How to Convert Vinyl Records to CD With USB & Turntables

Written by james red
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How to Convert Vinyl Records to CD With USB & Turntables
Record vinyl to your hard drive. (record player image by jeancliclac from

If you have a large LP collection and don't want to duplicate titles on another format--or if you just think the vinyl recordings sound better--you can save money by converting your LPs to CDs. You'll find it's not difficult with USB to recode and save your LPs to your digital music library.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • USB turntable (or traditional turntable, RCA-to-stereo cable and an external sound card)
  • Audacity or similar software
  • Records

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    Recording with a USB Turntable

  1. 1

    Set up your turntable. Put it in a place where it won't be bothered by vibrations that can make it skip. If your turntable has a preamp switch, make sure you turn it on.

  2. 2

    Plug your turntable into your computer using a USB cable. Do not plug it into a USB hub as that will slow down the recording process and might lead to playback errors.

  3. 3

    Download and install Audacity. If you didn't receive it on a disc with your turntable, get it at Source Forge (see link in Resources).

  4. 4

    Download and install the LAME audio codec (see link in Resources), which will allow you to export your recordings as MP3s.

  5. 5

    Open Audacity and click on Edit and then Preferences. Select the Audio I/O tab and set the recording device to USB Audio Codec. Click on "Software Playthrough" so you can hear what you are recording while you record it. When you are finished, click "OK."

  6. 6

    Click on the "Record" button in Audacity and begin recording a record. You can start and stop the process for each song, but it's easier to record one side at a time. When you are finished, click the "Stop" button, and save your project.

  7. 7

    Using the mouse, highlight an entire song. With the section highlighted, go to "File" and select "Export selection as MP3." The first time you do this, Audacity will ask where the "lame_enc.dll" is. Go to "C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity," select the file and click "OK."

  8. 8

    Create an ID3 tag for your MP3. Programs such as iTunes use ID3 tags to identify songs. When creating multiple tracks, you may want to skip this step, drag the competed files to an iTunes (or other music player) playlist and edit them there to save time.

    Recording with a Traditional Turntable and USB Sound Card

  1. 1

    Install your external sound card to your computer. Use your RCA-to-stereo cable to hook up your turntable to the sound card. Plug it into the "Line-in" input, not the microphone input.

  2. 2

    Perform steps 3 and 4 of the "Recording with a USB Turntable" section.

  3. 3

    Go to preferences in Audacity, and select "Line-in" as the recording device. Selecting "Software Playthrough" will result in feedback, so deselect it if necessary.

  4. 4

    Follow steps 5 through 8 of the "Recording with a USB Turntable" section.

Tips and warnings

  • Organise your MP3s once you're finished, move them to your iTunes library folder and drag them into iTunes so they'll show up in your library.
  • When you're finished with your project files, delete them. They can take up a lot of space on your hard drive.
  • Records skip. Pay attention while you are recording so you don't end up with a skipping MP3.
  • Different computers have different audio setups. Audacity's forums may help you if you're experiencing any technical issues.

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