Cannot Adjust Recording Volume on Mac when Digitizing Vinyl

Hi all,

I have a Audio Technica-LP120XBT-USB (Built-in switchable phono preamplifier for phono- or line-level output), and I’m trying to digitize my vinyls. When in audacity, I can’t adjust the recording level slider, and the recording level definitely reaches 0db to -6db which is not recommended, and I see some red lines which indicates clipping.
Based on some digging that I’ve done here, looks like we can’t adjust the slider because adjusting input volume needs to be done at the source, before digitizing happens, so by the time we’re in audacity it’s too late.

I tried different devices, like Behringer U-PHONO UFO202, changing the volume on it didn’t help.
I tried Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface, which let me bring down the recording volume so that it doesn’t hit red, but the sound quality would come out really bad! Can’t figure out why…
I am going to try 10-105 Stereo Inline Variable Attenuator soon (recommended here), we’ll update what happens…
I also tried this set up: connecting record player to my Pioneer CDJ mixer, then recording the track on my USB that is attached to the mixer. Sound quality seems good here, but I’m not normalizing or noise reduction or doing other good stuff that we do when we record through Audacity.

I’ve seen similar topics (here) but it looks like none have a fix. Would appreciate any suggestions.

You should be able to use that setup to record with Audacity, or load the file into Audacity after recording for editing/processing.

That should work, but make sure to set the turntable to “line”.

@DVDdoug cc’ing just in case :slight_smile:

You should be able to use that setup to record with Audacity, or load the file into Audacity after recording for editing/processing.

I can’t tell if the quality is the same to be honest! I bought the AIFF digital version of the track from Bandcamp, and I compare it with this way of recording, I definitely feel the difference :frowning:

I’m dropping them in this GDrive folder if you want to check. Is it just me or the beats are crystal clear in the original one?

Some stuff that I did to make it better quality:

  1. Noise reduction
  2. Click Removal
  3. Normalize

How could we ensure high quality when recording through CDJ/mixer? That’s it’s 32-bit, and 48000 Hz? We’re not even monitoring for recording voluming to prevent click removal.

I’m not going to bother comparing the sound, but you can decide which one YOU like best. :wink:

I wouldn’t expect them to sound the same unless the Bandcamp version was digitized from vinyl. Vinyl has background noise that limits the signal-to-noise ratio and “usable resolution”. There are also possibly frequency response variations in the record, and the phono cartridge has frequency response variations. Sometimes you get distortion from a record… And they might be made from different masters.

…The digitized viny might be a little quieter than the digital original when both are normalized for 0dB peaks. The vinyl cutting & playing process changes the wave shape, making some peaks higher and some lower. It doesn’t change the sound of the dynamics or the perceived loudness of the peaks but means the average level has to be lower when the (highest) peaks are the same.

Don’t worry about the “digital side” as long as you’re not “trying” to exceed 0dB and clipping (distorting).

“CD quality” (16-bit/44.1 kHz) is technically better than vinyl. CD quality is also generally better than human hearing, whereas viny is not. (You can always hear noise on records during the quiet parts or between tracks.)

But some people still prefer the sound of vinyl.

I don’t know about the CDJ. It may use 32-bits internally. Audacity uses 32-bit floating-point internally. It’s better for processing… But 32-bit analog-to-digital converters and digital-to-analog converters are VARY RARE. And 24-bit ADCs & DACs are usually only accurate to around 20-bits so you’re never going to get 32-bits of accuracy, nor do you need it.

…If you want to know what “low resolution” sounds like, make an 8-bit file with Audacity. :wink: You’ll hear quantization noise, which is like am “fuzz” on top of the signal. It’s like analog noise in-that it’s most noticeable with quiet sounds but unlike analog noise it goes-away with complete digital silence. (If you do this experiment, turn-off dither in Audacity.)

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Alrighty thanks for the detailed response. I’m being anal about this since I DJ at clubs and I’m starting to invest in collecting old house vinyls to play in clubs… I guess I’m gonna go with CDJ recording at a low volume… then on Audacity I fix noise & clipping , and normalize it… then it’s ready to go.

LPs have a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of only about 60-70 dB. A 16-bit sample depth has an SNR of about 96 dB. So you could digitize an LP at 16 bits at a level that gives you -16 dB -26 dB peaks and it’ll still be fine (I usually shoot for -12 to -6 dB peaks when digitizing). Go with 24-bit and you don’t have to worry about it (as long as it doesn’t clip, of course).

Edit: math correction (math is hard some days)

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