Flutter noise during vinyl recording

Hello, new forum member here, and inexperienced Audacity user - only been using for a few weeks.

I am trying to record vinyl to MP3. I have a belt-drive turntable, ceramic needle cartridge with RCA outputs going thru a small pre-amp w/volume control (Alesis Phono Link) that goes into my Vista Home Premium quad-core i5 chipset machine via a powered USB hub.

It took about a week of work to regulate volume levels so that I minimized distortion and got the music to come through nicely. However, there is one lingering problem that I can’t seem to be able to solve.

All of my recordings so far have been marred by background “flutter” noise, like a slow, low volume helicopter. I have tried every filter I can find in Audacity, and nothing seems to help remove even a smidgeon of the noise.

I have also tried going direct USB without the hub and it still shows up. I have tried seemingly everything to try to isolate and eliminate this problem.

I don’t know if this problem is related to software, hardware or both. I had an older WinXP Home PC with a direct line-in to the sound card, using this same turntable, and I had no such problems there, but that PC is now dead. This newer PC has a mic input jack as well as a mic array on the front of the unit, but no direct line-in jack. That’s why I resorted to the RCA-to-USB pre-amp.

I am attaching an MP3 of a recording that exposes this “flutter” noise especially at the soft beginning.

I greatly appreciate any help that anyone here can offer up on my behalf! Thanks in advance!

What compression level are you using for your MP3? To me it sounds over-compressed and flat (and this is on studio Sennheiser headphones). Personally I use a bitrate of 256 - I started with 192 as a compromise between quality and space occupancy, but I find the 256 audibly better.


Thanks for responding!

Compressing at 128. Mostly to save on hard drive space, but I could go higher. With nearly 30K tracks in my collection, space is at a bit of a premium, even with storage going as cheaply as it is lately.

For the purposes of trying to fix the flutter problem, however, a higher compression rate had no effect, unfortunately.

Thanks for responding!

Actually, I’m compressing at 128. Not as high as you are. And I tried changing the bitrate just for grins and giggles, higher and lower, and unfortunately, it had zero effect on the flutter noise.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should just do away with the USB config and go back to the old RCA-to-1/8 in. stereo male plug and just go in the mic jack. I’m thinking it will be less control because of the loss of the pre-amp.

USB audio will not go through a hub. Connect the turntable system directly. Koz

You said you had a ceramic cartridge? Did I get that. Are you accurate? Ceramic cartridges didn’t need an RIAA preamplifier. They would approximate the correction by themselves. However, they are the bottom of the good sound quality and fidelity pile. That’s what came on kiddie phonographs which had to be cheap and make noise.

If you plug into the Mic-In, you may get what most people get when they do that, Mono consisting of Left sound from the record. Mic-In isn’t stereo on most computers.


Thanks for your responses, kozikowski!

Now let’s see if I can glean some understanding here. If I were to go with a magnetic cartridge, chances are I could go a way toward eliminating the noise? And yes, I tried a non-amplified solution with the ceramic cartridge and got zero sound to come through - hence the pre-amp which now gives me sound but I’m also getting that unwelcome noise.

Also, if you had read my original post more closely, you would have seen “I have also tried going direct USB without the hub and it still shows up.” - no matter where or how I plug it in, the flutter is there. Hub (USB 2.0), USB 3.0 jack or USB 2.0 jack - I have them all. And direct-connect doesn’t give me any better audio than through the hub, regardless of noise. My spectrum analyses come out identical.

I’ll take a look at magnetic cartridges for this audio-technica turntable and see where that may lead. I have a feeling from process of elimination that the answer lies either with a magnetic cartridge or a different RCA-to-USB product than the Alesis unit, or both.

Thanks again.

OK folks, I have seen the light and have solved my own problem. I bought my turntable new several years ago (since discontinued) and in the middle of a move soon after the purchase, I promptly lost the manual. Just downloaded a copy of the manual for my unit and found a “hidden” feature that I didn’t know existed. The turntable has a built-in pre-amp that I didn’t know about - hidden under the rubber support deck and accessible through a hole in the metal disc underneath. I turned it on (had been off) and now I have zero flutter noise. Turns out that I needed the extra “oomph” provided by the turntable’s own pre-amp. So, in this case, a manual plus one more pre-amp did the trick.

Many thanks to those who cared enough to respond - it is greatly appreciated!

Glad you got it sorted - and at no extra expense :smiley:

Goes to show it can be well worth reading manuals … :sunglasses: