Can I Transfer my Record Albums onto my Computer?

wiseGEEK Writer

For those people with extensive collections of record albums, the preeminence of CD players, and then the switch to MP3 players by a large portion of the public, made it difficult to find turntables. Additionally, people were annoyed by having to repurchase songs they already owned on record albums, just so they could listen to their favorite tunes on an MP3 player. Some music remains unavailable on CDs or on MP3 files due to copyright disputes or because the music was never very popular. It’s a definite loss when you can’t transfer this music to computerized form, and record albums on your computer.

Recoding albums can require a lot of space on a computer's hard drive.
Recoding albums can require a lot of space on a computer's hard drive.

At present, the quickest way to accomplish transferring record albums to computer file or CD is to purchase a USB turntable. There is a more complicated process, which involves taking any turntable and buying a part called a phono preamp. When you add the cost of the phono preamp, and the software you’ll need to buy, you’re likely to spend about as much or more as you would if you purchased a turntable with USB, since the USB turntable comes with software that can be used with most Macs and PCs. You may want to study your software, though, as some programs will do automatic lookups of the album, artists, and song on iTunes®.

It's often best to transfer music from albums to a computer with a USB turntable.
It's often best to transfer music from albums to a computer with a USB turntable.

Most people who have tried this method suggest that you first listen to your records, because if they are in poor shape, you can expect a poor recording. Some programs do help eliminate background noise, but a skipping record will record as a skipping record. You’ll also usually be recording each side of an album as one long file, instead of song by song. This means you’ll need to break up each recording into individual songs after you’re finished. You can stop the recording after each song, but this can be a lengthy process.

Recordings on audio cassettes can be transferred to a computer.
Recordings on audio cassettes can be transferred to a computer.

Most people who’ve converted record albums to CD or computer say another issue is the amount of memory on your computer. If you’re converting a couple of albums, it’s not that big of an issue. On the other hand if you’re recording many albums, you can quickly run out of storage space. You might want to consider purchasing an additional hard drive if you’re dedicated to making copies of a really large collection of record albums.

USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as record players and other audio equipment -- to computers.
USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as record players and other audio equipment -- to computers.

Another way to go is to purchase a record player system that allows you to record straight onto CD, which can then be transferred to your computer. A few companies, notably Crossley®, have come out with new record players that also include cassette players, MP3 jacks and CD players. The lowest end models, which cost about $100 US Dollars (USD), usually don’t allow you to record CDS. Higher end models, costing about $200-300 USD do allow you to make album to CD transfers. Yet you can purchase a USB turntable that comes with software for about $100 USD, so this may still be a better option.

However you accomplish record albums to computer transfer, expect to do a lot of babysitting. It does take time even if you’re just taking a CD form of an album and breaking up the file on your computer. Moreover, the sound may not be as good as it would be if you could purchase the music via iTunes® or on CD. Still, issues of sound quality aren’t important to everyone, and sometimes just getting to hear that old music again is enough.

Once transferred to a computer, files can be digitally copied onto an MP3 player.
Once transferred to a computer, files can be digitally copied onto an MP3 player.

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Discussion Comments


What is the software we need if we already have a power amp with the preamp abilities? I have albums in impeccable condition which were only played once in order to tape them. I'd really like to get them onto CD or my computer in some easy fashion without resorting to spending a lot of money.


If you do not fill up to the task of recording your old problems to a digital format, there are actually a lot of sound studios available that will do this for you. By using the service to record your old albums to digital format, you will be able to get the best quality and take advantage of the highly advanced and professional audio equipment that sound studios have purchased. While this may be a way to save on actual purchasing that equipping yourself, this service can often be expensive.

The other thing to consider when transferring your records and using the studio services that are available, is whether or not music you are recording has copyrights on it. Sound Studios will not record your albums to digital format if they are recent music period this option is truly only available for very old record albums and record outcomes that you personally have recorded or hold the copyright to. It is very important not to infringe on copyrights of music artists as that's what they poured their life work into.


All of these different methods sound really complicated and I have always been satisfied with holding up my computer microphone to the speaker when I plant problem to record it. While this may seem simple, most of the records that I use are very old and therefore have a low audio quality to begin with. Audiophiles have told me that this is an unacceptable waits for the record my problems but I think it works just fine. The sound that I get out of my recordings works perfectly for me and I am very satisfied with it.

If I was recording highly advanced and audio sensitive songs, then I might consider using word fast method of recording. But with the options being so expensive, I can't help but use a cheaper method.


If you do not have the ability to purchase a digital audio recorder or an interface that is capable of taking an analog signal in your computer, you can actually transfer your records from your record player into your computer fairly easily. You will still need to use a preamp to hook up to the record player, or route to the signal through a receiver that has a preamp built into it and is capable of hooking up to a record player.

When you use this method you will need to then attach the output of the receiver into the microphone or line level input of the computer soundcard. By making this connection you have now created a means of recording your records. The only competent parts of this method is that you must manually start and stop the recordings as well as the play of the final out of. If you can use basic audio editing software that you will be able to chop the ends of your audio files to ensure that you have just the song audio and not silence or static.


I found the easiest way for me to record my vinyl record albums into my computer and digitalize them for collection purposes is by means of a digitally interfaced record player. These types of record players are available at specialty audio stores as well as at some electronic manufacturer retailers. Besides just a normal and typical audio output components, these highly specialized and technologically advanced record players are capable of interfacing with the computer directly usually via Universal serial bus.

These USB type of connections allow for a true datastream to occur from the record player into the computer. You want to be sure that if you are going to be using a lot of different records and making a large process out of it that you select a manufacture of additional record player that has a reputable piece of equipment. Because you are going from analog audio source to a digital audio signal there is a conversion that must be done and it is essential if you want high quality audio that all of the settings are set up properly.

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