USB Vinyl to Computer all sound tinny

Need help on how to fix the tin man issue when converting Vinyl via USB turntable to computer. Most all my attempts (many different records - 33lp) have produced worthless tinny lispy tracks in Audacity 2.1.1. Equipment: Audio-Technica AT-LP1240 USB Direct Drive Turntable, Asus ZS97 WS Motherboard, Logitech 5-1 Speakers, all latest drivers including Realtek 2.79. I have followed all the guides and tried many different methods to remove the tin can voices to no avail. Hooked up the new turntable to my old old stereo system and the records played clear as a bell making the issue more confusing to a neophyte who only wanted to salvage old LPs. Have noted many others in forum have the same issue. I am assuming it is not an issue with Audacity but rather an issue on my setup
Did I buy the wrong turntable?
Is the tin ear problem a hardware problem that can be fixed by using a different hookup to the computer (turntable can connect with RCA cables).
Will an external sound card fix the issue.

I do not wish to have to run Audacity Effects, etc. on every record track.
Ideas please. Hate to think my money and several days time have been wasted on a bad idea or bad purchase.

In order of appearance:

Your turntable is probably OK.

No, you should not need filters or corrections in your music transfers. Audacity will not do that in real time anyway, so stop trying.

This turntable plugs into the wall for power, right? The only other cable should be a USB connection to the computer. A very common error is connecting the stereo audio cables and the USB. Stop that. Not needed. USB only.

USB devices (like the turntable) should be fully connected, stable and happy before you start Audacity. If there is any doubt about the connection, restart Audacity.

The music on a vinyl record is intentionally distorted. I’m not making that up. Grooves will not hold loud bass tones and so they are intentionally suppressed according to a recipe designed by the RIAA. Music sounds tinny if you fail to take the RIAA effect out during playback.

So this is where you dig in the turntable instructions. Typically, you can switch the stereo cable music between RIAA and not RIAA (Phono or Not Phono). but the USB connection is always fully corrected and perfect. It doesn’t have to be like that.

It sounds like you’re just transferring the wrong way.

You would want the turntable to deliver tinny sound if you intended to use your own super high quality Phono Preamplifier instead of the one inside the turntable. Your own Phono Preamp will have the RIAA correction. That’s how I do it and I think Waxcylinder on the forum does it that way, too.

Let us know.


On what sound device and speakers are you playing the recordings made in Audacity?

What version of Windows?

The “Realtek 2.79” is almost certainly a generic driver not properly matched to your actual motherboard sound card. So unless you are forced to use that driver because none others work, that driver is not going to help, even if it is nothing to do with the issue.

Best advice: look first on the web site of your computer or motherboard manufacturer for the latest audio drivers intended for your computer model and for your version of Windows.

If you have 64-bit Windows, you need 64-bit drivers.

If RIAA not being removed is the problem there is an exact one-step fix. Apply the “RIAA” curve in the Equalization effect.


Thanks for the help. You were correct about reading the turntable instructions but as usual the instructions were written very poorly. Had to look for some clarification on web.
Learned the following listed items were part of my Tin Ears problem.

  1. Even though I told the salesman of my intent to convert vinyl to digital he steered away from the Shure M97XE High Accuracy Turntable Cartridge to a poor DJ type of needle (my opinion only).
  2. I believe this Numark DJ needle was the cause of much of the tinny voice sound recorded from several LPs. The waveform graphs did not look like what one can see in the many U-tube videos. All my recording graphs looked as if they had received “Flat-Top Haircuts”.
  3. Bought the Shure M97XE and bingo, the graphs looked like what are found online and the tin ear effect has mostly disappeared.
  4. Properly leveled the turntable to try and reduce skips but still have not gotten the adjustments tuned in. Ordered what I hope is the last need today - Shure SFG-2 Tracking Force Gauge. Once I have the setting correct I hope the skip on my old drunken records will not be so bad.
  5. Notice another issue today. The skip mat that came with my turntable is warped (fiber junk I suppose). Replaced the mat with a rubber mat off my old Onkyo turntable.
  6. Still lost on desired turntable height adjustment, the instructions had not detail other than how to change the setting but not on what is best.
  7. So, as I originally stated I did not believe Audacity was part of my issue and that was quite correct. All the issues so far have been the learning curve, the junk suggested by the salesman, and the lack of quality info on the seller’s website. The right cartridge for the job, the need for a tracking force gauge, and perhaps an alternate skip mate would have saved me a lot of wasted time.
  8. Audacity is really great fun for one who has a curious and obsessive nature like mine. Much joy in resurrecting old albums dating back to the early 1960’s.
    I think the only issue remaining is the skip issue and I am hoping the gauge will resolve that one but I read online how the counterweight for turntable I have may be on the light side.
    Almost forgot to mention, the RIAA effect dampened the sound too much, do I need to change the default settings?
    Many thanks once again for your guidance,
    Mr. Tin Ears

