Turntable S/PDIF to Line-in?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by kangaroo, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. kangaroo macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2003

    I've got a Stanton STR8-80 turntable with an S/PDIF out. If possible, I'd like to use this TT to transfer some old records into iTunes.

    The S/PDIF accepts an RCA-type plug and, since it's digital, I assume it requires a digital coax cable.

    My MacBook Pro's audio-in is described by Apple as:
    "Combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack)"

    I've tried using a digital coax cable with a 'phono to 1/8" adapter' but this doesn't seem to work.

    Is there a way to directly connect this turntable to the Mac and, if so, will the sound quality be adequate?

    If I can't direct-connect, is there a recommended gadget I can use to link the turntable/mac?

  2. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    I'd use the Line Output instead of the SPDIF.

    I believe the optical input on most Macs can be a little fussy when it comes to jitter etc... and I doubt the word clock in that turntable is very stable.
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    You'd have to have a converter that converted S/PDIF on RCA connections to Optical. As mentioned, best to take the analog line out to the analog in.
  4. kangaroo thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2003
    What do you mean by 'Line Output'?

    Are you talking about the Red/White RCA tail coming off of the TT? If that's the case, how would you suggest I connect those?

    Also, 'word clock'?
  5. Luap macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2004
    Although turntables use RCA analogue plugs, they do not output at line level. Its a much lower non flat EQ output thats specific for turntables. So plugging a deck straight into a Mac isn't going to work in most cases.
    On top of this, Modern macs are now fitted with cheap and nasty analogue audio hardware. Its much worse than it used to be :eek: So if you want a good quality transfer, its not the way to go.
    The digital option should fare much better.. But as you have a digital RCA output from your deck, but an optical digital input on your Mac, then you need to convert the format from one to the other. Fortunately you can buy a cheap converter gadget to do just this.
    A quick Google search threw up this, which should do the job.

    Hope this helps :)
  6. kangaroo thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2003
    Thank you for that information.

    Since the product image doesn't show the optical side, can you tell me if the Toslink side will require an optical cable AND the following item:?

  7. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    Not sure why Laup thinks the digital connection will fare better - I seriously doubt the ADC in the turntable is much better, if better or at all comparable to the ADC in your Mac.

    As I say, a Line Level connection would make much more sense. The specs for your turntable state it has a line level output, not an RIAA level output as Laup suggests (which is a fair enough assumption to make, most turntables have a low-level RIAA output).


    A female phono to minijack lead should do the trick assuming your deck has a fixed phono cable. If your deck has phono sockets on the back, then a standard phono to minijack cable will do.


    This should connect straight into the line-in of your turntable, assuming the specs available on the net are actually accurate...
  8. kangaroo thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 5, 2003
    Based on your suggestion, I just tried this setup and, unfortunately, the sound quality is rather poor. Could this be due to low quality audio-input that people have referred to?

    Would using an intermediary device and going through either usb or firewire improve the sound quality?

    My goal here is to achieve a fairly high quality transfer. I'm willing to spend (within reason) to accomplish this.


    I remembered that I had a DVD receiver (I don't use it anymore) and discovered that it has a digital coax-in. I connected the TT to the receiver using the digital coax and plugged in a headset. It sounded great! So, now I know, if nothing else, that the digital coax out on the TT works! My DVD receiver has the usual array of outputs, including digitial coax out and Toslink out. Since it's several years old it does not include any USB ports.

    So I can go directly from the TT or indirectly via the DVD receiver. In either case, I'm still left with finding a way to get that (bloody) digital signal into the MPB.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  9. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    The poor sound quality would suggest that the turntable in fact isn't giving you a line-level output, but it's actually giving you an RIAA output.

    You could always use the DVD player as a go-between, take an output from the headphones socket of the DVD player and into the Line Input on your Mac.
  10. tarz4n macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2007
  11. G0RTF macrumors newbie

    Nov 8, 2009
    Line-in Problems with MacBookPro

    Hi, I am having similar problems getting my MBP (latest model) to respond to line-in inputs from the phono output from my hi-fi. I have a Linn Sondek etc. and am trying to import one or two albums into iTunes and would like the best quality possible.
    Microphone input works fine (into either Mac input sockets (which surprised me) but change over to Line-in in preferences and there is no response - not a squeak. I have tried all the variables I can think of, even using Garage Band with its various source settings but again nothing. Am I missing something here? Does the Line-in not accept analogue, or is there some setting I have overlooked. Please help.
    G0RTF :confused:
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    The outputs from a typical turntable are far below line level. You need a phono pre-amp to convert the photo signal to line level. The outputs from the turn table come straight of the little coils inside the pickup without any kind of amplification. The signal is very weak.

    Not only that but the vinyl records used a kind of compressed frequect responce that has to corrected for. (Called "RIAA equalization".) Phono preamps have this correction built-in. The correction can also be done in software. The sound will be very poor without the RIAA equalization.

    The phono signal is a little like the mic level so you might be able to get the signal into the computer that way but you's still need to apply the RIAA eq. If you don't have any software to do this try Audacity id free and can.

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