Converting LP to digital. Advice please...

I am looking to archive some vinyl onto a hard drive that I can then transfer to CD. I would like to take it from line level output to a A/D convertor then store it on a computer hard drive. Then have a program that will allow me to take each LP side and dive the songs into individual tracks. Suggestions on a/d conversion and software would be appreicated greatly
You can buy a phono pre-amp with a usb output. I think Hagerman might make one. Pro-ject makes one, too.

Audacity is a free software program to do the management of the uploaded data.


If you have serious $$$ invested in your TT playback rig and are transcribing priceless software, you might want to consider the Korg MR-1000 DSD recorder ($900 street price).
This pup records DSD to internal hard-drive and can record several ways to CD.
I use the Wadia 17 AD converter from the tape out of my Ayre K1x preamp then digital via Yamamura Millenium XLR digital to an Alesis Masterlink recorder. You can split each album side into their individual tracks and then create a CD from it. The sound is fantastic.
I use an M-audio Delta 1010 AD converter and Wavelab mastering software. Expensive and hard to learn, though.
I've been thinking of creating a library of lps on my computer. So its not that easy it seems. I thought i could use my unused preamp RCA output to my mic in on my lap top? Would this work using Audacity software?
I use an old way.
I use a CD Recorder (Marantz DR-700) connected to a preamp (Rogue Magnum 99). It records up to 80 minutes of audio into CD audio format. Then I store them on my computer in mp3 format. You can use either CD-R or CD-RW.
No extra software is required.
The sound quality is at least as good as CD if LPs are in good condition. The only catch is that, if the LPs used are noisy, the Marantz recorder does not recognize the end of of each tracks. Then, you need to manually stop and start the recording for each track.
Thanks for all the help and advice. I was wondering since I have a CD recorder if I could record onto a CD-RW. Then take the CD-RW and transfer it to my computer and is there a software that will let me add the individual tracks and then transfer it back to a standard CD? Sounds like a lot or processing but maybe the cheapest way of doing this.
If not then I need to look at some of the other suggestions here more in depth.
I connected my amp to my PC using the tape input to the sound card line in. Then I use Roxio 10 ($50) to record each side as a .wav file. I use Click Repair ($40) to remove clicks and pops. Then I go back to Roxio 10 to edit, separate out the tracks, name the tracks and burn to CD. It is time consuming but the results are pretty good. If you want to hear the difference I will e-mail you a before and after.
Alan do you feel that the Click repair does so by narrowing the bandwidth? I just wonder how it identifies the clicks and pops if not by frequency. I would be interested how that affects the final sound.
Check out their website.

I can send you a before and after if you would like.
Download the free shareware program "Audacity" to your PC. get a y connector from Radio Shack and hook up your output from your preamp/receiver to your PC. Record your Lp's onto your PC using Audacity and then burn them to cd's. Audicity has a website that can answer all your questions too. Send them a donation as well, that free program is awesome.
Alan thank you for the offer but with my crappy speakers on my computer I doubt I would notice.
Theo, I use my computer as an HTPC. I have a video card with an HDMI output and I run it through my Home Theater Receiver. My montitor is a 52 inch Sony XBR4. The result is stunning.
Theo, your proposal woudl certainly work, but using a cd recorder for the a/d conversion, or creating a cd then loading it onto a drive as a digital file, necessarily limits the final quality to no better than cd quality, whereas if you use a better a/d you can create 24/96 .wav files which are closer to the quality of the original lp. uses a lot of hd memory, but that is pretty cheap compared to our other toys, on this forum.

Tried using audacity today and was able to record but can't get the file to my media player to hear it. Will play more with it tomorrow. I have a mic jack on my computer but was wondering if a usb to rca cable would be a better choice.
It takes a lot of time and effort to do this, so you should try to get the best sound for the least effort. So don't use a USB input or the mic input. These restrict the quality you can get before you even record. They both use the factory sound card, which are usually mediocre at best.

Read up on sample rates. I use an M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 sound card - new about $100, used about $40. Run a line level input to the card, or S/PDIF digital (if your system has digital out). Use Audacity or Roxio CD Spin Doctor to record and remove some of the more egregious pops and hiss, cut into tracks and label. Save as Apple Lossless format to iTunes. From there you can play through your computer, output to your amp, burn CDs. More money yields better sound, but one must be reasonable.
Thanks Craig c i am checking out analog to digital converters now along with a second hard drive. I have been procrastinating on doing this for a long time going to get all thats necessary and get it done.
I used the attached with my Sonata MC-101 with great success it is simple to use and works well with a windows machine

