How to Copy Vinyl to Digital

Written by james clark
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How to Copy Vinyl to Digital
Copy vinyl to a digital format with a turntable connected to a PC. (vinyl record image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

You can transform the warm sound of old vinyl albums into the digital domain by hooking up a turntable with standard audio cables to a laptop or computer. Once digitised, the music can be stored on a PC, uploaded to a portable audio device such as an iPod or burnt to a CD. Suddenly, the music on a vinyl album becomes portable. Better still, valuable record collections will last longer since the actual vinyl won't be played as often on a turntable. Just click a computer mouse instead.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Computer with audio recording software installed
  • Y-adaptor with 3.5 mm plug on one end and two 1/4-inch jacks on the other
  • 2 sets of stereo cables
  • Amplifier
  • Turntable
  • Vinyl records

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Push the 3.5 mm plug on the Y-adaptor into the line IN jack on the back of the computer tower, or use the MIC jack on the edge of a laptop.

  2. 2

    Connect the two plugs on one end of a stereo cable to the jacks on the Y-adaptor, then plug the other ends into the amplifier's output jacks.

  3. 3

    Hook up the second stereo cable between the turntable's output jacks and the input jacks on the amplifier, matching the white and red jacks to the plug colours. Then dial the amp volume control no higher than 2, which is a suitable level for recording the analogue signal from the vinyl.

  4. 4

    Open the recording software on the computer by double-clicking the name of the program, such as Plus! for Windows, GarageBand for an Apple computer or Audacity, which is free recording software available for download from the internet.

  5. 5

    Place a vinyl record on the turntable and cue the tonearm to the desired track or the outer groove to start recording from the beginning of the album.

  6. 6

    Lower the tonearm to the vinyl album, then immediately click the "Record" button on the computer software. Clicking the button after lowering the tonearm prevents capturing an annoying popping sound when the needle hits the groove.

  7. 7

    Click "Stop" on the software when finished, then click the "File" tab to reveal a drop-down menu. Choose "Save."

  8. 8

    Type a name for the new digital recording in the box that will appear. Below the box, click the down arrow and choose "Save As," then select "Save as .WAV file" for regular listening on the computer or for burning to a CD later, if desired. Select "Save as MP3" if you want to upload the recording to a portable listening device.

  9. 9

    Click "Save" a second time to store the digital recording on the computer.

Tips and warnings

  • Connect the turntable and amplifier to the computer before plugging in the components to an electrical socket.

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