Digitizing LPs


I know this is an analog section, but I thought perhaps folks with a analog LPs might know more about this so I’ll ask if anyone has expertise in copying/digitizing LPs, the software needed, the equipment needed. And maybe most importantly, how tough is this job to do and get good results?? I don’t want to create CDs, I just want to send a copy of each to hard drives so I can stream them. I am digitizing my CDs too.

I should say I have a good start on it, a Windows 7 Desktop with attached Musical Fidelity Preamp with phono stage, Adcom amp, Spendor speakers, and ASUS Xonar Essence STX soundcard, and a choice of turntables. Still, I know I’ll need another piece of gear. Is that a USB DAC? If so, how good does this have to be? Or put another way, do I need to spend a lot of money on this?
88826266 ece5 4970 8123 1c8acb1ec2fbecholane
I use a korg MR2000 direct to DSD.

The quality of the conversion is an excellent

The Tascam DA-3000 does a nice job recording LPs to DSD and hi-res PCM. To improve the Tascam, check the archives here and on Audio Asylum for my suggested internal modifications. Adding to that, I recently had good results treating pins on its internal wire harnesses with Perfect Path Total Contact graphene paste (as discussed in the "New Tweak" thread.)

DSD slightly surpasses 24/192 PCM recording on the Tascam. However, for noisy albums you need PCM to employ declicking software. I do that with Vinyl Studio. However, in automatic sweep mode VS’s declicker degrades general SQ. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on the quality of your analog front end. If anyone is using a less intrusive declicker, please post.

If you want to digitise your vinyl, you will need an ADC, and you will need a DAW. 
I would look into the pro marked for a good external soundcard. I use a Metric Halo ULN-8, but there are many to choose from. RME and Lynx are high quality, as is Metric Halo and a lot of others. For a DAW, I would look no further than Audacity, which is open-source and free.

@tkr

I purchased Tascam as the best all-in-one DSD recorder I could find short of Playback Designs.  All that's needed in addition to the unit is CF or SD card media and a CF or SD reader to transfer files to the PC for processing by Tascam's free Hi-Res Editor software.  My reservation about the Lynx was its lack of DSD support, and a Mike Fremer review in which he failed to find meaningful differences between the Lynx and other 24/192 units across a wide range of price points.

@dgarretson 

I digitize to 24/96 because to my old ears there is no big audible difference beyond that. Also, the files get ever bigger the higher resolution you use, and for me the optimum is 24/96, stored as AIFF-files
I have no experience with ripping to DSD- how big are the files, and where do you store them?
@dgarretson try clickrepair lot's of people use it. It does a great job, try it on a low setting of10-20 and then manually fix the few clicks that it leaves behind. It's pretty transparent.

@jbny Thanks, I’ll try it.

@tkr I "hear" your pain. An LP takes up around 3.5GB at DSD128. I store them on a QNAP TVS-882 RAID on up to eight disk drives and SSDs. The QNAP contains an i5 quad core CPU that hosts Roon and Roon DSP engine.

@dgarretson

3.5 GB is a huge file! 
I considered ripping my record collection, but we are talking about 2500 hours of music on LP. Let´s stipulate that an hour of music on vinyl would take about 1.5 to 2 hours to rip, divide into tracks, label and declick/normalise, we are suddenly looking at 4000 to 5000 hours of work......
I simply decided that it wasn´t feasible, or at least not worth the time.
On top of that, I´m not really sure that wearing down the stylus of a cartridge with 2500 hours of vinyl playing, really is a sensible way of saving wear and tear on the cartridge.
Admittedly it's a long-term project at any pace. But worth doing just once and well-- and buying the best equipment that one can afford for it. The results are good enough that I will not revisit the vinyl, and sell LPs off along the way. Any bids for a complete Savoy Brown collection?
To each his own. I am certainly not picking a quarrel with you, but for me it is simply not worth the time and effort.
My estimate of my listening habits is that 70% of my listening is digital, 30 % analog. Let´s say 10 LPs a week. In that case, it´s probably better to simply listen to my vinyl system without digitizing my LP collection. (Mind you, I have tried out digitizing some LPs, and the result is quite good)

I have no bone to pick either. I will only submit that if you’re 70/30 leaning toward digital, then recording those LPs will eventually get you to 100% digital, and at a potentially higher level of satisfaction and lower cost than replicating an LP collection with hi-res downloads. Moreover, if you have 2500 hours of vinyl in your collection and a 30% attention span with analog, the likelihood is that you will never listen to most of those LPs in any case. The recording process is a pleasant re-engagement with that collection.

Another time consumer in the digitization process is the cleaning of LPs prior to recording. I find that I’m willing to accept more noise in the course of normal listening than for the purpose of archival recording. Recording makes me think harder about cleaning records and tonearm/cartridge set-up, and more critically about the quality of the analog source. I just purchased a Lyra Etna for this purpose that I would not have normally considered. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one’s degree of fanaticism and resources with respect to the LP. However, long after that Etna stylus is toast, I’ll be enjoying its recordings.

In any case, I find it interesting that analog-oriented audiophiles are beginning to think about this.

Thanks tons for such useful feedback.  I must say I am thoroughly discouraged!   The equipment to do it properly is expensive and babysitting  the process uses  gobs of time.  Just cleaning each LP is a time consuming process!  A good cleaning machine would make that part  much more palatable, but a good one would be  thousands more.  
  One real positive is it’s a good way to listen to one’s collection!  Even so,  I calculate it’d take me YEARS to do the job.  It’s been fun and instructive to think about this, but, sadly, at my age it’s not a realistic project.  
  Kudos to those of you who have done this!

