Convert Vinyl Albums To A Digital Format

by on January 11, 2007

An Into Tomorrow listener submitted the following question!

Q: How can I convert my analog vinyl albums to a digital format?

A: Unfortunately there is no simple way to accomplish this task since you are dealing with a purely analog medium you must manually record everything at 1X speed. This means that it will take just as long to convert the album to a digital format as it would to listen to the album.

The first step in the conversion process would be to get the source to line level and connect it to the input of your computer’s sound card. Record players use RIAA equalization (a phono preamp) to get their sound to line level. If you’ve been listening to records you already own a phono preamp. Locate the line level output on your stereo or on your stand alone phono preamp and connect it to the input on your computer’s sound card. You will probably need to use a stereo 1/8-inch to RCA cable to accomplish this.

Now that the record player is properly connected to the computer we can move onto step 2, which is to start the recording process. We will need to use a recording program to capture the sound coming into your computer. Windows has a built in sound recorder utility which can be found by going to “Start” -> “Programs” -> “Accessories” -> “Entertainment” -> “Sound recorder”. You may however wish to use another program such as “mp3 my mp3 recorder“. Most recording programs will record the sound as an uncompressed WAV file, which will be rather large but is great for burning the music to a CD. If you would like to keep these files stored on your computer you will probably want to convert the WAV file to an MP3 one of the many other compressed digital music formats.

Finally you should consider polishing up your recording some. I suggest using a wave editor of some kind. Wavepad is a pretty good free one. The idea here is to use the editor to cut out dead space at the beginning and ending of your recordings and/or split your recordings into separate files. You may also use filters in an attempt to remove some of the surface noise found in records. Please keep in mind however that you are removing audio information when you do this. I’ve found filtered recordings to sound rather dull, and that the surface noise isn’t noticeable (at least not to the point were it distracts from the music) during the actual song. Cutting out the dead air at the beginning and ending of your recordings might be all you need to achieve a high quality recording.

Waves may be recorded directly to CD. I’m not going to go into the process of converting these files to Mp3’s or other compressed formats as this information is readily available wikipedia.


3 Responses to “Convert Vinyl Albums To A Digital Format”
  1.  

    I have had much success using a sloftware program called “Spin It Again” by Acousitica. It is very affordable, offers user-friendly menu driven instructions and I have had a lot of fun with it as well as I convert some of my lps to cd. I am a collector of vinyl and this is a way of preserving some of the classics. You can find it at:
    http://collectingvinylrecords.homestead.com/lptocd.html

    Regards,
    Robert

     
  2.  

    Hi Ian

    I noticed your blog because we tracked a sale of our Golden Records application from it. Thank you for mentioning WavePad. We appreciate your comments. Golden Records is another audio program we have developed and it’s specifically designed to convert LPs to Mp3 or CDs through a wizard. You can see the features here http://www.nch.com.au/golden.

    Regards,

    Stephanie
    NCH Software

     
  3.  

    Stephanie, thank you for the update and we are glad that your software has been able to help computer users all over the world. We hope that your new product helps as well!