This thing looks an awful lot like the Techniques 1200 series. I wonder if one bought the other. If you have skipping, then the skating and tracking adjustments are almost certainly off. That’s what those extra dials around the arm pivot do.

I think the salesperson recommended a disco needle because you’re buying a disco turntable. It says so in bold letters everywhere I looked. When I was doing this, the disco needles had special stiffening to prevent damage while you were backing up the record for cuing. I don’t remember anyone ever calling the sound tinny. We used to be able to get the bass up enough to cause nosebleeds and register on seismographs.

And since the tinny sound didn’t completely vanish, I wonder if you still don’t have a problem somewhere. I suppose if the tracking is far enough off to cause skipping, that might seriously damage the sound quality.

But yes, nobody would argue with you about cross checking the arm pressure settings.

Correct me, but again from the instructions, aren’t you supposed to “float” the cartridge and then tune in the stylus pressure with one of those large dials on the back of the arm? I’ve never found those very far off.

If you applied the RIAA correction and the sound turned into a boomy mess, then the sound was probably OK the way it was. There are no options to the RIAA correction. It’s a very strict curve. You may adjust overall volume afterward, but not the shape of the curve.


Koz, thanks for all the help on my foolish and costly adventure. A moment of nostalgia for the past made me rush into my purchase and desire to resurrect my three foot high pile of many different styles of music. In my normal plodding way most of the setup is now correct for my turntable.
My only remaining question is whether a different turntable would make any difference with LP’s in questionable condition. Many I have tried appear to be scratch free but still crackle and pop too much even after several cleanings. Do not have an expensive washing system but my guess is that would make little difference. I did check and recheck both online and in a catalogue from the same seller and found no mention of “DJ Turntable” listed for the one I purchased but it was on the same page as “DJ” turntables. It was billed as a USB turntable (a moot point perhaps due to poor vinyl). The different effect in Audacity work for some of the cracking and popping but not always. Loud songs cover corrections but more subtle music seems to lose too much of the quality with noise reduction etc. (at least at default setting). Perhaps additional learning time with Audacity will aid in my quest to remove the noise without losing to much of the original track. It seems that the cartridge picks up every little flaw on my old records.
Did the float on the arm routine but had missed it at first. Found an online pdf version of the turntable setup that my old eyes could see, seems I missed the floating step until yesterday.
This dumb old geezer should have taken a closer look at his long forgotten albums before jumping into the resurrection business. Quite depressing to find most of my favorites bit the dirt (literally) decades ago. I have plunked down at least twice what it would have cost to purchase new albums (CDs) to no avail. Usually just a good track here and there is the best I can hope to recover.
So sad that I did not properly care for the albums from the start but I lived in the “wild and fast times” mode back when so stack-able turntables won the day. Drop and scratch and skate damage. Will insure the turntable setup is proper tomorrow when gauge arrives and then try try try again.
Many Thanks,
Mr. Tin Ears
(but at least I can say the tinny sound is now gone – just the clicks, cracks, pops and skips remain).

When it comes to avoiding cracking and popping, try washing one or two of the worst offenders.

No, you don’t need a Keith Monks. A dishwashing bowl, lukewarm tap water with a tiny drop of dishwashing liquid will do. Use a very soft brush and go along the groove. A “vintage” disc washer (Disco Antistat, fi), consisting of a narrow bucket and a spindle can be handy, though.

Afterwards, rinse in plenty of demineralized water and wait for the discs to dry.

Some people prefer to play their vinyl while wet. It used to be a Lenco thing, known as “Lenco Clean”. Be warned that lots of people have found out that after a couple of wet playings, they can’t go back to dry playing because it crackles even worse.


