Ripping Vinyl LPs to CD
November 21, 2004 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I have some old LPs that I wish were available on CD but aren't. Is it possible to run my LP turntable through an amp & take the amp's output & feed that into a computer sound card & save it as a digital audio file that I can then burn onto a CD? Has anyone done this? What's required?
posted by Pressed Rat to Technology (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is easy, and it sounds from your question that you already know how to do it. Run a headphone cable from your stereo's headphone out to your computer's headphone in. Use a sound editor to save the input as .aiff or .wav (you'll find tons of these for Mac and PC). Then convert to MP3. It's actually really easy, although it's kind of a pain to break up the tracks into different MP3 files.

I've done this for about a dozen LPs and it's no big deal.
posted by josh at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2004

You should be able to plug the turntable right into the sound card (I used the line-in to do this - there are cables you can get to convert the two RCA-type cables to one headphone style plug. Check Radio Shack or something similar).

I used Audacity to do the recording, cutting and coding to MP3, as well as to clean up some of the pops and hisses in the music. That was pretty much just an excercise in experimentation to get what sounded best. You should also be able to convert the tracks to a CD format rather than MP3 if that's what you like. Basically it was recording one whole side of the LP and then cutting it up into individual tracks.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 12:52 PM on November 21, 2004

Yeah, I've done it. I wired from a tape out on my amp to my laptop. I used Cool Edit Pro to record because it has a filter specially created to remove pops and clicks from vinyl recordings. All in all it's an easy process but rather time consuming.

- Start recording one whole side to a single WAV file (or similar uncompressed format) so you won't lose sound quality when you save your work.
- Find a quiet moment and use this as the basis of a noise reduction filter to remove any hum from your turntable.
- Apply an automatic pop and click remover
- If your pop and click filter has a tool for removing very nasty pops then start to through those now one by one (v boring)
- Now split your WAV file into tracks
- Once you're entirely happy with the results you can change these into whatever file format you prefer

One very big tip: the first time you do this make sure you save a backup copy of your WAV before you start applying filters and editing. You're bound to make mistakes as you try things out and it's a bit annoying having to record the vinyl again.
posted by dodgygeezer at 12:53 PM on November 21, 2004

Oh, one other thing - you'll probably find that it's best to use the Line In socket rather than the Mic socket. If I remember correctly the Mic socket does shitty things to the audio but YMMV
posted by dodgygeezer at 12:55 PM on November 21, 2004

Lots of info here

But yea, pretty much, run the turntable to an amp, through the Line In on a GOOD sound card, record it, do some noise reduction, encode to MP3 or Flac or whatever, and then burn to CD.
posted by TTIKTDA at 12:56 PM on November 21, 2004

The griffin iMic is a very good, cheap solution for this - most internal sound cards will do bad things to the audio.
posted by ascullion at 1:10 PM on November 21, 2004

One other thing that I did when converting all of our old Christmas records to cd was to make sure to fade in and out at the beginning and end of each track. If you are able to get rid of the hum enough from the previous suggestions, it may not be necessary, but otherwise you'll get annoying pops when the song starts and ends.
posted by stefnet at 1:39 PM on November 21, 2004

One other thing that I did when converting all of our old Christmas records to cd was to make sure to fade in and out at the beginning and end of each track. If you are able to get rid of the hum enough from the previous suggestions, it may not be necessary, but otherwise you'll get annoying pops when the song starts and ends.

Fading in and out isn't required. What you use is a decent sound-editing program (like, say CoolEdit or SoundForge), and use the handy tool known as 'remove DC offset.' The pops you hear at the beginning and end are likely incomplete cycles in the soundwave-- that's what it usually is.

Alternatively, SoundForge does let you zoom down to a level of magnification where you can actually see each individual cycle, and will let you redraw them if the zero-crossing is buggered up.

Basically, as you probably know, every soundwave is a series of cycles, going around a zero point. If a given sound begins or ends anywhere other than zero, you'll hear a pop/snap sound every time you trigger the sample. Unless you're talking about normal vinyl pops and hisses, in which case I think the links above will point you at some software that can remove those.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2004

Response by poster: This discussion also brings to mind another audio project I have. I have a reel-to-reel & cassette tape of my father talking, who died in 1958. Unfortunately, the the sound quality is awful, with a sort of hum in the background. Can you recommend any software (freeware or otherwise) that I could use to filter it out & clean up the sound?
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2004

All the above is good advice, plus:

Make sure you either:

a) Go from your record-deck to an amp *with a phono input* to your sound card, or
b) from your record-deck to an RIAA Curve Phono Pre-Amp and into your soundcard.

The audio recorded onto vinyl has had removed from it a standard EQ curve in order to increase the amount of information you can record (basically, the bass information takes up more physical space on vinyl, and so it was agreed in the dawn of vinyl that the records would be recorded with much of this information missing - that information is reapplied by your amp's Phono circuit, or a proper external Phono pre-amp. Good "RIAA Equalisation Curve" for further information.)
posted by benzo8 at 2:37 PM on November 21, 2004

(on preview, thanks benzo8)

IF you want to keep your LPs sounding decent, don't forget to run your record player through an RIAA Pre-Amp first (yes, this is why they exist, originally).

If you don't do that, you'll end up with a recording that, well, will have to be digitally altered. May as well do it first.
posted by shepd at 2:40 PM on November 21, 2004

If you have a turntable with a built in pre-amp or a pre-amp, you can buy a cord that goes RCA to headphone jack, plug it into your sound card Line-In, and use RipVinyl to record. It has noise filters and actually stops recording during stops and begins again. There's a free trial that inserts a beep 1 second into every song, but at $7 it shouldn't be a problem.
posted by chupwalla at 3:00 PM on November 21, 2004

fwiw, griffin tech (that makes the iMic noted previously) also has a turntable adapter with a ground screw on it. No preamp but the iMic might work for that.
posted by mrg at 4:07 PM on November 21, 2004

You could also do it the hard way, by taking a picture of the groove and processing the image into sound.
posted by Wet Spot at 6:32 PM on November 21, 2004

Has anyone actually used some of the Griffin products? I don't have an amp and I need one, but I don't want to buy stereo equipment.
posted by monkeyman at 9:53 PM on November 21, 2004

I've used a Griffin iMic for ages, it's been good for me. If you don't have a phono preamp it seems their free app Final Vinyl can take care of that part.
posted by cleft at 12:12 AM on November 22, 2004

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