So, it's portability, the ability to even play your old songs and tracks at all wherever you are and protection so you'll always have your favorite classics when you're as old as I am, or 89 like my dad is.
And the good part of this is that you aren't damaging anything, so you can mess around a bit while you get your first recordings made. After that, it's just a matter of your time.
And the great news is that doing this is an easy skill you can learn as opposed to a talent you're born with. So don't worry, it's not even much of a skill. It's just following a few easy steps right down to listening to your favorite music.
OK, let's get to Converting LPs to CDs.
What do you need? Well all you really need is your source material (your old records, tapes, cassettes, transcriptions or you name it). So, the truth is, you can make just about any analog source into a digital wonder that you can protect forever and play anywhere.
You'll need to connect your turntable (or tape deck) to your computer through your sound card, but that's pretty straight forward and I'll show you all that with words and pictures in an easy step-by-step process.
For the purpose of this simple tutorial I'll show you how to do it using equipment and software that you probably already own. I'll make some simple suggestions along the way and knowing me I'll make a few round about tips along the way too. In another tutorial, I'll show you how to use easily available software step-by-step with words and pictures. It's all really easy.
OK, one thing that's going to come up any time you're recording analog to digital whether it's from tapes, records or even live radio or TV, yes you can do that all too, is that when you record an analog signal, you'll get one big long track of everything you feed in.
What does that mean? Well if you copy an LP to CD into your computer you'll get one long 120 megabyte or so long track. (In short, although the songs on your record sound separate to you, to your computer all the songs on a record are just one long track.) Unless you use a special program (more later) your tracks will still be sequential but they'll all be just one long track. Of course, our New Wave Editor Easily Separates all your tracks so it's not a problem any longer.
And we'll cover what to do about it. It's not a problem and we probably won't keep it that way because if you want to hear track 4 on the record you'd have to listen to tracks 1, 2 and 3 first which isn't perfect. So, we'll make it perfect. I just didn't want you to be surprised when we got to it. Hint. The new Wave Editor takes care of it all.
OK, here's the list of what you need and what I'll cover.
1. A Turntable (I assume you have a turntable.) Of course, I have one for you that's absolutely perfect to copy your treasured LPs to CDs with perfect clarity. Click to open a new window to see Drew's suggested Turntable.
2. A Stereo system (you must already have one or you wouldn't have old favorite LPs) That you can connect to your computer.
2A. Or A PC Mixer Interface with a phono preamp to connect your turntable to your computer that has the RIAA equalization curve to decode your LPs so they can be digitized. I have a PC Mixer Interface with a free connection cable for just $69.90. Click to open a new window to take a look at my suggested Mixer.
3. Cables (you probably have them, but I'll show you in pictures just what to do.) And I've included one free with the Mixer above. Note: If you don't have an electronics store near you, I'll provide you with the 6' cable you'll need for $6.95 ($2 P&H). But remember you'll get it free with the mixer or Turntable Mixer combination. Click here if you want to get the cable.
4. A Desktop Computer with sound card. (Well duh.)
5. Software to 'digitize' your music (actually your sound card does that for you automatically, but we need to record it as it comes through the sound card. Note: Many sound cards come with all the software you'll need (Check your start menu to see what software your sound card came with.
Or, I've suggested some free software in my 2nd LP To CD Tutorial and I'll take you through using it in words and pictures.
6. Get a Click & Pop Filter. I've just found some really good filters. Several years ago I gave up on them. But the new technology is so good that I've totally rethought my prior opinions. In fact I've even licensed one AND INCLUDED IT FREE for DAKonians who pick up our Mixer or Mixer and Turntable. Check out the full in-depth review to learn all you need to know about click & Pop Filters. (Oh, it's also a $12.95 order bonus when you buy anything at DAK. Click to Visit Drew's Click & Pop Review to learn more.
7. A CD burner. I guess you could just get the music into your computer, but you'd run out of hard disk space if you don't copy it off to CDRs sooner or later.
Today they cost well under $100, so if you don't have one, take your computer into any computer store and have them put one in. You'll be glad you did for a lot of reasons including backups, sharing data and oh yes, great sounding regular CDs and MP3 CDs too. We're going to cover it all.
That's it. Let's go turn an LP to a CD.
The LP to CD Cable Guy.
Here are the only cables
you'll need. On the right are the standard RCA plugs that you have on every single
stereo component in your stereo system. Just plug them into the tape out jacks
on the back of your stereo or if you don't have tape out jacks or you want to
carry your turntable over to your computer plug them into a PC Mixer Interface
with a phono preamp with RIAA equalization. (DAK's would be perfect) The third
jack from the right is the 3.5 mini plug that plugs into your sound card. Virtually
all sound cards use this.(More later.)
