Recording from Vinyl - 'quiet' distortion

I’m a new Audacity user and new to this forum so if anyone could help with the following i’d be most grateful. I recently acquired an ION USB turntable to copy my vinyl collection to PC/CD. I’ve copied a few LP’s where the volume is relatively consistent and these have been OK. I’m having a problem though with tracks with quiet passages in the middle of normal volume/loud passages. The quiet bits are coming out distorted (a little bit like listening through a vacuum cleaner hose!). My Audacity settings are as suggested by the software insructions, sampling at 44100hz. After each recording, I use the ‘normalizing’ and ‘noise removal’ options. Could the problem be caused by one of the latter or could it be i’m recording at too low a volume ?

I used an ION ITTUSB for a few months amd I never had to mess with the gain control on the device when recording vinyl - it always seemed to work at a fairly optimal signal level. I did need to use th gain control thogh woth a couple of tapes I converted. I actually gave up on the ION in the end as the lightweight platter gave far too much wow and flutter on some recordings (I now use my old Technics TT with a pre-amp and external soundcard and get much better results).

A couple of points to consider:

  1. is your stulus clean - ION don’t give you one, but with my old styli/cartridhes I used to get a littl stylus brush to gently remove any crud/pet-fair build up. And fortunately I have kept a couple of thes over the years in my spares box. If you do clean it do be very careful.

  2. Are your records clean - loud passages tend to obscure/mask vinyl uncleanliness and damage - the quiter parts show it up “nicely”. There are I believe still some commercial LP cleaning products around. Water and a little detergent may help too - and wash off in distilled water. Some folks used to play their LPs “wet”, but I personally would not recommend this approach.

    If you have a hi-fi or boombox, try connecting the ION via the RCA outputs and then jusy play the LPs - do the quiet passges still sound cruddy? If so then its definitely either the LP or the stylus. If its ok on some LPs and not others then its likely to be the LPs - if all LPs then suspect the stylus/cartridge.


<<<The quiet bits are coming out distorted (a little bit like listening through a vacuum cleaner hose!)>>>

That’s the USB Turntable Bell you hear ringing. Many people on the forum discovered that not only is the turntable not very good in the straight mechanical sense (needle accuracy, spin speed), it’s not very good at USB, either. The usual symptom is noise and distortion on the second or third record you try to digitize. “It worked before, why not now?”

USB Turntables can produce unstable conditions. The problem with unstable conditions is that they are…unstable.

Can my turntable cause noisy, hissy sound…yes.
Can my turntable cause sound dropouts…yes.
Can my turntable cause distortion…yes.
Can my turntable cause bad sound files…yes.
Can my turntable cause hash blasts in my show…yes.
Can my turntable cause quiet sounds to be distorted…three guesses.

If you’re in a position to cast off the USB services and go analog, that usually eliminates a lot of troubles.

This is a writeup for an ION turntable and a Mac, but the idea is there if you have a PC.