As most of you know, I’m a big music fan, having bought records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and MP3s pretty much non-stop since I bought my first LP (Glen Campbell) back in the mid-sixties, and having been a songwriter and (starving) musician for years.
The combination of music and evolving technology means I often find myself with some great records on outdated media. Generally, this means great LPs that aren’t available on CD or MP3. I’ve converted quite a few records, and did a tutorial that remains one of my most viewed posts.
The approach I describe in that tutorial is as workable today as it was the day I wrote it. But recently I decided to try another approach. I wanted to bypass the computer altogether, and record directly from LP to CD. Then, and only then, do I want to move or rip the songs to my MP3 library.
The tool I chose to do this is an Ion LP2CD turntable. This is one versatile turntable. It will connect to your receiver or your computer (via USB), and it has a built-in CD burner that will burn the LP directly to CD. Or, actually, to its internal flash drive, and then to a CD. This intermediate step is a good thing, since you can trim the song files, correct any glitches in the automatic song splitting and even reorder the songs, before you burn the CD.
The turntable is fairly compact for one that includes a built-in CD burner. I was able to put it together without reading the instructions. Two hints: look closely for all the small pieces (the 45 insert, the counter weight for the arm, the needle, etc.), which come taped to various parts of the packing styrofoam; and don’t forget to pull the rubber drive belt around the spindle (see page 5 of the Quickstart Guide). It took me less than 5 minutes to get the turntable put together, plugged in and ready to rock and roll.
Picking a Test Record
One the the best records you’ve never heard is The Charlie Daniels Band’s 1974 record, Way Down Yonder. This is pre-Devil Went Down to Georgia Charlie Daniels, and sounds much more like the Allman Brothers or good, early and bluesy Elvin Bishop, than later era Charlie. Sadly, it’s not available on CD or MP3. But I have the record, and decided to use it to test the turntable.
The turntable has a handy headphone jack, so you can hear what you’re doing.
To record an album, put it on the turntable, play it a bit to get the sound levels right. There’s a recording level knob and a level indicator on the led screen.
Once you’re ready, put the turntable in “INT” mode (internal flash drive), put the needle where you want to start, press Record button (the red light will come on), press the Play/Pause button, and then immediately the Start/Stop button, to begin the recording. The turntable will attempt to automatically split the tracks based on gaps. It does a good job, unless the record has a fair amount of scratches. Fear not, it’s easy to manually split tracks once you’ve finished the recording.
In my test, Side A, which had a few scratches, didn’t split perfectly, but Side B did.
Splitting and Trimming
After you’ve recorded the record onto the flash drive, you can split tracks by navigating via Fast Forward or Reverse to the desired place and pressing the Split button. You can also easily split out and erase long silences between tracks, if necessary.
In sum, this process works very well. It’s easy, and even fun.
Recording to CD
Once you’re ready, recording to a CD is as easy as putting a blank CD-R into the CD drive and pressing the Burn CD button. It literally could not be any easier.
The CD sounds great. Sure, you can hear the same scratches you hear when you play the LP, but the reproduction is excellent. Ripping the CD to your MP3 library is quick and easy.
My only wish would be that the device record to the CD in MP3 format. It would be great to save a step and avoid having to rip the CD.
But It Ain’t Cheap
The biggest, and just about only, drawback to the LP2CD turntable is its price: $321 (at Amazon). If you have one or two records to convert, it’s definitely not for you. If you have- or would like to buy- a lot of hard to find LPs, it just might be your ticket.
It’s going to be mine. Time to browse eBay for some classic vinyl.
The inside cover of this excellent record