Finally I marked the jack on its side to the left (picture above) that you plug into your sound card with Right (R), Left (L) and Ground (G), just so you'd know. You don't need to know which is which, but since you're a DAKonian, I thought you might like the info.
It's called a 3.5mm or 3.5 mini stereo plug. It's very standard with computers and portables. And yes, it's the same as your portable headphone jack (except it's shielded). OK, we've beat the cables to death.
Remember, If you can't find the cable near you, you can get it from me for $6.95 ($2 P&H). But it's free with the Mixer or Mixer and Turntable. Click if you want need the cable.
Or Click here if you want to look at my PC Mixer and or Turntable for converting your LPs to CDs fast and easily
|Let's start the easy LP to CD setup.
Here's a close-up shot of one of my sound cards. (OK it's really two shots. One's bigger so you can read the names of the jacks.) They are all pretty much the same. You're just going to plug the 3.5mm plug into the 'line in' jack. Which one is that?
We'll it's not the one with a microphone on it. Anyway consult your manual if you can't figure it out. But 9 out of 10 times, it's either the BLUE jack as it is above, or it's the jack with the concentric circles with the Arrow pointing in. I always wondered why you couldn't just plug your magnetic cartridge into the mike input and equalize the RIAA curve on your computer. But everyone says no. It's the wrong impedance and the wrong equalization and the wrong input level. Oh well another LP to CD mystery of the universe.
|Drew's Desk System
OK so we're all plugged in. That was really easy. Here's the system at my desk. I'm using the turntable (upper left) and I've run a patch cord to my oldest Windows 95 computer (arrow center right). I've also marked with the blue arrows just for your info my second monitor to the left where I see all my HTML code while I'm writing and put Word when I'm copying things from the Internet. You really do want to have two monitors (or more) on your computer. But that's another tutorial.
The second blue arrow at the bottom center is the switching box I use to switch between 4 computers at my desk. It's a Belkin Omni View and it makes it really easy for me to work. There are 2 more monitors hooked to more computers off to the left. But back to our project.
Using the simple patch cord mentioned above, I can take all my old LPs, 45s 78s and cassettes and even AM and FM radio and copy it from my stereo system to my computer and onto CDs. Shall we move on and let you turn an LP into a CD?
Note: My computers and stereo are plugged into a common filtered power supply so that I don't get hum. If you get hum when you try to connect your stereo to your computer, no problem, either plug it into the same power strip or try unplugging your modem, or get an Interface like our PC Mixer Interface to break the ground loop problem. You can get rid of the hum. Don't let it slow you down. Getting your LPs, 45s and Cassettes to CD will be great.
|Here's Your Windows Mixer. It's Your Friend.
|You've got one more or less like this.
Here's the Windows mixer. How do you get it? Just double click the little speaker in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen (by the clock). If you're doing this recording manually as I am showing here, you just adjust the volume (more in the next picture) using the Windows mixer. It couldn't be easier. So you click the speaker once to adjust the volume when you listen and twice to get the mixer or one like it above.
First, Let's Set Your Window's Mixer Options. (Don't Skip This)
|Once Your Windows Mixer Is Open, Do This.
At the top left of the Windows Mixer is the Options Menu. Select it and choose Properties as shown above.
Then, make sure that the Line In Check Box is Checked. This is how the signal is going to come into your computer so you want to be sure it's on. Often it's not on by default, so be sure you turn it on now.
Note: The number and type of mixer controls you have depends both on your sound card and 2nd on which of the boxes you have checked. Check all the ones you think you might need. Oh, and sometimes if you don't see Line In, you'll find Analog in which is the same thing.
And Two last things. AND THIS IS IMPORTANT. Be sure that on the main Window's mixer that the Line In IS NOT muted. If it is you'll get no sound into your computer and it seems to come muted by default.
Thing Two Problem. OK when you clicked properties, the first thing you saw was that Playback was selected. Now, when you select Recording, when you open the properties for recording, the third picture (bottom) above, be sure that Line In IS SELECTED. If it's not you'll have no sound coming into your computer and all you'll be recording is silence.
Now Back to the Recording
|Now We're Recording LPs To CDs. Whee.
For this tutorial I'm using my oldest Windows 95 computer and just a free Basic Wave Editor program that came with my Sound Blaster sound card. This is really basic. And it's 6 years old. But I think by seeing how to do it in a real manual fashion, you'll see just how easy you can do it with new programs that are now available. And you'll find it even easier with Windows 98 or XP. I just wanted to show you that you can easily do it all with even the oldest computers.
Note: We've added the new DAK Wave and MP3 Recorder and Editor which automates many of the features we're about to cover. It's included FREE with our LP To CD Systems, or if you're doing this yourself, it's yours for just $19.95. It's really optimized to make copying, editing and splitting tracks super easy from LPs, 45s, and cassettes.
DAK Wave& MP3 Editor Info Click To see our Wave Editor for just $19.95
Plus, here's a great program that helps you organize all the tracks you copy and let's you burn CDs really easily. It's free or we recommend the $19.95 upgrade that makes it even more powerful. In fact, it's such a good companion to our Recorder Editor, that I've written a tutorial you can use to record or manage your own tracks.
Musicmatch, Click to See my LP to CD tutorial 2 using this easy program.
Again, let me mention that you can record an entire side of an LP and it will be over 100 megabytes with all the tracks as one file, or you can cue up each track and record it separately. Either way, you can later separate the tracks manually as I'll show you below or let Musicmatch do it for you automatically. Really neat.
Note: The biggest part of this LP to CD tutorial is about how to split off the tracks and rename them. If you use Musicmatch, you won't have to do the work. But, it's best that you know how and what before you let the software take over for you. :) Oh, and with our new added Wave Recorder/Editor, you can split tracks and edit out talking easier than ever.
So, here I've launched a free program from Sound Blaster (Check your sound card's folder to see if and what you've got for recording) and Clicked record. What you see here are the left and right channel volume levels.
Two things to pay attention to. You'll use your window's mixer to adjust the volume level as I said above and at lest with this program, you can record as much as you have room for on your hard disk. Since I have only about 1.6 gigabytes left, (boy this sure isn't like my 80 gig drives) I can only record 9173 more seconds of music (152 minutes).
This is a really old computer and it doesn't have much space. Also, if you record using MP3, you'll get 10 times the space. MP3s really make sense. You can get 10 hours of MP3s on a single MP3 CD too. And of course we're going to copy these off to CDs, so it doesn't really matter anyway about your hard disk space, but it does matter how many CDs you use and carry. Oh and Our Wave & MP3 Recorder, Included FREE or available for just $19.55 will BOTH Record & Edit MPE and Wave files effortlessly.
So, all you do here is check your volume levels, make sure they are never more than about 75% or so and click start/record.
Oh, one more thing. If you look at my bottom arrow note that I'm recording in 16 bits 44100Hz. That's CD quality sound. Wave, or .WAV is also know as Redbook Audio or Standard CD Format.
Have you Checked out my suggested Turntable And PC Mixer with the free cable? Click to Open a new window for the Complete Vinyl To CD Solution.
|A Side Trip Tour Of A Click &
Or, what to do after you record, but before you cut your CDs
Clicks & Pops can really ruin your musical enjoyment of your old LPs and 45s. But the good news is that Click & Pop filters really will knock your socks off with the incredible audio restoration they perform on your treasured music.
This new technology is worth reading about. So, I've put a little detour in here to tell you about how to choose one to fit your needs.
And yes, we're giving away a Free Click, Pop and His filter with our Mixer and/or Turntable LP to CDR Perfection System, but this is information you really want to know about when you copy your LPs to CDs. So, enjoy the detour into the new automated do it for you instantly Click & Pop filters available for you to use today.
|Here's a sample Click & Pop filter opening screen. All you want to do
is get your WAV files (standard audio) into the program. Why only WAV files? MP3
files are compressed, so most editors can't deal with them. That's why almost
everything you do when you're editing is with WAV files (also known as Red Book
Audio or standard CD Format). Then, you can convert them to MP3 or anything you
like. You just have to do any editing you want to do in WAV files.
Anyway, once you've got your music files selected you just want to decide what you want to do and then let your click and pop filter do its thing. Let's eliminate some clicks and pops.
|Here's the option screen of the DAK free program. Any click and pop filter
should have some or even most of these abilities. The neat thing about this
one it's totally automatic. Just click what you want to do and it does it. If
you do choose to click any of the setup buttons, a screen for each will pop up
that lets you configure the restoration filter any way you want. Just
be sure that you have options like this when you choose a click and pop filter.
You can get any click and pop filter you want. The important
thing is to get one.
What do you want to do to restore your LPs, 45s and cassettes? Here I explain why you might want to use each audio restoration option.
Oh, yes. Don't forget Preview- Any program
should allow you to preview what you're doing before you do it. A preview is a
very useful tool.
|What does a click or pop actually look like? Most times you really don't need
to know because the new automated programs do everything for you. In fact, the
DAK program doesn't even show graphs because it does it all for you automatically.
