Vinyl recording via USB

HELP! I find the instructions complicated, contradictory and confusing. Please help me in simple terms. I am trying to record vinyl via a turntable designed for the job. It has the required USB outlet and an internal preamp.

When I try to record, all seems well but when I try to play back the sound is grossly distorted. Please tell me exactly what settings I should use. I can’t adjust input or output recording levels. I have spent HOURS on this.

Make sure you have Audacity 2.0.5 from then read Recording with USB turntables or USB cassette decks - Audacity Manual . Ignore instructions about Audacity in the manual for the turntable. Those instructions are not written by us and could be nonsense.

Excessive noise is usually due to a bad USB cable, or a cable not fitting tightly, or a cartridge headshell that is faulty or not fitting tightly.


Audacity itself won’t mess-up the digital audio stream, but Windows sometimes can.

…when I try to play back the sound is grossly distorted.

Go into the Windows Control Panel, find the USB audio device and make sure [u]Microphone Boost[/u] is turned-off. And, make sure there are no other “enhancements” enabled. (We know the turntable is not a microphone, but sometimes Windows treats a USB audio device as a USB microphone.)

Most USB turntables have line-level RCA outputs. You can test the analog/mechanical functioning of the turntable by plugging it into your stereo (or your TV, etc.), or if you have the correct adapter cable, you can connect it directly into your powered computer computer speakers (bypassing the computer).

If you have a desktop computer with a regular soundcard you can try recording from the turntable’s analog line-outputs (instead of USB). Again, you’ll need the correct cable/adapter. This won’t work properly on a laptop, which only has a microphone input.

Doug, do USB turntables and USB cassette decks actually have a levels boost? Your link is about motherboard mic inputs. I have had three USB turntables and never seen a boost.

USB turntables do have a Levels control in Windows, but that should be controllable by Audacity in the Mixer Toolbar input slider (by the mic symbol):

Windows Vista and later always labels USB playback devices as “microphones” if they use standard Windows USB Audio Class drivers (as opposed to the devices supplying their own drivers, which they rarely do).

But again, I have never heard of an Enhancements tab for the Recording Properties of USB turntables or cassette decks. Motherboard microphones have that, yes. No harm looking but if the original poster follows the tutorial they should learn how to set the levels correctly.

Gross distortion is almost always due to the USB cable or the cartridge headshell in my experience. That type of distortion won’t respond to adjusting the input slider.


I experienced distortion in Audacity when I first used a behringer uca 2020 usb unit on windows 7 to transfer caseettes. it showed up as microphone in Audacity until did this.

Windows 7 required installation of a driver download from the behringer site which fixed it.

The problem did not occur on an XP machine