Turntable to Transfer LP's to Digital: Good Experience?

I’ve got some Christmas gift money, and want to buy a turntable unit that transfers LPs to digital files. Our record collection is immense, with plenty of rare recordings that aren’t available for download. Does anyone recommend a good one, or can you detail the pricing on good vs excellent?

In that vein, any of you proper archivists know the best way to clean up LPs that have been sitting around awhile, in the South? They all have good sleeves, and have tried to keep up with it, but I know that records sitting around for 20 years are going to need some attention.

You might want to look around Hydrogen Audio, these are hardcore audio people that know a lot. You might find an answer of if you ask they could also give you some good recommends

I’ve never worked with an all-in-one unit, however, I’ve done some vinyl transfers with my RCA digital boombox, a fun little unit that the manufacturer never listed on their website.

The boombox can basically convert any sound on the headphone AUX line into MP3s at the click of a button, and it does that very well. I’ve hooked it up to my mom’s minisystem stereo that included a turntable, (it’s a recent unit, within the last 8 years or so at least,) and the results have been quite good.

I realize that this doesn’t really answer any of the specific questions you raised in your post, but I did feel that my overall experience was somewhat relevant to your subject line. :wink: Interestingly, there’s still a sort of a flavor to an MP3 made off vinyl that is easy to pick up even before you can tell what particular track off which record you’re listening to. Maybe it’s just the faint sound of the needle at work.

Do you have a turntable already? If you do, ADS Instant Music is a lot cheaper. I have one and it worked great. It is a bit more complicated to use than one of the turntables, I think, but it also handles cassettes. I have a bunch of really old ones (30 years old, and copied from reel to reel tapes that were 8 years old at the time) and it cleaned up the noise really well.

Thanks for all input, but, Voyager, this looks really good for my needs, and the cassette tape aspect is important; got way many cassette tapes and interviews on file that should be archived in a more stable mode. What do you mean by more complicated?

For what it’s worth, I got one of those Sony CD burners (here it is) which allows you to plug in analog sources, which allows you to burn to CDs. It is then a simple matter of downloading the CD into your computer. Not sure if this is any more convenient than the other methods presented here, but you have a nice back-up copy in CD format of your vinyl. Drawbacks: You have to manually input the breaks between tracks as the music is playing which becomes a skill unto itself, and it is a Sony product, meaning it will break in a few years.

I have cleaned LP’s using a mild soap in luke warm water and rinsing under luke warm water. A soft cotton cloth can be used for both washing and drying but be gentle.

There are analog turntables like the Gemini turntable that I have that can be hooked to an audio system and used to make CD’s or you can hook it up to a computer and use a program such as Roxio Media Creator.

You haven’t stated what type of music (classical, jazz, rock, etc) on the LP’s but if you are looking at getting decent copies then you will want to invest in a good cartridge for the turntable. If you are going the digital computer route then you may also need a phono preamp between the turntable and your sound card.

If you do use water to clean your records, be sure to wring out the cloth you use so it’s hardly damp. Water & vinyl don’t really mix in the South, as I’m sure you know. Check out Gruv Glide for a packaged solution.

As for the analogue to digital transfer, the market’s been flooded with a lot of poor gear designed by manufacturers looking to make a quick buck off people in your situation. My best recommendation would be to take your money to a local recording studio and have them do it for you; benefits are two-fold: 1., they’re likely to be interested in odd-ball work like this, and 2., they’re more likely to have the kind of gear (high end pre-amps and compressors) that will make your records sound great on any alternate format. It would also be a fun way to spend a couple hours when you drop off the records, just to see how it all works and possibly meet some good people in the process.

I’ve been using this USB turntable for about two years and converted several hundred LPs to digital files with excellent results. I use a typical dedicated LP brush with cleaning solution to remove dust and occasional gunk.
For cassettes, I have a SONY deck used with an external audio boost device - the end result is comparable to what I get with LPs.

Probably half my Itunes library is made up of songs that were originally on LP or cassette.

