Here’s how to convert your vinyl into a digital format

Best Vinyl Setups
Getty Images/HEX

Analog music is awesome, but it sure isn’t convenient. Because though putting on your favorite album on a turntable at home is great, you can’t take it with you on the go. Plus, if you have a rare or inherited copy of a record that you love, it will only offer a limited number of plays before you need to find another. The playing life of your vinyl can be improved by properly setting up your turntable and using the best methods to clean your records, but if you truly want to hold onto those sounds forever, you should consider digitizing that analog sound.

Doing so will not only preserve the record for future listeners and allow you to take entire albums with you on the go, but it will also give you a convenient means for cleaning up noisy records using a bevy of simple software applications.

The only question: How do you do it without running out of patience and money?

The hardware

MAG-LEV Audio The First Levitating Turntable

Sadly, there is no catch-all method for digitizing your vinyl collection. The exact process depends on what kind of equipment you have. Some turntables come with built-in phono pre-amps; others don’t and rely on a receiver with a built-in phono pre-amp or a stand-alone phono pre-amp. Many modern turntables feature both a built-in pre-amp and USB output, allowing you to quickly and efficiently convert that musty copy of Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill with little effort.

That’s not to say you can’t convert your vinyl to a digital format without an integrated USB output, but opting for a turntable built with said output makes the process far easier. Below are two such offerings we recommend; if these don’t work for you, check out our rundown of the best turntables.

Sony PS-HX500 ($330 to $400)
how to convert vinyl digital sony ps hx500 turntable

If you’re deeply invested into a large collection of vinyl records, a high-quality player like the Sony PS-HX500 might be worth your money. The player is outfitted with a high-quality Texas Instruments digital audio converter (DAC) that transfers at a minimum of 16-bit resolution (that’s CD quality). That’s just the minimum, though — this bad boy can transfer files up to 5.6MHz DSD, which no other record player can do. If you’re an audiophile, this is simply the best choice.

Available at: 

Amazon

Audio Technica AT-LP120 USB ($249)
how to convert vinyl digital audio technica at lp120 usb turntable

Audio Technica’s AT-LP120 USB isn’t stylish, but it’s a mainstay as far as budget turntables go. It comes equipped with selectable integrated pre-amp (so outboard phono pre-amps are unnecessary) and a USB output that’s compatible with both PC and Mac systems, not to mention three speeds (33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm) and the ability to rip at 16-bit/44.1kHz and 16-bit/48kHz sample rates. Best of all, it offers admirable sound for the price.

Available at:

Amazon

Aside from your turntable, you will also need a few cables in order to make the necessary connections. If your turntable lacks a USB output, for instance, you will need a stereo RCA cable and an RCA-to-3.5mm cord. Both cables are relatively affordable — typically under $10 — at your local electronics store or online sites like Amazon. You also need a computer with a “Line-in” port and enough space to save the resulting files, as well as a little patience, given you must play an album in real-time in order to properly record and convert it.

Further, you can always purchase a dedicated phono pre-amp if neither your A/V receiver nor your turntable has one. There is a wealth of pre-amps on the market, ranging anywhere from $20 to upward of $1,500, but opting for a nicer device will nearly always result in heightened clarity and a more natural soundscape. In the unlikely case that you’ve gotten this far but don’t actually have a record collection, we can help there too.

Mobile

Google’s $5.1 billion antitrust fine could mean the end of free Android

The European Commission has fined Google a record breaking $5.1 billion. The EU is accusing the company of severe antitrust infractions related to the search engine giant's handling of the Android ecosystem.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Home Theater

Don't wake the baby! How to connect headphones to a TV

Do you need to connect a pair of headphones to your TV? Our handy guide will show you how to hook up your headphones in a variety of ways, whether you're using wired headphones, wireless headphones, or gaming headsets.
Home Theater

Here's how to preserve your precious VHS memories in a modern format

There's no reason you should have to lose those precious home videos just because VHS is a dying format. Here, we'll show you how to convert VHS tapes to a digital format, and save those memories forever.
Mobile

The Best iPhone 7 battery cases to give your phone some extra juice

The iPhone 7 doesn't have terrible battery life, but you never know when you'll need to juice up on the go. To help, here are the best iPhone 7 battery cases that can keep your smartphone charged and ready for long-term use.
Deals

Beat the heat this summer with an affordable air conditioner

Summer is officially here, and now is the time time to shop for some deals on air conditioning units. We rounded up a selection of the best deals on cheap air conditioners and dehumidifiers going right now.
Home Theater

These are the best headphones you can snag on the cheap this Prime Day

If you're on the hunt for a great new set of headphones for a shockingly affordable price, there are a number of gexcellent options this Prime Day. Here are the best headphones that are being discounted on Amazon's annual shopping holiday.
Computing

Cloud-based call recording is coming to Skype, but will you use it?

Recording calls in Skype is about to get a whole lot easier. Before the end of the month, Microsoft will introduce native call recording in Skype, storing all the conversations you want in the cloud.
Mobile

These are the best portable chargers for quickly juicing your device

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Juice up your iPhone or Android phone with the best wireless chargers

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Deals

Walmart slashes Google Home prices for Prime Day

Prime Day is a great time to find great deals on Echo devices, but if you use Google for all of your smart home needs, Walmart is offering steep discounts on Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max to stay competitive.
Home Theater

Here’s how to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow casting of anything on your mobile device to your TV. If you're wondering how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to a bigger screen, we've got an in-depth guide.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Roll-up solar panels, dream controllers, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Amazon slashes prices on Echo, Fire TV, and Kindle for Prime Day

Amazon is offering enormous discounts on some of its most popular devices, including the Echo line, Dash buttons, Kindles, Fire TV sticks, Fire HD tablets, security cameras, and much more.
Deals

Play Super Smash Bros. the right way with a GameCube controller for the Switch

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the launch of the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo is bringing back the GameCube controller to use with your Switch.
Music

Listen up! These are the best movie soundtracks of all time

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled background music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Home Theater

Samsung’s 34-foot Onyx LED TV looks to change movie theaters forever

Samsung’s new Onyx Cinema LED screen is a massive LED display designed to power the movie theater of the future. Could this 34-foot big-screen make projectors obsolete?
Movies & TV

Dave Bautista speaks out against firing of James Gunn

Guardians of the Galaxy franchise director and writer James Gunn has been fired by Disney after pundits unearthed several offensive tweets posted by the director almost a decade ago.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Dark Tourist,’ ‘Sharp Objects,’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Netflix's eerie travel series Dark Tourist, HBO's gloomy thriller Sharp Objects, and more.
Movies & TV

First trailer for 'Star Trek: Discovery' season 2 debuts during Comic-Con

The crew of the U.S.S. Discovery will return for more adventures on CBS All Access in the near future. Here's everything we know about Star Trek: Discovery season 2, from the cast and themes to the season premiere.
Movies & TV

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' needs a new director

Marvel Studios will bring Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and the rest of its team of reluctant cosmic heroes back to the big screen in 2020 for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so here's everything we know about the sequel so far.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Home Theater

PlayStation Vue: The master guide to Sony’s internet TV service

PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to live TV without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. To help you understand the service, its plans, and numerous features, we've created this handy guide.
1 of 2