How to Digitize Vinyl Records | Choosing Your Recording Software

Portability isn’t one of the features of the beloved black disc. What I wouldn’t give to be able to stash a full-sized vinyl LP into my back pocket or even the whole crate. It obviously isn’t practical to lug your records with you, but you can digitize your entire collection for your mobile phone, external hard drive, or any other portable media. You get the best of both worlds and the reassurance of knowing your collection is backed up. I have the tools, guidance, and know-how to help you transform your record collection to any digital format. This is the first post in my series of guides to teach you how to record vinyl and export the audio to digital formats.

Most modern-day turntables, have USB connectivity which allows you to plug straight into your Mac or PC.  Otherwise, your turntable likely has regular RCA (red and white) outputs, which means you’ll need an audio interface.

To digitize vinyl you need software to record audio. Think of it like a digital canvas where the audio will be printed on. There are several options, and the option you choose really depends on how advanced and sophisticated you want to get.

Do you want software that gives you advanced editing capabilities, or do you prefer something simple and streamlined that’ll get the job done? Digital audio workstations (DAWs) are fully-involved programs that have a handful of extra tools to edit recorded audio. On the other hand, there are simpler one & done programs that work well with USB turntables and people who are completely new to recording.

We live in an age where multi-track recording is accessible to literally everyone, and there are plenty of recording software options available. You don’t need keys to a studio or a deep pocket. Read on to learn more about the DAWs I recommend for recording vinyl. Keep in mind, any program will get the job done!

Audacity

JU4irEMp_400x400Everyone at this point in the 21st century has at least heard of Audacity. If you are looking for software on the cheap, it doesn’t get any better because this one is completely free to use. Audacity is a good all-around package for people who want a free option with decent features. Audacity is an easy way to record, edit, and export audio. Plus, the software has been around for years, so there is plenty of How-Tos and FAQs to explore.

GarageBand

246x0wFor Mac users, GarageBand is a no-brainer. You can do all of the basics on GarageBand, and it’s packaged in a user-friendly bundle with plenty of options to record vinyl.

If you want a little more flexibility in a recording program, you can invest in the a legit digital audio workstation. The options below are for people who want a little more out of an audio program. These programs feature a powerhouse of editing and exporting tools to fine-tune audio.

Pro Tools

C31Ui5c0_400x400Pro Tools is the industry-standard recording platform. Almost all professional recording engineers either use Pro Tools or have used it at some point in their career. Why? It’s an audio-editing swiss army knife designed like a virtual mixing console. What does this mean for you? If you are recording vinyl, Pro Tools is a very powerful option here. Pro Tools is known for its versatility and strong editing features. It’s perfect if you want a full control and advanced features. Plus, it’s a huge leap from Audacity.

Pro Tools has a sizable lineup of different versions, so if you don’t vibe with the price-tag of the full version, you can snag Pro Tools | First for free.

Ableton Live

Ableton-Live_98919778-1c1a-411e-b6d6-512ed91501bd_800x800.progressiveNow we come to my DAW of choice, Live. Ableton Live is quite different from other programs. It offers great flexibility, intuitive workflow, and a whole mess of sound processing tools. When recording vinyl, you probably won’t mess with many of these, but the extra tools come in handy when you need them.

Ableton Live makes recording audio easy. You can hit the ground running in

Just like Pro Tools, there is a range of software options to choose from; Lite, Standard, and Suite. Unfortunately there isn’t a free option for Live, but you can still give it a test-drive via a free trial.

Wrapping Up

So do you need a powerhouse audio program to record your vinyl records? The answer, is no, you don’t! For the record, there are tons of other options to pick from…these just happen to be 4 of the more popular products out there.

Really, you can record with any DAW of your choice. There is no best, better, or worse. My recommendations are just a set of examples. The simpler all-in-one vinyl conversion software programs (EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter for example) are quick n’ easy, but they are far less capable than professional recording programs. Professional grade DAWs have all of the editing tools, features, and flexibility to record and archive vinyl audio.

The next post will cover How to Record Vinyl Records .

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