transfer of lp records to digital media

mdshualy -- Mon, 11/03/2008 - 13:23

what's a good way to transfer 3000 lp's [not all at once] to a hard drive? A simple inexpensive way.

Steven Stone -- Mon, 11/03/2008 - 14:17


The next issue of TAS will have an article on just this subject.

Many printers used to have this sign on their walls:

Fast, cheap, good - choose two.

I'm afraid the same applies to LP transfer. Any way you choose will involve the real-time playing of every record to bring them into the digital domain. Minimum time - 45 minutes per LP. Then you will have to add meta-data (names and info) and do some editing. Minimum per LP - another 30 minutes at least. If you are going to have to put in at least 1 Hour and 15 minutes per LP why not do it at a quality level worthy of your time?

My article will go into your options at each stage in the work-flow chain.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

David Wiener (not verified) -- Sat, 04/03/2010 - 16:06

Could the same method be used to transfer the contents of a cassette tape to a hard drive?

Steven Stone -- Sat, 04/03/2010 - 23:03


Line out from the cassette to a A/D. No phono preamp needed.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

mdshualy -- Mon, 11/03/2008 - 17:38

Thanks so much.
first blush thought...
smart smatt smart.
If I need to transfer just a handful of LP's, any simple, effective way? Is the DAK an option?]
Been running Technics into Marantz Integrated amp w/ phono preamp and into a Pioneer CD burner and then rip the CD unti the hard drive.
Many Thanks

Steven Stone -- Mon, 11/03/2008 - 19:10

Running a phono cart into a receiver which has a phono preamp and then running the signal out of the receiver's tape out into a digital recorder or CD burner is certainly a viable way to digitize LPs.

Once the LP is in the digital domain its easy to bring it into your computer for further editing or clean-up.

Sonic weak links - the quality of the phono cartridge, phono preamp, A/D in the recorder or burner, and the amount of noise/scratches on the LP from previous plays and/or age.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Marty B (not verified) -- Thu, 04/01/2010 - 11:49

If the LP is in such bad condition or the audio chain sucks, unless the LP is rare and not available on CD, frankly, I'd rather buy the CD. Especially backlist CDs that now sell for as little as $4 - $7.

My setup for copying is a Stanton 681EEE cartridge on a Kenwood turntable->Apt Holman preamp->Alesis Masterlink CD recorder. The advantage of using the Masterlink is that since it records to hard disk first, you can edit, put in track IDs, even EQ, compress or limit if you want to (I don't). I frequently add my own "bonus tracks" if I have alternate versions of LP tracks, etc. But if the LP needs cleanup, due to ticks, noise, etc., then it obviously needs to go to the computer.

Also, I'd backup the CD-R to the computer anyway....I've had a LOT of CD-Rs go bad. I can't tell if it's the media or a technical flaw in the original recording (I've recently replaced the CD-R inside the Alesis just in case). I also have lots of inconsistencies: I have CD-Rs that won't play back on the machine they were made on, but will play back on other machines, but frequently not ALL the other machines. So I have CD-Rs that won't playback on the Alesis, but will play back on the OPPO or my Mac (but not necessarily both.) I have CD-Rs that won't copy digitally, but if I play them back on the OPPO, I can take the analog out and remaster it on the Alesis. Etc.

I would advise anyone (even analog purists) to do a few comparisons:
a) after you make the CD, play it back in real time while the vinyl is playing. See if you can tell the difference (with matched levels.) If you can't perceive any difference, than digital can't be destroying the purity of analog, can it?

b) run a test with vinyl and a commercial CD that you already have. Make a CD-R from the vinyl, then playback the CD-R and the commercial CD in sync (assuming you have two CD players). See which sounds better. 95% of the time, it's going to be the commercial CD. This has surprised me for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that the vinyl was manufactured when the master tape was still in good condition and more recently, at least for 1970s to 1980s backcoated tape, the original analog tapes are in really bad shape in many cases. It also surprises me because when I listen to commercial CDs of older music, I almost always remember the vinyl sounding better until I go back to the vinyl and find that it almost never sounds like I remember it, even when the vinyl is still in superb condition.

georgestrong17 -- Sat, 07/16/2011 - 01:42

Domains Whether you are looking to purchase a few domain names or liquidate your entire portfolio, these articles offer useful tips and techniques for finding potential buyers and negotiating domain purchase. You will also gain insight into the importance of managing, evaluating and marketing your domains for purchase.

gordon graber (not verified) -- Sat, 02/28/2009 - 17:26

Hi Mr. Stone, I read with interest your article converting lps to digital files in tas issue 191.  Can you comment on which A/D recorders are available at 24 bit 96khz and preferably 192khz and those that will support dsd.  I am aware of the Alessis Masterlink 9600 ( but how does one offoad to a computer)  and Tascam DV-RA 1000HD(but the tascam seems complicated and requires balanced connections for 192khz.)  I am interested in the highest quality transfer from lp to digital for a computer novice.  I have 3,000lps and a decent phono setup - vintage sota cosmos/vacuum; 2d or 3rd generation graham tonearm and benz ref cartridge with siltech wires to arcsp10mkII preamp.  for a number of years i have been using an older phillips redbook recorder for sharing lps with friends and for automobile.  they sound about the same as purchased cds; perhaps a little warmer, but do not compare with the higher res formats.  Any suggestions you can provide about the analog to digital conversion process including computer storage software would be a big help.  Thanks alot. 

Steven Stone -- Sun, 03/01/2009 - 11:33

 If you include computers in the category of 192 khz recorders you have a myriad of options since merely adding a pro-level soundboard to your computer turns it into a high rez recorder. that's what most professional studios use. If you have a Mac the Apogee unit is a very nice rig for 2-channel high resolution recording.
The Masterlink has been a 96/24 standard for stand-alone recorders for several years now. Marantz also makes a 96/24 Stand-alone portable unit that I've used with great success. I've reviewed the Alesis multi format unit and it delivers excellent results, but you must archive to either hard drives or proprietary CD format since its hard drive has a limited size.
If you are indeed a computer novice a stand alone unit will be less intimidating, but eventually you will have to transfer your digital files over to a computer for editing and refinement.
As I mentioned in my article Audacity is a free software package that is available for both the Mac and PC that is a great starting point for computer editing (and for most two-channel work all you will ever need.) 

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

gordon graber (not verified) -- Sun, 03/01/2009 - 14:46

thanks for the information.  are you familiar with Korg MR2000s?  I just learned that it is a dsd stand alone recorder 80gb hard drive usb and it comes with conversion software to other pcm formats.  Have you heard anything about it's sound quality, ease of use and freedom from glitches?  thanks

Steven Stone -- Sun, 03/01/2009 - 18:55

 I've used the Korg MR1000 for recordings. It's set up quite logically and comes with nice conversion software.
The sample I had occasionally had disk-write errors, but this is not common.
The MR2000 will certainly do the job for you.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

gordon graber (not verified) -- Mon, 03/02/2009 - 14:56

Thanks alot!  gordon

technology (not verified) -- Sat, 03/13/2010 - 12:28

Wouldn't it be better to use a USB turn table plugged directly into computer (I have seen some turntables like that)?
Computer Adaptor

Steven Stone -- Sun, 03/14/2010 - 10:40

No,it would not.

USB turntables are made for a very low price point and use inexpensive parts and are designed for folks who will be happy with a MP3 file. For higher quality transfers a USB turntable will not cut it. The built-in A/D are not nearly as low in noise or high in resolution as a good stand-alone A/D or what you will find on even a modestly-priced pro sound card.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Ed (not verified) -- Tue, 03/16/2010 - 15:27

 So how does the Korg MR2000S sound? It seems to be in a league all my itself. Are there any competitors to this product on the horizon? USB 3.0 has been out for a year and some consumer products are beginning to support 3.0 so I wonder if Korg will update the hardware this year and call it the MR3000S. The USB 2.0 interface seems to be its only weakness if it can be called a weakness at all.
Is it true that AD and DA converters add their own coloration to the sound? If the same analogue signal were passed through 6 different AD converters to create a 24-bit 192 kHz file, burned to CD and then played back through the same DA converter, would they all sound different because of coloration added by the different AD converters?
Korg folks mentioned to me that if there is enough interest in Digital Extreme Definition ( 24-bit/384 kHz ), they will be able to upgrade Audiogate to support it.
According to Korg, I will be able to convert vinyl to 1-bit and then use the MR2000s to play back the file directly through the tape input of my preamplifier and set up playlists instead of downgrading the sound quality to a CD format for my player.
My system is composed of Balanced Audio Technology ( BAT ) vacuum tube components plus SOTA Cosmos vacuum platter TT  with ET 2.5 linear arm and Lyra Titan i cartridge played through Audio Physic Avanti V speakers using custom designed speaker cables and interconnects with 101% conductive copper XLR connectors and driven with 100 Amp electrical service.

Geoff (not verified) -- Thu, 04/01/2010 - 11:51

I offer an LP to CD or DVD-A transcription service. Just go to the above website for information on this service.

Neville (not verified) -- Fri, 04/02/2010 - 07:24

Are the Korg's user friendly? In short when you run out of the 80gb hard drive as DSD (2xDSD especially) takes up so much space, is it easy to transfer files from a hard drive to the Korg. Do you need a PC for that or can that be done through the Korg?
Is it easy to skip from track to track or compile a different playlist?
Thanks in advance.

