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What's the simplest way I can convert vinyl records to MP3s?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 7, 2012 9:17 AM PST

What is the simplest way I can convert vinyl records to MP3s?

Sadly, my father is getting to a point in his life where getting up and even placing records onto his old turntable to play has become an increasingly challenging task. For the holidays as a gift, I'd like to convert my father's old cherished collection of vinyl records into MP3 format, stick them on an MP3 player, and allow him to enjoy the music right from his chair or bed. I tried for weeks, searching for some of these albums on CDs, so I can convert them to MP3s, but most of his favorites are nowhere to be found. So here I am, asking for your help. I'm not very tech savvy, but I am a fast learner and I do own a PC running Windows XP (3GB of RAM, plenty of hard drive space), but I have no idea where to start or what I need to buy in order for me to accomplish this. Can you give me some recommendations that aren't overly technical? Step by step procedures would be fabulous. I appreciate the help, and if I'm successful, my dad would be even happier!

--Submitted by: Gloria C.
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Converting Vinyl to mp3
by melanfred / December 7, 2012 10:07 AM PST

You will need a turntable with a pre amp. If you get the usb turntable from many vendors, you just plug it in to a usb port and load the recording software. I believe Sony and many other companies have this available. You can find it on ebay as well. There are other ways, but this is the easiest.

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What is the simplest way I can convert vinyl records to MP3s
by segap_wolley / December 7, 2012 10:38 AM PST

Hi Gloria C

Being a bit of a tightwad, I refuse to pay extra bucks for something that I already own, so I chose not to purchase a USB turntable; I just use my existing stereo turntable (circa 1976) and amplifier (circa 1994).

I connect the headphone socket on the amplifier to an analogue to digital converter. These are available from most electronic suppliers, and can cost from $30 to $70, depending on the brand. This unit then connects to your PC, and the included software then allows you to record your old vinyls to digital format. (Similarly, you can also record other analogue source such as audio cassettes, open-reel tapes and - [heaven forbid!] 8-track cartridge tapes...)

Then you can either copy your tracks to CD, or a removable USB memory stick, or save them to iTunes, as I do.

A couple of points worthy of mentioning, however:

1) Make sure that you have a new stylus in your phono cartridge (these are getting more difficult to obtain these days, and will set you back up to $60....) This ensures the best quality sound reproduction from those wonderful old vinyls.

2) Make sure that the volume from your amplifier's headphone socket is adjusted very, very low - otherwise you will get nothing but distortion in your recording.

I have literally thousands of tracks in my iTunes library that I have successfully copied this way, and apart from the obvious 'clicks' and 'pops' that come from the occasional scratch in the vinyl records, they sound great!

You must accept some loss of quality as you convert to mp3 format, but this is true of any analogue signal that you copy, with any sort of converter, even the aforementioned USB turntables....

Hope this helps.

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Conversion from Vinyl to Digital
by cmfurgason / December 8, 2012 1:05 AM PST

Segap hit the nail on the head with this thread. This is the technique I have used in years past and it yields very satisfying results. The only thing I can add is the software used for conversion. I use Roxio Creator 2010 Special Addition. Older versions of this use to be called SpinDoctor which was very nice, also. Click on Music/Audio in the left-hand pane and follow the very simple directions for connections, etc. I might add one further note and that is the conversion is in REAL time. There is no shortcut of which I'm aware. You begin the process by clicking the Start button in Roxio to record at the same time you drop the stylus on the LP. Have fun and patience.

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Phono cartridges are plentiful!!!
by SeagoatLeo / December 14, 2012 9:48 AM PST

No. 1 statement is false. Go to Music Direct or Record Doctor or Acoustic Sounds and find 1000 cartridges to meet your every need. Hey, at $60 there will be a limitation, maybe only 20 at that price. Cartridges sell for up to $15 grand.

Not just this post but all posts: If you want good audio sound quality, it will take more than a cheap (really cheap) turntable like an ION to make even a good MP3 file. The better quality the front end turntable set-up, the better the end result. It seems that no one on this site cares about sound quality. A shame with so much more to enjoy.

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My set up
by SeagoatLeo / December 14, 2012 9:55 AM PST

I have a VPI TNT VI turntable, SME IV arm (modified), Benz Ruby 3 cartridge with several other phono related items plugged into an EAR 324 phono stage. Then plugged into a Alesis Masterlink CD burner where I can choose the ultimate quality of sound (bit rate 16 and 24 and frequency 44khz to 96 khz). Then I take the CD if I want to and use the computer to alter the setup to MP3 files if necessary. I do not wish to hear eviscerated music from MP3 files but must use them for internet mailings for choir and orchestral members.

