This is how you digitize your old LPs

Vinyl is back with a vengeance. Artists are once again releasing music on this traditional sound carrier en masse and sales are on the rise. High time to get your own LPs out of the stable again. Do you also like to listen to music on the go or on the PC? You can digitize your old LPs. Listen to your favorite artists forever!

Tip 01: Why digital?

Vinyl collectors would do well to save a digital copy of their analog music collection as well. LPs are quite vulnerable to damage. For example, every scratch can be heard as a cracking or ticking sound in the audio reproduction. In case of deep damage, the plate may even skip. If you stack the LPs on top of each other or put them in the sun, there is also the risk that they will warp. Moreover, with frequent playback, the quality of the record slowly but surely deteriorates due to wear and tear. If you want to give the music of a record an infinite life, it is wise to save a digital copy. An additional advantage is that you can play the homemade mp3 or flac files on various devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, portable music player, car radio and PC.

Download code LPs

With new LPs it is often not necessary to digitize the music. The reason for this is that major record labels usually put a unique download code in the cover. With this you download the MP3s of the complete album from the internet, so that you can also enjoy them digitally. Sometimes there is also a CD in the LP cover.

Tip 02: Wash records

Before you store an LP in digital form, it is wise to thoroughly clean the relevant records. Digitization is done in real time. If a crack or tap is heard during the recording, this imperfection will also be reflected in the digital version. Cleaning an LP can be done in different ways. An inexpensive solution is to use a special anti-static brush to wipe the dust off the plate. There are also specific cleaning products for sale. For example, the Knosti Disco Antistat is very popular among vinyl lovers. This device consists of a narrow container with integrated brushes, into which the user pours cleaning liquid. By rotating the LP in this container, you clean it. Then all you have to do is let the washed plates dry in a dish rack. The Knosti Disco Antistat costs about fifty euros. Do you want to digitize a lot of records that are seriously contaminated? Perhaps an electric record washer is something for you. The so-called Okki Nokki is a well-known example of this. You let the LP spin on a platter and apply some cleaning liquid. Use a brush to distribute the liquid over the grooves. You can then vacuum up loose dirt with the integrated vacuum cleaner. Your records look and sound like new again. An electric record washer is quite pricey. The Okki Nokki, for example, costs about 450 euros. It is good to know that some hi-fi shops also rent out electric record washers at a daily rate.

Before digitizing, clean your vinyl records thoroughly first

Tip 03: Connect

To digitize your record collection, first connect the record player (indirectly) to the computer. That can be done in different ways. A traditional record player plays its own music at a very low volume, making it impossible to transfer the songs directly to a computer. An amplified signal is required. For that reason, you connect the PC to the (pre)amplifier or receiver to which the record player is connected. Many (pre)amplifiers have an analog output to send the sound from your record player to a computer. Usually this output is marked with tape out or rec. Incidentally, there are also record players with a built-in preamplifier. You do connect it directly to a computer, since these devices already emit an amplified signal. Usually the (pre)amplifier or record player with built-in preamplifier contains two RCA outputs. In that case you need an adapter cable with two RCA plugs and a 3.5mm plug at the other end. Then connect this 3.5mm plug to the blue line input of your PC.

Headphone output

Does your amplifier not have analog RCA outputs? Alternatively, use the headphone output to connect the audio device to a PC. With a 3.5mm audio output, you use a regular mini-jack cable to the blue line input of your PC. Many amplifiers and receivers have a 6.35mm sound output on the front. In that case, you'll need a special adapter plug, so you can still connect a standard mini-jack cable. Alternatively, there are also cables with a 3.5 mm plug on one side and a 6.35 mm plug on the other.

Tip 04: USB preamplifier

In practical terms, it is often inconvenient to connect a (pre)amplifier with a connected record player to a PC. For example, the distance between all the equipment is too great or you don't have the right cables to hand. It is of course also possible that you do not have a suitable (pre)amplifier in your possession. A so-called phono-usb preamplifier is an excellent solution in such situations. There are at least two RCA inputs and a USB connection on this. Because this device sends an amplified signal to the PC or laptop, you can easily record the playback with a recording program. USB preamplifiers are available in different price ranges. MAGIX offers an interesting solution with the package Save your LPs. In addition to a USB preamplifier, the German manufacturer also supplies the Audio Cleaning Lab program for digital recording of the music. The suggested retail price of MAGIX Save your LPs is 79.99 euros, but many (web) stores offer the product for less money.

Tip 05: USB turntable

Many modern record players already have a USB connection. Handy, because you don't need extra devices or cables to connect to a PC. As soon as you connect a USB turntable to the computer, it is often still necessary to install a separate driver. The system detects the USB turntable as a separate sound source. You don't even have to connect advanced USB turntables to a PC to digitize LPs. Instead, you insert a USB stick (or SD card) into the housing. The record player then creates MP3 files of the songs. Incidentally, with such products a separate record button is available to manually determine the start and end of each song. It is beneficial that many manufacturers of USB turntables provide their own program with which you can digitize LPs.

