Vinyl to Digital: Converting Your Record Collection on the Cheap




About: I like to figure out how to build stuff. I will occasionally document my work. Enjoy!

Over the past couple of years, I have discovered the amazing world of record stores, and their fabulous sales sections. The dollar bin is BY FAR the place that I have spent most of my money. At first, records were fun, and more of a novelty item to me. But then, I started finding really good, must have records that I love, for even better low prices. That is when I found out the HUGE limitations on listening. I decided that I MUST have all of my wonderful albums available for listening at all times. So, I figured out how to convert my records to a digital format so I could put them on my ipod, and let me tell you, I AM SO GLAD I DID. So, if you have a record collection, and you have felt the terrible pain of ONLY BEING ABLE TO LISTEN TO THEM AT HOME, give this a try. It may be time consuming, but it is SO worth it. Best of all, you most likely already have EVERYTHING you need.

Step 1: Tools

You will need...

- Computer

-Audio Software (Audacity)

-3.5 mm Cable

-1/4" Jack

-Record Player


Step 2: Find a Record

You can convert any record, however, those without big scratches will be best. Clean it off as best you can to prevent pops and static to be recorded.

Step 3: Set Up the Record Player

Find a record player, and plug in a 3.5 mm stereo audio cable (with a 1/4 inch jack attachment) to the headphone hole/subwoofer hole in the record player. Put the opposite end of the cable into the microphone hole in the computer.

Step 4: Set Up an Audio Recording Software

Find a good audio recording software - I used Audacity (free!) and it worked very well, but I'm sure you could get a better software with more settings if you wanted to spend some money. Next, make sure the record player has the volume turned atleast half way up, and press record on the software. Then, drop the needle down on the record and let it play. When the first side has played all the way through, press stop on the audio software so it stops recording. Repeat with the other side.

Step 5: Splitting the Tracks

Now, on most albums, it will be pretty easy to separate the songs, but on some (aka, Dark side of the moon) it may be difficult. All you really need to do is look for the sound waves on the recording. If they are really low, or if the line is flat, the song has most likely ended. You can double check by playing from this point. After you find the end point of one song, copy the audio fragment, and add in a new stereo track (in audacity, click tracks, add new, stereo track) and re name the track to the correct song title.

Step 6: Putting the Album Into Itunes (or Other Music Player)

Once you have split all the tracks and named them, you will need to save the album and file it correctly. To do this, click file, export selection, and scroll through the formats until you find AIFF or MP3 if you want a compressed format. After this, go to iTunes and search for the songs. You can edit the information (see picture) and make it so they play in order on one album.

Step 7: Find Album Artwork

To do this, go onto google images and screenshot a picture of the album artwork. Then open itunes or your other audio software, and open the album you just downloaded. Click file, get info, and then paste the artwork into the album art box.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Record!

Put it onto your ipod, and appreciate the great music wherever you are.

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    A couple of missing items here. Hooking up a turntable (I am referring to one that is not normally meant to be connected to a computer) requires a preamp, which is a small battery powered box from Radio shack. It's easy to connect and operate. also, the turntable might have a additional wire, very thin which is a ground for the motor. Not grounding the turntable will result in a noticable hum.


    Wow! Perfect timing! I just downloaded Audacity on my tablet, and am using it for my home demo studio- Thanks for the tutorial!

    2 replies

    4 years ago

    I guess I cheated..... I have a turn table with a digital converter in it. Plug a USB cord between computer and turntable or plug in a flash drive and hit the record button.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    To get the best audio quality, connect the cable to the "line-out" jack of the turntable and the "line-in" hole in the computer -not the mic- the impedancy must be the same... (sorry for my english, I am a spanish spoken person).

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    use MediaMonkey , in my opinion its the best program for that kind of job . :)