Have you got a whole bunch of vinyl records lying around at home that you simply do not know what to do with, but are still inclined to want to keep hold of the sound within? Are you looking to shore up the hard drive of your computer with a whole bunch of digital renderings of your vinyl records?
Then you have come to the right place, for today we will be exploring how to convert vinyls to CDs at your home!
How To Convert Vinyl to CD: Tools Needed
The main point of concern will of course be a turntable or a record player, a piece of equipment that this whole enterprise simply could not do without. When we say that just about any turntable will do, we also ask you to use your own due diligence, for there are a number of turntables out there that might not do the job properly.
There are, for example, machines that are specifically designed to convert vinyls to cds without a computer nor dedicated software or intermediary of any kind.
You will likely have encountered these yourself in your various peregrinations. If you have seen all-in-one record players, the so-called best record player with speakers that boast being able to play CDs, records, cassettes, etc, simultaneously, then chances are you have come across one such machine.
In theory, this might sound all well and good, though can really do more damage than good, especially because the turntables installed upon these systems are far from adequate, to begin with. Their cartridges are sub-par anyhow, so it stands to reason that you would not exactly want such a cartridge to attempt to seal in stone the artefact of the vinyl record in question to a CD.
Built In Phono Preamp
The turntable that you decide upon ought to include a built-in phono preamp, else you will need to purchase a separate one of these for yourself, making sure to use one that is compatible with whatever other equipment you are using, and this includes the computer.
If your turntable of choice is more modern then chances are that it is USB compatible, meaning that there is a USB port around the back that can convert the analog audio and vibrational data of the record in question into digital signals that the computer can then convert into the audio of its own.
It is still possible to connect an older turntable with a computer, though such USB outlets make the recording process far more lubricated as all of the components can connect directly.
Many modern models of music players will in fact come with these USB output capabilities, as well as the relevant cables, having been manufactured with these kinds of USB conversions of music from discs to digital at every step of the process. Some even come with instructions on how to convert the sound of an album on a vinyl record to CD in the owner’s manual!
And a word ought really to be said about the software that you use, for this can have a bearing on a whole host of other aspects, including the format, the audio quality after the fact, how the LP will sound on a CD, etc.
As we have previously said, you are not going to want to use an all-in-one system to record vinyl to cd. These kinds of records to CD converters are null in comparison to their computer software counterparts, especially when spearheaded by a quality USB output turntable.
There are several options you might go for, all of which are going to offer reasonable quality when playing back through speakers. Thankfully, one of the most popular and simple to use is also free!
Audacity has long since served droves of music enthusiasts who need an all-purpose software that can do all the dirty work and sound play, no questions asked. And this works on PC and Mac!
There are a whole host of other software options to convert LP to CDs, and in fact, most pieces of software do allow this kind of upload of data and sound. The main thing at this point will be to pick and choose the right software for you, one that is going to prize the right aspect of the vinyl to CD converter process.
Some will, for example, not allow conversion to a lossless format like FLAC, and so this will be something worth heeding if you are wanting your digital audio files to be of particularly high sound quality.
Do your research and make sure that the sound devices or audio devices that you are courting allow you to use audio editing software that is going to save discs to CD without any hassle.
A Word on the CD Recorder
Some other advice on the subject of converting the vinyl LP to digital files and then to CD might suggest the use of a CD recorder. No doubt these will get the job done, with scarcely any questions asked, but they are increasingly hard to find.
In fact, I would argue that the CD recorder is rendered null and void with so many modern high-end turntables offering USB output, enabling you to save sound from song to CD to speakers without any need for an intermediary.
The Process to Convert Vinyl to CDs
The first port of call will be to make sure that the discs of whatever albums you are seeking to convert to digital audio are as clean as possible, and I would surmise that now is as good a time as any to learn how to clean vinyl records.
Making sure the vinyl records are clean at this stage simply ensures that as few shortcomings are left on the disc as possible to be picked up in the actual process of converting the sound of the LP from audio to digital. Any blips that you would hear as the sound coming through the speakers will be heard on the PC during and after the conversion process.
