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10/20/06 Converting old vinyl records and tapes to digital

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 19, 2006 7:17 AM PDT

Hello, I have a project that's been brewing for a long time and am wondering if someone out there might have a similar one. I have tons of old vinyl records and tapes that I would like to convert into digital music--DVDs, CDs, and so on. I'd like to know if someone can give me pointers as to how to do it with the least cost. Please include choice of hardware, software, and other alternatives or options. My PC consists of a Intel P4 2.4GHZ, 1GB of RAM, and 80GB of disk space. I recently purchased an external DVD/CD burner to complement my system; my OS is Windows XP Pro. If anyone can give me helpful and constructive suggestions, it would be most appreciated. Thank you very much.

Submitted by: Ferdi W.



Ferdi, converting vinyl records or tape to digital music is straightforward and doesn?t require anything particularly exotic in terms of hardware (details below), but it is time-consuming; you can easily find yourself spending 20 minutes per song doing a high-quality conversion from vinyl. Because of this, I usually recommend that if the music that you want is already available in digital format, that you just acquire it already converted rather than do a new conversion. In the long run, you will save a lot of time and possibly get much better quality as well. That said, many of us have songs on vinyl or tape that are not available in digital format, even if paying for them is not an issue, so at times, manual conversion is the only way to get an old audio track into a digital format.

Let?s cover the hardware first. On the computer side, you need one with a sound system and line-in jacks. That excludes most laptops (most don?t have such jacks) unless you use an add-on PC Card or USB sound card, but almost every desktop computer meets these requirements. However, if quality is important, you might want to use a computer with a high-quality sound card rather than the integrated motherboard audio systems that many PCs have these days. Don?t get me wrong, audio on the motherboard will work and can do the job, but it often doesn?t have the frequency response and freedom from electrical noise found in a more premium audio system.

The other thing that you need is a stereo system that can play the source material (Vinyl, cassette, open reel tape, 8-track, whatever) and that has ?line out? jacks. Virtually any stereo system will meet this requirement. But do note that you can?t just connect a bare turntable directly to a computer. While the level of a turntable cartridge output might be compatible with a computer?s ?Microphone? jack (if the computer supports dynamic microphones), when recordings are made on vinyl the frequency response is intentionally ?screwed up? (called ?pre-emphasis?) to counteract physical limitations of the vinyl recording process, and then the playback audio preamplifier is expected to compensate for this by feeding the sound through a ?de-emphasis? network. All tuners, receivers and amplifiers with a ?phono? input handle this internally, but there is no input on a computer that directly supports it. So you need to connect the turntable to a stereo system or at least a preamplifier with a ?phono? input and line level outputs for proper sound reproduction.

Connect the Line-out of the audio playback system to the Line-in jacks of your computer?s sound system with common stereo cables (normally having a pair of red and white RCA phono plugs) and your hardware configuration is done.

[If you want convenience and don?t mind spending some money, another solution to vinyl conversion is a ?USB Turntable? made just for vinyl to digital conversions. There is one made by Ion that is sold by Amazon (as well as other electronics outlets), and you can see information about at: This one is about $130; there may be other such products on the market as well.]

With the turntable connected to the computer, the next step is to convert the analog audio to a digital file. Basically, you play the record and record the line-in signal on the computer. It?s possible to do direct conversion to MP3 or WMA, but a more conventional approach is to do the initial capture as a ?wave? (.WAV) file, because this is more easily captured and edited. You need some software that will record the ?Line In? input of the sound card to the desired file format (whatever it is). For wave files, such software comes with virtually all computers and sound cards, and can also be bought separately if necessary. If you need a program that can do this (and a lot more), a free one that is very good is ?Audiograbber?. It is available at This program can also perform some of the other steps about to be described. Alternatively, the full retail versions of both of the major CD recording software packages (Nero and Roxio) have software that can perform all of the steps required and described in this paragraph and below (the OEM versions of Nero and Roxio that come with computers and optical drives are stripped down and do not necessarily include these components in all cases).

When you do your first recording, you need to do some experimenting to set the ?level? (record volume) on the recording correctly so that the captured wave file is ?as loud as possible without being too loud? [technically, we want to use the full dynamic range of the sound card without clipping]. Hopefully your sound recording software has some kind of level indicator to show you what the level is and when the music is clipping. You want to turn the level up as far as you can without getting any clipping anywhere in the song (given a choice, a bit low is probably better than any setting which clips (and thereby distorts) the highest-volume passages of the material). Unfortunately, the ideal setting will vary from song to song and record to record, so some experimentation may be necessary, which may require playing or even recording the song several times. This is one of the ways in which the process can become time-consuming.

After the song is captured digitally, you may want to do some editing and cleanup. I usually trim the beginning and end and if necessary adjust the ?fade in? and ?fade out?. I also usually ?normalize? the song to get maximum dynamic range. I prefer to do this with an audio editor that has an oscilloscope-like display of the audio waveform, but exactly what you do and how you do it will depend on your skill level and on the software that you are using.

Another thing that you can do at this point (to varying degrees depending on the capabilities of the available software) is to ?fix? the recording to remove noise, clicks, pops, wow, flutter, hum, tape hiss and ?rumble?. The details of this vary with the available software, and significant cleanup may require using purchased (and potentially expensive) cleanup software. If you get too aggressive with this, also, you can ruin the material, but in some cases you can achieve dramatic results turning an old, scratchy vinyl record into something which sounds a lot more like it was originally recorded on CD. Again, this depends on your skill level, and on how much time and money (for software) you want to put into this aspect of the conversion. But even if you do no cleanup at all, you will still have a digital version that will sound no worse than the original source material.

