How to Convert LPs to Digital Files

Recording Tips for Optimal Sound Quality

Make sure your vinyl is spotless before you start recording.
Make sure your vinyl is spotless before you start recording.
Dave Bradley Photography/Getty Images

If you're going to go to the time, expense and trouble to convert your old LPs to digital files, you might as try to get the best quality.

The first thing you need to do is clean your vinyl. You may not be able to fix warps and scratches, but you can get rid of dust. And dust can make a difference in the quality of the sound. Again, you have choices: You can buy a record-cleaning machine. Brands include Nitty Gritty and VPI. They will cost in the hundreds of dollars. You can buy a commercial solution like Last or Discwasher, or you can use a homemade solution. There are many versions to be found on the web. Among the simplest are isopropyl alcohol (but not rubbing alcohol with additives), dishwashing detergent with no moisturizers, or even tap water. Don't get the label wet. Rinse thoroughly if you use detergent, and dry the records with a soft, clean cloth [source: DiscoMusic].

The next step is to choose the right place to do your recording. Most of us don't have recording studios at home, but you can make the most of the spaces you have available. Record your music in a quiet room, away from household noise as much as possible. Put your turntable on a solid desk or table that won't move. Avoid rooms with a floor that gives or makes noise when someone walks on it. And ask others in the house to stay away or at least tiptoe quietly.

If you've got the right equipment, the right setup, the right room and you've prepared your records, you should succeed in digitizing your LPs. Keep reading to find out what comes next.