• converting vinyl to wav or mp3

    This tutorial is for anyone who is converting their vinyl to digital format to use on CD players or with Final Scratch or Serato, to upload their vinyl tracks to .mp3/.wav (or other formats) to edit, remix, etc.., or just to have and to listen or for any other purposes.


    First Off, I would recommend cleaning your needles or even replacing them if they are worn out or dirty. If you use bad or dirty needles, you will get unwanted noise, hissing, clicks, skips, anything. I would also recommend wet/dry cleaning of your vinyl(explained in another tutorial on this site, which I followed and worked excellent), and to move your equipment next to your computer on a hard, non-vibrating surface, as too much vibration will cause unwanted pops, and other noises.


    The second step would be resetting all the eq’s on the channel that you're recording on, and also turning down the gain all the way (for both your mixer and your sound card inputs [which can be done in the control panel or sound card settings]), this ensures that you are only getting the original sound of the track. Also make sure any mic settings or anything else isn't on the mixer, affecting the output process.


    The third step is hooking your setup, or just your mixer (which your turntable is hopefully plugged into in the “phono” input), into the “line in” input of your soundcard. The “master” or “record” output of your mixer should be going into your card (You might need to use or go out and get a RCA (the red and white cables) to 1/8” male adapter (the tiny jack on the back of your soundcard), unless your sound card has RCA inputs. NOTE: Hooking your turntable straight to your soundcard will not work, the sound will be lacking a lot of bass and some mids (unless your turntable has a “line out” capability, you could hook it up to your soundcard directly to get a little better quality by bypassing the mixer and potentially some excess noises like hissing and clicks that you might get from it). You should first hook it up to a mixer or a preamp of some sort. Based on what I've heard from forum members, and my own experience, external soundcards, and some of the nicer pro audio soundcards work a lot better than internal cards for recording (such as what you are doing). But the decision is up to you.


    Now that your computer and setup are all hooked up, you need to find recording software to record your tracks from the vinyl, onto the computer’s hard drive. I personally use and recommend Sony Sound Forge 8 (Other versions work fine as well), or Adobe Audition, which also has a nice recording system. There are many other programs that do a decent job, but these are the ones that I have had experience with, and that were recommended to me. Once you have bought and installed this software, start it up, turn on your mixer and turntable, and your computer and setup are now hooked up.


    Now before you start recording, there are a few settings you have to adjust. Depending on which program you are using, find the settings for recording and make sure you select “line in” for your input selection or “line in A/1” or whatever it may be called. After this is complete (If you plan on converting to .wav), go to the settings for sample rate adjustment ( for both .wav and .mp3 the adjustment is usually set when your done recording and want to “save as” on some of the scroll down menus and buttons) and depending on what quality you want to record ( I would recommend 441000 Hz, as that is normal CD quality audio and will be converted to that once you burn it to CD anyway unless you choose a lower setting, of course. Anything higher than a sample rate of 441000 Hz would be considered DVD quality audio. Choose the correct setting and then click the “stereo” button or adjustment, and then set the resolution at 16 bit (because no CD players or stereo don't read higher than that). If you plan on converting to .mp3 (which I don't prefer just for the reason that it’s compressed data/audio (11:1)), so quality is lost, but again, you choice. For adjusting the .mp3 settings, go to the same menu, but change the file type to .mp3 and (based on personal preference, change the kbps [highest being 320 kbps, and lowest being 20 kbps on most programs] change the settings to higher/lower level, based on the quality of your choice. If your software allows you to, you can also choose the mp3PRO format (which saves the file in a lower quality) but will restore some of the lost frequencies in mp3PRO decoders, but you must have the decoders or hardware to play it. Also make sure you enable CBR (constant bit rate), so the whole track is saved as the format and quality of your choice. Then press save or ok and you've officially saved the original vinyl track to your hard drive. I would also recommend labeling them and saving them in a folder called “Vinyl Rips/Tracks Original”, just so you don't get confused later on, especially on the later steps. Now repeat this step with as many tracks as you wish to record.


    Once you've recorded all the tracks of your choosing, you may notice that there may be some hissing, clicks, unwanted noise, or pops in your recording. If you were using any of the programs mentioned above, luckily, they have audio restoration features that let you remove any unwanted noise, but in my opinion Acon’s Studio Clean and Adobe Audition have the best audio restoration software. There are several other programs out there that do a more than decent job, but again, these are the programs that I used and that were recommended to me. Now, just load up the song from the “Vinyl Rips/Tracks Original” folder, and clean them up using the software. Once your file is done and ready to save, press save as, and then choose the same settings/quality that you saved the original vinyl track to when you recorded it. This is very important as if you save it as a lower quality, the quality degrades, as will happen if you originally saved as .wav and converted to .mp3, because remember, .mp3 is compressed audio/data, and .wav is not, so converting will cause you to lose quality in your tracks. If you save at a higher quality/audio level, nothing will happen because the track has already been saved at a lower setting, so the program can do nothing to increase the quality as it cannot add any data to the file. If you save the file as an .mp3 and convert to a .wav, the same will happen, data cannot be added, so the quality will stay the same, but the track will now be called ______.wav instead of ______.mp3 and you will have wasted your time. Once you finish setting these adjustments, I recommend creating a new folder in the same location as “Vinyl Rips/Tracks Original”, but instead, labeled “Vinyl Rips/Tracks edited/cleaned”, so that you know which tracks are cleaned when you want to burn or play them.


    The next step (which is optional) is adding ID3 tags to your tracks, so that in select CD players, it will display the title, artist, album, genre, year, track number, and lyrics. Most recording and audio restoration programs don't have this feature, so you're going to have to download some freeware or buy some software that enables you to do this. Ultra Tag Editor works very well for editing and writing the ID3 tags, and so does Audio Mp3 ID3 Tag Editor, but don't worry, you can place ID3 tags on both .mp3 and .wav files. If you have you tracks saved as .mp3, you can have ID3 tags if you create an .mp3 CD, which you can hold more songs on, but will not play in all stereos or car CD players, because they save as data files. Or an .mp3 audio disk, which saves the tracks at a higher quality level and will play in most CD players and radios. If you saved using .wav, make sure you burn an audio CD, then you can save ID3 tags to them and play it in CD players, car stereos, etc. Or else it will save as data and only be able to play on the computer. Once you've adjusted the tags, you can now save the files so the tags are saved, and then take the files to a burning program.


    Unfortunately, Windows Media Player and iTunes don't have good .mp3 or .wav encoding features that would burn the tracks to the CD at the quality you want. I’d recommend using a program such as WinLAME or NERO to do the job. When adjusting the settings for burning your CD, make sure the speed of the write is at 1x, or the slowest possible speed, to make sure the tracks are burned well for good quality, not for speed. Once you finish this, just begin burning the CD, and your set. Congratulations you've officially converted your vinyl LP’s to CD!


    If anyone has any questions about anything mentioned in this tutorial or questions about something you feel didn't understand, feel free to e-mail me at cyrusallen@wi.rr.com, Enjoythis964 on AIM, or PM me on the DJF site. Thank You.






    written by Enjoythis964
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