In this tutorial we will show you a step-by-step guide on how to convert your vinyl record collection into CDs, including how to connect your turntable to your PC and how to remove noise from your recordings. You'll need the following:
- One turntable;
- One receiver;
- One PC with a soundcard installed;
- One stereo RCA + ground cable to connect the turntable to the receiver;
- One cable with one stereo mini jack at one end and two RCA connectors at the other end to connect the receiver to your PC;
- Pair of computer speakers to monitor what is being recorded;
- CD-R recorder and blank media;
- Proper software for audio recording;
- Proper software for noise removal;
- Proper software for CD recording.
We will be talking about each one of these components during our tutorial.
First of all, we have to tell you that no matter how well this conversion is made, the quality will never be the same as that of a professional CD. The great villain here is the noise, and we will take some time today explaining this problem. So, if you are a sound freak, it is better to buy the CD version of your favorite records than making this kind of conversion.
Of course there are cases in which the conversion is an advantage. The most obvious one is when the vinyl record you own is rare and has never been released on CD. Another case is the cost. It is much cheaper to convert your entire LP collection into CDs than buying the whole collection again on CD. In this case, the conversion of LPs into CDs is an advantage, mainly if you are not a sound freak concerned about low noise levels.
Another disadvantage of the conversion is that you will have the records recorded on CD-R, without the cover and the booklet. If you are the kind of person who really enjoys having a complete CD, with cover and booklet, so you should buy the CD at the store and not convert its equivalent in vinyl.
But going back to the noise, there are two kinds of noise which are produced during the conversion of a vinyl record into a CD. The first kind of noise is the one produced by the vinyl record itself, such as cracklings caused by small scratches existing on the vinyl record's surface. It is possible to erase this kind of noise by using the computer and we will see in another time how it is made.
The second kind of noise is the one caused by the equipment itself, called white noise. The white noise can come from many places: from the record player, from the amplifier (receiver), from the sound board, from the cables used in the connections, etc. To fully understand what white noise is, do the following experiment at home: play a cassette tape in a stereo. Press the pause button and keep it pressed. Turn the volume of the amplifier up. You will clearly listen to some noise which is not being produced by the cassette tape, but by the tape-deck itself. This is the white noise. Obviously when we convert our vinyl record into a CD we will not want the presence of this kind of noise.
The amount of noise that an audio equipment produces is called SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), that is measured in a unit called decibel. The larger this ratio, the better. A CD player, for example, has a larger signal-to-noise ratio than a tape-deck. If you make the same experiment we have described above with a CD player instead of with a tape-deck, you will notice that the amount of noise will be lower - even unaudible, if you have a really good sound system.
So, one of the main factors for your conversion of LPs into CDs to be the closest possible to perfection is the absence of noise. The choice of a sound board with low noise level (a high signal-to-noise ratio) is the starting point for the inexistence of white noise.