How to convert vinyl to MP3 with audacity

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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There are many old recordings that are only available on vinyl records. Converting a vinyl record to MP3 lets you listen to the recording on a computer or mobile device. It also preserves the original recording since a digital file does not degrade over time like vinyl does. Converting a vinyl record to MP3 requires the use of audio software, such as the free Audacity program, which can handle the digital transfer. Audacity works the same way on both Mac and Windows-based computers. A record turntable and audio connection cable is also needed to do the conversion.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Audacity software
  • RCA-to-mini-jack connection cable
  • LP record turntable

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place the LP record turntable near the computer. Plug the turntable into the wall socket for power. Place a vinyl record on the turntable with side one facing up.

  2. 2

    Attach the red and white RCA plugs of the RCA-to-mini-jack connection cable to the record turntable's line-output. Attach the mini-jack at the other end of the RCA-to-mini-jack connection cable to the line-input of the computer.

  3. 3

    Turn on the computer. Download and install the Mac or Windows version of the free Audacity software (see the link in Resources). Restart the Windows-based computer.

  4. 4

    Run the Audacity program. Press the "Record" button and then the "Pause" button. Select "Line input" from the drop-down menu to the right middle of the program. Turn on the record turntable. Put the tone arm down at the beginning of the vinyl record. Press the "Pause" button on the Audacity program to start recording the vinyl record.

  5. 5

    Press the "Pause" button on the Audacity program when side one of the vinyl record has finished playing. Take the tone arm off of the vinyl record and place it on the tone arm rest. Pick up and turn the record over and place it back onto the record turntable with side two facing up. Put the tone arm onto the beginning of the record. Press "Pause" on the Audacity program to continue recording.

  6. 6

    Press the "Stop" button on the Audacity program when the vinyl record has finished playing. Turn off the record turntable and remove the vinyl record. Remove the RCA-to-mini-jack connection cable from the record turntable and from the computer. Put the record turntable away.

  7. 7

    Go to 'File" and select "Export as MP3" from the Audacity program's drop-down menu. Name the digital recording of the vinyl record in the open column of the window that appears. Press the "Save" button on the window to close the window. The digital recording of the vinyl record is now on the computer's hard drive as an MP3 audio file.

Tips and warnings

  • Flatten vinyl records by placing telephone books on them for a few hours before playing them.
  • The digital audio file made from the vinyl recording will have any hissing or pops that are heard from the record player.

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