Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Convert LPs to Digital Files

Audio-editing Software

Here's another decision to make: Many people like audio-editing software that's available as shareware or freeware. Audacity is one of the most popular programs out there for Windows, and Macintosh computers use Garage Band. These programs enable you to record and edit your music to your computer, and export it to your portable device or burn it to a disc.

The process, however, is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Usually you have to be available every 20 minutes or so to turn the album over or put another one on. And you must split the tracks, stopping at the end of each track to export it and add labels.

It's also possible to buy dedicated software that can cost you as little as $30. These programs make it easier to name albums and split tracks, among other things. You can still have problems splitting tracks, however, if you're copying classical music that includes silent moments or comedy albums were someone is talking.

If you're using a simple program, set it to record the incoming signal as a standard 16-bit stereo .WAV or .AIFF audio file with a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. Then the results should be good enough to burn to a CD. WAV (Waveform, is a sound format developed by Microsoft and IBM. AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) is Apple's version, used on Macs.

The quality you end up with will depend partly on the quality of the original recording. Then there's the question of whether the record is warped or scratched, which will result in pops and squeaks. There is software available to remove such noise, but it may also reduce the quality of the music in the process.

That doesn't mean, however, that you can't do anything to reduce unwanted noise. Keep reading for recording tips.