digitizing vinyl collection

Hi all,

shortly I shall start the process of archiving my vinyl collection of early nineties house/rave, being a DJ they are well used.
I have a record cleaning machine to make sure they are all well cleaned, and will also be using a ortofon 2M Red cartridge for improved quality, plus using a behringer UFO202 between my techincs 1210 and my laptop.

As I have a few hundred records, what will be the best file format/size to archive to without losing quality?
I have read the audacity instructions which I think says to export at 24bit which I think could make each file size very large?
my intention is to use all the files for electronic mixing, in either flac or mp3 but obviously keep the master files separate.


16-bit FLAC.

It has the same “quality” performance as audio CD, and typically around 40% smaller than 16-bit WAV. It also has much better support for metadata tags than WAV.
The downside for FLAC is that some players (notable Windows Media Player) do not support FLAC without adding “direct show” filters (you can get them here: https://xiph.org/dshow/).

24-bit WAV is overkill and will produce files roughly double the size of 16-bit FLAC.

MP3 or any other “compressed” formats are unsuitable for “archive” copies, though if you have a FLAC file, you can make a high quality (or low quality) MP3 copy any time you want.

You will probably find these tutorials helpful: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tutorial_copying_tapes_lps_or_minidiscs_to_cd.html

Tip: start with your worst records. You will get better at digitizing them with practice, so it’s a good idea to leave your best ones 'till you’ve had some practice, otherwise you will find yourself wanting to record them again :wink:

thanks for the links and advice.

sop to clarify, I should record at 44100 Hz and 32-bit sample format and then Export WAV files at 44100 Hz 16-bit PCM or FLAC?



FLAC may be 16-bit or 24-bit. The difference in terms of quality is insignificant for Vinyl but 24-bit FLAC files are much bigger than 16-bit, so I’d recommend 16-bit FLAC.

If disk space is not a relevant consideration, then 16-bit WAV is a convenience because it is compatible with just about everything, though very few programs support metadata in WAV files. Files may be converted between FLAC and WAV (either direction) with no loss of quality using a suitable encoder / decoder (Foobar2000 is a very good format converter for Windows: https://www.foobar2000.org/).

You may find the additional ClickRepair app useful - it costs a little but produced amazing results (I used it when I digibitted my LPs) - See this sticky thread: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/click-pop-removal-clickrepair-software/1933/1


You hardware setup should be fine. Audacity is also fine. Your choice of recording software is not critical because the software simply captures the digital audio stream and writes it to your hard drive.

A “competitor” to ClickRepair is [u]Wave Corrector[/u], which is now FREE!

I’ve also had good luck with [u]Wave Repair[/u] ($30 USD). It only “touches” the audio where you identify a defect but that means it’s VERY time consuming. It usually takes me a full weekend to clean-up a digitized vinyl recording, so it wouldn’t be practical for 100 records unless they are mostly in perfect condition.

Audacity also has a Click Removal and Repair effects, or as a last resort you can zoom-in and re-draw the waveform.

You can also try some “regular” Audacity Noise Reduction but be sure to listen carefully because there can be side effects and sometimes “the cure is worse than the disease”. I’ll usually apply Noise Reduction only to the fade-ins and fade-outs. And of course, you can completely mute the silence between tracks. Or, if you are making individual tracks you can simply chop-off the lead-in lead-out gaps between songs.

I usually join both sides together and process the album as a whole.

Besides de-clicking and noise reduction, some older records are a little “dull sounding” so I’ll boost the highs with EQ (may +3 to +6dB), but that’s probably not necessary with your 90’s records.

As the last step, I’ll Normalize (AKA “maximize”) the volume. If the levels are low, that will bring them up. Or, if the processing (usually EQ) has pushed the peaks over 0dB, normalizing will bring the peaks down to 0dB to prevent clipping (distortion). Normalize before exporting to WAV or FLAC because although Audacity can go over 0dB, most file formats will clip at 0dB. (Note that normalization doesn’t match the perceived volume of different tracks.) I’ll normalize the album as a whole to maintain the original loud/soft differences between tracks, but if are always playing individual songs you can normalize the tracks individually.

The downside to WAV (besides larger files) is that metadata (tagging) is not well-supported. Your DJ/player software might not see the artist/title/album/artwork information. (Audacity can’t add the artwork. I use MP3tag, which also works with FLAC and most other formats.

And, if you are really picky about sound quality, buy the CD (or MP3/AAC)! :wink: