Tutorial - Digitizing LPs, tapes or MiniDiscs

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This set of tutorials provides instructions on how to record audio material from a variety of sources and then deploy it to CD, your computer or portable music player.

You can use Audacity and your computer to record sound from any external device which outputs an audio signal. Although cassette tapes and records (LPs) are the most popular examples, Audacity can be used just as easily to record audio from the following:

  • Open-reel tape decks
  • MiniDisc (MD) or Digital Audio Tape (DAT) players (if you have a digital audio interface, connect from digital out of the player to S/PDIF in of the audio interface.)
  • Radios
  • Mixers
  • Musical Keyboards (via headphones-out, line-out or other audio-out, not from the MIDI output.)
  • Video cassette recorders (VCRs), Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) and DVD players (recording from a dedicated line-out containing audio output only)
  • Televisions (via a SCART adapter cable connected to the computer sound card, or through a TV or VCR's audio out)
  • Personal digital voice recorders (DVRs)
  • Other computers.
Tip Making vinyl to digital transfers is a skill and the more you do the more expert you will become. Consider starting out with some LPs or singles that you care less about and only ever played infrequently. This way you will not need to go back and repeat important earlier transcriptions that you made.

This tutorial assumes that you have read and understood the Your First Recording tutorial, and have figured out how to get sound into your computer and into Audacity. You should at least read and understand Step 1 of that tutorial in order to become familiar with the jacks, plugs and cables you may need to connect your audio device to your computer. The instructions here will apply only to the special situations of connecting a turntable, cassette deck or MiniDisc player to your computer.

The Tutorials

This tutorial has been broken into several sub-tutorials for ease of reading as there is a lot of material to read and digest. The following topics are covered and should be followed in the order presented here:

  1. How to connect your equipment
  2. How to set up Audacity
  3. Basic Recording, Editing and Exporting
  4. Click and pop removal techniques
  5. Splitting a recording into separate tracks
  6. Burning music files to a CD

The following tutorials address additional special interest topics which may not be of use or interest to the general user who wishes to transcribe LPs, tapes or other media:

The following pages are likely to be of use when transferring cassette tapes. They deal with issues like: head cleaning, azimuth setting and common cassette deck faults including magnetized tape heads: