my involved steps of LP to digital

With the hubris associated with thinking that someone else might find my methodology useful, I post my steps:
I’m not an audiophile, but here are steps I’ve worked out to ease the move…
I’d love to hear if there are better steps. I couldn’t find a list like this on the web, so I figured someone else could use the instructions to myself.

Ripping vinyl to digital, via Audacity, and leaving out the problem static.
[I’ve attached this text as an RTF doc, also attached my Excel sheet, and a sample “Track” file, the formatting heads south on this forum]

I had static problems, but no more:
The short of it is: USB has issues. While I thought it was the result of visiting web sites, or starting some app, I now think that it was my mouse and/or keyboard activity that kicked off the static. The solution was to skip the USB input, and use the line option on my Stanton turntable. A number of albums later and I have experienced no static issues. It was a post by kozikowski ( ) that set me on the path to redemption. . .

I like to have individual songs labeled, so this process includes labeling songs.
I like the ambient sound of an lp in good condition, but I don’t like pops, skips are right out. This process also goes over how I get rid of the click and crackle.

At the outset, let me say this is not for the faint of heart. It is a lengthy process. It pays me (after initial purchases) only about $6.50 an hour.
Assume CD averages $10
About 2:1 time to get into iTunes (eg a 45 minute record requires 1.5 hours)

If the album needs a lot of manual work (either because it is trashed or because you just have to get rid of that lame joke or the 15 seconds of applause) then the time can go up to hours/album.

My setup:

Stanton t90 turntable,
Intel iMac, w/300gb Firewire2 hard drive (for backup,
KAB EV-1 record cleaner (attached to my vacuum cleaner)
KAB cleaning solution
Clean flat place to clean the record

Audacity 1.3.5d,
Click Repair 2.3.2 (to remove egregious pops and crackles, this program is just shy of magic)
Excel (to make entering track times easier)
Emacs (a text editor to “save as text” the snippet from Excel)
Firefox (to get Album art and tracks and read about the artist while recording)
ITunes (to charge my iPod with recorded songs)

Simple steps:
[the numbers refer to the detailed steps below]

  1. Prep record
    1. Record vinyl in Audacity
  2. 8.Remove clicks with “Click Repair” (only if necessary)
    2, 3, 9 Label Tracks
  3. Edit out whatever you don’t want to record
  4. Export in desired format
    Mark vinyl jacket inconspicuously that I’ve ripped it
    BACK Up hard drive!

Detailed Steps:
Turn off all fluorescent lights, turn off all variable resistor light switches (buzz)
Let others know you’re recording so they don’t come jumping into the room
Grab a beer, if the time is right
Learn appropriate Audacity keyboard shortcuts (Label track, zoom in, zoom out, etc)
Create an Excel spread sheet where the track times are calculated
Row 1 is the title columns
I have 6 columns in the spread sheet:
Column A. Track title that I enter
Column B. Track length, I enter as decimal: minutes.seconds
Column C. Track start time, calculated, value of cell C2 is below
Column D. Track end time, calculated value of cell D2 is below
=C2 + $F$2 +(60 * INT(B2) + (100 * (B2 - INT(B2))))
Column E. Track title copied from col A
= A2
Column F. Cell F2 populated with number of seconds between tracks
= 2
Select cells C2-E2 and fill down about 20 rows or so
Save file.