Roland UA-1EX
I use a dedicated hard drive/CD recorder, high-end, the Alesis Masterlink. It is a dream. I record album sides (or tapes) from my TT/preamp setup to hard drive at 24bits, normalize, separate tracks, (takes 5 mins or so) and burn to CD. If you do it right, you look at the CD in your PC/Mac with iTunes, and the CDDB database will automatically identify the track names/album, like magic. After that you can use Audacity for click/pop removal or other editing. The Masterlink is pricey but the rest is free. BTW, nobody has talked about normalizing here, but if you don't want to blast your speakers because some recordings are louder than others, it is a mandatory step.
I use a Roland Edirol FA-101 10 in 10 out firewire interfance and capture at 24/96k then downsample for cd.
Hockeydoodle, I checked out the ML 9600 - very neat item, as per the review in Stereophile " at 24/96 the masterlink delivered sound surprisingly close to the original LP " So are you recording at 24/96? I am using a Imac and want to set this up as a server and have a large collection of LP's I would like to record. Any other comments on the learning curve etc would be helpful.
I had read that if you are going to truncate down to 16 bits from a higher bit/sample rate, it is better to use 88.2, because the algorithm involved in going from 88.2 to 44.1 is simple and direct, whereas going from 96 to 44.1 is more likely to create errors. Any experience with this out there? btw, I don't know of any company that can beat the cost-effectiveness of M-audio converters.
I record at 24 bits with the ML-9600 in case I want to archive (stellar recordings) but make a redbook CD normally which is 16-bits. That is how CDDB can recognize the track titles, etc, since it is in redbook format. 96 or 88.1 sample rate doesn't seem to matter, up to user I think.
Note that in the gap since my last post I discovered ClickRepair software as well which works fantastic, now I burn CD-RW and clean up on the PC, then burn a final CD.
DAK 2800 PC is the cheapest way. For "Audiophile quality" transfers, it is necessary to rebuild it utilizeng premium capacitors. I used Nichicon capacitors with good results.
I have just started playing around using the Korg MR-2000S and I have experienced a friend who has the same machine too, against a top end TT and the Tape project. very very hard to distinguish the Korg recording playback from the original, when recorded in 2xDSD.

Very good posts, and helpful. Might I ask a question or two? I am interested in transferring some or all of my vinyl collection to digital for archival and convenience reasons. So I would prefer to archive them at 24 bit, 88.2 or 96kHz minimum. Since I only want to do this once, I would like to feel comfortable that the quality is quite good.

I have an Oracle Delphi table running through a Cary phono pre. However, I have an HP laptop which has no analogue inputs. Even if it did I understand I would be better served using an outboard A/D converter. Then I assume I would need a more audio friendly soundcard, yes?

Can you advise me about:
1. A good A/D converter for this purpose. This seems to be the difficult thing to find, at least from a good audio perspective.
2. A good sound card for taking the digital signal from the A/D converter
3. Anything else I might need to know, such as better audio grade software (Pure Vinyl is out since they only serve Apple computers, which is well and good except for those of us that don't own one). I see some recommendations above for software to perform the needed admin duties. Seems that FLAC files are all the rage, so that would be a plus, but WAV would be acceptable.

Thank you for any detailed information you might want to provide!!
I have a business doing this and can make 24/192 recordings as well as removing any noise.

There are many excellent ways to do this, and I'm sure all have given you good advice. After I transferred my LP's to digital, I discovered the only short coming was in my analog rig. After I upgraded the cartridge I decided to do it all over again, which is what I'm doing right now.
I've developed a pretty efficient and good sounding procedure in recent months.   

I use line out from pre-amp to an Art USB Phono + converter then USB in to laptop making sure high res stereo recording is enabled on the USB microphone device.  I use Audacity software on the laptop to record, edit and process.   Audacity is freeware and the ART device can be had on Amazon for <$100.  It also functions as a phono pre-amp as needed.  Very functional and flexible device.   I then use Picard freeware and db Poweramp software to tag as needed.

I set levels and record in Audacity once the needle drops on side 1 then continue recording until side 2 is complete.    Next in Audacity I delete out extra data between sides for a smooth transition between last track on side 1 and first on side two.   Then I play the tracks to add labels to designate breaks between  tracks at proper locations.  

Then comes click removal followed by normalization to complete the processing.  Next I export many to export each labeled track to a file in the target library directory.    The files are loaded into Picard to autotag or if no  suitable matches for tags can be found there  I tag manually using dbpoweramp.   Finally I run my Seagate backup software to get  a backup of the new files right away and rescan my Squeeze Server library to pick up the new files in that library.   Plex autoscans and picks up new files automatically.     It takes me 20-30 minutes in general to complete the processing once recording is done.   Results are quite good with a little practice and I think the results would suit most here.

