How To Record Vinyl To Your Computer
As you know, Vinyl records have made a massive comeback over the last few years, and for good reason. It’s not just that beautiful analog sound we all long for. But also the feeling you get putting the needle to the record, the look, the album artwork, and the inner sleeves. As good quality of the best digital formats, there’s something about playing a record on a good turntable or record player that you just can’t beat.
But sometimes you just don’t have the convenience of a record player available. So what do you do when you’re on the move and want something digital and easily accessible? Well, you could buy the same album again, but who wants to do that? If you’re on a streaming service you might have it covered. But even then, sometimes older recordings haven’t yet made the conversion to digital.
That’s when it becomes essential to know how to digitize your vinyl and record them straight to your computer! It’s not as simple as dragging an MP3 from a CD to your computer and takes a little bit more effort. But the results can be worth it in the end!
- What do you need?
- Recording Your Vinyl
- Separating Songs
- Editing Audio
- Exporting Tips
What Do You Need?
Turntable or Record Player
Many of these options also feature a convenient USB option which will make it substantially easier to convert your vinyl to MP3 on your computer. As well as built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity for streaming wirelessly to the speakers.
Will you need an audio interface?
Do you need an audio interface to record vinyl to mp3 on your computer? In most cases, no. Typically, you’ll find your record player is already equipped with a USB output and a built-in interface so you can connect directly to your computer. However, if you’re getting into DJing, Music Production, or any kind of professional audio application, it’s something you’re probably going to want if you don’t have one already. Audio Interfaces ensure the best audio quality possible and act as the brain for your studio setup. For more information on what an audio interface is and choosing the best one, check out our guide below.
You’ve got your records you want to convert to digital, and you’ve got your record player? You’re also going to need some recording software. Now if you’re on a Mac, you’ll already have access to Garageband which you can use. But for an easier solution that’s completely free and will work on both Mac and PC, Audacity is your friend!
Recording Your Vinyl
1. First, you’re going to want to connect your record player to your computer. In most cases, it will be as simple as connecting the USB Cable to the USB port on your computer.
2. Once you’ve done that, open up Audacity and create a new track for recording.
3. Now, before you hit record you’re going to want to double-check a few things. Firstly, you’ll want to make sure your input device is set for your record player or USB port.
4. It’s also a good idea to test play your record and check the levels before you record. You’ll want to make sure that it’s not going into the red zone or clipping to ensure you get the best sound quality. If it is, then turn down the volume or gain knob on your turntable until it’s sitting at a nice spot. Otherwise, you’re going to get some unwanted distortion and you’re not going to get anywhere near the quality sound that is achievable.
5. Once things are looking and sounding good, hit the record button, play through your track, and hit stop when you’re done.
6. Then, to save your track as an MP3, just hit File > Export to MP3.
The method we just covered is a quick way to record and save one song from a record. But what if you want to record the whole album as individual tracks? The most efficient way to do that is to record the whole side of an album, edit, and then save them as individual tracks.
In Audacity, chopping up and editing your audio is incredibly easy and you definitely don’t need to be an expert to learn how. Once you’ve recorded the whole side of your record, you should easily be able to distinguish the start and end of each track just by looking at the waveforms. From there, the easiest way is to highlight and select each song, copy it, then paste it into a new file, and export it to MP3 from there. Continue doing this for each track on your record!
- By exporting to a file type such as WAV, you’re not going to get the compression you will on an MP3. So your files may sound slightly better, although you’ll have to sacrifice the small filesize in the meantime.
- MP3s optimize and compress file size. They also allow for storing ID3 tag info such as Artist, Title, Label, Track Number, Compose, Year, etc. Whereas WAV files do not allow for this.
- When exporting to MP3, we recommend using 320 kbps for that DJ Quality. For more info on the best file types for DJs check out our blog post here.