Record vinyl records from non-USB turntable to computer USB
January 27, 2020 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I have a 50-year old Luxman turntable and Luxman receiver/amplifier. They have all sorts of RCA-type in and out holes in the back and they are connected to each other with no problem. My newer computer (like this) has almost nothing -- three USB ports and an earphone-out port. I want to record some vinyl. When my older computer had all the sound card doodads on the back, I could do it. That was years ago.

I think there's something on this page that would work: Link
If not, please advise on something else on (if possible).
I might be overthinking it and might not need RCA-to-USB. Would the amplifier/turntable connect through the tiny earphone hole? Which would be better sound?
posted by feelinggood to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It looks like a RCA-to-USB adapter like this one will run $35-40.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:33 AM on January 27, 2020

If you're taking the time and effort to digitize old vinyl, I'd recommend trying to step up to something nicer than a cheap audio converter.

What's the price range you're willing to spend on this?
posted by Candleman at 11:36 AM on January 27, 2020

Turntables often require an additional preamplifier to boost it to line level, make sure the components you buy account for this. Taking the output off the Luxman amplifier will probably suffice. That Behringer UCA222 linked above will do just fine, quality-wise.. You won't need to spend any more than that, IMO.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 11:48 AM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

The equally-inexpensive Behringer UFO202 includes a phono preamp. It's the RIAA equalization that matters.

48/24 phono-capable kit can be a lot more expensive. Any product that goes on about "high quality Burr-Brown ADC" is deep in Wat HiFi? country: they've all been TI ADCs for 20 years.
posted by scruss at 12:43 PM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

This might not be clear from the above, but you'll need to buy something specifically designed for digitizing turntable output because phonograph records have something called RIAA equalization which will need to be compensated for. A straight line-in to digital adapter will not solve your problem.

ETA: what the last guy said.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2020

BTW, be very careful when using built-in jacks to digitize anything where sound quality is important. Digital electronics produce a lot of noise and most built-in sound hardware isn't isolated well enough to keep it from leaking in. An external USB device is going to be a lot better.
posted by suetanvil at 1:18 PM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

OP said the turntable is connected to a paired receiver/amp. So presumably the receiver has a phono preamp, and the turntable's ground wire is connected to the receiver's chassis ground.

Does the receiver have a line level out of some kind? Maybe labeled TAPE (REC)? Or pre-out? (typically a line out, but with volume control instead of fixed).

If so you can feed that to your PC's built in line-in port, which is probably a stereo miniplug on the rear panel. There may be a shared mic/line in jack, selectable in the control panel.

But, it would be better to buy a better, separate audio interface if you're going to go to the trouble of digitizing records. The Focusrite Solo is a popular choice, costs around $100 and comes with a version of ProTools and some addons.

If you don't have a way of getting a line level out of the receiver, then you need a standalone preamp between the turntable and the interface, as others mention. The Mani from Schiit is good for the price.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:01 PM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Looking at an old Luxman R-1050 on ebay, I see "Deck 1 Rec. Out" and "Deck 2 Rec. Out."
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2020

Usually with laptops with only one audio jack in them they are multifunction. So while you've only ever used it as headphone out it also will function as line in. Looking at the specs you linked it is indeed a:"1 headphone/microphone combo"

I suspect (seeing as you have a turntable) that you already have an RCA to line-in phone jack cable that you can use to do a simple test recording with the analog feed from your receiver to see if that is sufficient for your purposes without buying anything, and then buy something if you are sure that this simple fix isn't what you need.

Would the amplifier/turntable connect through the tiny earphone hole?
posted by koolkat at 1:40 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd be careful with that port, mic level is not line level (although that may just be poor labeling). See what modes the control panel in Windows offers before you connect anything, if you want to try the onboard.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:53 AM on January 28, 2020

There are attenuator cables you can use to drop line level down to mic level if need be. Also, this might be obvious, but when recording, if your receiver has separate "record out" selector knob/buttons, it/they need(s) to be set to either "phono" or "source" (if that's an option and the main input selector is set to phono.)
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:11 PM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older Looking for a searchable calendar app for android   |   More games like this Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.