Finally, once you have the wave file the way that you want it, you can use any number of software programs (including Audiograbber, Nero, Roxio, MusicMatch, Windows Media Player and probably software that came with your sound card) to convert the wave file to an MP3 or WMA file. Note that if you use Audiograbber to do the MP3 encoding, it requires separate installation of an MP3 codec. If you don?t have one (the full retail versions of the Nero and Roxio packages usually install one), the ?Lame? MP3 codec is well regarded and is available without cost at

It?s possible to capture and encode directly to MP3 or WMA in a single operation with some software products, but personally I find that I?m not happy with the results unless I can trim the start and end and normalize the file prior to encoding. Also, I recommend that you ?tag? each song so that the song information (title, artist, etc.) is actually ?in? the MP3 or WMA file and will be displayed when the song is played (on most MP3 players). For tagging, I find Winamp and MusicMatch Jukebox to be the best available tools (both are available online for free download, although both have paid (but still low-cost) ?premium? versions that can do a lot more. See and for additional information on these programs.

This should get you well on your way towards completing your conversion project.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 19, 2006 7:17 AM PDT

I have transferred 100+ records and have been very pleased with the results. Here's what works for me. I have an old PII laptop with 30Gb total and 256m ram, so your hardware is going to be more than enough. Any sound card that can capture 16bit audio with a sample rate of 48kHz will record audio that is better than vinyl. It's important to understand that it won't improve the frequency response of the source, but at least you won't lose anything. You'll want to use a good quality turntable with a good stylus and a good quality amp. I had two albums that were deteriorated in two tracks beyond repair so I ended up purchasing commercial CD's (80s era jazz). My recordings from vinyl of the undamaged tracks were undistinguishable from the commercial CDs. So you should definitely give it a try - you'll be glad you did.

Here's how I do it:
I use Magix Audio Cleaning 2005, but there are many products out there that will do the job for a similar price. I use a "Y" adapter that has RCA plugs on one end to plug into the stereo amp and a .125" headphone plug to plug into the line-in jack on the computer. I clean the album as carefully as I can and start the album on my turntable. The recording software has a volume level meter that I use to set the recording volume slightly below 80% (where the meter peaks are just hitting yellow). I try to set it so that the peaks never get into the yellow. Once I'm happy with the record level, I restart the playback and hit record on the software. I monitor the volume meters to watch for any peaks in the red. If they ever hit red during a recording, just reduce the volume a couple of percent and try again. When the meters hit red, that means the sound is "clipped", which means that it was too loud to capture the high frequency portion and that will be lost. In the old days of analog recording to tape, you'd probably never notice a little clipping (a lot would sound dull and distorted). With digital recordings though, clipping will kill your joy because it will sound like a loud crackle when you play it back.

I record whole sides at a time. You can record a track at a time if you like, but you'll spend more time on it. An album side will typically take somewhere between 150 and 250 Mb in a .wav file. (My software will record direct to an .mp3 which will use much less space, but I like to keep it in .WAV format until I'm completely done. The .WAV format will preserve the full quality of the recording through any post processing where .mp3 will degrade with each generation.)

Once I have my .WAV file, I run the audio cleaning options in the program to remove hiss, rumble, and ticks. The program I use works well (better for hiss and ticks, not as well for rumble), but there are usually a few ticks I have to remove manually. The software gives a graphic representation of the wave form, so ticks are easy to find, zoom in on, and delete. (You lose a few samples, but you have 48,000 samples in each second of audio so you'll never hear the loss in the final output.) Two things I do before I do the final burn is to "normalize" the volume and "remove DC offset". These are both options in the audio editing software. Some purists may criticize that, but between setting the record volume slightly below 80% and normalizing, the signal to noise ratio of the audio sample will be improved. You can try it both ways and see what you like. I can't explain DC offset other than to say doing it seems to noticeably improve clarity.

That done, you are ready to cut and label the tracks. You can use auto detect, which works well, but you'll need to check to be sure the program is not finding silent passages within a song. I think it's a nice touch to add short (1-2 second) fades on each end of the track, but that's not real important. The last step is to use the 'burn CD' option, but I choose the sub-options to burn each track to a file instead of a CD. That makes it easy to combine all of the sides of the album (especially for those multi record sets) into a final compilation to burn to an audio CD. Having individual tracks also makes it easy to convert each track into its own .mp3 for my portable.

By the way, Magix Audio Cleaner can handle the disc burning and .mp3 conversion, but I like Nero Burning a little better for that. Again, there are a lot of programs out there for burning CDs and converting audio formats and I suspect they all work equally well.

Good luck, I hope you enjoy being able to recapture that old collection.

Submitted by: Paul L. of Toronto, Ontario



You're in luck Ferdi! This is actually a simple version of a problem most people deal with -> Transferring Video on DVD's and CD's. This usually requires the use of video captures cards and spiffy software which can get quite expensive!

However, if you're only interesting in transferring audio to preserve all those great vinyls, given what you've already got, you only need a few connectors from your local electronic (or even dollar store sometimes) and some free software off the net to make things happen.

Will start with the Hardware:

Your Cassette player, as well as your record player, are likely to have Head Phone outputs. They may even have RCA outputs which would be good too, either way you still have to get about the same number of connectors. If you have head phone outputs, at the electronics store all you need to get is a 3.5 millimeter to 3.5 millimeter jumper cable that is male on both ends (think of the jack on end of your headphones). Your record player might have a larger jack for which you'll need a converter to a 3.5 millimeter, once again at the electronics store.

For RCA, you just need a "Y" connector that converts standard stereo Red/White RCA in to a stereo 3.5 millimeter jack, which you can probably get at the store for about ten bucks or less. You may also want to get a 3.5 millimeter extension cable too, in case the Y connector is not long enough and/or is awkward to plug in.

Either way, your going to connect the other end into the "Line In" jack on the back of your computer, it's usually grouped together with two others, the microphone jack (mono only) and the line out, which is used for speakers.

Now onto the software:

Everything you need in terms of software is available for free on the 'Net. Doesn't get much better then that. First, the audio capturing software. The best free one to use is Audacity, available from To create MP3 files, it might also ask you for the LAME MP3 encoder, which is available in many places to be found with a quick Google search. Then you simply need to connect up to the Line In port (make sure it is unmuted in Audio Properties), hit record in Audacity, and hit play on your record or cassette player and let the music fly. It records in real time, so you'll have to listen through them all, or else just let it run and walk away.

Afterwards, you can use Audacity to do things like remove excess noise, chop up the single file into multiple tracks, and save them all as MP3.

The other software you'll need is a burning program. One may have come with your burner, but if not, a great free one for Windows XP is CD Burner XP Pro, located here:

Using CD Burner XP Pro is pretty simple, just start it up, select if you want DVD or CD, and if you want it to be Audio or MP3 (keep in mind that Audio CD's will play in most CD players, while MP3, though you can hold many more songs, will only play in MP3 compatible players). Also, you can create Data DVD's which many DVD players (though not all) will be able to play the MP3 Files directly off of the disc. In case not, your DVD player should still have no problem playing Data MP3 CD's.

That's pretty much all there is to it, pretty simple and cheap. Enjoy your new digital music!

Submitted by: Jason D.



Hello Ferdi. I?ve just made a start on copying my own collection of vinyl onto CD. The machine I?m using is very similar to yours, with a P4 processor, 756mb of RAM and XP Pro.

I began by connecting my stereo amplifier to the sound input port on the PC, using a lead that has two separate phono plugs at one end and a 3.5mm stereo jack at the other. My local electronics store sells these for approx
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by revel / October 19, 2006 8:39 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I plugged my cassette recorder into my computer, double clicked on ''Audacity'' (free recording studio program) and recorded each track from the cassette. I then cleaned the song up with the different tools that Audacity offers, and converted it into Mp3. These files I then can use to create CDs. Nothing simpler, like back when we recorded our albums to cassettes.

There are problems, time consumption, skips in the data, etc, if one is looking for studio quality, then as most have pointed out, go buy the commercial cd. However, if it is personal listening pleasure you're looking for, the Audacity thing is satisfactory.

Un abrazo,

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by Angry Write Mail / October 20, 2006 10:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Audacity

I don't understand why the "winning response" has to be the most complicated one. It's just gonna confuse the guy.

Your answer is spot on. Audacity is a fantastic piece of freeware (I downloaded mine from CNET). It does the job - and so much more.

It can even be used for basic multi-tracking. I've mixed as many as 8 tracks. It's remarkably stable - as long as you remember to keep saving your work as you edit and mix.

What I like best is, you can remove Clicks & Pops as if they were never there. I even turn monophonic records into a lifelike stereo recording.

I save the recording as a .wav file and use CDex (another Freeware program I downloaded from CNET) to convert the .wav files to .mp3.

I just hook up my home stereo to the inputs on my Soundblaster soundcard.

At the very worst, he'll spend maybe $39.95 for a decent soundcard, and another $3 for a couple of cable adapters to fit the soundcard's inputs.

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Convert with Audacity
by cesareDH / October 20, 2006 1:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Audacity

If you're already using Audacity and like it so well, why don't you just use it's conversion feature to save your files as WAV or MP3. I do it all the time with excellent results, and no need for another application.

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Audacity is the way to go
by davejyd / October 20, 2006 3:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Audacity

I went to a yard sale and bought an old ''all-in-one'' stereo system (Casette player, turntable, radio, etc. in one unit) and bought a Y-adaptor plug that went from a ''headphone'' plug to 2 Male RCA Jack Plugs, and plugged into the ''line in'' on my sound card, and into the speaker jacks of the stereo. A couple of minutes to adjust the recording level (using the volume control of the stereo, and the settings in Audacity, anv Viola! I was able to digitize all my cassette tapes and vinyl with one easy-to-use setup. Total time to set up - 5 minutes. Total investment - about 8.00 (5 for the stereo, 3 for the adaptor, and zero for the software!). I have a friend with a similar setup, but his included an 8-track tape player! He is now digitizing some of the ''golden oldies'' of music!
Audacity also allows you to filter out the ''his' and ''noise'' inherent in vinyl and tape, creating a pretty good (not quite studio quality, but what do you want for $8.00???) MP3.
C-Net offered an ''online course'' on digiting old vinyl, and this is the procedure it showed. Sometimes simple is the best!

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Re: Audacity is the way to go
by Mark Rooney / October 21, 2006 12:23 PM PDT

I agree Audacity is a very simple easy to use program but the one I ended up sticking with - after much trial and error is a program called Spin It Again available here I don't have a high end turntable simply a $100 unit with a built in pre-amp which I plug directly into a line in jack on my PC and Spin it Again goes to work, it will analyse the recording and automatically split it into the tracks recorded, cutting out all the dead noise between tracks. You can edit almost all noise from clicks, pops and crackles from your recording and then convert it to WAV or MP3. It is increadibly versatile and adaptable - I highly recommend it, the results you will get will make it all seem worth while and best of all it does it automatically for you. A trial version is available that will let you make upto four recordings for free than after that you simply purchase a license key and away you go!!

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Audacity is the way to go
by Sparrows / October 23, 2006 8:52 AM PDT

I would love to use Audacity Mark, but I do not have a soundcard, and one of its requirements is a soundcard. I guess this one would not apply to me. Sad

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install a soundcard
by cesareDH / October 23, 2006 9:40 AM PDT
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KISS method
by nearone / October 20, 2006 12:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

In order to get music that isn't in digital, I ask everyone for their old albums and convert them to CD's for them. I have converted hundreds.

There is plenty of hardware information in these posts, so I will only talk about software.

I use three programs that have been around for ages. I don't really need all three, but each has its' own complications and simplicities. I want the simple features of each one.