Tascam has superseded the Alesis Masterlink as best bang for the buck, but not just best bang for the buck; pretty darn excellent against any comparator.  Look for posts on vinyl asylum by John Ellison and Dave Garretson.  If I were at all interested in doing this, I would buy the Tascam in a heartbeat.
Technology marches on. I don't think the Tascam offers de-clicking, nor does it automatically split and name tracks.

The Sweet Vinyl SC-2 seems to do it all. It seems very promising as an easy to use all-in-one solution. It is being beta tested and it should be available soon for purchase.

You can also play your records with the SC-2 hooked up to your phono pre, which supposedly will eliminate clicks and pops as the record is being played, without degrading the sound. Fremer gave it a positive write up.
All I can say is: Sweet Vinyl SC2 = $2,000 retail
Tascam = $1,000 retail, and can be had at a modest discount.

Also, two experienced and technically knowledgeable guys on VA swear by the Tascam.  Both say they either cannot distinguish the recording from the original vinyl or that the two are so close in quality that the difference is trivial.  Dave Garretson has already performed a modest tweak to the PS of his Tascam and reports an upgrade, from "barely different from the LP" to "no audible difference compared to the LP".  Dave's vinyl system is first rate.  But I admit this is all hearsay.

I don't question your basic premise that (digital) technology marches on and that eventually something better than the Tascam will come along, just as the Tascam has eclipsed the Alesis.  Whether the Sweet Vinyl is that new product, I don't know.

PS. I don't like the idea of hooking up any digital device in the signal path of my phono.  Removing "ticks and pops" cannot be a free lunch with no untoward effects on the music.  Plus the mere fact of running the signal from a phono cartridge through an extra pair of male and female connectors before it gets to the phono stage (assuming the SC inserts at that point) cannot be without penalty. Moreover, ticks and pops are a rarity in my system, not really bothersome at all, even when occasionally they do occur.  Of course, anyone else who is totally allergic to ticks and pops may go ahead and indulge.  I will look up Fremer's review.
Additional A/D converters that appear to be well worth considering, and are just now being introduced, are the Sound Devices MixPre-3 (24/96 max, $649), and the Sound Devices MixPre-6 (24/192 max, $899).

They record to an SD memory card, and the recorded files can then be easily copied to a computer hard drive from either the card or the recorder itself.

Over the years Sound Devices has established a reputation as a "go to" supplier of very high quality equipment for a wide range of pro audio applications, as described in the "About" page of their website. They introduce new products infrequently, and I have no reason to doubt that these devices are sonically competitive with many that sell for much higher prices.

I have no affiliation, other than having just ordered a MixPre-6 for applications unrelated to my audio system.

-- Al
Lewm -

I am in general agreement with your post. It is the convenience features of the Sweet Vinyl SC-2 that are appealing to me.

I have around 2500 LP’s that I want to digitize. I have an Alesis Masterlink. It is nice for making the occasional recording, but there is no way I am going to digitize my entire collection with it. The process is too cumbersome. The Tascam, and the Sound Devices units that Al mentions, allow recording to a usb stick or sd card, but other than that, none of them seem much easier to use than the Alesis that I own.

It is the splitting and naming of tracks, and the de-clicking, that takes up a lot of my time. The extra cost of the Sweet Vinyl SC-2 in my case would be worth it, as it does all of this in real time while the record is being played and recorded.

I don’t doubt that recordings made with the Tascam are excellent. I strongly considered buying it to replace my Masterlink. I am familiar with the two guys on VA and have much respect for their technological knowledge. I have owned some of the same gear that they currently own, but have moved on and discovered other gear that were an improvement to my ears. Such could be the case with the SC-2; who knows until it has been tried and evaluated?

I’m waiting to read further reviews of the SC-2. If the sound quality is good, and preliminary reports are positive, I would choose the SC-2 as it is worth the extra money to me if it means it will make it easier and quicker to digitize my collection. If I were only doing an occasional recording here and there, the Alesis, Tascam, or Sound Devices would suffice.

