Some newbie concerns/questions


I’ve made several attempts at digitizing my vinyl collection, first by using the DAK system and its Interface/products, then by switching to this free Audacity software. I don’t think I’m getting anywhere.

I have a USB turntable now. If I use this turntable, I don’t need an Interface or pre-amp - is this correct? Or is a separate preamp and Interface recommended for best sound quality?

The Recording Level meter slide does not work. I got it to work once somehow but on my second session, it wouldn’t work (I couldn’t reduce the level). This is a big point of contention for me since I don’t want distorted recordings.

Once I transfer a record and save the file, how do I access it afterwards? I don’t want to create new folders for every album I record. Also, do I need something like iTunes to collect all of these recordings so that I can burn them to CD?

Thanks for any help!

Which USB turntable? Some are good some are poor. But yes it should have a pre-amp and a USB sound card bundled so you can plug directly to the computer via USB.

When I converted my LPs some years ago I started with an Ion iTT-USB - the electronics were good but the turntable itself was poor - a very light plastic turntable that gave lots of wow and flutter.

So I junked that and gave my existing hi-fi turntable a good service and bought an external USB soundcard (Edirol-UA-1EX, sadly no longer available) and a preamp from ARTcessories - this gave truly excellent results.

If I was buying now I get the ARTcessories device that combines a preamp with a USB soundcard (not available when I was buying):

The other tool I got was a software page called ClickRepair (for getting rid of clicks and pops with magical results) which is also sadly no longer distributed - thought there are sites in the Internet I believe where it can be found.

You may find this set of tutorials in the Audacity manual useful:

Particularly this suggested workflow:


My other key advice: DON’T start with your favourite records - start with ones you don’t care too much about.

You will learn and improve as you progress.

I stupidly started with my favorites and then had to go back and redo them when my technique improved.


Thanks, waxycylinder.

I have the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable.

Seems to be a great unit (it certainly costs enough!) but I’m new at all this. Once I learn how to do all of this I’m going to want the best recording results so I’m probably going to opt for a non-USB table and separate preamp & interface setup.

If I can’t resolve the Recording Level issues on Audacity I’m probably also going to opt for another system, maybe even pay for one. Any recommendations for other software?


That would depend on the quality of the preamps. Or if your a separate preamp allows you to adjust the recording level, that could be an advantage.

Usually the record itself is the weak link.

That’s normal for a USB input.

It’s the digital-to-analog converter (inside the turntable) that clips (distorts) if you “try” to go over 0dB. If you are getting clipping, the analog level needs to be reduced before it’s digitized. If the levels are low that’s not a problem unless they are WAY too low. You can amplify digitally after recording/digitizing with no quality loss.

I don’t remember if Show Clipping is on by default.

File → Export will create WAV or MP3 files, etc. I use Export Selected Audio to make one file at a time. Or there is a way to Export Multiple Files at once, after labeling the tracks.

Audio CDs don’t have WAV files (or any kind of “computer files”) but they use the same underlying format as 16-bit, 44.1kHz, Stereo WAV.

Most CD burning software will convert other formats (such as MP3) but MP3 is lossy compression so you should avoid it if you are making an audio CD. MP3 isn’t necessarily “terrible” but you should avoid the extra lossy compression.

It’s also possible to burn MP3s (or other computer files) onto a CD and you can play it on your computer or some CD player will play it. (This is called a “data disc”.)
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File → Save saves/creates an Audacity Project file which can only be opened in Audacity. (I rarely make projects… Usually I work directly with WAV files.)

Right. Audacity doesn’t burn (or rip) CDs.

ITunes can do it. Windows Media Player can do it. I use ImgBurn.

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There are other applications that will allow you to adjust the recording level but if you are clipping the analog-to-digital converter inside the turntable, different software won’t help.

Your choice of software doesn’t affect recording quality (assuming it’s working correctly). It just “captures” the digital audio and sends it to your hard drive. It can make a difference with effects or “cleaning-up” the clicks & pops, etc.

If you have a desktop/tower computer you can plug-in the line-level outputs from the turntable into line-in (blue) on your soundcard and the recording level should work.

Is there anything I can do on the turntable itself to prevent the recordings from reaching a level that will cause them to clip? There aren’t a whole lot of settings on it. As far as the pops and clicks, that’s something I think I can master easily :slight_smile:

Yes, I have a tower PC. Are you saying I can bypass the USB and use red and white plugs instead?

By the way, I was able to adjust the Recording Level once while playing with the software. I think it was after I changed the Host to WASAPI

Yes. All USB turntables have a built-in preamp and virtually all of them have line-outputs. There should be a switch on the back or bottom of the turntable to switch between “phono” and “line”. The line setting uses the internal preamp and the phono selection bypasses it so you can use an external preamp.

So I can bypass the Line Out on the turntable, use an external preamp via the Phono output and add an interface for the best results? And I won’t have any issues adjusting the Recording Level if I go this route?

If the interface has a recording level knob. :wink: Some inexpensive ones don’t, but the ART USB Phono plus and most higher-end interfaces do.

The original LP120 was famous for low gain and plenty of headroom. It’s been updated but I’d be kind-of surprised if it now tends to clip.

