DIGITISING YOUR VINYL
A how to guide...
What you will need
Firstly lets take a look at the components that you will need in order to begin digitising your vinyl. In general there are 3 main components that you will need:
Naturally, you will need a turntable. There is an array of options out there. You can buy a standard turntable, or a version with a built in phono stage and USB output.
You will also require a phono stage, probably the most common option is yot buy a standard turntable and then purchase a phono stage with a built in DAC & USB Output.
Recording software is also required. These are becoming pretty common now, and a simple Google search should help you find one. There are even some free versions becoming available.
VINYL RECORDING / DIGITISING - Starter Kit
Understanding the Equipment
Choosing a turntable...
When choosing a turntable, there are two options:
- You can purchase a standard turntable. In this case you will require an outboard phono stage, with a built in DAC & USB Output. This is the most common method of recording vinyl, as it leaves the option to upgrade your turntable at a later date, while still not effecting your ability to digitise your vinyl, as this will all be controlled by the outboard phono stage.
- Some manufacturers do offer turntables with built in Phono stages, DAC's and USB Output, which can be pulled directly into your PC/Laptop. With this set up you don't require the use of an outboard phono stage, so is in some respects are similar option, however the draw back is normally these turntables are at the lower end of the market, so you need to be realistic with what you expect in terms of sound quality when looking at this option. Also upgrading this setup later is slightly more tricky as you will most likely need to look into purchasing an outboard phono stage at some point.
Choosing a phono stage...
The main thing to consider with your phono stage is compatibility and price. USB Phono stages start from around £75 and go up from there. Really it is a case of what you budget is.
Compatibility is the other key factor to consider. With most turntable cartridges you can either purchase an MM (Moving Magnet) or an MC (Moving Coil). Either will work for turntable recording, but its worth checking what cartridge you have and making sure that it is compatible with your phono stage.
We are always n hand to help with any questions you have before purchasing.
Some thoughts to consider...
Whilst going into the effort of digitising your vinyl, it makes sense to try and record it onto the best possible resolution. With storage in todays matrket being very affordable, it makes sense to check what your computer storage has to offer, and if required possibly consider purchasing an external hard drive, as you then dont have to worry about how much memory you are using.
Take your time...
Unlike with modern CD ripping, which might 9nly take a matter of seconds, Vinyl recoridngs are in real time. For example, if an album plays for 1 hour, then it will take 1 hour to record it. Unfortuantly there is no shortcuts! It's worth baring that in mind, to make sure you give yourself adequate time to complete each track/side.
Take time to prepare!
When you are going to the effort of recording/digitising your vinyl, it really is worth taking the time beforehand to make sure everything is in order. Simple things like making sure the vinyl is clean and free of dust/static, can make the world of difference when you play it back digitally. Other things to consider is cartridge alignment, cartridge weight, tracking and general turntable setup. All of these things are simple to do, but make a big difference to the quality of your recordings.
It can be a bit tedious...
Most modern CD or digital media files will contain metadata. In basic terms this will include song titles, album art etc... With vinyl this is not included, so this is unfortuantly a task that will have to be completed manually. While it is a tedious job, it is well worth the time and effort now, so that you can locate all your music easily in the future.
Upgrading your cartridge is a very common, and worthwhile upgrade. For a relatively low amount, an upgraded cartridge will make a huge difference to your recordings.
Upgrading your phono stage will naturally add a noticable difference to the standard of your recirdings. Better components, and outputs are only some of the reasons for this.
Cables are often overlooked when it comes to most HiFi products, however they are crucial to ANY system. Upgrading your cables is probably one of the bets & most cost effective options you can do!