Complete newbie to all things audio: Help me get my dad's vinyl on an iPod?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by cleo, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. cleo macrumors 65816


    Jan 21, 2002
    Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
    The thread title pretty much sums it up. I'm 1) a girl (not to be sexist, it's just that guys tend to know a lot more about stereos and stuff, at least IME); 2) a quadriplegic girl, at that, so my music collection is 100% digital (ie, portable and accessible) and has been since I got my first burner a decade ago; 3) a music lover, but not an audiophile... my hearing was slightly damaged by a really bad infection/fever as a kid, not bad, but enough that I can't hear audio compression like most people can, so it's not something I've ever learned about. So yes: This is truly uncharted territory for me, both from the hardware and software ends.

    On a recent family vacation, for which my mom and I both took our nanos to watch movies on the flight, my dad started showing a lot of interest for the first time in them. His birthday is coming up, so my mom and I have decided to get him a nano and put all of his old vinyl on it. It should be said that my mom is even more clueless than I am, because I at least am a geek with the Macs.

    I read the sticky at the top of this forum, but at this point it didn't help much, since I don't really understand the terminology (beyond analog/digital).

    I have a two-month-old MacBook Pro (yay, student loans!) and my mom has a brand-new iMac (boo, failed power supply in my 6-yr-old IMac G4). My dad's turntable is, according to the guy at the shop where we took it to have it checked out, in very good shape and high-quality (something about a "coil'?), except it needs a new "stylus" which has been ordered. It has a right and a left channel out plugs, which the guy said would (back in the day) go into the amplifier. And that is the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

    It would be immensely helpful if someone more knowledgeable than I could either point me to a "for dummies"-type guide on the web as a starting place (everything I found was above my head... I guess they figure you already have a certain degree of knowledge if you have the old analog hardware)... or just help me yourself! ::bats eyelashes::

    Humbly submitting myself to your aural wisdom... :eek:
  2. Sceneshifter macrumors 6502


    Jun 14, 2007
    A quick and very easy way to do it, is to buy one of those vinyl to mp3 machines, they're around 90$ here, and they serve only one goal: Play the vinyl and put it directly on an mp3 player. They're super easy to use, and I think the easiest solution in your case.
  3. cleo thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 21, 2002
    Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
    Could you maybe give me an example of the kind of gadget you're talking about? "vinyl to mp3 machine" doesn't google very well. :eek:

    Also... and this may be my ignorance, just bear with me... if it record direct to iPod, don't you wind up getting the entire side of the LP as one long file instead of individual song files? I'm not really understanding how, without some kinda software interface, that works.
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    you won't do it that way. it's basically 4 steps:

    1. convert the vinyl to an audio file on the mac (different s/w packages can handle this)
    2. in that s/w package, split that audio stream into different songs
    3. dump those songs into itunes
    4. sync to the ipod

    i've not actually converted vinyl. i know you need a special kind of amplifier to handle turntable signals -- that's before it hits the analog->digital converter to get into the mac. the kind of box mentioned above should handle all this, and may come with the software, too.

    hope that clears up one or two things for you.
  5. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #5 turntable&sourceid=mozilla2&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Google link for "USB Turntable". As long as it has a preamp, you can plug it into the Mac, play the album, and using appropriate audio software (Audacity is great, and is included with many of them; as long as it's Mac-compatible, you're fine), then take the resulting files and import into iTunes. you'll have to do all the info for each file (Title, Artist, Year, all that) as LP's don't contain that data for import. From there it's a standard sync to an iPod.

    Depending on budget, you could look at buying the CD's (or iTunes download) for the albums where available. Or, just buy dad the turntable and an iPod, wrap 'em both real pretty, and say, "Happy Birthday!" He's a guy, he'll leave you guys alone while he's geeking out with his toys. ;)
  6. bgalizio macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Make sure that if you're using your current turntable that you hook it up to a phono preamp (whether integrated in the turntable, amp, or a separate box). You need a phono pre to apply the RIAA EQ curve to your turntable.
  7. cleo thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 21, 2002
    Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
    Oooookay, I think I'm starting to catch on. If I'm reading right, my options are:

    1: a USB turntable


    2: use current turntable with some device containing a phone input (which I believe his receiver has), which in turn plugs in to a converter of some sort that I purchase, then into the Mac

    and appropriate software with either hardware option (software doesn't hurt my brain nearly to the extent that this hardware stuff does).

    I was kinda hoping I'd only need to buy some cables and such, but it looks as if either way I'm looking at at least another $100 in hardware. I might just give him the iPod, explain the options (including the choice of the iTMS or Amazon mp3) and let him decide (and foot the bill :)).

    But first, am I understanding the process and lingo correctly now?
  8. wightstraker macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2007
    USB turntables, especially their $90 incarnations, have notoriously bad transfer quality. I'd pass on that and stick with what you've got.

    If your receiver has an integrated amplifier, that should work. By integrated I mean an amplifier that has both an amplifier (for increasing the sound volume) and a preamplifier (for the RIAA curve, which equalizes the phono signal for proper playback). If your receiver has an input plug that is labeled "Phono", you have the right stuff.

    Once you're plugged into that, you'll need to hook it up to your Macbook's audio-in port. Odds are the plugs in your receiver are RCA (a red and white pair of plugs), so you'll need to get a Y-splitter to connect it to your laptop. I would also recommend getting a ground loop isolator to get rid of any hum that might show up in your recording. Here's a rough diagram of what your setup should look like:

    turntable --> receiver --> ground loop isolator --> y-splitter --> laptop.

    All in all the extra cables shouldn't be much more than $20.

    Fire up a good audio program to record, Audacity would be a good choice because it comes with a plugin that will let you export to MP3. Make sure it's set up to record from your audio-in port, hit record, play your LP, and you can watch the transfer!

    Let us know if you need more detail or have any questions.
  9. atticboy212 macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2008
    Try an imic

    You could also use a griffin imic which connects to your mac via a USB port. There only about $30 and I think radioshack sells them. I'm not positive but I don't believe you need a pre amp for it to work but I'm not positive on that one. I know you don't with a cassette player. I've used both Audacity and Amadeus II for converting cassettes to cd's and mp3's with pretty good results. I personally prefer Amadeus but it's not free like Audacity. You can record the whole side of an LP to a single file and then go back and edit it into individual songs. The problem you'll have with LP's is there's going to be a lot of pops and crackles that you might have to live with. You can filter out the noise to some degree with both programs. I just discovered Wavepad which has a really crappy interface but filters out noise better then the other two. Give all three a try and have fun.

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