How to Connect a Turntable to a Laptop

Written by rob billeaud
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How to Connect a Turntable to a Laptop
Records are great, but you can't play them on a Smartphone. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

For many audiophiles, the vinyl record remains the holy grail of recorded music. Despite all the pops and hisses, it's hard to beat the warmth and richness of vocal and instrumental performances on the old-fashioned LP record. It does, however, lack convenience -- you can't load a vinyl record onto your iPod or Smartphone. The trick is to convert that vinyl recording to a digital file and the first step is to connect your turntable to a computer, a simple process that requires only a few pieces of equipment.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Turntable
  • Phono preamp
  • RCA patch cable with male connectors
  • RCA Y-adaptor cable with 1/8 inch phono plug
  • Laptop computer

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  1. 1

    Connect the RCA leads from your turntable into the input jacks on the phono preamp. The RCA leads include twin male RCA connectors, usually one white and one red, at each end. A basic phono preamp is a relatively inexpensive device that boosts the low-level turntable signal to line level so that it can be picked up by a computer's sound card.

  2. 2

    Connect one end of the RCA patch cable to the output jacks of the phono preamp and the other end to the inputs of the Y-adaptor cable, which is a Y-shaped wire connector with two RCA female inputs at one end and a 1/8-inch phono plug at the other.

  3. 3

    Connect the 1/8-inch plug of the Y-adaptor cable to the microphone or line-in input port on your laptop computer.

Tips and warnings

  • After connecting the turntable, download one of the many freeware or open-source audio recording programs for converting vinyl records to digital files. Some of the more popular programs include: Ardour, Audacity, Jokoshore, Traverso and WaveSurfer. To record to the laptop, follow the instructions for recording, usually found in a "readme" file included with the software download package.

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