  1. Clean record thoroughly. Really, go ahead and do it: it’s worth the 2 minutes invested otherwise the crackle will be forever in your digital copy.
  2. Enter track info into the Excel spreadsheet described above
    I skip right to the recording, step 5, and do steps 2 and 3 while recording ( and get the album art too).
    a. I take the track titles and times from
    b. Paste into Emacs
    c. Replace all colons with periods
    d. Select all in Emacs, cut and paste into a work space in Excel
    e. Eliminate all cells but for the two columns holding song title and times
    f. Cut these two columns of cells and paste into cell A2
    Columns C & D now have the start and stop time, in seconds, of each track. It also adds a little pause to each track (cell D2). Column E is a copy of the song title.
    g. Note that there are restricted characters (any character not allowed in a file name, such as colon, question mark, slash, etc). Now is a good time to erase them from Column A
  3. Export columns C, D, & E only the cells with songs, to a tab delimited text file (via Emacs for me, Mac Excel does not export selections of a spread sheet)
    a. Copy Row C2-end of songs, only columns c,d,e
    b. Paste into Emacs
    c. Save text file
    I use the filename “!track_labels.txt” and just overwrite it every time. The exclamation puts it at the top of an alpha listing)
  4. Crank up Audacity.
    a. Ensure input setup correctly to be from line
    b. DON’T USE USB!. Line in only. USB has horrific static problems sometimes. The process is long enough without spending that time again.
    c. Find the loudest song on the album and set the record level (I use 0.6). I haven’t touched it since first setting it. Max volume ends up being around –3dB on the more bombastic sections
  5. Record the vinyl
    a. Start New project
    b. Press “Pause”
    c. Press “Record” (get a new sound track)
    d. Press “Pause” to start recording while
    e. Putting the stylus in the groove on side 1
    f. Press “Pause” at the end of the side
    g. Mark end of side for easier editing
    i. Click at the end of the track to move the cursor here
    ii. Insert a track label (cmd B on Mac)
    iii. Hit the “Return” at the end of the label
    h. Flip disc
    i. Press “Pause” to start recording while
    j. Put the stylus in the groove on side 2
    k. Press “Stop” at the end of side 2
    l. Save the file in a good place
    i. I name the file “artist last name, first name, album title”
  6. Trim the dead air at beginning, middle and end.
    a. Got to beginning “Home”
    b. Press “play”
    c. When the music starts, press “Pause”
    d. Click just before the music starts
    e. Press “Stop”
    f. Press “Shift J” to select from the cursor to the beginning
    g. Press Delete to remove that section.
    h. Repeat for end of track (“End” and “Shift K”)
    i. Go to end of side 1 (look for label) and delete dead air there.
    i. Cmd 3 zooms out, cmd 1 zooms in, cmd 2 zoom “normal”
    ii. Delete the “Side 2” track label
    j. Save.
  7. Export to Click Repair, if album needs to be “de-clicked”
    For my really clean albums, I don’t do this. The little bit of lp noise is reassuring to someone my age). If it’s a cheap pressing, with lots of noise, I do it.
    a. From “File” menu, select “Export…”
    b. Select a good place on disc (I export to the data folder created when the Audacity project was created. Audacity remembers the last place you exported-read carefully the destination it has chosen for you.)
    c. It doesn’t matter the labels, they’ll be set later. BUT, there is an intermittent bug in Audacity (or maybe it’s user error) that, when “Exporting Multiple…”, it won’t accept setting a template. Therefore, I set the template in this step.
    i. Clear the template
    ii. Enter Album artist, Album title, and release year
    iii. Click “Set Template”
    d. Start Click Repair
    i. Set de-click level.
    I find that a level of 15 works for a poorly pressed record, where there are no real pops. The default setting is 50, but I’ve found that a bit too aggressive.
    For a really mishandled album, I go up to 50 (most machines only go to 10. . .)
    ii. Open the AIFF file just exported
    iii. Give it the appropriate destination (“Click Repair” defaults to the folder from which the aiff file was )
    iv. It’ll alert you and “boop” when done
  8. Import de-clicked track back into Audacity
    a. Go to the beginning of the recording to put insertion point there “home”
    b. From “File ‡ Import ‡ Audio…” (shortcut = cmd shift I)
    You’ll now have two audio tracks. I check to make sure I prefer the sound of the de-clicked track before committing to its continued existence
    c. I hit play, and then toggle the “solo” buttons on the left of the audio tracks so I can hear the raw and the de-clicked next to each other.
    d. Delete the track you prefer less (you always have the .aiff and _cr.aiff versions to go back to).
    e. Save the project
    I import the file into the projectwhen it asks.
  9. Label the tracks
    a. From “File ‡ Import ‡ Labels…”
    b. Import the file you exported from step 3.c above
    c. Adjust the track locations to actual track ending/beginning
    This’ll get the track ending about right, they must be moved slightly. It is here that you really want to be handy with the zoom in/out keyboard shortcuts
    i. Zoom out until you see the end of the track
    ii. Zoom in until you’re a seeing only about 6 seconds of sound
    iii. Highlight from before the end of the track, to just past it.
    iv. Click the “Play” button
    v. Move the track label to where it should be (grab the round circuit in the middle of the icon on the “label” track)
    I move the icon along as it plays, releasing the mouse at the end of the track
    vi. Repeat above steps for each track

