Converting vinyl records to digital files using an existing turntable...
September 2, 2009 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I like my vinyl records. I want to make digital files out of them. What are my options ... which don't include a new turntable and, preferably but not absolutely, don't require my computer and stereo to be in the same room? I'm on a Mac.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy to Technology (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Does your turn table have a audio line-out jack? or just speakers?
posted by Think_Long at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2009

I've been using a Xitel INport for several years now and am very happy with it. It come with a loooong cable that you can stretch across theroom from your stereo to your PC. Review here.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:25 PM on September 2, 2009

You could get something like this with a mic in. It records to SDHC sticks. You can record in 96khz 24 bit WAV files if you want.

That's just something I found with a quick Google search, I'm sure there are cheaper devices without the nice microphones.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on September 2, 2009

Oh, and I would think you wouldn't want to use a really long analog audio cable, which could pick up a lot of static if it wasn't shielded, right?
posted by delmoi at 2:29 PM on September 2, 2009

Delmoi is correct. Be careful with long analogue cables. heck, even digital signals get messed up over long cable runs. My suggestion, suck it up and move your tunrtable close to your mac.
posted by toekneebullard at 2:33 PM on September 2, 2009

This article is 5 years old, but gives you an overview of what is required in the process. Basically you will need (if you don't already have) some piece of equipment with an analog-digital converter. depending on what you have to accomplish this with you will have a few different options for getting the files to your computer. I know you don't want to buy a new turntable, but USB turntables can be had for about $100. After you are done with it you could sell it on ebay and minimize your cost. I don't know which ones are best, though.

Here is a macrumors discussion on the topic with a number of suggestions.
posted by TedW at 2:36 PM on September 2, 2009

Response by poster: Think_Long: My turntable has RCA cables and a ground.

toekneebullard, move my Mac closer and ... then what?

I did find this, but was hoping that such a thing existed like this but that had its own storage in it that could then be brought to the computer.

TedW, it's not the financial aspect of a new turntable that bothers me, it's that I like my turntable and it makes great sound. A $100 turntable isn't gonna compare.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:40 PM on September 2, 2009

Response by poster: I guess ideally what I'm looking for is a stereo component like a tape deck, but instead of taking tapes, it takes a hard drive or flash card or something. Not sure if such a thing exists, though.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:42 PM on September 2, 2009

You Should See the Other Guy: did you click the link I posted? It does what you want, takes an analog input and records to SDHC memory cards. It's hand held, rather then a stereo component, and it has microphones (which you don't need) and it's kind of expensive, but it does exactly what you're asking for.
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on September 2, 2009

you'll need a preamp for your turntable (check radio shack or whatever its called nowadays) and a phono plug to mini plug adapter. then plug into the line-in jack in your sound card & record with your sound recorder/editor program
posted by canoehead at 2:53 PM on September 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, delmoi. That looks pretty good. I'll try and find a source for Canada.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:28 PM on September 2, 2009

The Zoom H2 is much liked, and have a great set of features (a stereo line input for analog sources such as cassette tapes or LP records is also provided), and can record 2 channel MP3 or 4 channel WAV. I am so much more intrigued by this recorder now.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on September 2, 2009

And on un-preview: some turntables have built in pre-amps.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:33 PM on September 2, 2009

I've used the Zoom H2 for recording out of my turntable preamp. I'm happy with the quality, though it is by no means high end, and the convenience is great as, again, my computer and my turntable don't typically live near one another. And the Zoom has other applications.

It's very plasticy, though.
posted by galaksit at 5:32 PM on September 2, 2009

You can buy phono pre-amps with USB out - I don't have one, but you might look at something like this -

I've recorded from my phono pre-amp (not USB) using using an Alesis firewire mixer as my analog to digital. It sounded OK. I'm no expert, but if you've got a decent phono pre-amp/pre-amp/amp (or integrated amp and phono-pre-amp) setup, you might get better sound by using the tape out on your pre-amp (or integrated amp) as your source. My Jolida (integrated amp) has direct outs on the back which (I assume) would work perfect for this. I'm sure somebody will correct me if I'm wrong, but that'll give you the tonal quality of your amp/pre-amp in your signal. Of course, you're going to get the best sound by just listening to your records, so maybe the fidelity of your recordings is less important than portability, but thought I'd mention it.

I don't know of anything like what you describe (stereo component), but I have a mac mini on my stereo rack - might be a solution if you don't mind spending the money on it. I have it connected to my stereo for MP3s and CDs, and to my TV for movies. I don't give a shit about CDs, so my set-up is primarly for vinyl. I use it as my DVD player as well. That would work.
posted by drobot at 5:46 PM on September 2, 2009

That last comment wasn't meant to sound like a dig on CDs, only that since I don't give care about them, using a mac mini as my CD player is fine with me. If you're ok with the cost of the mac mini and aren't concerned with a super high-end CD/DVD player, it might be worth the investment (as a replacement for CD/DVD and a way to burn your records from your stereo.)
posted by drobot at 5:53 PM on September 2, 2009

I have one of these, which is great for getting audio in and out of my mac. Add in a really long cable and you can use it to record from your vinyl, and also to output audio from your mac to your stereo setup. In practice, however, I find that even my most obscure vinyl records contain music that is readily available online, so I just download that instead.
posted by nowonmai at 6:09 PM on September 2, 2009

I use the Ion U-Record for my vinyl rips. I do bring my turntable close to my computer to use it, however. It's fairly cheap - got mine on sale for less than $40 and it has a switchable pre-amp for phono or line level use. I record the audio with Audacity. It works fine for my purposes, and the 320kbps files seemed fine on loud club systems.
posted by stachemaster at 10:14 PM on September 2, 2009

I used this to rip vinyl with bias peak 5 even works with virtual dj for digital mixing though setup is a pain it's worth it. has your pre-amp and your audio interface analog to digital converter. only thing that sucks is it's only got a two band eq.
posted by bravowhiskey at 8:06 PM on September 5, 2009

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