Introduction: Transferring Vinyl to PC

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This instructable will show you how to transfer all of those classics that deserve to be on the go from your LP's, vinyls and records for free! That's right very nearly free. Unless you happen to have the right useless cable lying around, in which case, it's free! Yes, free!

Step 1: Hardware

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First off is the easy bit.
To input the audio out of your record player you need to make an adapter(or buy one)with a 3.5mm jack on one end and whatever plug your speakers have. For me this was quite simple as I had a spare 3.5-3.5mm 2 channel audio lead. Alternatives would be old earphones.
To find out which wires go to what, I would suggest using a continuity tester.
The speaker output on the back of my old sound system were just bare contacts (not sure proper name for them). This meant that I could just strip and tin the ends to plug into sound system.

Step 2: Software

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The software that I recomend using for this project is called "Audacity". It is easy to use, free and gives good results. The perfect combination in my opinion. All you need do to start recording is download and install it. the following link goes to the Audacity download page: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/
In addition to exporting songs in WAV format you can also export as MP3, but to do this you need to download and install a plugin called LAME. The link below sends you to thepage where LAME can be downloaded.
http://lame1.buanzo.com.ar/
To use: download and install somewhere memorable.

Step 3: Recording

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Before doing anything else, save project as I have had problems doing it after recording. To do this go through file > save project as. You won't be able to listen to the recording with anything but Audacity until you export the audio later.
To make the recording:
  1. set Amplifier volume to minimum to avoid damaging computer.
  2. Select the external microphone option in the input device selector also select the correct number of channels for your setup (stereo-2 or mono-1)
  3. Activate the microphone monitor by clicking in the bar.
  4. Find the loudest part of the record and play it.
  5. Adjust the volume until moving bars get to about -6db(on the right)whilst playing the loudest part. Much higher and recording quality will be reduced, lower and the recording may be too quiet to work with. For more control you can use the input volume slider but try to reduce use to keep input power low.
  6. If you want to listen to the track as it is recording use: transport > software playthrough. This is not essential.
  7. To do unsupervised recording use: transport > sound activated recording. This means that recording will be paused when you need to turn the disc over and restart automatically when music played.
  8. To activate recording (both automatic and manual) click the record button.
  9. Start playing the record.
  10. Pause (not stop) recording when disc needs turning over(manual only)
  11. turn over disc.
  12. press pause again to restart recording(manual only)
  13. When all is recorded, you need to hit stop in order to do any editing.

Step 4: Removing Noise

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When recording, the stylus will have picked up background noise on the records surface due to inaccurate production. Removing noise from a track can increase the quality of music played by making it sharper. A side effect is that you lose the characteristic record sound, as such I would check to see if you are happy before doing this.
  1. select part of a track that is only noise, eg. the first few seconds, by clicking on track and dragging the cursor until section is shaded. if you include anything but noise, you will lose sound definition so be careful.
  2. go to effect < noise removal.
  3. click "get noise profile" button.
  4. To remove noise from everything, either select all (Ctrl+A) or select nothing, go to effect < noise removal.
  5. The default settings generally work well so don't change them unless you think that you can reset them well. To complete: click "OK"

Step 5: Splitting Tracks

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As I am sure you know, you can not select different songs on a vinyl. With this in mind, you can either split up the songs or just keep the whole recording as one big file. If this is the case, you can skip this step.
First off you need to select the start of the recording, before any music starts and delete it along with any other bits between songs you don't want by selecting and pressing the deltete key.
As you go along deleting, label the start of songs with their name. To do this go through tracks > add label at selection (or use Ctrl+B).
Tip: to play from a specific point along track rather than the start: click at the point you want to start playing and press play button (spacebar).

Step 6: Removing Clicks

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This step must be done, only if there are large clicks in you recording, in order to increase the volume in the next step.
There were 2 approaches that I took with varying success.
The first was to use the remove clicks tool in the effect menu. This just reduced the amplitude of most clicks but this effect can vary a lot depending on the track you are playing and the settings used with this tool. If you are looking for good results with this method, I would suggest playing around with it a plentifully.
The second method that I tried was to scan through the track looking for large peaks that seemed out of place and removing them. To be sure that it was a click and not just a loud beat (eg. drum) I clicked just to the left of section in question and played from there. When sure of clicking, select an area covering the click and zoom in using the zoom button in the top right corner until the peak is wide enough to easily distinguish the part to be deleted agaist the music. Select this short section and delete using delete key.
This process rarely caused a noticable gap in the music but did happen on occasion due to a larger length click being removed.

Step 7: Volume Maximising

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Because we took care in not overwhelming the computer sound card whilst recording, it is very likely that your recording is not as loud as it could be. As such we should use normalisation to increase the volume. Normalisation increases the volume at each point on a track using a ratio dependant on the original maximal volume and the new maximal value set.
So, to normalise:
  1. Select whole recording.
  2. Go through effect > normalise.
  3. Keep default settings and click OK.

Step 8: Exporting the Songs

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The final step is to export your old songs into music files.
First off you will want to change all the common details to your songs eg. album, year, etc
To do this, go to file > open metadata editor.
Change all the common details as mentioned above.
Next go to: edit > preferances > import/export and uncheck the box "show metadata editor prior to export step".
Go to file > export multiple.
choose the file type you want (either MP3 or WAV) and location.
click export.

Well done. You have now got old songs on new technology.

Comments

Marshal Banana (author)2013-06-12

You can also download a portable version of Audacity that you can take with you on a flash drive here:

http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/audacity_portable

MR.Geo (author)2012-09-18

I left it as default as you have to decrease the rate later to export if you do. Also, I doubt that increasing sampling rate would add much to such an old technology such as vinyls.

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