I get tired of listening to applause, so I’ll edit out long applause tracks. They can either be excised completely, or faded down.
Sometimes I’ll insert a second of white space after deleting the applause if the next track starts immediately. This can take minutes per track to get right, so it is not to be attempted unless you are committed. Purists may jump all over you. Just ask them if they want to listen to “Revolution #9” on the White Album again.
d. Save.
10. Edit out what’s not wanted
a. Loud pops.
i. You can either paint it out (laborious)
ii. I copy the 1/30 of a second before the pop and paste it onto the pop. Use the counter at the bottom of the display. Set the radio button to “length”, select the drop down at right to show milliseconds too.
b. Applause
i. I use fade out and fade in (if necessary).
ii. Amplify –50dB to turn volume to zero
iii. Cut out. If you do this, select the area, and finish by dragging the cursor onto the label track. You’ll notice the label track gets highlighted too. When you delete, you will also be deleting time from the label track, so all the subsequent labels will be shifted.
c. Save.
11. Export to MP3
Audiophiles don’t like the MP3 format because it’s lossy. My ears cannot tell the difference, and it’s compact to fit on my small iPod, so I use MP3
a. From “File ‡ Export Multiple…”
b. Select the MPS “Export Format”
c. Select the “Export Location” for the MP3 files
This will default to the last place you imported or exported to. Make sure that it is in the correct folder. I save files to the same location as the .aiff and (if it exists) the _cr.aiff files.
d. Set the “Options” button (on the first export, it will remember settings from session to session)
i. Select “Bit Rate Mode:”
I use “Variable”. Appears to be best quality::size
ii. Select “Quality”
I use “Best Quality”. I did some tests on different quality/file size/location tests. This is what I came up with:

  1. In the car, it makes no difference at all
  2. With iPod ear buds, it makes very little difference
  3. In a room with little ambient noise, I could tell the difference between best and lowest quality.
  4. With very nice headphones, I can tell the difference.
  5. MP3 is compressed anyway, and the file size difference isn’t that great between the different methods
  6. I never want to do this again, so I pick the best. Maybe when I turn 64, and my hearing slacks off I’ll go lower.
  7. I’m keeping the aiff files for the future, so I can always re-export.
    iii. Select “Variable Speed”
    e. “Split files based on:” Make sure that “Labels” is selected
    f. “Name Files:” Make sure “Using Labels/Track Name” is selected.
    g. Check the “Overwrite existing files” button in the lower left.
    h. Click the “Export” button
    i. Click “OK” for each track exported
    Don’t worry if the everything but the track is incorrect, it can always be fixed in iTunes.
    This takes a while. How while depends upon the complexity of the music.
    ii. On my machine, it is about 7 minutes per album, on average.
    iii. (start cleaning the next record here!)
  8. Import into iTunes
    a. Crank up iTunes
    b. Have the “Library: Music” area selected.
    c. From the finder, open the folder with the mp3 files
    d. Select all the mp3 files
    e. Drag mp3 files into the song listing area
    f. Locate them to label appropriately
    g. Select all the just imported tracks
    h. Get Info (cmd I)
    i. I grab the album art either from Google images, or from Allmusic
    ii. Paste the on art (if iTunes hasn’t already done one you like). For some reason, there is no right mouse button for paste, you must either cmd V or Edit ‡ Paste
    iii. I also put in the grouping so that it will sort in iTunes the way that I have my lps sorted. So, under grouping I put “Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here”. I like to track the year it was first released, and what type of music it is. These can be quickly gleaned from the Allmusic site.