Some USB turntables put music from LPs directly on a USB stick

Tip 06: Audio Cleaning Lab

The MAGIX Save your LPs package consists of a USB preamplifier and the Audio Cleaning Lab program. In short, a complete solution to digitize your LP collection with any record player. Since this product is widely available, we explain how the digitization process works using the software. Later in this article we also discuss the free program Audacity (see tip 10). As soon as you connect the USB preamplifier from MAGIX to the PC, Windows 10 automatically recognizes this device. Set the At Input switch to Phono. The vast majority of record players have a mm cartridge, so set the switch on the preamp to MM in that case. Incidentally, this program is also very useful if you have connected a record player via another (pre)amplifier. After the installation of Audio Cleaning Lab, the recording window will appear immediately.

Tip 07: Recording Settings

It is important that Audio Cleaning Lab recognizes the connected (pre)amplifier or record player with built-in preamplifier as a recording device. First of all, play an LP with the connected turntable. At first it doesn't matter if you don't hear any sound. Start thereafter Audio Cleaning Lab and choose at the section Import in front of lp. Through Listen in check whether the PC speakers reproduce the sound of the record player. Isn't that the case? Then choose Institutions and Audio input. Bee Audio input then select the correct input source, namely a USB port or analog line input. Sometimes the name of the (pre)amplifier or record player can be seen here. It is wise to choose the option Automatic level adjustment to allow the software to select an acceptable volume level on its own. Still can't hear any sound? Windows may have selected the wrong playback device. Go to Windows mixer and Play, then select the desired playback device. Normally you choose the connected PC speakers or the integrated speakers of a monitor here. Close all open windows with OK and Close.

Tip 08: Choose audio format

Of course you want to save the songs from an LP in the correct audio format, so that the music files can be listened to on your favorite devices. click on Institutions and Advanced. Bee Recording format Wave is selected by default. This uncompressed audio format requires quite a lot of storage space. As an alternative to MP3 so that the songs can be played on any smartphone and modern music player. Bee Format options set the desired quality yourself with a maximum of 320 kbit/s. Mp3 does have the disadvantage that quality loss always occurs due to high compression. In that case, the flac file format is a better choice. Although compression is applied, this audio format generally retains the same audio quality as the source. Flac does take up more disk space than mp3. Make a choice and click behind file path on the folder icon to select the save location. Finally, confirm with OK and Close.

Tip 09: Record music

High time to digitize an LP! Press the button Record and then start the LP from the desired groove. A good sense of timing is required for this. Audio Cleaning now records the sound of the record in real time in a digital music file. The corresponding audio waves appear in the main window. If necessary, use the vertical slider to adjust the recording level. This is especially important when the software indicates in red letters that the volume level is set too high. After the song is over, click again on Record to end the recording. Finally click OK.

Click the record button and then start the LP from the desired groove

Split music

Instead of recording each track individually, you can also record one side of a record as a whole. Of course it is still necessary afterwards to split the music file into different songs. You can also call on Audio Cleaning Lab for this. Choose at Import in front of Files. Then browse to the folder where you saved the audio file in question and double click on it. The audio waves of the recording appear on the screen. The trick is to position the vertical playback marker exactly in front of a song. If necessary, use the lower control buttons to carefully locate this clip, then pause playback. Then use the scissors on the left to cut the audio track into two parts. Click on the first audio part and press Delete. Then place the playback marker directly at the end of the song, after which you use the scissors again. Remove the last part. Now all you have to do is save the number via File / Export audio. To do this, select the desired audio format and confirm with Export.

Tip 10: Audacity

Instead of the commercial Audio Cleaning Lab program, you can also get started with the free Audacity. The possibilities of this Dutch audio editor are largely the same, although the degree of difficulty is slightly higher. You download the software here. After the installation you end up in a somewhat bare user environment. At the top of the toolbar behind the microphone icon, select the correct sound source, namely the connected (pre)amplifier or record player. Furthermore, select the option 2 recording channels when you want to record in stereo. Finally, you check in the back field whether Audacity recognizes the PC speakers, so that you can listen to the music during the recording.

Tip 11: Capture recording

Of course you want to listen in during the recording. To do this, dive into the settings. Go to To process / Preferences / Record and check the option Software playthrough at. Then close the window with OK. You can easily start a recording in Audacity, namely by clicking the red button in the toolbar Record to click. Then place the needle in the desired groove of the LP. If necessary, use the slider behind the microphone in the toolbar to adjust the volume level. To end the recording, click on the yellow button Fuses. You only need to save the digitized music as an audio file. Through File / Export audio browse to the desired storage folder. Then enter a file name and choose the desired file format. You can choose from wav, aiff, flac, wma and mp3. For the storage of MP3 files, an extra tool is required, namely the so-called Lame encoder. You can download this tool here. Depending on which format you have chosen, you can also set the desired quality. Finally click on Save.

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