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Phono cartidges are plentiful!!!
by 2A2A2A2S / December 14, 2012 12:44 PM PST

Needle Doctor too.

On sound quality I agree also. Converted all my CD mp3s to lossless encoding. They do sound better. Only convert the lossless encoding to mp3s when space is a premium.

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My mistake, Needle Doctor
by SeagoatLeo / December 14, 2012 2:33 PM PST

Sorry for the error.

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Phono cartridges are plentiful!!!
by km6sg / December 15, 2012 1:25 AM PST

I have an Ion turntable and when set up properly and coupled with Audacity S/W, I can make great wav and mp3 recordings. Using the Audacity settings to modify the raw input data is the key, after the input audio level is set correctly. Instead of using the scratch filter settings, I can even go in and manually edit the actual waveform to rid the recording of some of the more pronounced scratches. Works great, but takes time sometimes, for older plastic and vinyl recordings.

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I can't tell the difference
by janitorman / December 14, 2012 9:52 PM PST

Between a mono or a stereo recording. I can't tell the difference between Bass and Treble. I guess you could say I'm tone deaf. I'm not very discriminating when it comes to the SOUND of the music, as long as the words can be understood, and it's NOT RAP, which pretty much means it doesn't matter. I'm one of those who would rather whistle tunelessly to myself than listen to recorded music, most of the time. No real reason to have music in your pocket when you can make it yourself, whistling tunelessly, or singing offkey (as I'm told I do.) It doesn't matter, all notes sound about the same, it's just noise.

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by padyboy / December 22, 2012 9:07 AM PST

Obviously, YOUR music is "noise".
For most others, whether Analog or digital, Music is not "noise".

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Can you delete this, too, please, Mr. Koo
by Flatworm / December 22, 2012 10:47 PM PST
In reply to: What???

This is just argumentative and insulting.

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by jcjmadison / December 16, 2012 4:23 AM PST

agree. the finer the point of the needle the less noise. the "thicker" the needle, the less deep it will penetrate in the groove.

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Great answer
by musicman707 / December 14, 2012 12:13 PM PST

I use this method, too. I use a product I bought several years ago called "Instant Music" by a company called ADS Tech. The software it utilizes is an older version of Nero. I don't know if this product is still available, but I've been very satisfied with it. The software includes a volume control that enables you to know how loud the sound is that's coming in from your turntable so you can adjust it properly if needed. I think I paid about $50 for the Instant Music package in 2006 or so.

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by musicman707 / December 14, 2012 12:28 PM PST
In reply to: Great answer

The Instant Music device and software I mentioned also includes noise reduction capabilities which work fairly well once you learn how to use them. It also includes a sensor device that can detect silences between the songs in order to separate an album into its individual tracks. And lastly, Instant Music includes editing software that allows you to tweak your finished recordings in all kinds of ways that can enhance the sound quality.

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Cleaning up pops and clicks
by Recce1 / December 14, 2012 12:27 PM PST

After converting from vinyl to mp3 one can use any number of programs like Amadeus Pro or Audacity to clean up the pops, clicks, and scratch noises. Some are offered free from CNET.

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the "simplest" ways I can convert vinyl records to MP3s
by Scimitar / December 14, 2012 3:52 PM PST

Hi Gloria,

You can connect your fathers turn table and receiver straight to your computer by using the pre-amp output of the receiver to the mic input of your soundcard using an RCA to 3.5mm stereo pin connector which you can get at Walmart or Radio Shack for around $10. Best Buy also carries it but not sure of the price. And Audacity is a good option, especially for being freeware!! But it does have a bit of a learning curve. Not to mention that you have to split the tracks up afterwards and tag them.

For a simpler way, although a bit more costly, you can go with a product by a company called DAK Industries. Their products automatically split the tracks, clean them up and tags (labels) them. You can get the full gambit with turn table, D/A converter and software, or just the converter and software, or just the software. Depending on your needs. The website is .

Either way, it's easier than most people realize! Hope this helps!!