Hope this helps someone.
I’d love to hear any suggestions for making it better. I’ve got more lps to do than hours available.


Looks like a pretty well-sorted process you have there. Excellent advice about cleaning the records first - and further excellent advice about doing the backups (I keep two copies of the production files that I make on two different external USB disks - and run two, more or less parallel, iTunes libraries on my two PCs).

And I agree with you that ClickRepair is little short of magic - I used to remove clicks manually to start with (using the draw tool in 1.2 and then the repair effect in 1.3), until Koz kindly pointed me in the direction of ClickRepair last year - this saved me hours of work.

Unlike you, I don’t use MP3s for my iPod. Once I have my set of WAVs from an LP, I use them to burn a CD (partly as a further backup - but also for playing). I then use the CD rip the tracks into iTunes as AAC - I have the bitrate set at 192, chosen after extensive listening tests as a good compromise bewteen sound quality and space occupancy (though now that I have upgraded to a 160gb iPod I would probably choose 256 - one day I may get around to re-ripping, but I also have to consider the iTunes filespace o my PC). One benefit of ripping the CD made from LP like this is that often the Gracenote database will recognise the recording and supply the necessary metadata tags: tracknames, album name etc. Like you I always add the album cover artwork - I get a lot from Amazon, some from Wikipedia - and if those sources fail, I use my digital camera to copy the cover.

Also I would comment that USB can work well for some users - I started out with an ION iTTUSB, the electronics (including the USB services) worked fine. I only junked it as it gave me far too much wow&flutter, probably due to its extremely lightweight plastic platter. I now use my old Technics TT connected to an ART preamp in turn connected to an external USB soundcard (Edirol UA-1EX). This combination produces consistently excellent results.

Yes I agree it’s a long process, but well worth it - I have spent two and a half years on my vinyl LPs and 45s - hard work, but it’s great to have them in my iPod and PCs. My next project is to start on my wife’s vinyl collection for her …



a further thought - you may care to take your documented process an create an entry in the Audacity Wiki tutorials section - see:

You will need to create a wiki account to do this - and the text could be tidied a little with the benefit of improved formatting provided by the Wiki over these forum posts - but in the Wiki it would provide an additional useful item in the toolkit.


Thanks Waxy,

I tried about six ways to heaven to indent lines with a post (even beginning with a period, spaces, tabs–nope, all conflated).

Will add a page to the Wiki as soon as time prevails (next transcribing session?)


You guys sound like you really know your stuff, and, as I am a new user, od course, I’m having some problems. My 1st LP recording LOOKED like it was going fine. I cleaned the LP, recorded side 1, paused record, flipped the LP, un-paused, If that’s a word, and began side 2. All looked fine, until I got finished, and only had the 1st 4 songs and a bit of the 5th . There were 5 songs per side, so I don’t know what went awry. Any suggestions?
BTW, I use windows Xp, Sp3, and have a Crosley USB turntable.

Personally I would have pressed STOP after the first side and then Exported the file as a WAV. Working on long tracks can use an enormous amount of disk space. 1 hour recorded at 32 bit stereo will use about 1.5GB, and this will rapidly increase as you process the recording, so you will quickly have a project that is many GB in size. How much free disk space do you have?

That must be the problem. Not enough disk space. Maybe I can use my external hard drive, IF it’s fast enough, to solve that problem. Thanks for the help, Steve.

It’s extremely unlikely to be fast enough on a external disk to deal with the demands of real-time audio capture.

Can you free up some working space on you on-board disk?

Use your external disk to store the resultant WAV files, so they don’t cluuter up your main drive. You will be able to Export as WAV directly to the external drive if you want to.


My computer, which I “inherited” in my divorce, seems to have a ‘D’ drive, which looks to be an empty hard drive. If it is, can I just drag the entire Audacity program there? That would give me plenty of space.

If it’s an internal drive then it will probably be fast enough (as long as it is not badly fragmented).
You don’t actually need to move Audacity, just set the temporary folder to a folder on the D: drive in Audacity’s Preferences, and if you Save any projects, save them to the D: drive.