For a shorter path, take a look at the Sweetvinyl Sugarcube.  It does almost all of the work automatically and sounds pretty good. 
I use a Mac Mini w/2nd storage drive and Magix Samplitude Pro X2 software, connected to my preamp. Every time I play an album I record it, I do my editing when I want to here that album again or when I have spare time. Some albums I just want certain tracks.
Look at the Sugar Cube. It declicks as it works, so you can eliminate at least one step of the conversion process. Analogplanet has a favorable review of it up now.
@echolane - here’s a sweet little unit that converts to a sample rate of 16/44 and comes with software to record to a computer via USB and slice and dice into tracks for just $46
- other than this unit you just need an analogue output at line level fom your pre or amp.
- or you could insert it between the phono stage and the amp - it has "passthrough" outputs
- it also has headphone output with volume

https://cosmomusic.ca/interface-behringer-uca222-usb-audio-w-software-bundle.html

It’s from Berringer, who produce lots of professonal studio hardware.

I have been using this unit for over two years.

The quality of the sound is amazing and doing an A/B compare by switching between inputs while playing both digital recorded version and the actual vinyl - I find it impossible to tell the difference i.e. on my system.

Friends I’ve performed the same A/B test with cannot tell the difference between analogue and digital

I use it to record a complete side of vinyl and then if inspred to do so, I simply "slice" it into tracks using the software provided.

Hope that helps - Steve


I ripped 4,000 CDs in my collection and it took me a long time (I did it while watching TV in the evenings).  No way would I want to rip in actual time on a turntable.

If someone comes up with a laser player like the Finial that rotates the laser read head instead of the LP and can do it at several times normal play speed - taking maybe 3 minutes a side, I might be on board. OTOH, I LIKE spinning records - when I have a rip of the same recording in digital as I have the LP, it is usually the latter that I play. 

The only thing I really value with my digital collection is being able to search and find things and not having to refile piles of LPs!
Wow, I'd like to digitize some of my LP collection and all of my 78 rpm collection but that would take the rest of my life.  I have 25,000 lps and 7,000 78s.  I digitize for musicians/conductors who want to hear rare and obscure performances/works using an Alesis Masterlink.  I intend to digitize all of my 78s and noisy lps using the Sugarcube SC2 which has a direct USB out.  That will really benefit the 78s although I have many mint 78s which don't have snap, crackle or pop, just background surface noise (especially those vinyl 1940's 78s).  
I have put together an inexpensive and extremely satisfying system to do high quality needle drops. You can read the post on the Atlanta Audio Club forums by clicking here.
I don’t want to create CDs, I just want to send a copy of each to hard drives so I can stream them. I am digitizing my CDs too.

@echolane I understand what you're saying but I'm a bit confused by the last sentence in your statement "I'm digitizing my CD's too."

Just to clarify, the data stored on a CD is already in a digital format.
CD/DVD's are digital storage media. When your computer reads the information on a CD/DVD, it is reading 0's and 1's.  There is no analog information stored on the CD.   LP's on the other hand are analog storage media and require conversion to digital before you can store and/or stream the information on them.  But you already knew that.

My audio dealer has a large vinyl and tape collection. He spends hours converting music on LP and analog tape to digital, except he burns CD's to play in his audio store.  Not sure what his equipment setup is, except to say it's very expensive stuff - but that's his thing.

Have fun!


I’m not sure if Ayre still makes or sells them but I would check out the Ayre QA-9, this A/D convertor is well known to produce excellent results. So if you have a nice vinyl rig and cart, this could be a good solution to convert to digital. Good luck!

https://www.stereophile.com/content/ayre-acoustics-qa-9-usb-ad-converter-page-3
I am in the same boat as the OP.  For 12 years, I have been slowly digitizing my LPs, about 3 or 4 per week.  Until recently, the process was:  Clean the LP > Record it to CD-R using a Marantz pro-sumer CD recorder, inserting track splits on the fly with the remote control (and often missing the right moment) > Rip the CD-R to my server.  Obviously this is limited to 16/44.  Six months ago, I got my Sweetvinyl Sugarcube SC-2.  This reduces the clicks and pops, as well as digitizes the signal up to 24/192.  However, as the software is still in development, it will not yet split tracks or send the digitized files to a server over a home network.  The recordings land on an attached USB thumb drive.  From there, you can load it onto a server, but you will have to tag and split the tracks somehow.  Tagging I can do, although manual tagging is a PITA - I do it whenever dBPoweramp can't find the metadata of a digitized LP.  Track splitting I lack the software to do.  So I am impatiently waiting for the Sweetvinyl team to implement track splitting, which is promised.

Having heard dgarretson's digitized DSD files, I can vouch that they are nearly indistinguishable from the original LP.  That said, dgarretson is also somewhat of a technical wiz, and knows how to put this stuff together and make it work well.  I lack the time and knowledge for this sort of thing, so the Sugarcube is the answer for me, assuming they eventually deliver all the functionality they have promised.
Look at Vinyl Studio. It allows you to split tracks and does tag lookup. It also does a good job of cleanup, although your Sugarcube is doing that already. Only $29 and has a 30 day free trial.
@dtc - You, know, I forgot that Vinyl Studio also is available for Windows.  I may try it as an interim fix until the SUgarcube can do track splitting.  Thanks.
Lilmsmaggie....
I should have said ripping my CDs!