The OP’s original question regarding turntables, etc. is dependent on several unstated issues that should be resolved:

[li]How much have the stored LP’s been played over the years and what condition are they in (other than surface dust and grease)?[/li][li]Is the OP looking for “low-fi” recordings to be put on an iPod or for “hi-fi” recordings that can be played back through a good audio system?[/li][/ul]
The point of the 1st issue is whether or not the recording process will need to be concerned with eliminating pops and other LP audio artifacts, which to some extent can be addressed with the software used for making the transfers. Also, as previous posters have mentioned and as discussed below, the quality of the recordings desired may influence the amount (if any) of compression applied during the recording process.

The 2nd, and more important issue, regards the quality of the equipment purchased. Like most things in life, the quality of the turntable, cartridge, and phono pre-amp will determine the quality of the recordings made. In most cases, the OP will need to spend more money depending on audio expectations. The cost of a good quality cartridge can be as much, or more than, half the cost of the turntable itself (meaning the platform, drive and tone arm).

I’m not sure that using a recording studio would be economically the best choice since the OP indicates he has an immense collection, which I assume would mean in excess of at least 100 albums.

Thanks for all the helpful information, y’all. Looks like lots of options to explore. I first considered the turntable since this will be an ongoing project; a thousand LPs, at least. And though I have fine musical knowledge, I don’t have much technical skill-- I’ve never used an Ipod, even.

HISSNLISSN (great name), thanks for the studio suggestion, that hadn’t occured to me at all. I have a musician friend here with a state of the art studio, and though I wouldn’t want to be a bother with a bajillion records, I can ask his advice as well. Hadn’t even thought of that :smack:

elelle, you’re very welcome. I totally hear you on not wanting to drop the $$$ on or have your friend spend all the time on your whole collection, but you might consider the studio treatment just for the gems or, alternately, any records you might consider selling off due to their value on the collector’s market. Either way it should be an interesting process, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll have an excuse to hang out with your friend at the studio for a day :wink:

I have this relatively low-end turntable plugged into the PHONO jack of this relatively low-end receiver which outputs to this sound card, and I get fantastic transfers.

I bought a small, and very good, preamp because none of my receivers were good enough. (Ooh! I paid a LOT less than that!) I’m picky and few of my records are perfect, but my results are very good. And a little surface noise, well, I’m used to that. I know those clicks and pops like old friends.

ETA: The power supply is separate so you can’t get any 60-cycle hum. Best excuse yet for a wall wart.

I’m using a Presidian turntable (a Radio Shack brand) which has a “line out” and “phono out” settings. The “line out” setting boosts the sound so you don’t need an amplifier.
I’m also using INport Deluxe instead of going through my sound card, and the combination of the turntable and INport seem to be working great.

It senses track separations by quiet on the source music, which for many of the tapes I had meant I had to fiddle with them by hand. I’ve never used the LP to CD system. but I guess their target audience wouldn’t be comfortable with anything beyond a pop a CD and record in, and take the written CD out. For my system, you burn the CD after you finish recording the piece and editing the track changes, but it is done within the software, and is one of the easier parts of the process.
On the other hand, the software that comes with it makes labels and playlists. I’ve never used it, but my wife has, when making CDs of some tapes of her father’s pieces being played by bands and orchestras.

If anyone has used an integrated system (CD burner built in) - how does it do the tracks, and how successful is it? There are plenty of records where it would be difficult to distinguish a quiet spot inside a song from a track change. (Think of Strawberry Fields Forever.) My system shows you the waveform and that, along with jotting down the time for track changes, lets me get it right with a bit of practice.

Not quiet the same thing, but I bought a wave editor AudioEdit Deluxe which has an option to let it detect silence and split tracks automatically, but it never could do that with records because of the constant crackle between songs. Hopefully an integrated system would do a better job, but then again, maybe not.

The software I have tries to split tracks this way, but it is less than successful. A lot of the integrated systems I see seem to be aimed at the less technically sophisticated (you don’t need a confusing computer!) and I don’t see how you’d even do manual intervention in that setup.