Need advice on formats for vinyl recordings

I am new to the PC audiophile world. I have a large collection of CDs, LPs and 45s thanks to 5 years of working in a record store in the late 90s. I also have lots of MP3s from my college days (late 90s to Napster era) but most are 128k to 192k (hard drives weren't as plentiful and my budget was low). Anyway, now I am thinking of re-ripping my collection and running through my hi-end system rather than my PC.

I would like to do lossless but EAC is soooo sloooow on my current system (a brand new Dell Optiplex w/2GB ram). There are also lots of settings I don't understand and I would hate to start this thing and have to go back and re-do them later.

I am going to purchase a Benchmark DAC w/USB for my system and was thinking of getting the complimenting ADC for recording vinyl. Anyway here are my questions:

1. Does USB cable length/brand matter? In my audioroom the PC is about 20' cablewise from my system (this cannot change).

2. For ripping CDs, will iTunes with Apple lossless be just as good as FLAC? I would rather have a user friendly format and I may get an iPod in the future if this goes well.

3. For recording vinyl, if I want a superhigh quality recording can I do it at 24bit/192k like the Benchmarks will encode/decode so long as I am always going to play it back through that setup? I know the iPod probably won't support this.

4. Also any recs on good recording software to support those bitrates and remove noise (I use to use SoundForge many years ago and it was pretty good)?

Any info will be much appreciated. Thanks.
1. Yes, length matters for USB when over 15 feet (the point of USB signal degradation). Kimber makes a great USB cable, but I've never used one longer than a few feet for audio.

2. iTunes works fine for most people. If you are worried about read errors, run your ripping software it in "secure" or "paranoid" mode (language depends on the software). The speed depends mostly on your CD drive and it's capabilities. If it's a combo CD/DVD r/w then it will likely be slower but more accurate. If speed is that important, get an external CD only drive or consider a ripping service. If you have a large library (more than 500 CDs) a service can be well worth the time/cost factor.

3. Technically, vinyl resolution is lower than even redbook CD, but that doesn't mean the higher resolution won't provide some benefit during the recording process. If your equipment supports it and you like the sound of it, then definitely give it a try.

4. The Benchmark products you mention look promising, but that doesn't tell the story of how you intend to generate the analog signal to begin with. Are you happy with your table, cartridge, and phono stage to the point you can live with that sound in digital format? I would Google around and see if you can find a service that would do this as well. The time commitment alone makes this sound daunting.

One last comment. Given the amount of money you are prepared to spend for the DAC and the possible ADC, give serious consideration to getting a computer that is 100% dedicated to being an audio server such as a mac mini (best option), laptop, Apple TV, or a Dell Studio Hybrid. You can have any of those for at (or under) $500 This allows you to put the computer closer to the system (shorter cabling) and optimize the computer for audio.

Good luck, and have fun!
Thanks for the info. I really don't want the PC closer to my audio setup as it introduces noise. Maybe a wireless option would be best. As much as I love macs I can't use one...the software I use is PC only (use to be Unix only) and I don't want to purchase another PC just for audio. I really don't plan on recording that many LPs/45s to digital, just the stuff that never made it to CD. I have 1500+ CDs so I may look into that ripping service.
I'm using Windows Media Player on a Vista laptop with the export media option on as a server and for ripping files. It comes with Windows, is lightning fast ripping (just a few minutes per CD) to loss less .wav or .wma lossless and sound quality is good so far.

I had started using EAC and FLAC and a Firefly server but ripping was too slow and I had trouble with utilizing album and artist metadata with EAC and Firefly.

I think this is a case where Microsoft currently has a practical technology edge over the open source freeware tools from what I have seen so far.

I use a Roku Soundbridge audio client now with an external MHDT Paradisea tube DAC over a wireless connection with my otherwise pure SS system and the sound is top notch so far.
Also, 24bit/192k loss less might be overkill for recording vinyl but try it and see if the sound justifies the data volumes. I'd be interested to hear you observations if you can share.

I use a $600 Denon CD recorder to copy vinyl to recordable CD first with no noticeable loss of sound quality so I think this is a viable lower cost option.
Jlc, consider a Slim Devices Transporter instead of a DAC and USB connection. This puts everything into the wi-fi realm where placement doesn't matter and gives you the option of removing all mechanical devices (computers, hard drives, etc) from the listening room if you want. Plus, the internal "Miracle DAC" of the Transporter is nearly on par with the Benchmark DAC if you want to run other components through it.

They offer a free 30 day in home trial - so there's really nothing to lose by trying it. $2,000.
Shazam, that looks very interesting. It still doesn't address my vinyl recording needs, but that is something I may not have time for anyway.