Audio noise when trying to record a vinyl record to Audacity


I’m trying to record a song from a vinyl record to Audacity. I’m able to record, however during the quieter parts there is a constant noise, it’s not loud, so it can only be heard during the quieter bits. It’s a kind of slightly high pitch almost feedback like. Please see the link below for an audio sample:

I’m using Audacity 2.1.2
OSX 10.11.2
Audio Technica AT-LP 120-USB

Can you advise if there is a way to prevent that audio noise?


You seem to have made that Dropbox file private.

If the noise is USB “whine” noise, it might be helped by ensuring the USB cable is tight both ends and making sure the cartridge/headshell is tight. You may still get some USB “whine”.

Does your Mac have a stereo line-in? [macstin][/macstin]

If so, you can avoid USB by going from the RCA outputs of the turntable into stereo line-in of the Mac using the supplied adaptor cable.


Advice i have been looking for. before i try this, can i leave the usb connected and keep my turntable set at line (out) or remove the usb and keep the turntable set to line (out)?
thanks for any continued advice

What is the make and model number of the USB turntable? Normally, the phono/line switch on the turntable only affects the RCA cables, not USB recording.

If you have a noise problem when recording via USB, ensure the RCA cables are either connected to a source, or if not connected to a source, are not touching any bare metal part of the turntable.

You can choose the recording device in Audacity’s Device Toolbar, so it should not be a problem to leave the USB cable connected when you also have the RCA cables connected to the Mac’s Line-In. When recording to Line-In, leave the USB turntable set to line.


thanks Gale…I am using an ATLP120-USB turntable. I follow you to a point, If I come out of (tape-Out) from pre amp to line in on a mac (osx10.7.5) and keep the turntble set to line and have the USB connected and set my Audacity toolbar selection to built-in line in output or built-in output (which built-in selection do I use?)

I don’t know what you mean by tape out from pre-amp. Are you using the AT 120 with a standalone preamp? If you are, then the turntable must be set to phono, not line.

Do you need to use the Mac’s Line-In? What problem stops you using the USB output of the turntable?

What is the problem with removing the USB cable from the computer when you connect it to the Mac Line-In? I don’t see it as harmful to leave the USB cable connected, just pointless.

Outputs are for sound coming out and inputs are for sound going in. You can’t play sound to the turntable over the computer, so in Device Toolbar, set Playback Device to the Built-in Output. Set Recording Device to the Built-in Input.


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as you see I’m pretty novice with all this. bare with me we’ll get this.
I am experiencing a USB “whine” with USB use. I checked all the connections as well as turntable arm connection. The USB noise (whine) is still present. You previously concluded that a next option would be to connect my turntable to the Mac line in. This is the point I lose ya.
let’s forget about the USB line out, my turntable is now using the RCA output. My playback and Audacities monitoring from the Mac does not change. If I understand this all that needs to be done is switch my turntable output to phono and connect it to the Mac line input?

You referred to a “tape out” output that your turntable does not have, according to its manual.

Are you A) connecting the RCA to TRS adaptor cable direct from the turntable to the Mac Stereo Line-In? Or B) connecting the RCA cables to another standalone pre-amp then connecting from standalone pre-amp to Mac Stereo Line-In? Please give us an answer A) or B). If the answer is A) then the turntable should be set to line. If the answer is B) the turntable should be set to phono. What is the the make and model number of the standalone pre-amp?

In your picture of Device Toolbar, change the Recording Device (second box from the left) to “Built-in Input” or “Built-in Line Input” if that is what Lion calls it. Do not choose the USB Audio CODEC as recording device if you want to record from the Mac’s stereo Line-In.


Hi Gale and thank you.
We SOLVED this using the A method. I would like to explore the possibility of the B method. I am using a NAD 1155 preamp and running 2 NAD 2155 amps utilizing them as mono R&L.