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im experimenting with
by PoRTasd / February 18, 2013 5:54 AM PST

Im experimenting with this method, and results are pretty satisfying, though a little far from perfect, but im on my way Wink

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what if you have a Mac
by pmvaldes / February 15, 2014 8:04 AM PST

I have a MacBook Air. Do you know of anything similar I can use?
(saw that your recommendation only supports MS operating systems)

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Use Tape Out
by nate01pa / December 15, 2012 3:15 AM PST

You will get better results if you use the Tape Out jacks on the amplifier provide your A-D converter will operate properly at that level. On most amplifiers, the Tape Out jacks are not affected by the volume and tone controls.

I always convert to .WAV files first so I can make a CD. Only after doing that do I make .MP3 files.

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Any recommended A/D converter?
by pmvaldes / February 15, 2014 7:34 AM PST

Hi Segap,

Could you recommended any brand/model for the analog to digital converter?
Do they connect to the PC vis USB, or is it any other connector required (e.g.., serial RS232).
My laptop is a MacBook Air.

Thanks, whether you can give me a tip or not.

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Step voice recorder is direct Mp3 recorder very easy
by Migxp / December 8, 2012 12:22 AM PST
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Lots of good replies in this thread
by janitorman / December 14, 2012 9:57 PM PST

But she asked for the SIMPLEST way. That's purchasing a USB turntable that does it all for you, and then you can load the files on your computer.
Certainly there are other ways, I've used my turntable from 1983 (without amps, actutally) direct into my XP computer using Audacity. Getting the settings JUST RIGHT is a pain, and editing them. I'm not very discriminating when it comes to sound quality, myself, so some of mine may sound like they came off a Victor hand-wound mono. I have no idea, I'm pretty tone deaf. I'm happy with just having the old songs in electronic format, without having to purchase something I already own from online, or having to use my turntable over and over.

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ION Audio vinyl to MP3 converter.
by LarryR9999 / December 7, 2012 10:16 AM PST

I recommend an ION turntable. These hook up to your computer via a USB cable, and come with software to convert your vinyl records to MP3s. I have one for cassette tapes, and it works very well. The only thing is you have to play each disk at it's normal speed, turn it over, etc., so the process can be tedious. They have many different models. Check out

By the way, if you're willing to buy CDs, have you checked on iTunes to see if the albums are available? This would be much more expensive in the long run, but also much faster and easier.

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Identifying songs
by LarryR9999 / December 7, 2012 10:19 PM PST

One more comment is the ION deck I got has a program that automatically imports songs into iTunes for use with an iPod, and uses an online service called Gracenote that will try (sometimes imperfectly) to identify and label the individual songs. Otherwise, you have to input this information yourself manually.

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Ion Turntable
by phattdaddy / January 12, 2014 9:48 AM PST

Ion also produce a deck called "LPtoCD" which is a one shot Turntable plus CD recorder, no need for any intermediary gear. Good quality transfer.

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ION turntable from Amazon $65
by delpi767 / December 7, 2012 10:17 AM PST
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by Flatworm / December 7, 2012 11:21 PM PST

Ion supplies software that permits the conversion of 78-rpm content when recorded at 45-rpm. It came with my Ion turntable.

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(NT) You will need specialized 78 cartridges for converting 78s.
by SeagoatLeo / December 14, 2012 2:36 PM PST
In reply to: 78's
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by padyboy / December 18, 2012 12:16 AM PST

I have an ION TTUSB. I am running Win 7.
It is not recognized in Audacity, the free and most common software for vinyl to cd conversion.
Audacity Win 7 has the drivers to their software. ION evaded my question by recommending a program 'Vinyl-Tape' converter'. This works but produces poor quality sound. I did not expect Analog sound quality, but this is not even as good as digital.

I am now faced with purchasing a preamplifier to convert vinyl from my High Fidelity Rega Planar 3 turntable after having spent money on this ION turntable.

There is a slim chance someone may find a solution to my problem.

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Get Audacity up on your screen
by Flatworm / December 18, 2012 3:35 AM PST
In reply to: failure

Drag the Audacity window to screen width. Near the top of the window a little to the right of center there will be a little pictogram of a microphone. Set the entry to the right of the pictogram to "Microphone - USB Audio CODEC."

Make sure that the entry to the right of the speaker pictogram is set appropriately for your setup (mine is Speakers - Realtek High Definition Audio) -- this will allow you to listen to your record as you record it.

That ought to do it. It will only see your turntable in the trace on the screen once you hit the "Record" button (the red dot). Until the needle drops, this will be a flat line.

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