Aside from all the good & common recommendations here...
If you are seriously into your music like I do (I own more than 400 out of print European treasures) you can't take short cuts...at least in converting your ''out of print'' vinyl collection to CDs, either do it right the final time or don't do it at all. Also, you can't really compare the natural warmth and textured sound of the vinyl record with a commercially digitized CD anyway (unless it is new music)!
First and foremost is hardware:
A good turntable: Technics with a good cartridge needle like Audio Technica, etc. with a frequency response of at least 20-22KHZ. Clean your records with Gruv-Glide ($24.95) and clean them good, this will ensure that your records will sound its best and static-free during recording. A good clean record, when converted will need only minimum restoration; it will also yield and retain its maximum audio quality, because a good source is a good source.
Here is the easiest and most effective approach: Get a stand-alone CD recorder deck (check out ebay)
*record them into CD-RW discs (you can erase and re-record them if the record jumps or skips, and believe me, they do!)
*upgrade your soundcard (PCI type, preferably up to 192khz) and disable the one from your motherboard, this will reduce interference and ensure crystal-clear sound during production.
*convert them into WAV files (NOT compressed mp3)
The most effective software out there now is *SONY SOUNDFORGE 8.0 w/ CD Architect 5.2 & Noise Reduction 2.0* (www.sonymediasoftware.com/products/showproduct.asp?PID=961),
I buy this software alone just because it came with an ''audio scrubber tool'', a feature which lets you independently zoom into the file to capture its actual pops & clicks (shown as sharp spikes on graph) and specifically move the spikes down to its normal level, because these sharp spikes, when played normally, produces loud pops/clicks. You'll be surprised to see how many of those on your vinyl.
This is the ONLY software that totally lets you ''in control'' of your editing without filtering the whole song just because there are only a few clicks/crackel or pops. You remove ONLY where the audible clicks and pops are and at the same time without reducing the quality of the format. Finally when that's done, you can further reduce any audible hiss or hum with the *Noise Reduction 2.0* (again, only on sections needed) and save them on blank CD-RW discs for storage and/or rip into mp3. Now you can use your computer DVD/CD writer to produce ''red book'' audio CDs using the included *CD Architect 5.2*. This software's limitless and its got so much more, even for video encoding, etc, etc.
My final restoration sounded SO MUCH BETTER yet still retains its originality and quality, an overall warmth, rich low and smooth high audio which can only be described by a vinyl recording to the ears' desire, yet faithfully preserved on CD.
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