How to convert records into MP3s

Nostalgic audiophiles may prefer the beauty of vinyl records, but the convenience of MP3 players monopolizes most of our listening time. For music lovers with classic records, converting your vinyl to MP3 will ensure that you can enjoy your favorite music on the go while still appreciating the complete experience of vinyl in your living room.

Here's how to do it.

Needle quality
The sound quality of your new MP3 file will be predicated on the quality of your needle, just as the needle quality determines the quality of your vinyl when it spins. The ultimate audio file will depend on your proficiency with the music editing software, to remove pops, noises and so on.

USB turntable
What used to be an arduous task has become much easier, thanks to recent technological innovations. Companies like ION have started to produce and distribute innovative USB turntables. These can connect directly to your computer, enabling an easy transfer of music.

Jeffrey Snyder, associate professor of music business at Lebanon Valley College, describes using the USB turntable as the most common and easiest method for turning vinyl into MP3.

"A computer records the audio," Snyder said, "and there are software programs that will slice the songs into tracks for burning to CD or making MP3 files." These USB turntables also feature iPod docks that sync up with your computer, meaning that the file transfer from your computer to iPod is easier as well.

If you intend to transfer a large number of vinyls to your computer or MP3 player, the convenience of a USB turntable will be worth the investment.

Traditional turntable
Even though it isn't suited specifically for the purpose of transferring audio files, the traditional turntable can still yield MP3s. You will need to connect your record player to your computer with an RCA cable.

Download or purchase recording software, such as GarageBand, Audacity or ProTools. Change the recording input on your software so it receives information through the RCA cable. Then record the music track just as you would live music. When a song has finished recording, stop the vinyl. Save the audio file on the computer and convert the file to MP3. Then repeat for each track on the album.

As you can see from the stop and go nature of this approach, it is a far more time consuming way. However, if you only intend to convert one or two records, it might be preferable since it won't necessitate the purchase of a new record player.