The feature that takes out the clicks and pops during playback is just a bonus that would be fun to play with. I agree with your philosophy that simpler connections are better. I would use the feature in something like a tape loop so that I can switch back and forth and do a comparison. If I hear a degradation of sound quality, I would not use the feature most of the time, but I would use it on occasion for fun or for some of my more compromised records.
I used to think about buying the Alesis when it was best bang for the buck.  Then I switched to thinking about the Tascam. But I know my own habits all too well, which means I know that I will never invest the time it takes to convert even a small fraction of my own 2500 LPs to digital. I don't even particularly want to do that.  I try to keep up with what's happening in that area only because I am attracted to the gadgetry. These days it's difficult enough for me just to get time to listen to music. 
Vinyl Studio is a great program for this process. It can record the data from USB or import a file. You can split the files and do various cleanup operations. One of its main advantages is that it does lookup of album data for several databases including discogs and imports track timings and names. This greatly speeds up the task of splitting tracks and providing names and other metadata. 30 day trial and only $29 for the license. Don't let the low price deter you - it is a great program.
lewm - Removing clicks and pops indeed changes the data. But, I would argue, the clicks and pops have already done that. Getting the signal back to as close to the original as possible has to be better than leaving the click or pop in. All you have to do is look at the waveform to see the distortion that the pop or click creates. If you only have a few pops or clicks you can just go to those specific spots in the file and do the correction on that specific spot. You do not have to process the whole track. Vinyl Studio, for example, lets you fix just a specific area.  The program will fix the selected section or you can do it yourself manually, while looking at the waveform. You can listen to that section with and without the fix. Give it a try.  Attempting to fix a badly damaged section, especially when the flaw lies along the track rather than across it, can do more damage than good. But I find that removal of a typical short pop or click always sounds better than leaving the defect in.
Lewm you've suggested that the sugar cube is interposed between the cartridge and phono stage but that's not how I read it. They've left cartridge optimisation and equalisation to the phono stage and are expecting to either receive a line level signal from it or from the tape monitor output from the preamp. This means minimal  interference with the signal path.

As Lewm mentioned, I’m using a Tascam DA-3000 to record vinyl to DSD128. Performance of the stock unit is fine, and improves significantly after replacing bipolar regulators in the power supply with Belleson SPZ parts. Footers and power cords also make a difference. Get all that tweaking done at an early stage so you’re not tempted to re-record later on... Life is too short.

The process not only produces excellent recordings, it has pushed me to discipline tonearm set-up and record cleaning. Combining Tergi-Kleen on a VPI 16.5 with an Elmasonic ultrasonic machine cleans most records to the point that I don’t think about de-clicking software and the possibility of attendant degradation. I heard the Sugarcube at a show. Unfortunately the system used for the demo was too modest for conclusions.

Since the process is performed in real time, this provides opportunity while listening to gather metadata from the web for the file folder and to append a short PDF that includes recording details such as tonearm and cartridge used and gain/attenuation settings on the Tascam.

After using Tascam’s free software to divide the recording into tracks and wirelessly uploading the folder from PC to NAS, the Roon core recognizes most of it and will discover metadata similar to entering a ripped CD.

Once routinized, the process of recording and storage adds about 50% to the time that it takes to listen to a record. You need about 3GB per LP to make a DSD128 recording. It is good enough that I have no further interest in purchasing hi-res downloads that duplicate my record collection.

The routine can be numbing but becomes part of the fun and tends to keeps one centered on music rather than system-building. This can be a good thing.

There has been discussion about the fact that declicking a digitized file can damage the underlying music and therefore some people decide to not try to declick their files. Personally, I think the data is already damaged by the click and trying to fix it is worthwhile. For me, removing the click is almost always less noticeable than the click and usually I cannot hear any flaw in the correction.

With a tool like Vinyl Studio you can have it automatically declick (or de-hiss) an entire file or just a section of the file. That is, you can locate a click you want to fix and just fix that small portion of the file, leaving the rest untouched. You can also do the declick fix manually by moving the boundaries of the fix and watching the waveform change. You can also listen to the section with and without the fix.

When you look at a click in a waveform the distortion is very noticeable and you can look at the fix and decide for yourself if you think it has damaged the music. This linked file is an example of a classic click - about .004 seconds in length. In the view, the green line is the music waveform and the black line in the click. Within the green box you can see the click and the fix. You, of course have no idea what the original waveform was, but it is pretty clear that the fix is more natural that the click. In this case both channels were declicked. The left channel (top) had more damage than the right channel and fixes are applied separately.

Take a look at the image. I think you will see that the declick reproduces the surrounding waveform pretty well and when listening to the fix you cannot hear any distortion.

If you like your clicks for nostalgia purposes leave them in. But I must say listening to my digitized vinyl with almost all the pops and clicks removed and with hiss removed really does make them sound very good. Once again, you can de-hiss the whole track or just a portion. On quiet passages de-hissing really can make a difference.

Here is the waveform of a very damaged track. You can see the regular scratches in black. Even this cleaned up well, with only a very few glitches noticeable in the final version.If you count the main clicks you will find about 33 per minute.