Converting vinyl records to CD is easy and worth it. Listening to vinyl records at home is fantastic. However, you can’t spend all day locked in your room to listen to your records: you would also like to listen to your vinyl at work and even in the car. One option is to convert vinyl records to CDs.
THERE ARE THREE METHODS TO CONVERT VINYL DISCS TO CD
- Use a PC.
- Use a stand-alone CD recorder.
- Use a combination of a turntable / CD recorder.
Keep in mind that with all three methods, the transfer of the contents of the vinyl records to CD takes place in real time.
Before you start copying vinyl records onto CDs, you need to know the types of connections that a turntable has.
Depending on the make or model of the turntable, you can include one or more of the following connection options.
AUDIO OUTPUT WITH GROUNDING OR AUDIO OUTPUT WITH EQUALIZER / BUILT-IN PREAMPLIFIER.
If you have a turntable that only has an audio output with a grounding option, you will need an external preamplifier / equalizer to connect the turntable to the standard RCA audio inputs on a PC or CD recorder if they don’t have an input / corresponding audio ground connection option.
An increasing number of turntables are equipped with a USB port. In most cases, this allows the turntable to be connected directly to a PC. However, for some turntables, the USB port can only allow direct copying from the turntable to a USB flash drive.
Some turntables with a USB port can also be equipped with audio editing software.
Using a PC or laptop with a CD burner
Using a PC with a CD burner in combination with a turntable connected to an analog-digital USB audio converter or a turntable with USB output is a way to start.
- If your turntable does not have a USB output, but your PC has analog audio inputs, you may need an additional preamp to connect the turntable to the line input of the PC sound card if it does not have a built-in preamplifier / equalizer.
- You may also need additional software.
ADVANTAGES OF THE PC
- Copy your recordings to CDs, memory cards or USB flash drives.
- Keep your files on your PC and access other smart playback devices, such as smart TVs, network Blu-ray Disc players, home theater receivers and some multimedia streamers that you might have in your home network.
- The files are saved in “on the Cloud”, so you can access them on compatible mobile devices, regardless of where you are.
- Depending on the software used, further modifications may be possible (such as adjusting fade-ins / fade-out, recording level).
DISADVANTAGES OF THE PC
- Transferring music from vinyl records to a PC hard drive, burning them to CDs, then deleting files from the hard drive later (depending on the amount of space available on the hard drive) and repeating this takes longer.
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Use of a stand-alone CD recorder
Another way to copy vinyl records is with a standalone audio CD recorder. You can make CD copies of vinyl records and play other CDs you may have.
CD RECORDER AVAILABILITY
CD recorders are becoming rare, but there are still several brands and models available.
USE THE RIGHT DISCS
Use blank CDs marked with “Digital Audio” or “Audio Only”, some CD data discs may not be compatible. Disc compatibility information must be provided in the CD recorder user manual. Also, you can choose between CD-R discs (record once – best for direct dubbing) or CD-RW (rewritable and erasable) discs.
Configuring most CD recorders is not difficult, but you may not be able to connect your turntable directly to your CD recorder unless your turntable has a built-in preamplifier / equalizer. This means that you have three connection options:
- You can get an external preamplifier positioned between the turntable and the audio input of the CD recorder.
- Get a turntable with a built-in preamp.
- If you have a stereo or home theater receiver with dedicated inputs that you are already using to listen to your vinyl records, you can select the turntable as the source and send its audio to the CD recorder via the tape or preamplifier outputs for recording.
If your CD recorder has a headphone jack, there may be a monitoring function that allows you to listen to your vinyl record while it is being recorded. While listening to the incoming signal, you can use the CD recorder level control (there may also be a balance control) to set the most comfortable audio levels for your copy.
If your CD recorder has LED level meters, you will be able to see if the input signal is too strong.
Make sure your strongest peaks do not reach the red “over” indicator on the level meters, this will cause distortions on the recording.
REGISTRATION ON BOTH SIDES
A problem related to recording from a vinyl record on a CD is how to record both sides of the disc without having to manually pause and start recording the CD at the appropriate time. In many cases, you need to manually pause and then restart recording.
However, if your CD recorder has a Synchro function, recording two sides of a disc is much easier.
You can automatically register only one side at a time or the entire disc, stopping it and starting it at the correct time.
- The Synchro function detects the sound emitted by the arm cartridge when it hits the surface of the disc and stops when the cartridge rises. The recorder can pause between cuts and still “kick off” as soon as the music starts.
- When the recorder pauses after playing one side of a disc, you have time to flip the disc. The CD recording will restart on the second side when the recorder “hears” the stylus again falling on the disc.
- The Synchro feature saves time because you can start recording and do something else.
THE THRESHOLD OF SILENCE
Another feature you could find on a CD recorder is the ability to set the “silence threshold”. This optimizes the effectiveness of Synchro and any recording function with Auto Track.
Since vinyl records have surface noise unlike digital sources, such as commercial CDs, the CD recorder may not recognize the space between cuts as silence and, therefore, may not correctly number the recorded tracks.
If you want accurate numbering of tracks on the CD copy, you can set the -dB levels of the silence threshold.
FADING AND TEXT
Some CD recorders allow you to create fades and fades between the cuts. Some also have the ability to CD-Text, which allows you to label a CD and each of its individual cuts. This information can be read by CD and / or CD / DVD players and CD / DVD-Rom drives, with text reading capabilities.
Text can usually be entered using the keyboard on the remote control, but some high-end and professional recorders can allow the connection of a Windows-style keyboard.
Once you’ve finished recording, you can’t just take your created CD and play it on any CD player; it is necessary to go through a process called finalization.
This process identifies the number of cuts on the CD and makes the file structure on the disc compatible for playback on any CD player.
To finalize, simply press the “Finalize” button on the recorder or on the remote control. On some CD recorders, the estimated finalization time and progress will be displayed on the front panel status display.
You should be able to play the finalized CD on any CD, CD / DVD player or PC / MAC CD or DVD Rom Drive.
Once you have finalized a CD-R disc, nothing else can be recorded on it, even if you have empty space.
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Use of combinations of turntables / CD recorders
Another method of copying vinyl records to CDs is with a combination of a record player / CD recorder.
Similar in concept to a combination of video recorder / DVD recorder, since both the turntable and the CD recorder are in the same component, it is not necessary to use separate connection cables or to connect an external preamplifier.
Depending on the brand and model, records can be copied to CD at the touch of a button. However, you may have the flexibility to set levels and fades.
The finalization process is still required.
Unlike a PC or a stand-alone CD recorder, you may not have the ability to edit, add text or make further changes that can help optimize the quality of the recording. Furthermore, the turntables included in these combos may not provide the best sound quality for your discs.
While many audio enthusiasts consider copying vinyl records to CDs less desirable in terms of converting a warm analog sound to CD, it is a convenient way to enjoy music in the office or car, where a turntable may not be available.
If you are importing the contents of your vinyl record onto a PC, in addition to making a copy of the CD, you can also place it on a USB flash drive or memory card or upload it to “The Cloud”. This simplifies access to recordings on multiple digital playback devices through direct playback or streaming.
Before copying your vinyl records to CDs using a PC or CD recorder, make sure they are as clean as possible.
Since the important records of your collection may no longer be in print or even available on CD, it is worth keeping them in the event that the malfunctions of your turntable or the records are damaged, deformed or otherwise unplayable.
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