Tech help: clean and digitize your vinyl records

July 28, 2015

Vinyl records offer a unique sound and are often irreplaceable. We'll teach you how to extend the life of your records through cleaning and how to preserve them forever in a digital format.

Tech help: clean and digitize your vinyl records

Clean your records regularly

Always clean a vinyl record before you play it; this not only prolongs the life of the record itself, but also the life of the stylus. Both can be difficult to replace.

  • Velvet record brushes are the best way to clean an LP. Once commonplace, they are now sold in specialty record shops.
  • If you acquire a rare but dirty record, it's acceptable to wash it with distilled water. Take care to keep the label dry.
  • Let the record air-dry and then put it in a new, clean sleeve. Discard the old sleeve.
  • Always store your LPs upright on a shelf.

Convert vinyl records to digital

The key requirement for digitizing vinyl records is to have a turntable that you can connect to your PC. Some modern turntables are specifically designed for digitizing and have their own USB ports. You'll also need software that can digitize music. There are several free programs available online.

  • Start by cleaning your records thoroughly (see above), and buying a new stylus.
  •  If you have a record player connected to a stereo system, look for two small, round sockets labelled "line out." From here, run a 3.5 millimetre (1/8 inch) stereo plug to two phono leads' cable (available from specialist electronics retailers) to the "line in" socket of your PC. If your record cable has a USB port, use that instead.
  • Now that your record player and PC are connected, run your software and start recording.
  • Play your records through. While playing, the music will be converted into digital music files.
  • Save your files to CD (see below) or load them onto your music player.

Copy your music to a CD for easy listening

To copy your music files to a CD, you'll need a burning program, which comes pre-installed on most computers and will often automatically launch when a blank disk is inserted. If you don't already have a burning program, there are several available for free online. Drag and drop the files you want into the appropriate window or folder, and then follow the instructions to save them to the disk. Then, pop the CD into a player and start moving to your favourite tunes.

It's the digital era, which means there's no reason to say goodbye to the treasured music on your vinyl records. By digitizing your records and cleaning them regularly, you'll be able to enjoy your favourite albums indefinitely. Rock on!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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