"Total Recorder Pro" is absolutely the best for converting old albums and tapes. My reasoning is I don't have the time to sit and record each song individually and I don't like to cut the wav at the end. Total Recorder is the best at cutting the songs into individual tracks while recording. That is, I record the whole side of the album or tape and the songs end up as individual tracks in the directory in the computer. I even get the little quips between tracks. I can also manipulate the fidelity of older more used albums creatively if I choose.

"Exact Audio Copy" (free) is my tool of choice for editing the tracks. I don't always edit a track for clicks and pops as it leaves some nostalgia in the recording. Most of the noise is at the beginning of the album and between tracks on the vinyl and does not record. But, if the album is really damaged, and has noise in the middle of a song, I can open the wave in EAC and edit out the noise and manipulate the wav pretty much any way I want. I can expand the wav file so far, I can see the noise and completely remove it without damaging the track.

I have been a fan of "Musicmatch Jukebox" for years for creating CD's. I like to see the detail of the Album and Name of the song streaming on my player. The tagging on Musicmatch is the best I can find. The Gracenote look up feature does not always work with vinyl and tapes as the new digital CD versions of the same albums do not always have the same songs or in the same order. Since I allow Total Recorder to cut the songs into tracks while recording, Musicmatch allows the best tagging after recording without much effort.

The CD recording features of Musicmatch for volume leveling and fade in and out are quite sufficient for the average person.

Exact Audio Copy will also record the CD. It is a more sophistacated process, but if you use it, you will get quality that is unsurpassed by other than very expensive equipment and software. It has been around for years and the cost is a postcard.

Everyone is amazed at the quality of the CD's I make from their albums.

The conversion recording is unattended with my Total Recorder setup and the CD finish time is unattended with my Musicmatch setup. The only actual time I spend on a conversion is the EAC edit on the older dirtier albums and the Track Tagging with Musicmatch.

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KISS method And DAK Industries
by Milo98 / October 20, 2006 6:11 AM PDT
In reply to: KISS method

Converting vinyl and tape to digital is relatively easy and very effective results can be had first time out IF you have the right equipment and software. One of the best and simplest routes to take is to get the vinyl recording package from DAK Industries (no, I am not an employee; I use the product).

First, don't worry about the quality of your sound card, at least until you have tried the recording methods mentioned here. All you need the sound card to do is basic analog to digital conversion and they all do that well. The only thing more expensive cards do is more channels and digital features which you don't need.

Second, if you get the package from DAK you don't even need to mess with the hassle of trying to play records through your stereo and possibly having to unhook it and move it to your computer. This is probably the most significant feature of this post. The DAK package includes recording software and sound clean-up software (pops, clicks, hiss, rumble, etc.) But the core element of the DAK package, and the most important element is a little high quality mixer/amplifier that simply hooks between your turntable and your computer audio input. The reason this is important is because among other features, it has audio isolation transformsers that eliminate hum pickup. This is essential to good quality recordings. In addition, it has separate volume controls for the phono input and tape or auxillary input, recording level indicators, headphone output with separate volume control for monitoring, and is DC powered so there is no hum pickup. All in a neat little metal box about 5'' X 7.5''. It has the proper equalization for the phono cartridge. If nothing else, this set up is much easier to deal with physically than playing records though a stereo system, which for most people is not going to be near enough to their computer for hookup without moving one or the other (and you do NOT want excessivly long cables).

IF YOU HAVE 78's, you'll love the DAK software. You can record using any standard turntable and the software converts the 78's to the proper 'speed'. Is that not something? I don't know if other recording software has that feature, but this one does.

DAK also has this package that includes a high quality turntable that is ideally suited for recording. It has adjustable speed for correcting old records (if needed) and has a built-in synchronizing feature allowing adjustment to the EXACT proper rpm speed. If you only have a record changer instead of a turntable, I would strongly suggest you get this turntable option. It is a very good deal.

The DAK site is
Everything you wanted to know about converting analog recording to digital you will probably find here. Very detailed descriptions of the products. Even if you choose to use another software, the DAK package is worth it for the mixer/amplifier device. It is key to not only good recordings, but vastly simpler recording process. It is much easier to monitor recording levels and change them with a physical level control than trying to change level using the computer level controls. I set my computer level controls to mid range or so and leave them alone, adjusting the final recording level with the mixer controls.

The first person's answer (the main one) said it would take 20 minutes PER SONG to record. I don't know what he was doing, but it doesn't take that long. Obviously, it takes at least as long as it takes to play the record. Then, if the record is noisy (most are, but you wouldn't have that problem with tapes) you have additonal time to run the audio clean-up software, and then split out and (usually) name the tracks. If you use DAK's clean-up software, you can record a number of records and run the noise clean-up program against multiple files all in one unattended execution; then split out the tracks for each album. It is time consuming but four hours for a twelve-track album is excessive. Mine usually took between an hour and a half and two hours total, start to finished track files on computer. If you only intend to burn your album to a CD, it isn't necessary to rename the tracks. Keep in mind, however, that if you DO rename the tracks, when you burn them to CD, the software MAY change the track order to alphabetical. Check this and see if there is a way around it.

There are lots of other variables you have to decide upon depending on what you want to do. For instance, do you only want MP3 files? Or do you only want to burn the tracks to CD? Some people insist on recording only in the lossless wav format. Some MP3 converters don't have the higher quality bitrates. Remember that analog recordings only have so much audio quality to begin with. But you don't want to degrade them unnecessarily either. If you are going to burn to CD and not keep a copy of everything you convert on your hard drive, it's probably good to record using the wav format instead of MP3. You can always convert to MP3 later. For analog recordings converted to MP3, I would use no less than 128 kbps. For ripping commercial CDs, I usually use 192 kbps. Somewhere in that range should be good for analog recordings. Very few people can tell the difference even from a CD source at recordings higher than 192. Those are just some guidelines; you can play around and make your own decision.