Step by Step: Vinyl to CD
To connect these two seemingly disparate arcs of technology, move like so. These are instructions for PC, but should be fairly intuitive for Mac users also:
- Connect the USB output turntable to the computer via a USB cord – either one provided with the turntable or one that you have, by necessity, sourced yourself.
- Switch on the turntable and the software, the latter of which might happen automatically.
- From the control panel, click Sound, and then Audio Devices. From here you should be able to find the USB turntable, making sure to click it so that you save it as the recording device.
- Start a new project within the software, starting with a clean slate from which to record records to CD’s.
- Press the record button and proceed whenever you are ready. This will take some trial and error at first, especially if you do not usually manage audio devices like this. Try to keep the volume of the LP audio within the designated parameters. Any louder or quiet could lead to distortion in the digital audio or background noise respectively.
- When the recording is done, press Stop, and then save the file.
- Import the ‘metadata’ for the album, or insert it yourself. This is essentially all the information about the recording, including the track list, the credits etc.
- Once there has been a mix of the sound waves, a final mix would not go amiss, though this can be avoided if you are familiar with vinyl records but not this digital aspect.
This process of converting an LP to CD is a long and arduous one, incredibly difficult to get right, but a worthy cause nonetheless, moving the audio format into a new era, where the old track becomes new.
One of the more singular aspects of this process of converting vinyl records to CD is how time-consuming it is. In other acts of digital conversion, the length of the process very much depends on various minutiae of a computer’s hardware and processing speed and the like. These things are certainly playing out in this circumstance, though factor in the fact that a disc is being played into the PC in real-time.
There is no shortcut through this process to convert vinyl records, so you might as well strap in through some speakers as this process of playing into the PC is going to take about as long as the record itself. This is very much akin to the way that a record being pressed for the first time will play in its entirety, regardless of the kind of music or audio imbibed within.
Well, there you have it! Hopefully, this short and comprehensive guide through the conversion of the vinyl record to CDs has been of some use to you, whether in allowing you to find out how best to sort through all of the records you have collected and gathered dust about the house, or whether in allowing you to make the great push over to digital files.
Take a record and turn it tech – literally, anyone can do it nowadays and you are no exception. Take a vinyl record and turn vintage into a vantage point as you speed ahead of all others in the game.
FAQs Vinyls to CDs
Can you convert vinyl to CD?
Indeed you can, and in fact, the process has never been simpler. If you are in receipt of a more modern USB turntable, then you are in luck, for these kinds of units are perfectly suited for the task and are in fact designed just like so. There is, then, an increasing trend by manufacturers into the production of turntables that can not only play the records that their very existence implies that they can but also preserve the sounds of these records onto more reliable digital formats, whether in file form or on CD so that these sounds might be transported elsewhere.
How do I transfer a record album to CD?
The easiest way to go about this is to use a modern USB turntable for the task, making sure that the turntable at the heart of this is itself decent and of a consistently good quality to accurately represent whatever record it is going to be asked to convert. Using a USB cable, which will more than likely come with the turntable, all you simply need to do is attach both ends to their respective slots, and then to use a piece of audio software like Audacity, to capture the resulting sounds that come from the turntable during playback, all of which should be fairly straightforward.
Can you play a vinyl on a CD player?
Not without converting the vinyl in question onto a CD first, though once this is done it should present no problems whatsoever. I should not have to tell you that CDs and records are not the same thing, no matter how similar the audio on each might sound to the untrained ear. Sure, they are both disc shaped and are a means to store and playback audio, but they are both born of such different generations and thus of such different contextual demands for this kind of technology, and therefore should be called upon individually to do their own different things.
Do CDs sound better than vinyl?
This is a matter of much contention and debate among audiophiles around the world, and a holistic debate that does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon, what with the present resurgence of vinyl records throughout the western hemisphere. They should not really be compared in this way, for they both do different things entirely. While the CD does offer a far wider response within an expansive frequency range, this is built up of digital binaries, 1’s and 0’s, that to some can simply appear lifeless and rather cold, especially in comparison to the warmth of a record (which has all to do with its lack in frequency response).