Newbie using Audio-technica AT-LP120-USB

I just acquired this turntable, and downloaded the newest version of Audacity, I have been watching every youtube video on “how to” for both the turntable and the software, now I have a few questions. My only use for this is to transfer all of my 300+ albums to my laptop and then create CD’s for each of them, including the Album cover if at all possible.
1.What is the best quality format to save my music? MP3 or something else like WAV? I want to keep it as close to the original sound as possible
I do have a 500GB external hard drive too.
2.Is there a preferred source to acquire accurate Album art? and is it easily added to my files with the music?
That is all I have for now until I get the USB cable I need and maybe some speakers,
I have wanted do do this for years, so now all my LP’s from the 60’s and 70’s I will be able to listen to via CD’s eventually, if I get it right!

1.What is the best quality format to save my music? MP3 or something else like WAV?

WAV is universal, uncompressed and lossless. But, metadata is not well-supported. Regular audio CDs are not WAV files, but 44.1kHz, 16-bit, WAV uses the same underlying PCM format as CD, and you can convert back-and-forth losslessly.

FLAC is lossless compression. The files are almost half the size of WAV and (like virtually every compressed format) it supports tagging/metadata. However, it’s not universal so not everybody can play it without installing a CODEC on their computer and not every portable player or car-player can play it. (ALAC is similar for Apple.)

MP3 is lossy compression and of course it’s universal. If you use a high-enough bitrate (or a high-enough quality setting) the sound can often be identical to the uncompressed original (in a blind listening test). AAC is Apple’s preferred version of lossy compression. It’s supposed to be “more advanced” than MP3 and it’s almost as universal.

However, if you edit an MP3 (or other lossy format) it has to be decompressed. So if you re-save (re-export) as MP3, you are going through another generation of lossy compression, and the “damage” does accumulate.

It’s also “bad practice” to make an audio CD* from MP3s because you are unnecessarily using a lossy format.

So, it’s best to start-out with a non-lossy format for editing. Then, you can burn a CD and/or make MP3s, etc. And, some people like to keep a FLAC archive.

I want to keep it as close to the original sound as possible

Actually, we can usually do a little better than that. :wink: Audacity’s Noise Reduction effect can reduce or eliminate low-level hiss & hum. The Click Removal and Repair effects can help with clicks & pops. There are also specialized programs for cleaning-up “snap”, “crackle” and “pop”. [u]Wave Corrector[/u] is now free. [u]This page[/u] has links to other vinyl clean-up software.

You have to be a little careful with noise reduction because you can get artifacts (side effects).

I also have Wave Repair ($30 USD) which was developed by the author of the above web page. It does a “perfect” job on most (but not all) clicks & pops and it only “touches” the audio where you identify a defect. But, it’s very time-consuming so it’s not practical when you’re digitizing lots of LPs.

A lot of older records are a little “dull sounding”, so I’ll sometimes use EQ to boost the highs.

I do have a 500GB external hard drive too.

That’s plenty of space for “CD quality” WAV files of all your albums (44.1kHz, 16-bit). But, this is a lot of work so you’ll want a backup. Do you also have space on your internal hard drive?

Just as a ballpark estimate I’d say 500MB per-album for WAV files, 300MB for FLAC, 100MB for MP3.

2.Is there a preferred source to acquire accurate Album art?

You can start by searching the Internet. If you search for “album art” there are few specialized websites, or you can search for the artist and album title. If there is a CD you can copy the CD artwork from the Amazon website, but it’s usually low-resolution.

There is a free program called [u]Album Art Downloader[/u] that searches the Net for you, but I don’t have much experience with it.

If you have a scanner you can scan it but you’ll have to scan it in parts (IIRC it takes 4 scans). Then, you can use “photo stitching” software to reassemble the picture. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that and I don’t remember what software I used, but there was a free application that could automatically figure-out how to patch the images together. I’m sure Photoshop can do it to.

I once took a few albums to Kinko’s because they have a large format scanner, but they refused to do it because it’s copyrighted.

and is it easily added to my files with the music?

Audacity can’t handle the artwork, but [u]MP3tag[/u] can. MP3tag can “tag” most audio formats, not just MP3, with the artist, album, song title, year, genre, artwork, etc. It doesn’t work with WAV files because tagging/metadata isn’t standardized.

CDs can’t have embedded artwork. There is something called [u]CD Text[/u] for the other (text) metadata. You’d have to find burning software that supports CD Text and you’d need a player (or player software) that supports it.

…Normally when you play a CD on your computer, the player software takes a “fingerprint” of the CD and it finds the artwork and other information on an online database. But, your homemade CDs won’t be found in the database.

…and maybe some speakers

You can do basic trimming/cutting/splicing with laptop speakers, but for noise reduction or EQ or anything that affects sound quality, you’ll want decent speakers or headphones so you can accurately evaluate what you’re doing. If you have a home stereo, you can plug your laptop’s headphone-output to tape-in or Aux-in on the stereo. Or, an HDMI output into a home theater receiver will also work.

…and then create CD’s for each of them,

Just in case you don’t already know this - Audacity doesn’t burn CDs. You’ll need some different software for that “last step”.


  • You can also burn MP3 files directly to CD as “data”. Of course, you can play that CDs a computer, some car stereos can play it, most DVD players will play it, but a standard CD player will not.

Thank you so much for your info it will help a lot.
A few things I have done so far: I bought a hypergear Speaker that is bluetooth and has really good sound quality.
Found this website for album art-
So now I think it’s time to clear out the office and set up my turntable and get busy, it was suggested I practice using audacity with less that primo LP’s that way I can work my way through the learning curve without worrying about redoing my recording.
So if I understand it right all i need do now is get started and i guess I will start exporting as WAV in the beginning at least and see how it goes.