If you are serious about vinyl or tape conversions, get one of the DAK packages. You will not be disappointed. They also have an excellent support staff for all of their products and will answer any question you have about using their products. They are a reputable outfit. I have bought from them for years and have never been disappointed.

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Vinyl to MP3
by thepayne2003 / November 9, 2010 9:34 AM PST

Any update to your thoughts on DAK's hardware/software product to convert vinyl 33's and 45's to MP3 format. DAK's product looks good but I'm having a problem getting user feedback.

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Nearone - MusicMatch question
by Jeanne321 / October 21, 2006 2:28 AM PDT
In reply to: KISS method

Since you mentioned MusicMatch Jukebox -- do you know of a way to get technical help from them? I enjoyed MusicMatch for downloading music until I had two major problems -- 1) downloads I'd paid for got stuck and never finished 2) I paid for a software upgrade that never took effect -- every time I logged in it invited me yet again to upgrade.

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I had the same problem--plus got spammed to death
by Marysue / October 21, 2006 4:34 AM PDT

Yeah, it's too bad, for it was great--until it didn't work anymore. A lot of programs are like that. Trend anti-virus is a pain, for you never get any human help with it (they never answer your call for help), nor can you add anymore spam to its blocker. Spyware doctor, on other hand, blocks out everything, including the sun! You wind up taking the programs out, just to download updates from Microsoft. The only program I can handle for downloading songs is itunes. Too bad it didn't have more choices on songs. Today's music is mostly forgetable, if not regretable. No wonder we want to download vinyl!

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Musicmatch Jukebox support
by stahu / October 21, 2006 8:13 AM PDT

Hi Nearone,
Go to Google and type in "Musicmatch Jukebox. That will take you to a page where the third one down will be "Musicmatch Jukebox-worlds best music player". Listed under that is "Support". Select the appropriate topic for your problem. This will give you a place to start. It's going to be a struggle, but be persistant. It took me SEVERAL times of complaining to FINALLY get someone that handled my problem.

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My ten cents worth.
by Wazu_wazu / October 23, 2006 5:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I agree with everything said so far, but...

I have a high quality turntable that I bought back in the late 70's. It's output saturates my Soundblaster Audigy regardless of how I set it up.

The answer to my problem was a mixer. I have a four track unit by Behringer that I bought from Guitar Center for $40. Two track units are also available. I use mine for more than converting vinyl to plastic which is the only reason for the four tack.

Not only does this solve pre-amp issues but allows a degree of adjusting the bass, treble and midrange.

Just another opinion...

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Other additional advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 19, 2006 7:18 AM PDT

Hi Ferdi,

I had the exact same decision to make about 4 years ago. I decided to just sell all of my records and tapes. I then went and purchased CD's of the albums I really liked (you can pick up used CD's of your favorite albums from Ebay and Amazon for a fraction of their original price and sometimes cheaper then what you paid for the original tape or record).

The quality from a factory CD produced by a music company is going to be better than anything you can reproduce from vinyl. As you know the tracks closest to the center of the record have large amounts of distortion. When you buy a factory CD, these distortions are not there.

The other consideration is time. What is your time worth? Do you have any idea how long it is going to take you to say convert 100 albums and 100 tapes? To convert a vinyl record album you have to play it at the speed it was originally meant to be played at. If each record album is 40 minutes long, times 100 albums, you are looking at over 65 hours just for the albums.

After I sold my collection and bought their CD replacements, I then purchased an external 120 gig USB hard drive. I ripped all of the CD's onto this external hard drive (ripping a factory CD is lightspeeds ahead of copying a record or tape). I then put the factory CD's back on the shelf and whenever I need music I just copy it off the external drive. When I buy a new CD, I just add it to the drive.

Submitted by: RAM-IT



The cheap simple solution to recording your LPs and tapes is Audacity freeware from Soundforge--Soundforge may be the gold standard in digital recording. Audacity has a pretty good declicker and a rather sophisticated noise eliminator, but there are drawbacks. Audacity records your LP in one continuous track, whereas it provides a track splitter, it is manual. Nero and Easy CD will create a new track wherever there is a pause--used defined length and db level. Having said that, sooner or later you will want to label each track, and that's a manual process; with Audacity it can be part of the track splitting process.

My advice is to try Audacity and gain an understanding of digital recording, identify the shortfalls that concern you, and find a recorder that suits all your needs. OBTW, some very sophisticated recording software can be VERY expensive, and Soundforge makes some of the best--I'm not a Soundforge employee.

Submitted by: Richard H. of Phoenix, Arizona



Well, my recommendation is don't do it! It will take you YEARS of continuous work to convert all your old vinyl and tapes. If you are married, you will end up divorced!

Keep in mind that in order to capture an LP or VHS or BETA tape into digital format, you must play the disk or tape at its original speed. There is no fast way of capturing the tracks like there is for ripping CDs. Besides, even after you digitize the LP, you will most likely need to do some post-processing to remove the hiss, pops, and scratch noises - more work! Then you will need to edit the EXIF data to include title, artist, genre, etc. - more work!

Having said that, there are many offerings (hardware and software) available to do this job if you really insist on it.. just do a Google search. However, be warned: this is a very long job.. sort of like the guy that asked about scanning in all his thousands of Kodachrome slides and making digital images - another job that will take a lifetime if done properly.

I have hundreds of old vinyl records. And I have a turntable. Put one on, turn down the lights, maybe light a few candles and enjoy them for what they are. If you have an old lava lamp, even better. Nothing like a vinyl night!

