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Ask The Experts: How Do I Transfer LPs To My PC?

A TechLore "Ask the Experts" Question...

Question:

Is there any way to directly connect our turntable (remember LP's?) to our PC to transfer some of that good ole rock and roll to CD? I assume I would be looking for cables/connections/converter plus appropriate software.

-submitted by lochkelly

Answer:

To quickly answer your question, yes, you can directly connect your turntable to your PC, which will allow you to copy your LP tracks into digital music files. However, I will warn you that this is not always an easy task.

There are many different ways you can achieve your goal. There are tons of different products and software packages available.

To make this simple, here are the things you are going to need: 

  1. A turntable
  2. A phono pre-amp
  3. A PC with a line-level input
  4. Software that can record incoming signals, and save them as a digital audio file

While it may sound easy on the surface, there are many different aspects of the conversion process to consider. 

Turntable and Phono Pre-amp

Most turntables use standard RCA style connections to hook up to various devices, but the signal they output is often different than what your VCR uses. In order to get proper sound, you need to have a phono pre-amp to amplify the phono signal and make it compatible with common line-level style inputs. Some turntables have pre-amps built in (look for a switch near the platter or on the back), but most don't. If yours doesn't, you'll need to purchase an external phono pre-amp, like the ART DJPre II Phono Preamp

Connecting It To the PC

The output from the turntable or the pre-amp will be standard RCA (red and white) connectors, but the input on your soundcard is usually in the form of a 1/8" (headphone-style) mini-jack. You need a cable that has the RCA inputs on one side, and the mini-plug on the other like these

Software

As a worst case scenario, both Windows and Macs have a built in sound recorder that can record off the line-level input. While it will work, the results are often poor. There are many different software packages available specifically for this purpose.

Good software for this application has recording control features, and most importantly, and audio filter to help remove some of the hiss and pops common to old vinyl.

Some good quality software suites for converting LPs to CD are the Roxio Easy LP to MP3 from Roxio.

Hopefully some community members will post some recommendations in the discussion thread, and let you know what they've had good experiences using. 

Transfer Service

Of course, there are many different services that will do this transfer work for you. You drop off or ship your LPs to them, and they will send them back to you along with a CD of each one. Some services are expensive, but they usually provide excellent results. It's recommended to use a local servicer, that way you can actually talk to someone if you're unhappy with the results.

If you decide to undergo this on your own, take some time to write about your experience, and share it with everyone at TechLore. A step-by-step guide of how you did it would be invaluable to everyone else looking transfer their LPs to to their computer.

Matt Whitlock - Editor, TechLore.com

Tags : Ask The Expertsaudio conversionaudio softwareHow ToLPLP to MP3recordsvinyl

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