Vinyl Cleanup Best Practice

Hello, I’m just embarking on transferring about 60 vinyl records onto the computer into FLAC. I understand how to do the initial recording, and clean up some crackles, but I was just wondering if there was a general best practice order to do things in.
i.e. should I

  1. Normalise,
  2. Remove noise
  3. De-crackle.
  4. Err anything else???
  5. Split into tracks
  6. Export

I’m really looking for a consensus of opinion for I can just apply it to all the records.
Can I build up a batch process to do everything or are there some things I just have to do manually, maybe split up the tracks.
Any opinion welcome.
Cheers, David

First of all it depends on if you want to work exclusively in Audacity, or if you’re into spending a few bucks on software specifically designed to clean up vinyl recordings.

My favourite is ClickRepair available here:

It’s $40 and has a 21-day free trial. It is nothing short of magic at removing clicks, pops, and crackle without damaging the audio.

While you’re there you might as well download DeNoise and DeNoiseLF and try them out, comparing them to what you can do within Audacity.

Be prepared to spend some time reading the manuals and experimenting with the software, to determine if what these programs do in comparison to Audacity is worth the time and expense for you.

My workflow is (for each LP side):

  • Capture in Audacity
    Amplify (not Normalize - Amplify boosts both channels equally, Normalize boosts each channel independently)
    Apply the High Pass Filter, 24 db/octave roll-off, cut-off frequency of 20 - 30 Hz (gets rid of sub-sonic garbage)
    Export as AIF or WAV
    Process with ClickRepair for removal of clicks and pops
    Process the output of ClickRepair again for de-crackling
    Import de-clicked and de-cracked file back into Audacity, deleting the original recording
    Apply Noise Removal
  • Get a noise sample from the lead-in groove before the music starts
    Apply Noise Removal with Noise Reduction no more that 12 dB (I usually use 9 dB); Frequency smoothing 300 Hz, Attack/decay time 0.25 secs
    Apply the Amplify effect again (the removal of clicks and pops will usually mean you can do further amplification without clipping)

  • Having done this for both LP sides, using the time shift tool I drag the side 2 recording onto the side 1 track
    I then split the recording into songs and export multiple per this description:,_LPs_or_minidiscs_to_CD#split

To do the best job you need to tweak the de-click, de-crackle and de-noise processes for each LP, so setting up a batch process is probably not in the cards.

Now we can wait for the other forum regulars to chime in with their opinions.

– Bill

Bill’s workflow is almost exactly the same as mine - except I mostly don’t bother with the “Noise Removal” steps (I did use Brian Davies’ Noise Removal tools on a couple of my LPs which were old blues albums obviously recorded from 78s and at a time prior to the availability of digital processing).

Unlike Bill, I tend to record both sides of an LP together and then do the processing - but I do Understand Bill’s rationale for working with smaller chunks and later stitching the two sides together.

I totally endorse the use of Brians Davies’ ClickRepair tool - as Bill says, it works like magic - one of the best $40 worth I ever spent. See this thread:

I would also add that you should clean the vinyl thoroughly before playing it - this removing the need for some processing. Do not be tempted to play the record “wet” - IMHO this can damage both the vinyl and potentially your stylus.

Do clean the stylus thoroughly _(don’t use an alcohol based solvent as I did - it unglued the diamond tip from the cantilever - oops :blush: )_and make sure it and the arm are set up and aligned correctly (I treated my deck to a new cartridge prior to doing my vinyl conversion project). Ensure that the TT is grounded correctly so that you don’t get mains-hum.

You may wish to see if your soundcard has DC-offset (a reasonably common fault). This will cause the audio to not be centred on the zero line - you can see this more easily if you zoom in a lot on the recorded wave-form. If you do have DC-offset then use Audacity to remove this as the first step immediately after capture, before you do any other processing. To remove the DC-offset use the Effect > Normalize but do NOT apply any normalization, just check the box for DC-offset removal.

Opinions vary on this but I would (and do) record and process with Audacity set to 32-bit float 44.1kHz and then use Audacity to downsample to 16-bit WAV (CD standard) on Export. Working in 32-bit will give you good headroom for the processing you are going to do (and note that ClickRepair can work with 32-bit, as well as 16-bit audio). Other posters prefer to work at 48kHz (DVD standard).

