Tutorial: How to transfer and copy vinyl records and tape cassettes to your PC and CD
Before you start make sure that the sound card on your computer has an 'Input / Line-In' socket.
Connecting a Turntable:
There are two main types of Hi-Fi systems: Separates and Midi / Mini. In order to record any sound to the hard drive the signal from the turntable needs to be amplified before
it enters the sound card. There are three ways of doing this:
Connect your turntable to a phono preamp and use the 'Line-Out' phono sockets to connect to the 'Line-In' on the sound card.
Connect your turntable to a Hi-Fi amplifier / receiver and use the 'Tape-Out' phono sockets to connect to the 'Line-In' on the sound card.
If your Hi-Fi is a Midi / Mini System and does not have 'Line-Out' phono sockets you can connect the 'Headphone Socket' to the 'Line-In' on the sound card. You will have
to be careful doing it this way as the volume level is adjustable, unlike line-out or tape-out which is at a constant line level. Make sure that you don't turn the volume up
too high or it will result in a distorted recording and could even damage your equipment.
Connecting a Tape Cassette Deck:
Cassette decks are a little different and much easier to connect as they do not need to be amplified before the signal reaches the sound card. The easiest way is to directly
connect 'Tape-Out' on the cassette deck to 'Line-In' on your sound card. The signal will already be at Line Level and there are no adjustments to make. You do not have to
involve your amplifier in this set-up.
If your Hi-Fi is a Midi / Mini System and does not have 'Tape-Out' or 'Line-Out' sockets simply follow step 3 above.
Preparing your Computer:
The sound will be recorded as a PCM WAV file at 44,100Hz (44.1kHz), 16 Bit Stereo for best sound quality. This means that a track lasting 3 to 4 minutes could become
40 to 50MB in size. If you have an LP with 12 tracks on it you will need at least 600MB of free hard disk space.
The Recording Software:
Once connected you will need software to record the incoming sound. All recording software has one main task - to copy sound from an internal / external source onto your hard
drive and that is where the similarity ends. Each software package is completely different and therefore it is not possible to go into great detail about the recording process.
What we will do is run through the basics to get you started and then you will have to familiarize yourselves with the software that you are using.
Tip!Download Spin It Again. This complete program will show you how to connect your equipment, record your
music to the PC, split the tracks, remove noise (clicks, pops, hiss, etc.) and burn your finished project to CD. It really doesn't get any easier!
Let's Do It!
OK so you've got your turntable connected and your software installed, what now? The first thing you need to do is to select the recording format and attributes.
Set this to PCM / WAV and 44,100Hz (44.1kHz) 16 Bit Stereo. Next you need to set the recording levels. Most software will have 'level meters' so you can see where the
noise peaks. As you are playing the record watch the levels going up and down adjust the level as close to 0db as possible. If it is set too low the playback will be
very quiet and if it is set to high it will result in 'clipping' which makes it sound distorted.
There are two ways to do this. You can either record each track separately or you can record one whole side of an LP as a single WAV file and split it into separate tracks
later. If you are doing each track separately it is similar to using a tape recorder. Start playing the LP and click the record button just before the track begins. When the
track ends or fades out click the stop button and then save the file to your hard drive. Repeat this process for all tracks. If you are recording one whole side click the
record button before the first track begins and stop the recording at the end of the last track. Now flip it over and do it again!
Separately recorded tracks:
Load the saved WAV file into the editing program and trim off the excess at the beginning and end of the track. Try to trim it as close as possible to the start and the end.
If you are planning to burn the tracks to a CD-R most CD writing programs will automatically insert a 2 second gap between the tracks.
Whole side recorded tracks:
Load the saved WAV file into a Cut & Splice program. Most will have an automatic setting to detect silence and will insert a break between each track. All you need to do then
is select a folder to save these sections too and your album will be split into separate tracks.
Load the saved WAV file into an editing program and find the start and end of the first track. Highlight between these two points, click 'Copy' then open a 'New' file and
click 'Paste'. Always start copying before the start of the track and stop past the end. Once pasted into the new file you can trim up the ends later. Remember it's a lot
easier to remove sound frames than to add them.
The alternative method is to trim off the excess at the beginning of the first track and then go to the end of the first track and delete everything after it.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT CLICK 'SAVE'! At this point you MUST remember to select 'Save As' and give it a different file name than the original. If you do not do this
you will overwrite the original recording!
Now reload the original file and find the beginning of the second track. Delete everything up to this point, find the end of the second track and delete everything after it.
Remember 'Save As'. Repeat this process until you have split the original WAV file into separate tracks.
Cleaning and Refining:
It is possible to remove unwanted noise, clicks, crackles and pops with enhancement software. You can manually select clicks to be removed or run an automatic process over the
whole track. Results will vary according to your settings but some processes will adversely effect the sound quality of the track resulting in loss of high frequencies,
flattening dynamics or compressing the end result.
Creating an Audio CD:
Once you have your tracks on your PC hard drive you will need to create an Audio CD with CD Burning software. Your Hi-Fi, car CD player, etc. will read CDDA audio tracks.
CD Burning programs are designed to burn MP3 / WAV files directly to CD as CDDA files so you don't having to do any file converting. When creating an audio CD you MUST select
"Audio CD" when burning your disc. If you create a Data CD the files will be burnt as MP3 / WAV, not CDDA and unless your player is specifically designed to play MP3 / WAV files
the disc won't play.