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How to convert vinyl to digital format

So, you want to know how to convert some vinyl records to their digital formats? Don’t worry, the process to do so is quite easy. However, you need to keep in mind certain things as you go through.

See also: How to set up turntable

How to convert vinyl to digital format

Important things to know

Vinyl records are played using a device called a turntable. The analog signals recorded in the vinyl record are output in the analog form only by the turntable without any digital conversion involved anywhere. However, you might want to convert the vinyl record into its digital form for various reasons. After a number of plays, the quality of the vinyl record become too bad to listen to. Also, the portability of the vinyl record (along with the turntable required to play it) is too cumbersome. So, it is wise to keep a digital copy of the vinyl record in cases of portability issues.

Types of turntables

The turntable can be of different types:

  1. One that has a phono preamp (i.e. the turntable has both phono and line outputs) and a USB port built-in it
  2. One that has a phono preamp (i.e. the turntable has both phono and line outputs) but no USB port built-in it
  3. One that has neither a phono preamp (i.e. the turntable only has a phono output and no line output) nor a USB built-in it

Converting the vinyl to digital format in each of the three cases is going to be different in terms of components required and the connections between them. However, software work is going to be the same for all these cases.

Doing the connections

In the first case, along with the turntable you need to have a computer (PC or MAC), a USB connecter and an audio-recording software (e.g. Audacity – free and open-source software for Windows, macOS, and Linux). Once you have all these, connect the turntable to the computer using the USB connector. Now, open the audio-recording software.

In the second case, along with the turntable you need to have an audio interface, a computer (PC or MAC), a USB connecter and an audio-recording software. Once you have all these, connect the turntable to the input of the audio interface and then connect the output of the audio interface to the USB port of the computer. Now, open the audio-recording software.

In the third case, along with the turntable you need to have a phono preamp, an audio interface, a computer (PC or MAC), a USB connecter and an audio-recording software. Once you have all these, connect the turntable to the phono input of the phono preamp and then connect the phono preamp output to the input of the audio interface and then connect the output of the audio interface to the USB port of the computer. Now, open the audio-recording software.

Software work

In the software, set the input to the USB port to which the turntable is connected. Also, remember to switch the output of the turntable to line output instead of the phono output. Now, press the record button and start recording by playing the vinyl record on the turntable. When you have finished recording, stop the recording and save the project. You can also export this recorded audio file in different formats such as mp3, wav, etc. Now, you have successfully converted the vinyl record to its digital format. However, in this case, you might also need to connect an audio interface between the turntable and the computer if you are recording for DJing or want very high-quality recording for studio purposes.

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