It doesn’t matter one whit if your vinyl collection consists of a single box or fills multiple shelves; we all agree that there is something special about vinyl.
Perhaps it’s the warm, uncompressed sound coming from a record player, or the feeling of holding a physical work of art in your hands as the record spins: it’s a special experience that has regained much of its glory in a world dominated by digital transmission. The problem is that records are fragile, and those boxes full of vinyl won’t fit in your back pocket.
Converting your vinyl records to a digital music format will not only preserve the music on those rare gems you don’t want to take out of their sleeve, you’ll also have portable versions of your favorite records close at hand. , including those you just couldn’t find on streaming services.
Unfortunately, there is no general method for digitizing your vinyl collection, and the process depends on the type of equipment you have. Some turntables come with built-in preamps; others rely on a receiver with a preamplifier or stand-alone. Many turntables today feature a built-in preamp and USB output, allowing you to quickly and efficiently convert that copy of Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy to Thrill.
That’s not to say you can’t convert your vinyl to a digital format without a built-in USB output, but having a turntable with such an output makes the process much easier. We show you below two teams that can serve you:
Sony PS-HX500 ($398 dollars)
If you’ve invested a lot of money in your vinyl record collection, a high-quality player like the Sony PS-HX500 might be worth your while. It is equipped with a top-notch digital audio converter (DAC) from Texas Instruments that outputs at a minimum 16-bit resolution (CD quality). But the player can transfer files up to DSD 5.6 MHz, a rate no other disc player can match.
Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB ($299)
Audio Technica’s AT-LP120 USB isn’t very aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a good option for those on a budget. It comes equipped with a built-in preamp and PC- and Mac-compatible USB output, not to mention three speeds (33 1/3, 45, and 78rpm) and the ability to rip at 16-bit/44.1kHz and 16-bit/ 48kHz.
Apart from your turntable, you will also need some cables for the necessary connections. If your turntable doesn’t have a USB output, for example, you’ll need a stereo RCA cable and an RCA to 3.5mm cable. Both cables are relatively affordable, under $10, at your local store or sites like Amazon. It requires a computer with a “line-in” port and enough space to save the resulting files, as well as some patience, since an album must play back in real time in order to successfully burn and convert it.
You can always buy a dedicated preamp if neither your A/V receiver nor your turntable have one. There are plenty of preamps on the market, from $20 to as high as $1,500, but more expensive equipment will give you a more natural sound.
Getting the signal from the turntable to your computer is only the first step: The second part of the process is finding the right software application to record the audio. Although there are several premium apps designed to help you extract audio from your turntable, such as Pure Vinyl Y Vinyl Studio, open source Audacity will suffice for most users. This freemium app may not offer dedicated tools for converting vinyl to more accessible formats, but you can still record at sample rates up to 192kHz and export the resulting audio files as MP3, AIFF, FLAC, or WAV; It is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
Regardless of the software you use, we recommend that you record at a minimum of 16 bits sampled at 44.1 kHz. You can always create a compressed copy from a lossless one, but you won’t be able to improve the quality of your audio files without going through the burning process again.
Once you have the necessary equipment and software, it is time to start the digitizing process and we recommend that you choose a place that is quiet and free of external vibrations (for example, an area with trains) that can cause noise or a needle jump.
Step 1: Clean your vinyl. Vinyl has a particular penchant for getting dirty – dust accumulates over time and any blemishes, whether they come from scratches or just dust, will be recorded when you digitize and you’ll be compensated. clean your vinyl Buy a bristle or microfiber brush and some cleaning solution if you haven’t already.
Step 2: Connect your devices. If you’re using a turntable with a built-in USB output, plug the USB cable into the USB port on your computer. If you’re using a turntable without a USB output, connect your record player to a separate preamp or A/V receiver before routing the RCA connection (via monitor output) to the input port. line input on your computer using the RCA-to-3.5mm cable.
Step 3: Launch Audacity. Select the appropriate input source in system preferences or program settings. If you’re using Audacity, click Edit and select System preferences before selecting Line in in the dropdown menu within the section Recording panel Devices. Please note that you may need to additionally select the input source from your computer’s main sound panel.
Step 4: Record. Click the button Engrave and Start Your Recording to begin capturing audio from the selected source, adjusting input levels to reduce distortion later when necessary. In Audacity, the record button is represented by a red circle in the navigation toolbar.
Step 5: Wait. Allows the desired section or the entire recording to play before clicking the Stop button, represented by a yellow square in Audacity and usually found next to the Record button in most audio suites.
Step 6: Split the Tracks. If you’re like most, you’ll probably prefer to split the entire record into individual tracks. If you’re using Audacity, click and drag to highlight the length of a particular track. Then, click on the Tracks option inside the toolbar, select add label in Selection in the resulting dropdown menu, and name the track appropriately. There are better tools for this process than Audacity (see: Perfect Tunes) but this app is free.
Step 7: Export. Once you’ve divided and named each track, click File, Archive inside the toolbar and select export multiple from the drop down menu. Then, choose the desired file format, save to the location of your choice, and enter the missing metadata in the resulting popup menu before clicking the button Export in the lower right corner.
Step 8: Enjoy. Once you’re done converting, enjoy your newly digitized music in any media player you like!