But here I've used the editor that came with my Sound Blaster Sound card to show
you just what clicks and pops really do look like.
A good click and pop filter looks at each component of your music and removes ONLY unwanted nonmusical clicks, pops and scratches. You can see in the picture above, that the clicks look like straight lines.
Music has a more angled attack. What you can't see and what's most important are the clicks and pops that stay within the sound wave that a click and pop filter removes. It's amazing how well these filters remove the annoying to terrible clicks and pops that really can ruin our music. The Demo above is actually take from the track you see. It's from the Limeliters Folk Group. They are my favorite folk music group and we see them as often as we can. Check out www.limeliters.com if you're into folk music.
| Here's another short example that's really
Anyway, this track had a nice clean scratch that just ruined the sound. Now it's gone. You don't have to go find a part of the record to work on. With a click and pop filter, you just 'process' the file. It's all automatic. I just selected this part to show you and let you listen to the before and after effects of a click and pop filter.
|OK, here are 2 of the 6 Click and Pop filter option screens to show you how
you can configure things yourself. Most good programs allow you to change the
For the most part, you'll never touch these controls on any click and pop filter because the defaults really work well. But, what if you want less sensitivity or more? What if you don't want to compensate for high frequency loss? Well you should be able to control exactly what you want to do.
And when you use the preview button, you'll hear exactly what you're removing and what your not. Finally with this program (and others) there's what they call an Extra Precision option.
Why not always use this type of feature. Actually that's a really good question and I don't have an 'acceptable' answer. The reason not to use it is that it slows down the restoration process. With this feature engaged, it takes about 50 seconds to fully process a 3 minute long track from your LP using an average 1GHz computer.
But since you're only processing once and you're going to listen to it forever I can't imagine anyone being to impatient to do it the best way possible. And from my tests, the Extra Precision settings do such an incredible job, I always just leave them on.
So bottom line, Click & Pop filters take the helpless feeling away I get when clicks and pops ruin my enjoyment of my treasured LPs, 45s and cassettes. Now that I've used click and pop filters for some time, I'm really glad I lived long enough for them to get so good.
The difference isn't subtle. It isn't small. You will be blown away by how well they can restore your music to its original splendor. Try one out yourself. Of course, I'd be thrilled if you tried DAK's Click, Pop & Hiss Assassin, but that's up to you.
If you want to read more, check out my extensive review of our Click and Pop Filter and what it can do for you, CLICK HERE.
OK, Back To The Main Tutorial
|You see everything. There's nothing to worry about. Vinyl To CD is easy.
Most programs show you a nice little progress meter. Here you see I've used 8% of my hard disk and I've recorded most of one side of the LP for about 105 megabytes. Onward.
|Waveforms and other SiFi things.
See where I've put the arrows? See how the 'waveform' gets flat? That's because there's no sound (or at least not much rumble and scratch). So that's all we need to identify so we can separate the tracks. See how easy it is to turn Vinyl to Digital?
So here, I've just highlighted the first track from the side. On this program I just double click the section and it appears in the working area. You'll find something much like this in just about any good Wave Editor program you use. But we do want to separate the tracks so when you want to listen to track 6, you don't have to listen to tracks 1, 2, 3 and well, you get it. LP to CD is really easy. It really does just take a few minutes to convert vinyl to CD.
|Now we're getting there.
Here's the 2nd track. (I finished the first track) And I'm showing you that it's easy to make sure you have your tracks identified. If you look at the arrow in the lower left it shows you that I'm playing the track. Why do you want to do this? No this isn't a Drew side trip.
You want to be sure that you didn't catch the end of the prior track or miss the beginning of this track (that's why I moved to track two for this demo so you could see the end of one and the beginning of the next).
Oh and with the DAK Wave Editor, you'll never be wrong because you just click the Zoom In Button and you'll have the tack filling the whole screen so you can see it clearly. No hassle at all.
Anyway this can be important because many artists tend to record live performances with all their talking and applause. They think we like it. I get tired of it when I listen to a record over and over again. So I GET RID OF IT. When you convert an LP to CD, you're in complete control Next.
|Now You're The Recording Engineer and Producer Too!
So here you can see that I've highlighted the beginning of the track with the offending talking. It's easy to do and almost every program lets you do something like this. And then I'm going to fade it in right up to the music. Note: the tracks aren't written in stone. You can make changes. You can edit them, change them, alter them. Usually you'll just leave them alone, but you can cut out talking, intros, exits and even remove versus like I did with the "Tell Laura I lover Her" song I told you about in my find LPs mini tutorial.