Submitted by: Paul L. of Toronto, Ontario



Going into answering this would be better served with some links to get you started your computer already has a sound card and is more then adequate in resources. I use Adobe Audition along with a plug-in called ClickFix from a much faster and more reliable click and pop remover add on. Adobe's fill a single click function is still very handy for the big nasty pops. The links are from other software and support sites and on the software side I have not used them. These sites will get you up and going on the hooking up your stereo and turntable to your computer, and the basic interfaces you will need to know in your computer. I will say that I have tried some of the less expensive software before landing on Cool Edit Pro now known as Adobe Audition, and probably spent as much on all of them as one copy of the Adobe Software and left unsatisfied with their results most sounded muddy or bubbly to say the least. Adobe Audition is probably much more then you need, unless you are looking for exceptional sound quality in your recordings. I have recorded over 700 LP's/Cassettes using mine and figure the cost of Audition was mute compared to the quality of the recordings and the time spent. Never used the software but has some good pictures of how to hook things up. Very in depth on the process, hooking things up, and computer interfaces you will need to know.

Submitted by: Anonymous



In the last year I have transferred over five years of our minister's sermons from cassette to digital files to archive them. I am now in the process of putting my brother's entire LP collection on CD's.

I use, and am very happy with, Roxio's Easy Media Creator. I have Version 7.5. The new Version 9.0 should work the same or even better.

On the Roxio main menu there is a link, "Convert LP's and Tapes to CD's". Click on "Recording Set-up", for information on the cable connections. I put a "Y" in the line so I can plug in my head phones to monitor. Next you click on, "Record Tracks". When you do LP's from a turntable, you must go through an amp as it will not recognize it directly.

After you have brought a song into the computer, you have choices to enhance, clean or equalize the sound. After this is done you can export your tracks to your hard drive. You have a choice so save as a WAVE or MP3 file. I save mine as MP3's to save space on my hard drive. When I burn my CD's, Roxio or Nero will automatically change the MP3 format on the files so they can be played on a regular CD player.

Submitted by: Vern S.



I have tried turning my analog LP and cassette collection into digital CD?s two ways, via my computer and via my A-V system, and I much prefer to do it on the A-V system. Part of the reason is that my turntable and cassette deck were in the family room and moving them to the den where my computer resides was a lot of trouble. For $299, you can buy a Sony RCD-W500C 5-Disc Dual-Deck CD Changer/CD-R/RW Recorder. Put a record on, put a blank disc in, push record, and come back in a half hour to turn the record over. Couldn?t be easier.

Submitted by: Frank B.



Vinyl to Digital

I?m a collector of some 30 years and because I did own and operate a mobile disco in Jamaica, my vinyl collection is extensive.

I have found that in order to preserve some of the warmth and depth of vinyl recordings?the tedious way is the best really. That is to burn using a Digital CD Audio Disc Recorder/Burner, in contrast to a PC CD burner.

However in Jamaica, a radio station called ?Mega Jams? used an interface to burn from Vinyl straight to the server, and their set-up was very impressive with several work stations burning just before they went live.

DJ Squeeze was the mastermind behind the project and he was adamant about preserving the warmth and Depth of the Vinyl sound?so to speak.

Some key points for clean recordings, etc.

1. Use a good turntable, e.g. Technics 1200?s
2. Use a good stylus, e.g. Orthophon?properly weighted & balanced
3. Record a ?0? pitch adjustment?do not increase/decrease pitch
4. Clean records & stylus prior to use?clean after each recording & use anti-static. Records can be washed but with a team (washer, dryer & packer), to ensure labels are not damaged.
5. Adjust recording levels to reduce distortion and maintain levels
6. Back-up!...make back-up copies and store separately

Good Luck!

Best Regards.

Submitted by: Dwight G. of Kingston, Jamaica



I have been using the ADS Tech Instant Music machine to transfer my audio cassettes to CD. It works flawlessly and all you need is a good quality cassette player to jack into. You can mix tracks or transfer entire cassettes with excellent results. I have not tried to transfer LP's since I don't have the turntable and preamp required for this, however, if it works as well with LP's as it does with cassette it won't be a disappointment. Comes with Nero Soundtrax software (transfer and editing), USB cable, and audio patch cables. Cost at Staples Business Depot here in Canada was $49.95 Canadian.

Submitted by: John D.



Recording phonograph records and cassette tapes to a PC:

Connect both Phonograph and Cassette Tape Player to an Amplifier.
Connect line from Amplifier Phone Jack (use size adapter) to PC.

Software Preference:
? jetAudio by Cowan [Audio Mixing Recorder]

? Adobe Audition 1.5 is my choice of Noise Reduction software to remove Pop/Click & Hiss after transferring music to PC. Audition contains Filters as well as Amplitude to Normalize volume [you select %]. Provides you with the ability to Cut, then Fade In and Fade Out to correct over extension of non-music area (which you will have using this method).

Most software programs allow you to record between an Amplifier and PC. I?ll discus jetAudio since I?m familiar with their Audio Mixing Recorder. Before recording music, you must identify the artist and song title in the Target area ? then click Save. Click Start Recording before playing the music. You will have to manually start and end the music by using the Stop button on a Cassette Deck or by lifting the Arm on a Phonograph. This is not jet age science, however you are reproducing music from another era.

Since you are recording through wires, with the help of a program such as Adobe Audition, you will end up with a CD quality recording after some practice.

This method is very simple, yet time consuming. Do not attempt to play music and record with a microphone. The subsequent recording will be a total waste of your time.

Submitted by: Edwin D.




Below is an online tutorial about Vinyl to CD-R Recording. It covers just about everything your going to need and what to expect when you start converting your old Vinyl & Cassettes over to CD's.

I suggest you take a long hard look at what's involved and then decide which methods you want to use, as there are quite a few. It's not hard to take on this hobby, just a bit time consuming. You can also print out the entire Tutorial on your printer if you need to.

Good luck and happy converting.

