular tracks. In the case of simply recording one stereo track, the input level will be shown on the first track of the program in the display screen.

  4. 4

    Record the audio you wish to record after checking that the volume level is appropriate.

  5. 5

    Send the recorded audio file to a program that can burn a CD. Popular programs include iTunes and Toast, though many computers come with different CD burning programs. After transferring the file to one of these programs, you can insert a blank CD into your CD-R drive and burn the disc.

Tips and warnings

  • Connect an equaliser between the radio and standalone CD recorder or computer if you want to change the tone of the recording. You will need extra cabling to plug the radio into the equaliser and to plug the output of the equaliser to the recording device, which will depend on the inputs and outputs of the equaliser.

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