Steven Stone -- Fri, 04/02/2010 - 09:43

The Korg comes with Audiogate software, which makes transfers between the Korg and a computer's hard drive easy.

You do NEED a computer to use a Korg. You must have a place to transfer your Korg files to. It's done via a USB connection.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Tom Kuhns (not verified) -- Fri, 04/02/2010 - 09:18

Do you have any experience with or comment on the NAD-PP3? In typical Hi-Fi retail sources, this seems to be the most widely available ADC I've seen (I am surprised it has never been discussed in this thread).  I know NAD is well respected for mid-fi gear (with some asperations to hi-fi) and this unit can be had for less than $200. Is the PP3 a good choice for archiving LP to lossless 16/44 digital?

Andy Wood -- Sun, 10/03/2010 - 07:47

Can anyone comment on above NAD PP3 (with USB output) to convert my vinyl? I wanna connect to MacBook running CD spin doctor... can i input audio via USB? Thanks.

Steven Stone -- Sun, 10/03/2010 - 09:20

You can input audio via USB. You merely have to go into the Mac Sound Preferences pane and designate the USB device as your input device.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Andy Wood -- Mon, 10/04/2010 - 06:11

Thanks Steven. In OSX (10.6.4) the only devices available seem to be the audio line-in port and optical digital-in port. Is this because I dont yet have a USB device connected? (Does device auto appear in list when you connect?) Also, I've read that Leopard had some issues with the connection of some USB devices. Do you know if these now sorted with Snow Leopard?

Steven Stone -- Mon, 10/04/2010 - 09:07

Yes, those are the input devices on a stock unit. For additional options you will need external devices.

Every OS has issues with some devices, but they are in a minority. Check the forums and support sites for any device you are thinking of buying and see if other users have any issues.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Dan Steinfink (not verified) -- Fri, 04/09/2010 - 18:12

I have a macpro. I take the tape out from arc ref one to and apogee duet. The apogee duet uses firewire and is 24/92. I use cd spin doctor to record to the computer at 2492. I cut up the files to songs and save the active tracks. They are saved as 32 bit files. I then use max a free program to change back to 24/96 aiff and put in itunes. Works well. I use the apogee duet for playback as well. I try not ti use repair programs but if ticks and pops are bad enough I use click repair a shareware program to minimize them.  Little by little I am digitizing my record collection and it sounds great and give a lot of flexibility. I get the metadata from itunes or from amazon. 

Michael -- Wed, 05/12/2010 - 16:49

Steven et al.,   Hate to bug you; but, I am looking for a digital recorder to record live bluegrass performances from the soundboard.   A second use would be to have high quality recordings of LPs from my home system.  I've tried PC-based recording with a Creative Labs SB X-fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro series only to find there is too much noise introduced by the PC.  I see that you recommended the Korg MR1000 a couple years ago.  It is in the $1,000 range and that is a reasonable floor for a pricing for me.  $2,000 is close to an upper limit.  The desire is to have at least a 24/192 quality level...DSD is great; but playback will need to be through the recorder, converted to 24/384 or below.  I have no real limit on HD space...4.5 TB spinning now and room for an additional 12 TB in the case.  It is a PC, however, so Amarra is not an option.  Squeezebox Duet, is the immediate option to get the signal to the Cambridge audio 840C decoders; but, I can certainly change that.  Any help is appreciated.  Thanks!  

Steven Stone -- Wed, 05/12/2010 - 17:45

Get the Korg. Record in DSD and down-sample via Korg's Audiogate software to whatever PCM rate you want. Keep the original DSD files for higher or lower PCM bit-rates at a later time.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Michael -- Wed, 12/29/2010 - 20:03

Steve, You were sooooo right on the Korg. I am about 400 recordings into the use of the Korg and find no issues. The recordings it delivers (especially live performances) far exceed any expectations and anything else in my collection (red book, SACD, DVD-A, LP). Thanks again!

Steven Stone -- Wed, 12/29/2010 - 23:39

Yep, the Korg rocks!

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Michael -- Wed, 05/12/2010 - 18:26

Outstanding...Thanks for the great advice and timely reply!!

darkside -- Sat, 10/16/2010 - 15:28

 Hi Steve Stone
    Sure like your replies to everyone. I have 3000 lp's, realistic turntable, pioneer reciever, phillips 5 disk cd player, sb audigy card Ls sbo312 and creative speakers and  some programs audio related, winamp. How do you  transfer lp to mp3 on hard drive.

Steven Stone -- Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:41

I've put together an intro guide to ripping that you can find in search.

Also check out the Well-tempered computer site.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

sadaf1230 -- Fri, 07/13/2012 - 02:50

thank you brothers, its really help me and steven i will wait for your article on this subject

All content, design, and layout are Copyright © 1999 - 2011 NextScreen. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without specific written permission is prohibited.