I will give sink washing another try. Seems my better recordings were from the ones I washed at the start before my turntable setup issues were corrected. Dropped the washing not being sure if it helped of hurt. Your post has helped me see the Ivory light as the worst popping has been on the LPs I did not wash. Thanks for the tip on letting the platters dry which in some cases I fell short. First batch I washed were set upon cans to dry overnight, these played best but my turntable being improperly adjusted confused my issues.
I watches many U Tube vids on cleaning records but was not sure which were good methods and which were bad.

Bought too many cleaning solutions and brushes to make my choices even more confusing. Your suggestion will be a winner I strongly suspect.


Although I had and still have a Keith Monks cleaning machine, for light treatment I would often just use a cloth with a 10%/90% mixture of isopropyl alcohol / distilled water which was the mixture I used in the machine. I needed a license to buy even the isopropyl, and the industrial methylated spirits was too expensive.

Although I now use more “natural” fluids in the machine or by hand, I have never had any problems with deposits or leaching that some claimed would result from use of alcohol/spirits.


You’ll always need a tiny amount of soap to break hardness, unless you are so lucky to live in an area with soft tap water.

Adding alcohol is much needed if you’re a smoker. Tar residu doesn’t dissolve in water. And it helps with breaking surface tension too, so the record will get even wetter :laughing:

I also know someone who collects and filters rain water. That’s a lot softer, of course.

I have plunked down at least twice what it would have cost to purchase new albums (CDs) to no avail.

My usual advice is to buy the CD (or MP3) if it’s available. :smiley:

Back to the adjustments - You shouldn’t need the force gauge as long as the tone arm has a calibrated adjustment and you zero it (float it) first. If there’s an anti-skating adjustment, adjust that to match your stylus force adjustment.

Although it’s counter-intuitive, it’s usually recommended that you use the maximum recommended tracking force for the particular cartridge. (1.5 grams for the Shure M97XE). The Shure brush/stabilizer weighs 1/2 gram (which subtracts from the actual stylus force) so you’d set the tone arm to read 2 grams.

Record can be damaged (and you can get tracking distortion) if the force is too low, and you’ll get more wear if the force is too high. But, since you are digitizing the records, and probably not planning on playing them 100s of times, a little extra wear is no big deal.

Many I have tried appear to be scratch free but still crackle and pop too much even after several cleanings.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten how BAD most records sounded! :wink: Cleaning sometimes helps a little, but it rarely makes the record sound like a CD or MP3. With older records there is usually wear & damage beyond dirt & dust, although playing it dirty can cause more permanent damage.

The different effect in Audacity work for some of the cracking and popping but not always. Loud songs cover corrections but more subtle music seems to lose too much of the quality with noise reduction etc. (at least at default setting). Perhaps additional learning time with Audacity will aid in my quest to remove the noise without losing to much of the original track.

For individual clicks & pops, the Click Removal effect is your best bet and you can select a short section of audio so you’re not altering the good audio.

Sometimes you can re-draw the waveform with the Draw Tool. But, it’s tricky to get good-sounding results, and it’s tricky to zoom-in and find the find the defect visually. (Switching back-and-forth between the normal Waveform View and the Spectrogram View can help when zooming-in on the defect. Do that with the drop-down arrow to the left of the waveform.)

For constant hiss, hum, or crackle, regular Noise Reduction is best, but there can be side effects so you sometimes have to decide if the cure is worse than the disease. Sometimes, you can apply noise reduction only during fade-in or fade-out so if there are nose reduction artifacts they will only exist during fade-in/fade-out and the bulk of the song won’t be affected/damaged. You can also try that during quiet passages, but “damaged music” during a quiet passage might be more objectionable than during the fade-in/fade-out.

I use [u]Wave Repair[/u] ($30) to remove clicks & pops. It does an audibly perfect job on most vinyl defects, and in the manual mode it only “touches” the audio where you identify a defect. But, it usually takes me a full weekend to digitize and clean-up an LP, so my plan is to try one of the more-automated applications whenever I do this again.

[u]This page[/u] (written by the developer of Wave Repair) lists several software options and has tons of advice for digitizing records.

It seems that the cartridge picks up every little flaw on my old records.

Well, yes… If it’s going to pick-up all of the music it’s also going to pick-up all of the defects. There was a “case” here recently where there someone was digitizing 78’s and there was excessive high-frequency noise that didn’t exist when the records were played on a Victrola. Rolling-off the higher frequencies to more closely match the Victrola’s frequency response was the solution, but since LPs generally have (nearly) full-audio frequency range, you probably don’t want to do that.

