Attenuating cable?

Do I need an attenuating cable? I’m going to try to hook up my personal/portable/home stereo from the headphone jack to my laptop/desktop PC using a “6-Ft. Shielded Cable, 1/8” Stereo Plug to 1/8" Stereo Plug, Model: 42-2387". I called Radio Shack to see if they had one and they recommended a “6.5-Ft. Attenuating Dubbing Cord with 1/8” Phone Plugs, Model: 42-2152" instead, saying it would work better for my purpose. It is cheaper so they’re not trying to upsell, but Audacity doesn’t specifically recommend it.

If I use my “line in” jack on my pc which cable do I need?

Thank you for your time


If your “Line in” really is a “Line level input”, then just an ordinary lead should work, but you will need to keep the volume level from the portable player fairly low.
Using an attenuator cable should do no harm, but you will need to turn the portable player up a little, and may find that the recording level is a little low.

If your computer is a laptop, and not a MAC laptop, then the socket is probably not really a line in, but a microphone input, in which case you will almost certainly need to use some kind of attenuator so as not to overload the input.

Note also, PC laptop inputs are often only mono, and almost always poor quality (even on very expensive laptops).

For good quality recording on a laptop computer, the most economical way is to use an external USB sound card. (I use the Behringer UCA-202, but there are many other brands that will work just as well).

The Line inputs on MAC’s are reported to be of good quality, although MACs have other drawbacks, such as no support for “stereo mix” recording without additional software.

I’m not computer-saavy, but know a little about recording from a board. I’m trying to record from my headphone jack to my PC, also. Radio Shack sold me an attenuating cable with only one “stripe”. Does this mean it’s mono? However, before I used it, I did hook up a cable from my jack to my PC. It recorded, however, the music, when played back from my computer, sounds all echo-ey. My guess is a mono vs. stereo problem.

Can I just hook a stereo adapter to my headphone jack (out) and to my PC input to get a stereo signal?

Will the Stereo adapter convert the mono cord to stereo?

Or do I need to use the mono attenuating cable (mono) and adapt that with the stereo adapters?

Will it actually convert from mono to stereo like this?

Do I have to exchange the mono attenuator for a stereo one (if there is such a thing?)

I spent $100 on a “vinyl” to “CD” burner yesterday. Is that really better quality or can I just do it this way as well? I cannot do cassettes from this, however.

I read the sound card advice for the laptop. This will be from my TUNER AND COMPONENT SYSTEM TO MY HARD DRIVE AND BURNER. I can do cassettes this way, too.
Thanks, Steve!

<<<Can I just hook a stereo adapter to my headphone jack (out) and to my PC input to get a stereo signal? >>>

Sure. The Mac people do that all the time. You can do that with a large DeskSide PC, too, or any computer with a good USB audio interface. You can’t do it with most PC Laptops.

Dig in the instructions for your Laptop. Unless it says clearly that you can switch the Microphone Input on the side to Stereo Line In (some laptops do this, most don’t) then the best you can do is record distorted mono. Mono because the Mic-In connection on laptops is mono, and distorted because Headphone and Line Level signals are roughly 1000 times louder than the laptop is expecting. That’s what they sold you the attenuating cable for. To reduce the signal and eliminate the distortion, not create stereo.


Several notes:
I also want to record from CD or cassette player, into my Compaq A900 laptop running Windows Vista. The laptop has no LINE IN jack, but does have a MIC jack. The mic jack is stereo - I’ve tested it thoroughly. Others may be mono, as other posters here have suggested, but not all are mono. Check yours to be certain.
The Conexant 221 HDAudio sound card built into the laptop has no LINE IN or WAVE MIX or any other capability for recording from LINE IN or the sound going to the speakers. Other forums posters have confirmed that the RIAA has pressured makers to eliminate that capability to prevent recording copyrighted music from streaming audio providers.
The Radio Shack 42-2152 dubbing cable which reduces the LINE OUT signal to be more suitable for a MIC input is only mono. Only one channel of the source audio would be recorded when using that cable. Or if stereo-to-mono adapters were used at BOTH ends of that cable, then the recording would include both tracks mixed together into mono and be recorded as 2 mono tracks.
I can connect a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) male-to-male stereo patch cable from my speaker out jack to my MIC input jack and record sound that way. The speaker output level must be set very low, though. I can also record in stereo by connecting that patch cable from the MIC input on the laptop to the headphone jack or line out on my FM radio or CD or cassette player. But the volume control on the radio or player must be set very low. The sound recording program MUST have audio level indication so you can adjust for preventing overload distortion. So far I’ve tried it successfully with Freecorder and Audiograbber, but haven’t tried it with Audacity yet.
I found this thread while looking for a stereo dubbing cable with level reducing adapter for use with the MIC input, but haven’t found one yet.
Another useful cable has a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) male plug and two RCA phono plugs which will plug into amplifier or tape deck LINE OUT jacks.

There are instructions on how to make one here: