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    How to convert vinyl records to CDs

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    Pau Monfort
    @paumonfort

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    Convert vinyl records to CDs it's easy and worth it. Listening to vinyl records at home is great. However, you can't spend all day locked in your room listening to your records - you'd also like to listen to your vinyl at work and in the car as well. One option is to convert vinyl records to CD.


    THERE ARE THREE METHODS TO CONVERT VINYL DISCS TO CD

    • Use a PC.
    • Use a standalone CD recorder.
    • Use a turntable / CD recorder combination.

    Keep in mind that with all three methods, transferring the contents of vinyl records to CD happens in real time.



    Turntable connections

    Before you start copying vinyl records to CDs, you need to know the types of connections a turntable has.

    Depending on the make or model of your turntable, one or more of the following connection options may be included.


    AUDIO OUTPUT WITH GROUND OR AUDIO OUTPUT WITH BUILT-IN EQUALIZER / PREAMPLIFIER.

    If you have a turntable that only has audio output with a grounded option, you will need an external preamp / equalizer to connect the turntable to the standard RCA audio inputs on a PC or CD recorder if they don't have an input. / audio ground corresponding connection option.

    USB OUTPUT

    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 may only allow direct copying from the turntable to a USB flash drive.



    Some turntables with a USB port may 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 a USB analog-to-digital audio converter or a turntable with USB output is one way to get started.

    • If your turntable doesn't have a USB output, but your PC has analog audio inputs, you may need an additional preamp to connect the turntable to your PC's sound card line input if it doesn't have a built-in preamp / equalizer.
    • You may also need additional software.

    ADVANTAGES OF THE PC

    • Copy your recordings to CDs, memory cards or USB flash drives.
    • Keep the files on your PC and access other smart playback devices, such as smart TVs, network Blu-ray Disc players, home theater receivers, and some media streamers you may have in your home network.
    • The files are saved in "in the Cloud", so you can access them on compatible mobile devices, no matter where you are.
    • Depending on the software used, further modifications may be possible (such as adjusting fade in / out, recording level).

    DISADVANTAGES OF THE PC

    • Transferring music from vinyl records to a PC hard drive, burn them to CD, then delete files from the hard drive later (depending on the amount of available hard drive space) and repeat this process takes longer.

    How to burn a movie to DVD-RW?

    Using a standalone CD recorder

    Another way to rip vinyl records is with a standalone audio CD recorder. You can make CD copies of vinyl records and play other CDs you may have.



    AVAILABILITY OF THE CD RECORDER

    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" o "For audio use only", some CD data discs may not be compatible. Disc compatibility information should 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 discs (rewritable and erasable).

    INSTALLATION CONSIDERATIONS

    Setting up most CD recorders isn't difficult, but you may not be able to connect your turntable directly to your CD recorder unless your turntable has a built-in preamp / equalizer. This means you have three connection options:

    1. You can get an external pre-amplifier placed between the turntable and the audio input of the CD recorder.
    2. You get a turntable with a built-in preamp.
    3. 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 preamp outputs for recording.

    REGISTRATION MONITORING

    If your CD recorder has a headphone jack, there may be a monitoring feature that allows you to listen to your vinyl record as 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 distortion on the recording.

    REGISTRATION ON BOTH SIDES

    One problem with recording from a vinyl record to a CD is how to record both sides of the record 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 the recording.

    However, if your CD recorder has a function Synchro, recording two sides of a disc is much easier.

    You can automatically record only one side at a time or the entire disc by stopping and starting it at the correct time.

    • The Synchro function detects the sound emitted by the tonearm cartridge when it hits the disc surface and stops when the cartridge lifts. 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 turn the disc over. CD recording will restart on the second side when the recorder “hears” the stylus drop onto the disc again.
    • The Synchro function saves time as you can start recording and do something else.

    THE THRESHOLD OF SILENCE

    Another feature you might find on a CD recorder is the ability to set the "Threshold of silence". This maximizes the effectiveness of Synchro and any recording functions with Auto Track.

    Since vinyl records have surface noise unlike digital sources, such as commercial CDs, the CD recorder may not recognize the gap between cuts as silence and, therefore, may not number the recorded tracks correctly.

    If you want to have accurate track numbering on your 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 cuts. Some even have CD-Text capability, 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, but some high-end and professional writers may allow a Windows-style keyboard to be connected.

    FINALIZATION

    Once you've finished recording, you can't just take your created CD and play it on any CD player; you need 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 remote control. On some CD recorders, the estimated finalization time and its progress will be shown in 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 a CD-R disc is finalized, nothing else can be recorded on it, even if you have empty space.

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    Using turntable / CD recorder combinations

    Another method of copying vinyl records to CDs is with a turntable / CD recorder combination.

    Similar in concept to a VCR / DVD recorder combination, since both turntable and CD recorder are in the same component, there is no need to use separate connecting cables or connect an external pre-amplifier.

    Depending on the make and model, records can be copied to CD by pressing a single button. However, you may have the flexibility to set levels and fades.

    The finalization process is still required.

    Unlike a PC or standalone CD recorder, you may not have the ability to edit, add text, or perform additional edits that can help optimize the quality of the recording. Also, the turntables included in such combos may not provide the best sound quality for your records.

    Conclusion

    While many audio enthusiasts consider copying vinyl records to CD less desirable in terms of converting warm analog sound to CD, it is a convenient way to enjoy music in the office or in the car, where a turntable may not be available.

    If you are importing the contents of your vinyl record to a PC, in addition to making a copy of the CD, you also have the option of putting it on a USB flash drive or memory card or uploading it to “The Cloud”. This makes it easy to access recordings on multiple digital playback devices through direct playback or streaming.

    Before copying your vinyl records to CD using a PC or CD recorder, make sure they are as clean as possible.

    Since important records in your collection may no longer be in print or even available on CD, they are worth keeping in case your turntable malfunctions or records become damaged, warped, or otherwise unplayable.

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    Further Reading:

    • Come convertire CD in MP3
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    • How to Convert MP3 Videos Online - Quick and Easy
    • How to copy CD on Windows 10 PC
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