Do not use soap and tap water!!
Instead as Gale says use a combination of isopropyl and distilled water if you can get it (the evaporation/condensation process leaves practically no minerals behind that otherwise get into the grooves. I normally use a solution of 1 part isopropyl to 4 parts distilled water

One inexpensive mechanical cleaning device you might also consider is this:

Alternatively you can find the individual components that make up the kit on ebay, and the essential ones to get are the tub, the central hub, and the dryng rack is also nice to have if you don’t have an alternative. Replace the supplied cleaning gunk with the isopropyl solution. Make 4/5 complete and fairly slow rotation of the record, then wipe down thoroughly with a lint free cloth and any static is usually almost gone.

As a final cleaning stage I strongly recommend this software: In my view it is hands down the best audio repair software on the market - in a new recently improved version - costing less than a 1/15th of ‘leading’ commercial alternatives.

If you buy “distilled” water on ebay, you’re a fool. It’s expensive and doesn’t even come close to real distilled or RO treated pure water.

Tapwater is OK if you rinse afterwards with demineralised water. The one or two Ca+ ions left after that won’t matter. You can get demi water in most supermarkets. It’s about the best you can get as a consumer. Putting distilled water in a plastic jug already pollutes it and makes it worse than demi water. Most of the ions given off by the plastic are very, very sticky.

I’ve designed water treatment systems for stuff like high pressure waterjet cutters and hospitals. A lot of the consumer treatment stuff is a scam, really.

Real pure water is so corrosive the installation has to be built in reinforced PE. Inox 814 doesn’t last six months…

Well I have no intention of getting into a pissing contest with you over this, but I feel it might be useful to distill - if you’ll excuse the pun - the key points in your jargon laden post:

A. All distilled water purchased on eBay is not real distilled water

B. Putting non-distilled eBay distilled water into a plastic container makes it much worse than demineralised water (also supplied in a plastic container).


Distilled water should not have that problem - and I never bought it on eBay - it was from Keith Monks recommended suppliers.


Personally I agree. I found it near-impossible to remove soap stickiness from vinyl. If you are selling/passing on the vinyl to someone else after digitizing it, it’s not fair on the receiving party to use soap.

78’s can cope with soap a little better.


When I first started digitizing vinyl +15 years ago, I often used lighter fluid, as employed by some of the second hand stores I frequented then - eg Reckless Records in Soho’s Berwick Street - to really bring up a new record look shine.

Have recently been re-ripping some of my records from that time because I can now see there is something wrong with the stereo image produced by my old audio card, and I have to clean the stylus every 2 or 3 tracks due to the accumulation of gunk undoubtedly from that lighter fluid. But at least it comes off :smiley:

Neither have I. Sorry if it came across like that. I get irritated with some of the stuff people are trying to sell to others that are way too expensive. Anything like weight loss, wrinkle removal or other secret snake oil mixes sets me off :laughing:

If you can easily get distilled water, use it. If not, don’t waste time and money trying to find it if you can get demi water.

Soap is just a question of using very, very little. One drop is enough, literally. And then rinsing with enough demi or distilled water, again, lukewarm.

If the sound was ok going straight into you amplifier presumably via phono/RCA leads, it sounds like you were suffering from a very basic setup problem on the deck.

Looking at the downloaded manual, on page 3 there is a switch marked 26 (Pre-amp selector switch) – I suggest trying to flick that and seeing whether the sound improves through the computer without any equalisation in Audacity.

it sounds like you were suffering from a very basic setup problem on the deck.

I agree. The shows should not sound odd in normal playback.

I use a solution of 500ml drugstore distilled water with one (1) drop of unscented Dawn dishwashing detergent (not soap). I keep it in a Nalgene® High Density Poly bottle in the closet and I wash things with a plain cotton bandanna. I use name-brand distilled. I got burned with off-brand water. No, distilled water is not supposed to have That New Car Smell. I launder the bandanna by hand, last rinse in distilled and air dry.

I use it on computer screens. Almost all screens are tolerant of water (in moderation). I can do stunning things to an iPod screen with this solution and applicator. The solution drys to zero. No droplets or stains and it attacks fingerprints.

Since I live in Sunny Southern California, Land of Fruits and Nuts, I put a cousin of that solution in a thoroughly cleaned and drained windshield/windscreen washer.

There is a common warning about cleaning electrical contacts with alcohol. You have to go back later and remove the thin non-conductive film that it leaves behind.