Vinyl to CD-R Recording - A Tutorial
This tutorial describes the transfer of vinyl records to CD-R. It is divided into three sections as follows:
Part 1 deals with playing vinyl records with particular emphasis on the special requirements for digital re-mastering.
Part 2 explains how to make digital recordings on a multimedia PC using its built-in sound card to capture an analogue source.
Part 3 describes the audio restoration of vinyl recordings using Ganymede Test & Measurement?s Wave Corrector program.
Please note that Part 3 of the tutorial refers to an earlier version of Wave Corrector than the current release. Although most of the information is still relevant, a small number of the procedures described have been up revised. The tutorial will be updated soon to take account of these revisions.
The tutorial is also available in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format by clicking here.

The below link (if active) will take you to the entire Tutorial

Submitted by: Larry



I had saved a collection of old cassettes just for the purpose of burning them to CDs when I could make the time. When I finally found the time, I tried to do the job with with the onboard Dell MusicMatch Jukebox. While it would do the job, I found the quality unsatisfactory. To obtain the best quality, I purchased a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi soundcard. I bought it on Ebay for a little over a hundred bucks. There are 5 'levels' of the Creative X-Fi card, from the 'Xtreme Audio' up to the 'Elite Pro'. You can view them on the top left corner of this page: . I believe that the card on the top 4 levels is the same. Only the hardware is different and costs more on the pricier versions. So, if you can live with plugging your wires into the card in the back of your computer instead of into a bay in the front, the 'Xtreme Music' version will get you the same sound quality as the 'Elite Pro'. Then you just run your wires from your line-out ports on the back of your music device (or use Y-jacks to plug into your speaker jacks) to the line-in port on the back of the sound card. It will also take a "3.5mm male audio stereo jack to 2 RCA(F) adapter cable" that you can get for 2 bucks on Ebay. The recording software is included with the soundcard. If you are going to go to the time and effort to record and save your old records and tapes in digital format, it is worth the small investment to get the best quality recording you can. I think that the Soundblaster card will do that.

Submitted by: Mike G.



I think you should contact you nearest Pinnacle Studio software supplier. They have lot of options & software which come along with video capture graphics cards & they are very reliable. Also friendly user & very easy to edit etc.

I have converted my all VHS tape in to DVD though. this software. Of converting analog vhs recording to DVD digital recording is time consuming job. De-Coding will take lot of time. 1st you have to transfer your files to hard disk & then you have to record it on DVD. It is better that put this DVD recording night time while going on slip & morning you will get your DVD ready ! Any how, software will take care of all so you need not worry of anything. Also you will get superb quality pictures.

Submitted by: Sudhir K. of Dubai, United Arab Emirates



I bought one of these for my husband for his birthday last month; it works great! It connects through the audio-in of the computer and uses either the included software or whatever audio recording/editing software you like to use. The included software is for PC-type computers; I have a Mac and use software I already had. This thing is a nice turntable and works well for us....a fairly simple way to get records into a digital format.


Submitted by: Julie D.



To copy tape or vinyl onto a hard drive I use "Golden Records" By NCH Swift sound. It is inexpensive and does everything you want. It will even save the tracks on an LP as separate mp3's. To edit the mp3's, and to remove any "silence" at the beginning and end of tracks use Audacity. It is free, and one of the best audio editing packages around.

These are the only two pieces of soft ware you need.

Submitted by: Tony




I have a similar situation and have been using sound recorder and editor software from which enables you to record your tapes and records directly to the computer and then edit out gaps etc. It's not expensive either and easy to use. As for transferring video to dvd, I am not using a computer so much as a combined dvd recorder/VCR player, however LG Power Producer will carry out this function for you. I haven't used it myself but that is the next project on my list.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Kay F. of New South Wales, Australia



Go to Google and type in [record recording to computer] then select the link that takes you to Windows Media Workshop and there you will find a step by step procedure on how to do it including pictures and the hardware and software you will need. I used Microsofts PLUS Superpack for WindowsXP which has the analog recorder that you will need. The feature I liked about this software is you can use the record out jacks on your receiver instead of poorer quality headphone jacks. Hope this will help you.

Submitted by: Bill P.



While I'm sure everyone will mention the several fine software products that are available, with the caveat about needing a phono preamp for the existing vinyl turntable (or a special sound card), I find the Teac Phono CD Recorder all in one unit (about $400) to be easy, straightforward, and it produces excellent results.

Submitted by: Allan H. of Chicago, Illinois



I have use the Direct Cut wizard on B's Recorder Gold software from B.H.A Corporation to transfer my wife's cassette sound tracks to my PC then to either MP3 player or burn to CD/DVD.

Submitted by: Wayne S.
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tape and records to digital
by fkap1974 / October 19, 2006 8:59 PM PDT

I bought an Edirol UA 1X, it has a usb plug to hook to the comp and RCA in and out jacks, plus a digital jack. I use it to run my iTunes into my old Kenwood amplifier. (threw those computer speakers away and let my Bose 501's do the talkin')
The pair of RCA "in" jacks I don't use, are for recording tape and records back into the computer, via Toast, which is what I would use. I have't tried it that way but see no reason why it wouldn't work.

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MP3 on Turntable
by Ilya Shick / October 20, 2006 5:41 AM PDT

I found on SkyMall
turntable with MP3 software which save on this format
on your PC
It looks like better way to create library of old LP

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Time to weed out the collection
by dribnif / October 19, 2006 10:55 PM PDT

As someone who has been recording LPs, 45s and tapes to digital format in bits and pieces for about 7 years, I would say this is the ideal time to get selective. With an LP collection of about 300 records, most of what I own, I really don't want to hear again.

There's only about 15% of what I have that I want to keep.

I have only been transferring the very best of what I have. Since it is a very time-consuming project to do it well, it makes good sense to copy and keep only the best and part with the rest.

