Music Tech Stuff

Vinyl To Digital

If you’re of a “certain age” and you’re a music lover, you’ve got a stack of vinyl records laying around somewhere and no way to play them in your car. I’d been mulling this over for a while, with most of the pieces of the puzzle laying around here, and finally figured out a “duh” way to do it.

First off, getting those RCA jacks to connect to your PC. Unless you’ve got a audio card designed for this kind of thing you need to connect them into a USB port. The simplest answer is the Griffin iMic. You can connect an RCA cable to the tape-out output of your preamp, and to the iMic. The USB end plugs into any available port.

Griffin also has helpfully put up a free app on their web site called Final Vinyl, which makes the production of it pretty easy. I had to transfer some tapes over once upon a time and invested in a copy of Audacity. But it’s not playing nicely with what I’m giving it so I tried running Final Vinyl and it’s a piece of cake. Set it to record and let it run. Later on you can “mark” the track dividers, and when you save the file it’ll prompt you for titles of each track. You can save as AIFF (standard CD quality, the best available) or WAV — if you need an MP3 you’ll need something else.

You can also edit out the dead air at the beginning from when you ran over to put the record on. Audacity offers a lot more (and I can always import the files into it if I need to — including to make MP3s), but for a straight-up no equalization no filter transfer this is just what I need.

The last piece of the puzzle was a 10ft USB cable extension. What’s stopped me from doing this in bulk is the thought of unhooking my very carefully set-up turntable and hauling it over to the Mac, or vice-versa. But running the extension, and plugging it into the tape-out jacks, makes the whole thing easy enough that I can do it casually.

My first project is the Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell recording of Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphoses.” This is really neglected these days, not just the piece itself but Hindemith in general. I think that’s too bad. Try this export of the finale, “Marsch,” and tell me if you agree.

March from Symphonic Metamorphoses

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

4 thoughts on “Vinyl To Digital”

  1. I’ve converted my tape library and ripped all my CD’s but I too have a stack of vinyl that I should convert as well. In that stack of vinyl are some Midpark and Ford Jr. High recordings that are my primary concerns. I’ll have to pull ’em out and see what I have. Maybe if you do them I won’t have to bother. I don’t have a turntable and besides I’m busy converting my 500 cassette home video archive. That project will take me at least another two years. Uh, thanks in advance, maybe.

  2. If you feel like packing them up and shipping them I’ll be happy to convert them. Once I get the rhythm of it down it won’t take very long to do an album, just a little longer than it takes to play it and burn a CD. I hope.

    I’m going to start digging through my collection and the Monroe Couper collection I inherited and see what’s not digital already.

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