As a long-time vinyl collector, I have a few records in my collection that as much as I love them, I only play on very special occasions. This is not because I am weird, but because some of my records are quite rare and the more, I play them the more I risk damaging them. I actually have a couple of live albums that are very hard to come by and it was those (especially this bootleg Guns n Roses one I have) that made me want to digitize them. This way I can have them in as good condition as possible in my collection, but still enjoy the music.
Today I am looking at a few things you need to know about ripping your vinyl records that will hopefully help you out and make you see that it is not as crazy an idea as you would think.
What Do You Need To Rip Your Vinyl?
Man, I wish that there was just a super easy answer for you here! Basically, you need a way to connect your vinyl to a computer and then you use some software (we have a guide in our FAQ section about the best free software for doing this) and then you rip the vinyl. You might need a device such as this Rega – Fono Mini A2D MM Phono Preamp & USB A/D Converter that allows you to connect your turntable via USB to your computer. These come in all shapes and sizes and this is just one example of a device like this.
On the other hand, some record players come with a USB port on them for easy connectivity to a computer. The Sony PSHX500 Hi-Res USB Turntable is a great example of this and a turntable I have personally used. This is an example of a record player with a USB port built into it.
As far as the software goes if I had to recommend the one that I personally use I would suggest, Golden Records Vinyl and Cassette to MP3 or CD I have used this many times and never had a problem.
Clean Your Vinyl!
In an ideal world, you will be taking great care of your vinyl collection and it will be in pristine condition anyway. I have written guides on how often and how to clean your vinyl and vinyl record cleaning tools that are worth checking out. Your vinyl needs to be as clean and ready to go as possible if you are ripping it. Why do you need to do this? Well, any imperfections that may cause problems with the sound will be recorded when your record is ripped. So if there is a big bit of dust in a groove that causes a skip, pop or whatever this will be on your digitized recording!
As well as making sure that your vinyl record is clean. You also want to make sure that your record player is in as tip-top condition as possible. Check the speed, the stylus and make sure it is ready to rock and roll before you start the ripping process.
You Need To Take Charge
You know how when you rip a CD, you just put in the disc, press copy and that is that? Well, that is not the case with ripping vinyl at all. You need to take a real hands-on approach when you are ripping a vinyl record. No matter the vinyl ripping software you are using, you need the whole record to play. Think of it like it is 1993 and you have borrowed a CD from a friend and you are recording it to a tape. You need it to play so it can record. It will record the record and depending on the software that you are using you may have to do a bit of work after.
Some programs will automatically split the tracks for you, but sometimes you will need to do this manually. It is not complicated, but it is an extra step that some people do not realize. If you do not split the track, the record will be ripped as just one long audio file which can be annoying. You may also want to tinker with the sound, changing levels, trying to clean it up and so on, but this is up to you.
Where To Put My Ripped Music?
Ok so you have ripped your music, but now what? In all honesty, this is completely down to you. I will tell you what I do with the music I have ripped, but what you want might be different. I am dreading the day when I have to buy a car and there is no CD player in it! I like to have CDs in my car and that is the first thing I usually do; I will put the record onto a CD so I can listen to it in my car.
I also like to put them onto my phone so I can listen at work and while at the gym. This is easy to do and I have a Samsung phone so all I do is drag it into my music folder. Of course, each phone is different, but putting your ripped music on your phone or MP3 player is a good idea.
So, there you have it. I will say that ripping your vinyl records is not as complicated as you may think, but it certainly has a few more steps than ripping a CD or taking a song from YouTube or whatever. The biggest piece of advice that I can give you if you are looking to rip your vinyl records is to make sure that your records and turntable are as clean as possible so that you are getting the best sound quality possible. I love listening to my vinyl, but as I said in the intro there are some records that are just too rare to be played all of the time.