Obviously you don't have to bother with this. But remember you're making perfect vinyl to CD copies that you'll enjoy for a lifetime. Why not make them as perfect as possible.
Anyway, what you do depending on your program is either highlight the part you want to fade in or fade out, or choose some number of seconds or milliseconds and, well, move down to my next picture.
|You can do that too?
Here's the easy drop down menu that let's you choose fade in or fade out. Isn't this easy. Wait you say. Maybe your program won't have this? Well almost all do. I'll bet you find it first thing along with echo and much more. It's all software so it really doesn't cost anything to add. (Sorry programmers.)
Oh, and speaking of much more. Some Programs have plug-ins or included modules that eliminate click and pops on your records and hiss from your tapes. (We include the Click, Pop & Hiss Assassin with our systems) They may cost a few bucks more, but not a big deal. This is forever after all. Do it once and enjoy it always. The only thing that's truly free, is this Vinyl to CD & LP To CD to Computer Recording Tutorial is free. : ).
Converting Vinyl To CD Is Just like using Word.
OK so here's where we separate
the tracks. Just copy the part you've highlighted as a track, (including the part
you faded in or out if it was necessary and it's not unless they are live recordings)
and click OK. Now you'll have your own separated track.
|To Copy Or Not?
Here's a nice little progress bar showing that your track is being copied to a new file. It's just like copying and pasting a section from one Word Document to another. Easy. But remember these are probably about 40 megabytes each, so don't worry if your computer takes a few seconds to think about doing this. It takes up to 30 seconds on my 200Mhz Windows 95 machine.
Oh and don't feel sorry for me with a 200Mhz Windows 95 machine. Real Men don't need fast machines to copy an LP to CD, we don't blame our tools, we finish the project. OK, I'm pushing 3Ghz on my main art computers, but that just saves me time. Don't feel you have to upgrade every time a new chip comes out. Of course I've got to say that Windows XP has some very powerful features that you may want to move up to. It will make your life easier. Anyway, onward.
|By George, We've Done It.
Your LP To CD Copy is made. Success So here's the new 'document' with just the one track on it. (Remember with the DAK Editor, it's just Select and Save with no extra Work. It's Fast. It's Easy and it's incredibly more automated for you to use.)
I did it this way rather than cutting off everything around the file I wanted so I could just go back, highlight another track later and keep going. If I had cut everything else, I'd have to reload it all again and knowing me I'd probably have saved this one track over side one and had to do it over again. But hey, remember, it's your record, it's your computer. You really don't have to worry about losing anything once you are emancipated and ready to make your own music files.
Believe it or not after you've done a few it takes just a few minutes per track. Which you wouldn't know from reading my long wordy tutorial. Sorry.
Have you Checked out my suggested Turntable And PC Mixer with the free cable? Click to Open a new window for the Complete LPs To CD Solution.
|"What's In A Name. Would It Smell. . ."
OK, all you do now is name and save your track. Here's a tip. I tend to create a folder for each album so that I can pick and choose which tracks in which order I want to use later. Oh yes, you're in complete control over everything from now on. It's much easier and more 'automateable' than CDs. Anyway I called this track LIONnew.wave for a few reasons. Reason one, it's a song about a lion.
Reason two and the real reason is I already have this track in my folder and I'm just re-recording it to show you how I did it. So, I'll be deleting it when I'm done.
Now Just Copy It And You're Done with the LP To CD Tutorial.
So here's my old HP CD burner.
It's only a 2X. But we are being basic here. And it still works fine. My other
burners are many, many times faster and I use Nero as the burning program on one
and Easy CD Creator on the other.
| A few last things about LPs To CDs that I want to mention.
Here's one more tip. I always make two copies of all my CDs. I make one with 'good' CDs and the other with the $0.15 cent stack CDs. Since I have 12 CDs in my car and since it gets really hot when I drive in the desert I don't want to take any chances.
I think it's always a good idea. Need I remind you at this point that it's illegal, immoral and fattening to share your musical treasures with others? Don't make copies for friends. Don't sell them. And well, don't cheat. It's easy to forget that our old treasured albums are still under copyright. But chances are that they are still protected.
Still have questions? Did I miss something in my Vinyl to CD & LP To CDR to Computer Recording Tutorial (probably)? I'll add it if you write to me.
Enjoy. . . Drew
P.S. Have you Checked out my suggested Turntable And PC Mixer with the free cable? Click to Open a new window for the Complete LPs To CDs Solution.
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