While this technology is built into most stand-alone CD burners and works fine; for the best results you could get a separate Analog to Digital Converter. This is the reverse of a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) used to play CD's.
To use the computer, you would probably need the A/D converter or a special PCI card for your computer that does the same thing.
After a lot of experimenting, I'm doing LP to CD transfers with excellent results. In my view, the project has three stages: 1) Extracting the analog information and converting it into a digital file as accurately as possible; 2) Cleaning up surface noise; and 3) Burning a high-quality CD. Here is my process:
1. First, the record is cleaned with a VPI 16.5. I play it on a Harman Kardon T60 turntable + Grado Prestige Gold cartridge connected to a Parasound P/HP-850 preamp. The preamp is connected to a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card in my computer. This card is highly regarded by some for its analog-to-digital conversion accuracy. For recording, I use Audio View 32, an application bundled with the sound card. Before making the final recording, I play a few tracks to monitor and set record levels. The objective is to get the record level as high as possible without going into the red and distorting the recording. When I used to make cassettes, I could get away with this, but not so with a CD. I record each side of the album as a single WAV file. You can do the entire album as a single file, but if your computer has a slow CPU, manipulating a file that large can seem slow.
2. Next is the most critical part of the process -- cleaning the recording. I use an outstanding shareware application called Wave Corrector 2.4 (http://www.wavecor.co.uk) to remove clicks and pops. This app does a far better job than anything else I've tried. It's not a sonic filter -- it repairs the file by altering the wave form. Its automatic mode does a great job but also allows full manual editing of the wave form. This can be tedious, but it's highly effective for repairing surface noise too similar to the underlying music for Wave Corrector to discern. All this is done without subtracting music information. At this stage, I break up the WAV file into tracks. WC can do fade-outs and fade-ins for tracks that flow into each other, if I want to break them up.
3. Now I burn the clean tracks on to a high-quality blank CD. I use a Yamaha CRW-F1 burner with Nero 5.5 as the burning application. The CRW-F1 is optimized for music burning (see Yamaha's web site for details).
The result is (in my opinion) a CD that sounds as good as any mainstream CD recording out there and better than most of them. Obviously, the variables in the process -- the quality and condition of the hardware and the vinyl, the cleanup job -- will have an effect for better or worse. But even with a setup like the one I described, the results can be amazing.
Don's process must get great results. I use the Roxio Software on my Macintosh computer and get really good results. I loaded the PC version of Roxio into an office computer and, while it is still good, the process is quite coumbersome. I you don't feel like going to the lengths that Don does, you might try this.
I have done similar to what Don does, with different, higher-end software that I can access through my work. The results are very good. Then, I bought a Denon CD deck with burner that my son uses as a playback device and burner. I run it through my rig sending the analog signal straight into the Denon which has a feature that automatically creates a new track for each song based on "quiet time" between songs. If one wants to manually intitate a track break, it is also easy to do. For good clean records without a lot of surface noise, I find the quality of the resultant CD's to be equal to, if not better than, those burned on the PC, albiet no noise reduction capabilites.
If you have low noise LP's to burn, the $500 retail ($390 street) cost of the Denon may be cheaper than investing in software.
Sorry to be so simple...but I think it would be a lot easier to pick up a fairly inexpensive stand alone cd-recorder (Sony, Philips...) and run through the tape loop in your preamp. This way, you don't have to move anything around, run long interconnects, etc. My understanding is that these units do a great job, and you can do the cleanup that Don described on your computer using the cd that you burned on the stand alone. I probably wouldn't even bother with this last step, though, as I don't mind a few ticks and pops. Hey, it's vinyl, why try to mask it? This is the route that I'm going to take, and I know that many others feel that it's the way to go.
From my experiance, the fastest and best quality recording to CD have been done using the Profesional CD burners available from Tascam. This will alow you to go from the pre-amp into the CD burner with RCA connectors. Bassicly you use the burner like a tape deck with the tape loop on your pre-amp. This way you can also play back from the burner. The Tascam CD burners will sell for around $400. I have a couple available if interested.
I'll second the Tascam option. Paulg805 is correct. It's MUCH easier - and less expensive in the long run - than doing it through a computer, and the results are far superior. The Tascam CD-R4U is a small, inexpensive 20 bit CD recorder that does a great job & is available for around $325-350. It also make a very decent stand-alone CD player in its own right - maybe for a second system while you're not burning LPs - and you can even connect it to a computer through its provided USB port to use as a CD burner for your Mac or PC! It has a headphone jack with adjustable volume control to monitor while you record and a remote to add track index numbers on-the-fly as you record. The Tascam CD-R700 and CD-R2000 are full size units that are even better if you want 24 bit capability. Feel free to e-mail with any specific questions. My home-made CDs recorded on the Tascam from vinyl sound better than the commercial releases of the same CD - even the gold MFSL & other so-called "audiophile" CDs. The difference is staggering. If you've got a decent vinyl setup you can make some really great CDs for yourself.
You guys are reccomending a standalone burner and prefer Tascam. Why do you consider Tascam better than denon, Panny, Marantz, others?
Thanks much for the great input
I don't know about the other guys, but my experience is with a Philips CDR-880 and Pioneer Elite models PD-R05 and PD-R99. The Tascam is multi-bit and the others I tried were 1 bit (Bitstream) recorders. I personally feel multi-bit is more dynamic & detailed than single bit - no matter how many times it's oversampled. Single bit recorders (and players and DACs) all sound "soft", slow, and very uninvolving to me. Of course, that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong. :-)
Also, the Tascams are kinda "pro" machines and have some features that aren't on other decks. They also use a really good transport. They burn ANY CD-R or CD-RW media, not just CD-R Audio & CD-RW Audio discs. And SCMS if defeatable if wanted. OR, you can tag your CDs with SCMS in various forms (one generation, no copies, or unlimited) if you want.
All in all, the Tascams really are nice - no matter which model you choose.
I bought a HHb CD recorder to transfer LPs to CDs. I like my results.