Making MP3s Out Of Old Formats

Have a .wav editor. This is Steinberg Wave Lab Lite, it came as an extra with Pinnacle Clean. Looks like neither of those two softwares are still sold. Sound cards often include a recorder application, as do some mp3 jukebox and CD burning programs. All that you need to do is get what ever you send up the input to a workable digital format. Some will record straight to mp3 format and that is OK if the source is clean. I'm more interested in recovering and preserving old out of print records or radio airchecks.
Wave Lab

Click on Record and the record window opens, with the level meters.
Wave Lab in record mode

Click on the Mixer button and there are the separate adjustments. I turn all them off except the Line In. Have a source playing and adjust the input level. Don't overdrive or be tempted to find the maximum volume. It will sound bad.
Wave Lab Mixer

Over in Windows mixer, I mute wav. If you have something running in the background that alerts with beeps or tweets (like IMs or an email app) you don't want to be reminded that you forgot to do this every time you play the song.
Windows Mixer

There's less noise to clean from the sound file when the controllable noise is not there to begin with. Clean your source! How to Clean LP Records is a great site to read on cleaning records. If I am being real fanatical, I will wet wash the record, then clean with an anti static fluid & record cleaner..
Record Cleaner

Hardware time! Best signal source is an audio amplifier that has a proper phonograph input. From the amplifier I feed the Tape 'Rec Out' to the computer
Audio out jacks

Some later turntables have build in pre amplifiers so that they can be used on newer stereo systems that lack dedicated phono inputs. Those may feed directly to the computer - but may not sound the best. Phonograph signals are equalized inside the amplifier for a true sounding output.

If you have no other options, you can use an inexpensive phono pre amplifier to feed into the computer..
Phono preamp

Feeding the source into the computer, use an adaptor that has RCA jacks on one end (seen in the pre amp photo) and a 3.5 mm stereo plug on the other. Plug into the PC's AUX Input on the sound card or panel. It's near where your speakers plug in, often color coded blue. The source can also be the audio out of a VCR, cassette deck, 8 Track (!!), DVD player or anything with line outs. I have used a Walkman to sample cassettes - all that's needed is a patch cord with 3.5mm plugs on each end.
Audio Line In

One last clean attempt - a blast of canned air on the record, and on the needle.
Record in motion

So click record in the Record window, drop the needle on the platter (or hit play on the walkman) and let er record. Resist the temptation to dance or drum on the table. Bounces and shakes will affect the sound. Stop when you reach the end. Wave Lab here shows the entire file in the upper half and a close up view below. This screen shot shows that there are 3 songs recorded, one that has had silence added in between, another cut about the same length and a third that is a bit extended.
Graphic representation of a wav file

If the source is fairly clean, about all I do is zoom in on the space between songs, highlight it, right click and choose 'Silence'. That eliminates any pops in-between songs.
Editing out noise

Manual cleaning of pops and clicks is not too difficult. Cutting a click is just a micro-nano-second and often cannot be detected. This file has 2 minor crackles in the right (red) channel, and one very small mirror of the second one in the left (blue) channel).
Editing out pops

Like cutting out a duplicated word in a word processor - select, right click, cut.
Editing out pop

The crackles are gone.
pop edited out

All that's left now is to separate the songs. Just like copying paragraphs in a word processor and pasting them into new pages, select the section with the mouse, right click and choose cut, open new file, right click and paste. Save with a name of the song, or reference the record Side-Cut A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2 etc and then go back and name the files with the Artist - Title format.
cutting songs into files

File, new, copy, paste. Once for each song on the album.
Individual files

And there are the wav files. Lossless format, but large file size. This album here is 385 megabytes.
Wav files all in a row

To make a CD, open your CD burner (this one is Nero 7), set up for an Audio CD, and drag & drop the wav files to the applications window.
Burning wav files to audio CD

Arrange the wav files in the same order as the album. As seen here in Nero, highlight and move them around. Put in a blank CD, burn and enjoy.
arranging wav files in Nero

To go straight to MP3, get an audio conversion application that suits you. This one is called DB Power Amp. It creates a right click menu to convert any audio file. Check it out
db Power Amp wav to mp3 utility

Right click, convert to MP3. Pick your bitrate.
dp Power Amp converting a wav file

To put the song's information in so that it is read by your player, either right click the MP3 file and select "Properties", and fill in the fields.
mp3 file properties - tagging

Or if you have a bit more volume of files to name, a tagging program will take the artist - title information from the file name and fill it in. This is Tag & Rename. Super powerful. Here are two MP3 files ready to tag, using the filenames given before:
Tag & Rename tagging utility

Now they are tagged.
mp3 files all tagged

Now the file has the Artist - Title. You can go whole hog and fill in rest of the fields, with Tag & Rename you only have to fill in the common data (year, album, etc) once.
mp3 file properties all filled in

Hope you enjoyed the demo. Peace!