Thanks everyone for all the help! I’m deadly serious about converting my vinyl to digital, then ultimately to either a Media player or CD, the reason being is most of my collection never made it past vinyl.

So I have an Onkyo Stereo receiver (Model TX-8050), which, everyone knows, has a Phono input. I also have a USB turntable, the AT LP120. Since it’s a USB turntable I don’t need a Phono preamp BUT because my TT has USB I can’t control the Recording Level, which is a problem if I use Audacity.

My question, can I bypass my receiver’s preamp (which is probably not the best quality) and use an external one? If yes, how do I bypass it?

Does a Phono preamp also serve as an Interface or do I need to add that separately?

Again, sorry about the noob questions. Someday I’ll be just as good at this stuff as you guys!

Did you try the line input on your soundcard?

Most phono preamps are analog only. The ART USB Phono plus is an interface with a preamp and so is the Behringer UFO202 but the Behringer doesn’t have a level control.

You have two preamps, one in the turntable and one in your receiver. I assume the receiver has “tape out” or “record-out” and that can go to the soundcard. Or the headphone output will work (with the right adapter) and the headphone output has a volume control. And like I said, usually the record itself is the weak link.

Your regular soundcard is probably fine so you shouldn’t need an interface. If there is a quality issue it’s usually noise (background hum hiss or whine). But if you’re getting excess noise, unplug the preamp from the soundcard because any hiss or hum is probably coming from the preamp. High pitch whine is usually coming form the soundcard… “Digital noise” getting into the soundcard’s analog electronics.

(The microphone inputs on soundcards/laptops is often low quality but the line input is usually good.)

I also don’t know what’s in the “DAK system” or why you don’t want to use it, but maybe some of that setup is useable?

I’ve just had a game-changing moment. I’ve owned a CD Recorder for years and essentially didn’t know what to do with it except transfer CDs to MiniDisc and, of course, play CDs. I had no idea I could transfer vinyl direct to CD with excellent quality, which is what I wanted all along! So I just wanted to thank everyone here who helped me navigate Audacity. As it turns out, I won’t be needing it lol. I can’t wrap my mind around how easy digitizing my records will be from now on - and I’ve had the tool to do so for more than a decade. Kinda feel silly about i but whatever. Thanks again!

A CD recorder is the fastest & easiest way to do it!

I recommend making a backup CD or ripping the CD to FLAC or WAV so you’ll never have to digitize the LP again. :wink:

Of course, the advantages of computer editing is that you can optionally adjust the levels or EQ and reduce or eliminate “snap”, “crackle”, and “pop”, etc.

And if you make & play files from your computer or phone they can be “tagged” artist/album/title and album artwork, etc. You may want to do that later even if you just want CDs now.

…I have an iPod with ALL of my music that connects to my car stereos, but that’s out dated and most people are using their phone. Most people are now streaming music from the Internet to their phone rather than storing files, and the phone can be linked to a “modern” car stereo via Bluetooth.

Yes, my plan is to, eventually, rip the CDs I make to a computer and then make MP3s or whatever to then transfer to a portable Media player but that’s FAR in the future lol. My priority right now is to transfer most of my vinyl collection directly to CD. I’m super pleased with the results so far! I burned an 11 track disc and the quality is amazing - just like a professional CD. Of course, there’s still pops and clicks but I think I like the way it sounds , warts and all. I never wanted a super clean digital sound - I’m 100% satisfied with the pro quality sound.

The EQ is something I’m not too concerned with because, like I said, I’m happy with the results so far. Nothing sounds off or “weak”. The only area I’ll need to improve on is my timing. Sometimes I’ll hit Record and the song won’t start playing for a few seconds so I’ll have some dead air but I’ll get better in time. I’ll need to figure out how to add track titles but that is also not really a priority for me. My TASCAM recorder does have a keyboard input and dials for Text so it’s just a matter of me learning how to use that feature.

I just wish someone would’ve told me: ‘Just buy a CD recorder and your life will be much easier’ LMAO.

Don’t forget that home-burnt CDs are made by a photo-chenical process (like photographs) so can fade over time, especially if left in direct sunlight.

I would suggest following DVDoug’s advive and rip the VD’s to WAVs and back up the WAVS to at least one, preferably 2 or more, external drives. I maintain two copies at home on a pair of 2TB USB drive and an offsite copy (1,000 miles away in Zurich). I did a LOT of hard work digibitting my LPs and tapes and I really don’t want to lose all that work.


Hey Peter,

I’ll get to all that - in time. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m somewhat of a hermit when it comes to tech lol. I spent years attempting to start the digitizing process without success. I purchased one of those bulky Vinyl-to-CD converters on Amazon and got mixed results even though it’s an all-in-one system. After some initial success with Audacity I then couldn’t figure out how to create files so that I could then export them to a Media player. Then I had to worry about learning how to properly transfer those files to a physical disc later down the line - the process was just very daunting for me.

Now that I’ve found an easy way to transfer my vinyl, at some point I’m going to want make backups to hard drive but that’s down the line. I’m hoping by then I’ve mastered the process a bit more. Thanks for everyone’s input!

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