If we were to run the turntable through NAD 1155 preamp, In your opinion, what would any advantage be and how would this be accomplished if I chose B method? Please note that some suggest to remove the preamp from the AT LP120 USB turntable but, I am not sure if this would make any sense when my main function for using this turntable is to digitize my record collection however, could in fact be better to remove the turntables preamp for direct play of the records. Do you have any opinion on this preamp removal? thanks again for any continued advice.

There is a few advantages with A method is that with the USB method I have noise on both high and low frequencies, particularly the “whine” but, a low end hum was also present. these are now gone! Also with the line in A method I also get a volume control on the record device which was locked in the USB method.

I don’t know why you would want to use a standalone preamp unless you regard the preamp in the turntable as inferior to the NAD. That may be a reasonable assumption but everyone hears and responds to sound differently. Ultimately only you can make that decision, in a comparison of methods A and B with the same material.

With B you set the turntable to Phono, as I said. The Audacity settings will be the same as with A.

Setting the Phono switch on the turntable should completely bypass the turntable’s phono preamp. So I would not recommend potentially damaging the turntable by taking it apart and removing its phono preamp.


A wise response. Thank you! …and yes the NAD preamp is far superior to the AT 120. Down the pike I may tinker with the “preamp” options but, since I have cleaned up the noise I will proceed as you recommended.
Thanks! I could not have resolved this without your help!

Hello Gale, This may be somewhat premature but, I got a new Mac Pro that does not have mini jack in. If I’m forced back to the USB (which is now 3.0 but back served as 2.0 because the turntable is 2.0) Does anyone know the best approach to hooking this up to the newer MAC PRO.

I’m sad to have to let you know, but since you last communicated with him Gale has died back in August


I’m so sorry for our loss. I found Gale to be cordial and to the point. I only knew Gale in this forum context but extend my deepest sympathies to all family and friends.

After reading through this thread, this is what I have gleaned:

  1. Using the USB out from the turntable results in inferior sound
  2. Using the analog output from the turntable, set to “Line” and going into the (previous) Mac’s Line In worked well
  3. Using the analog output from the turntable, set to “Phono” and going through a NAD pre-amp and then into the (previous) Mac’s Line In also worked well, and was better than #2.

Given that your new Mac Pro does not have a line input, you will need to use an external USB adapter.

Several of us here use the Behringer UCA-222 (for line level signals) or the UFO-202 (switchable line/phono).
Personally, I would not bother with a higher end interface. The frequency response of these inexpensive interfaces is more than adequate, as is the inherent noise level (which will be much lower than the vinyl surface noise).

If my assumptions are correct, I’d say you’d want to use the turntable in phono mode, through the NAD pre-amp, then into an audio/USB interface into the Mac Pro.

– Bill

Thanks for the advice. One question: The at- lp 120usb has a built in pre-amp. Using your recommendation would it be advisable to remove the pre-amp from the turntable?

No. As stated before, it appears that when the turntable is in “phono” mode, the internal pre-amp is not used. Therefore it should have no affect on the sound quality.
– Bill

Would I use tape out (rec) to the external USB adapter. I am using 2-NAD 2155 mono R/L. My pre-amp NAD 1155 is connected to the amps with the low output. This pre-amp has two outputs High/Low. Could I connect the USB adapter to the high output? I’m using the Behringer UCA-222 adapter.

I have no idea, given that I have no information on the output levels of the 1155. Try different connections and use whatever gives the best levels without overloading the Behringer.

It seems from your description that the low/high outputs are meant to connect to a power amplifier and thus are controlled by the volume control. That’s probably not what you want, since adjusting the volume of the speakers would affect the volume of the recording. Tape out (rec) outputs are usually at a fixed level. If you can connect to tape out and get a good recording, use that.

– Bill

Thanks Bill I’ve included the specs for the NAD 1155 pre-amp. If you can make a conclusion from these regarding what output would be the best for Audacity please advise.
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