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It's easy
by vwmark / October 19, 2006 11:46 PM PDT

There is a lot of advice here, I have not read it all. I recently started digitizing my vinyl albums and cassette tapes, and I am pleased. My method:
1) I use Total Recorder Professional Edition, which is marketed by High Criteria out of Toronto:
The Professional Edition is downloaded for US $40, not a bad price. There are a lot of settings one can manipulate, but I find it easy to just start it up and press "record" as if it were a tape recorder. One can save to either CD-quality music (PCM format) or MP3, or a large variety of other formats that I do not know anything about.
2) Because my desk computer is not close to my stereo, I use a simple laptop computer (Windows XP system) and set it up next to the stereo.
3) I output from the tape out jack using regular RCA plugs (you know, those red or white type plugs, easily available at Radio Shack). The other end of the cord is the 3.5 mm stereo plug used for headphones. I plug that into the microphone input port on the laptop.
4) Launch Total Recorder, then I put the turntable needle down on the record to make a test recording. Total Recorder shows you the volume level and lets you control that. There is even a button you can press (onscreen) that will automatically adjust the level after 30 seconds of playing, if you want (it is a good idea).
5) After choosing the right recording level, I start over and just let the LP play through its side. At the end, I select pause on Total Recorder, flip the record over, then continue recording until it is done.
6)With the large sound file that results, I then play back the recording on the computer. Total Recorder gives you a graphical display of the entire recording all at once, and you can skip ahead at intervals of few seconds to several minutes. It is easy to find the silent sections that separate LP tracks; you do not have to play back the entire recording. Then when you come to a silent part, you just "cut" the recording and save your track to a separate file that you name (the song title). You keep repeating until you have sliced up the entire original recording into its component tracks.
7) Then I save the finished tracks to a USB drive (you know, a "thumb" drive, "jump" drive), carry it over to my main computer (PC)for transfer, or playback on my iPod. (On the iTunes software program I can annotate the tracks--composer, etc. I have also found, to my surprise, that when I make a CD of the LP in this method, and play it on the computer, iTunes will automatically label the tracks with the background information, if the recording is already in iTunes' database. I was very surprised by this! I did not think it was that smart.)

You will note that I have done nothing about getting rid of LP pops and clicks or tape hiss. I don't have the time and it does not bother me.

Total time: the time required for LP or tape playback, plus maybe about 10-15 minutes more of just speeding through the graphic playback to cut the file down to the individual tracks.


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Has anyone seen/tried this yet?...
by skafiend / October 20, 2006 12:51 AM PDT

I have the same concern/problem: lots of old vinyl records and no good way to save them or convert them. Then I ran across this in a catalogue:

Not show how it works or how good the quality would be, but it makes converting LPs to CDs pretty simple. And it wouldn't look too bad in my living room. Not sure what you do when you want to record the other side of the LP; does it allow you to flip the record over and start burning the CD again? Anyway, it seem a lot simpler than buying special programs, installing stuff, etc. Anyone familiar with this?

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Buying programs
by cesareDH / October 20, 2006 6:23 AM PDT

Audacity is a free program and it'll do everything you need to do after you hook your turntable to your computer. Audacity will record your vinyl, clean it up, and save it in your favorite format for you to burn to CD using whatever burning software you like to use. AudioGrabber is another free program that will do the same thing.

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Buying programs
by Sparrows / October 23, 2006 10:25 AM PDT
In reply to: Buying programs
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it's also for audio
by cesareDH / October 23, 2006 1:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Buying programs

Look closer. It has the audio connectors and I use it all the time, both for just audio and also for audio/video. It's very versatile so it may have confused you. I'd still recommend using the free Audacity program for editing your recordings.

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Used the TEAC LP to CD conversion system. VERY easy
by ediecago / October 21, 2006 4:21 AM PDT

Multi-Music GF350 by TEAC -- VERY SIMPLE to convert analog to CDs.

We really like this and thought it was a good value.

The turntable and cartridge are NOT audiophile-geek quality. Our turntable died however, and we're not interested in replacing it with a new expensive one. This system does the job for us and sounds fine for our rare need to play vinyl. It is so easy I was ALMOST able to have my Mom (70 years old with some memory loss) do this for me. I was able to start it in 5 minutes (you create the file in realtime so it takes a long as the LP takes to play). The burning is very straightforward. When we wanted to put it on an iPod, we just took the CD across the room and loaded it on our computer as we would with any other CD.

You need to read instructions clearly about whether you want the whole side of LP to be one MP3 or whether it should break songs into files individually.

We think it's great.

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TEAC? You were lucky! I got a bummer...
by Marysue / October 21, 2006 6:17 PM PDT

TEAC does not make a good product, nor do they fix it. I've posted about my problems with that company before. You want to wreck your CDs, go play them on TEAC.

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Converting your vinyl records to D o CD
by colblg1 / October 20, 2006 1:44 AM PDT


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Converting your vinyl records to D o CD
by Sparrows / October 23, 2006 11:10 AM PDT

Colblg1, you look like you got something going on with this one. Thanks a lot! This looks like it is right down my alley. Happy One downer it says that it can be used with USB 1.1. I do not have a 1.1 port on my computer, just USB 2.0. Do you know if it will take a USB 2.0 port? If not, what a downer because this does come with Audacity. Sad Please advise, or I can inquire at Amazon. Thanks again. If it works, it will rock for me.

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Converting your vinyl records to D o CD
by colblg1 / September 2, 2007 1:17 PM PDT

No problem plugging it in to the USB 2.0 port, at least I had no trouble when I plugged it in, it worked just fine. Good luck.

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sound and wave editor - records
by clarifying facts / October 20, 2006 4:47 AM PDT

I use poulderbits, its easy, awsome, I just wish it available to buy on a disk, rather than off their sight, I tried audacity, too complicated, made a mess of my sound system. I down loaded Poulderbits free trial, i was able to convert songs from a cassette player, into my mike input, after I saved it, then just paste or drop it to nero, I made several recordings with ease, a little loud at first,until i figured out the pop and click, remove, but over all it was great, I also tried IMIKE ( griffen ), but it was useless. The free trial starts once to get it, not each time you use it, but you can get an extension, and extra week

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