Vinyl records are beautiful things, sometimes in the way you’ve limited records of tracks you hardly find or the other times, they serve as these nostalgia reminders. Either way, they are no longer convenient: you cannot travel with your vinyl records. One good option to have those limited copies of your favourite tracks with you, all the time, would be to digitize the vinyl records. Though the process is not as simple as converting CDs, with the right guidance, it is very easy.
Though the sound might differ from analogue reproduction, but giving it a try is a thing you should never compromise with. So, here are the simple steps on how you can digitize your vinyl records on computer:
Things You Need
Though there are varied hardware configurations that can be used to digitize vinyl records, the chief building things you require include a phono stage, a turntable, an analog to digital converter with USB storage, and a computer with optimum recording facility. You can also get a USB turntable, which is way more convenient and easily available in the market, to make the process way more hassle-free for you.
Pick your recording software
There are numerous recording software in the market, and some which are specifically suited for vinyl records. Choose software that gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to recording vinyl, and you should be good to go. When you’re picking a recording software, choose one that comes with built-in phono equalization techniques, so that the turntable’s output can be fed indirectly to the system, and choose one that has strong editing features to aid you in the optimization process of the recording. Audacity is a good software that is also free. Though the interface might look a little complicated at the start, it is easy to figure out and has a good reputation in the market.
Make sure all your equipment are in working condition
Whether your deck is working and performing good is a thing you should check before you start. Check your turntable set up for the vinyl record. Is it at the sitting level, or is there enough oil in the main bearing? How good is the cartridge working, and whether the bias and tracking force are properly adjusted? These are questions you should ask yourself before you start working on that vinyl record. These simple things make all the difference in producing a vinyl record with good quality and one that is better sounding. You do not want the player to jostle in the middle of your recording session, because a vinyl record gets recorded in real-time.
The playback volume should also be kept low, so that, the feedback does not cause any degradation of sound quality. Keeping them dust-free and spotless are also important.
Digitizing vinyl records with a Turntable
Get a USB turntable. This type of turntable comes with a USB phono preamplifier, often integrated into the turntable itself. Connect it to your computer with the help of a USB cable, that connects your computer and the turntable, and it is actually as easy as that sounds. If you do not want to lose any audio data, and want the audio in the best quality, it is advisable to choose AIFF, WAV and FLACC formats.
Digitizing vinyl records with a phono preamplifier
If you’ve a vinyl table already, you can use this method where you only add a phono preamplifier. This USB device would connect your vinyl turntable and computer, using a phono preamp and a USB cable.
Here are some recording basics that would help you do it
You’re required to connect your turntable output to your computer system’s USB output, or 1/8” output. Launch the recording program, and create a new file thereafter and choose the input source in program preferences, which would either be 1/8” or USB output.
Once this part is done, test play your records and ensure that it does not reach the red bit, and adjust your settings if necessary, including input volume.
Play the record, click “Record” and keep recording until you’re done, which is when you press the “Stop” button. If you’re using the Audacity recording software, you should go to file and choose “Export to MP3 option” and you would have your digitized vinyl records right with you.
Create individual tracks
Recording software do not work automatically, and as vinyl records are recorded in real time, so to record a track, the first go to method, is to do it one vinyl record at a time. Save them individually each time, after you record, and you would have individual tracks. You can also record the entire album, and then use editing software, which is available online, to edit the files, separate and save them as individual tracks.
Once you get hold of the right editing software, it is very easy a process. You can very easily identify the start of a song, or the end, and then select parts to edit them out of a song. The process is very similar to editing a text file of any sort.
Some Advanced Settings Help to keep in mind
If you want a recording that resembles CD quality, you must choose 44.1 kHz or 16 bit in your input settings. General maximum quality is 24 bit but it creates a very big file, which is what you should be mindful of, if you’re choosing this option. When you’re exporting your vinyl record recording to MP3, it is best to use 320 kbps which is also the DJ quality. The export to MP3 option usually compresses file size and optimizes it. You can also add details like Name, Label, Year if you’re opting for MP3 option. WAV and AIFF formats do not support compressing of file, or adding of additional details, like MP3. So, edit and save your audio files in MP3 and you’re good to go with your vinyl records!