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majorrich's avatar

Transferring Vinyl Records to Digital. any tips?

Asked by majorrich (14711points) June 15th, 2010

Gonna start doing my part for music preservation. What vinyl I still have I am re-recording in digital and will put the CD in with the records. I found a BUNCH of records from my youth cleaning in the basement that I am sure never made the transition. Some very dear friends gave me a turntable that doesn’t need a rubber band to make it go. I don’t have a big ol’ stereo any more, but I have a 4 channel mixer I used to produce a low power radio talk show many years ago. I am experimenting and recording some old albums to my computer, like the old Walt Disney albums. Sword in the Stone et all they made before VCR’s with books kids could look at while the record played. I’ll make cd’s and put them in the album covers. Then a good number of big band and classical records Dad had. Did or do they make a turntable for 78 rpm that doesn’t need a rubber band? Or is this a colossal waste of time?

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12 Answers

Seek's avatar

Better yet – they make turntables now that connect directly to your computer via USB port. You can upload the vinyl directly into your computer! Then burn as many copies as you like.

CMaz's avatar

And you can find them for under $100.

Seek's avatar

^^ Also true. I just thought that one was pretty. ^_^

gasman's avatar

I’m embarking on a similar project, but I have the advantage of using a high-end Technics turntable I purchased in the 1970s for playing LPs. It’s an oldie but goodie. The stylus and cartridge is the most critical part of the system. I suspect the ready-to-go USB turntables probably use super-cheapo cartridges that should be upgraded—if possible—prior to recording anything good.

I downloaded free software called Audacity which gives you the ability to add EQ, dynamic compression, & other effects to enhance the results. It also has a ‘click and pop’ filter designed for recording vinyl. You can record an entire side without stopping and then break it into individual tracks later. I’ve also heard good things about software called Final Vinyl.

For playing 78s, all bets are off. I’d settle for anything that uses an electric motor instead of a wind-up mechanism. Audio quality is not a concern here —the source itself is lo-fi. And if you try to use an expensive stylus & cartridge, you might as well be putting it against a sanding disk!

If by ‘rubber band’ you mean a belt-driven turntable, I’d point out that many high-end audiophile turntables use(d) rubber belts to connect the motor spindle to the turntable. The manufacturers claimed it helped isolate motor noise and smooth speed variations. My Technics is direct drive.

Wish I could give you the benefit of experience but I’m just beginning. Good luck to both of us!

Inofaith's avatar

I’m a DJ and I sometimes transfer vinyl to my computer so I can play out CD’s or with digital dj software.

Like Gasman said, the cardridge is critical.
But also the stability of the record player, it’s insulation (do you hear “thumbing” sounds if you touch the case?) and also very important are the phono pre-amp and the soundcard in your computer.

I’m guessing that that 4 channel mixer is pretty decent since it’s old.
I do advise you to get a new cardridge (Shure has good ones for all kinds of uses: from audiophile, to record archiving, to scratchs DJ’s and club DJ’s, never get Stanton)

What kind of computer are you using? What kind of soundcard is in it?

If you have a pretty decent soundcard (with good conversion quality and low noise) you could just buy a high-quality cable to go from your 4ch mixer to your computer and you’re ready to go.
Then all that’s left is the recording software… are you on win or osx?

majorrich's avatar

I am on OsX with Audacity and using whatever the soundcard is in my macbook pro 2.4 The turntable is Kenwood KD-3100 and the cartridge is a Pickering xsv-4000 with an annoying little brush that gets in the way when I try to close the lid. So far haven’t plugged it into the laptop, just got it together yesterday and it sounds pretty good on the monitor, so I assume I will use tape-out to the computer.

mrrich724's avatar

If you want to have something nice to do it you can use this. B/C once the recording is done, you will have a cool record/iPod/cd/cassette player:

GeorgeGee's avatar

Hi, I was in your shoes a while ago and I spent a lot of time and effort doing what you’re proposing. Looking back I think it was a waste of time, but it made me feel better before ditching all my vinyl. But the truth is you can probably buy most or all of them on CD or as MP3’s for a lot less than the cost of your effort. After recording the albums I ran them through filters to remove pop and hiss. The sound still isn’t as good as CDs, not by a longshot.

Seek's avatar

Why would you remove the pops and hiss?

And I’m sorry, but I hate digital remasters. I mean, listen to any Black Sabbath song on the original vinyl, then listen to it on CD. The CD sounds like he’s down a hallway with the door closed.

CMaz's avatar

“Why would you remove the pops and hiss?”
Except for the artifacts inherent to analog recording and vinyl pressing.

Albums get warn and scratched. Dirt buildup in the groves and such.
You want to try to filter that stuff out.

majorrich's avatar

I kind of like the ambiance of Analog, but the repeatability of digital. If I crank the level up, I may be able to get a close to both. With the occasional pop and click. Most of my own vinyl I recorded to cassette and (ahem) 8 track and put the albums away for the same reason I’m doing it again.

Inofaith's avatar

Vinyl can beat CD… why? You can digitize recods in 24-bit 48kHz or higher quality.
24bit has more dynamic range.

Also a tip, never get those Turntables with built-in usb… they are plastic cheap stuff and the cartridges are cheap, and the built-in converters probably are too.

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