If you are feeling cautious, you may want to Export the raw capture file as a WAV (or FLAC) and back it up as a safety copy that you can go back to if you screw up the editing. You can always delete this safety copy later when you have exported, and backed up, your final production FLACs.


BTW I am moving this thread to the Audio Processing section of the forum.

Further tip: when I do the labbelling to mark the tracks for Export Multiple - I label as: 01 <track_name_1>, 02 <track_name_2>, 03 <track_name_3> etc.

This helps me keep album tracks in the correct order when I use the WAVs to burn a CD or import them into my iTunes library.


Again very similar but I’m on Linux (Ubuntu).

  1. Record in Audacity (one LP side) > Amplify > Export as WAV
  2. Record in Audacity (other LP side) > Amplify > Export as WAV
  3. Clean up first LP side using “Gnome Wave Cleaner” (free, but Linux only)
  4. Clean up second LP side.
  5. Import cleaned tracks into Audacity - apply “Amplify” if necessary to one or other tracks so that they sound the same level.
  6. Add labels to tracks then Export Multiple.
  7. Export as 16bit 44.1kHz WAV and burn to audio CD with K3B (free but Linux only).

Hi All,
Many thanks to all for such a good response. I’ll read all carefully and try the suggestions.

After reading all the possible answers to this problem( I have over 100 lps), I’m tempted to try to find them on a
I thank you for a very thorough step by step process to clean up old lps.
I will report back after trying this process.
Thank you,

I am new to this whole process; converting LPs to digital. Heck, this is the first time I have heard any of my albums in 20, or more years.
Why amplify? Isn’t the signal loud enough? When I play back the LP that I recorded, it seems too loud, and distorted. If amplification is required to somehow balance the signal on both channels, then how much amplification do you use (1dB, 3dB, or more)?

I need to figure out this basic stuff, before I try to tackle the more sophisticated clean up stuff you guys describe.
Oh, I guess I should mention that I am trying this on Ubuntu Linux, which is also new to me.

With tape recorders it was generally advised to record at as high a level as possible without going too far into the red. This is NOT the case with digital recording. Tape recorders are tolerant of a small amount of overload and going slightly into the red will still sound OK, but with digital recording any excursion into the red will sound bad. 0 dB (full scale) is an absolute limit and if the input goes above 0 dB the recording will be distorted immediately. This is called “clipping” because any signal greater than 0 dB is “clipped” off at 0 dB. When recording digitally it is important to leave a reasonable amount of “headroom” to ensure that the recording NEVER goes into the red. It is generally recommended to set the recording levels so that the highest peaks reach about -6 dB (half the track height) so as to avoid any possibility of the recording level “clipping”.

This means that the entire recording will be somewhat quieter than you really want it (but not distorted).
The Amplify effect allows the recording to be boosted safely as the effect can accurately calculate the amount of amplification that can be applied without clipping.

Thank you Steve.
Now I understand why the few recordings I made sound distorted. I used the default setting of 0 dB. I’ll record these LPs again at your suggested level of -6 dB.

I hope I am not asking an inappropriate question here. Maybe I should go to a different forum.
My question is this:
What is a good method to physically clean my LPs, before I record. I currently have an Audio Technica cleaner, that reminds me of the Discwasher that I had 20 years ago, but not as nice. I have read some sites that recommend some mechanical cleaners that cost more than my turntable, and my speakers. Wow! The prices are unbelievable. Is there anything affordable out there, that does a good job? Do I need some type of cleaning system, or is my little (felt-like) cleaner good enough?
If I am asking this question at the wrong forum, where should I submit this question?

See this recommendation fom a tutorial in the Audacity 1.3 manual:

I usually just clean mine with the anti-static bristle brush (specifically bought for the purpose soem years ago when shops sold more TTs and all the attendant paraphenalia. I also have one of the little cylindrical velvet ones, Parostatik Disc Preener, which has a reservoir for distilled water to slightly moisten the velvet - but I find the fine bristle one works better.

I find that cleaning does not remove all the clicks and pops (it does get rid of the cat hairs though :slight_smile: ) - so after the initial capture I export a WAV file and process it throgh another piece of software called ClickRepair. It costs a little but is only a little shy of magicical in its effectiveness. See this sticky thread: