Have you recently discovered the love for vinyl sound? Or have you been listening to different kinds of music on vinyl since you know when? Whatever the period may be, you’d definitely think, at any point, about saving some of those breath-taking melodies into your computer. And why not! People like to save songs in portable devices so that they can enjoy every moment of their journeys, even if they’re heading to work.
If a vinyl version is digitized properly, the sound quality comes out far better than ordinary compressed MP3 version. Besides, majority of albums you get from thrift stores wouldn’t give you the quality that you should convert into digital files.
Quite a lot of people think vinyl-to-MP3 conversion is as easy as pushing a button, but it’s not that simple. Although, the process has already gone through advancements and improvements, it’s yet to meet optimum simplicity. So, how difficult is it?
Don’t get sad, because vinyl capturing still takes as much effort as when you play a vinyl record. It requires more concentration, care and patience though. So, here are the three ways to shrink down your favorite vinyl albums into music on-the-go.
- Capturing Vinyl Records into Computer with All-in-One Turntable or CD Burner
This method is far easier than other methods. The term “All-in-One” is associated with devices consisting a CD burner and a turntable. So, you don’t need plug-ins, extra data cables and accessories. For this purpose, you can buy Teac LP-R550USB Turntable, or Crosley CR2413A-BK Memory Master II Turntable.
All you need is:
- Burn the vinyl CD in the device itself
- Save the files to the computer
However, with this method, you have to record the whole album, instead of marked tracks.
- Vinyl Capturing into Computer Using a USB Turntable
USB turntables are cheaper than All-in-one models, but you have to interact with the software and the computer yourself. Some good models for this purpose include Audio Technica AT-LP60USB and ION Audio Classic LP Turntable. Both of them are less expensive and better than other similar models.
- Vinyl to Computer Conversion with a Audio Interface USB Turntable
You have to be a pro in order to use audio interface to connect your vinyl turntable to a computer and do the needful. One of the benefits of this method is, there are few audio interfaces that come really cheap. If you’ve decided to choose the hard way, you need to know the basic difference between the two kinds of signals used by modern-day turntables.
Turntables feature Line-level signals and Phono-level signals. There are some turntables that feature line-level outputs, however, most of them consist of phono-level outputs.
Converting Phono-level Output to Line-level Output
- RIAA EQ Curve: For Phono to Line conversion, you need to understand RIAA EQ curve (Recording Industry Association of America Equalization curve) process. RIAA EQ curve is required to create vinyl records and it does so in two ways to remove skipping and distortion:
- Boosting high frequencies
- Reducing low frequencies
You will need a phono preamp that utilizes RIAA EQ curve to inverse this process. It decodes the vinyl sound and generates line-level output at full frequency.
- Audio Interface: So, if you want to utilize your record player to digitize your vinyl album, first check what kind of output it has. If there’s “line” or “headphone jack” output, you wouldn’t need an audio interface.
In general, audio interfaces do feature phono inputs for record players. One of the most affordable and popular model is ART USB Phono Plus that can be connected to the computer through USB.
- Phono Preamp: Older record players don’t have a line-level luxury. This means, you cannot get the right kind of RIAA EQ signals, if you connect the phono output of the turntable with the line input of the computer.
Here, you can utilize your stereo system to do the job for you. See at the back of the stereo receiver. If it has a phono-level input, it can be used for signal conversion. If you don’t have a stereo system or your stereo system doesn’t have this feature, you need an external phono preamp to connect to the audio interface. Rolls VP29 Phono Preamp is quite an affordable phono preamp and it is widely available as well.
- Audio Software: Next thing that’s inevitable for digitizing vinyl albums is the audio software. There is a wide range of audio production software available in the market. However, if you have a tight budget, you can use Audacity Software free of cost. Audacity is compatible with Windows, Mac, as well as Linux.
Basic Tips to Run Audacity Software
If you have a USB turntable connected to your computer, set the preferences in the software. There will be quite a few tabs under “preferences” option.
- Click on “Audio I/O”
- Set the device or adjust its setting.
– There will be a “Device” tab where you need to set your USB turntable as an input source for the software.
– As you’re using USB turntable, click the “Menu” and change setting to “USB Turntable” from “Built-in Input”.
– For albums recorded in stereo, you need to change the setting to “2” which indicates (stereo). You can do it under “Audio I/O” option available in the “Recording Area” option. This allows Audacity will create stereo tracks for your vinyl albums.
After loading all your vinyl albums to the computer, don’t throw the records away. Instead, sell them to the thrift stores and secondhand stores at a reduced price. Even better, you can donate your albums in charity.