I've already written about my ongoing project to rip my 2,500+ CDs onto a network hard drive. But that's actually an easy task compared to that of digitizing the almost 300 vinyl record albums remaining (from my original collection of 1,000 or so) that I have not been able to find and repurchase on CD.
At this point, 25 years after the introduction of the audio CD, it's unlikely that any of those remaining albums are ever going to get released in digital form. So it's time to get them digitized and converted to CD format for posterity. However, my beloved 26-year-old Bang & Olufsen turntable has not been usable since my last move, when the tonearm got literally bent out of shape. And I'm reluctant to buy a new standard turntable when my new AV receiver doesn't even have a phono input. After all, I'm probably only going to be using it long enough to digitize all my records and then retire it.
So I spent a lot of time researching solutions before I found the Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB turntable, a very reasonably-priced USB turntable that you can plug directly into your PC or Mac. While there are a number of USB turntables out there, the Audio-Technica stood out for several reasons: it comes from a manufacturer with a long and illustrious history of producing quality turntables; it includes a very good dual-magnet replaceable diamond cartridge on a damped tonearm and a balanced aluminum belt-drive platter; it's fully automatic so you don't have to lift the tonearm; and it has a built-in Phono pre-amp, so you can plug it into any audio input in your AV system as well as into a USB port in your computer. It even comes with three types of cables so you won't need to run out and buy them.
I received the Audio-Technica a couple weeks ago, and have since been playing with it using Creator 10 on my Vista PC and Toast 9 Mac with my MacBook Pro. I could not be happier with both the sound quality and ease of use. While the turntable comes with a couple software CDs, if you have Creator or Toast, you don't need to install a thing -- I like to keep a clean system and not having to install software is always a good thing. Quite literally, all you have to do is plug it in, put on your record, and press play to begin digitizing it with Creator or Toast.
In Creator 10, using the LP & Tape Assistant, the turntable shows up as the default "Microphone (USB Audio Codec)" input in the "Capture From" list:
And in Toast 9, the turntable shows up similarly as USB Audio CODEC in the list of recording devices to choose from:
I've now digitized about 10 albums, taking it at a leisurely pace to listen (and in a couple cases, dance!) at the same time. After all, I've been unable to enjoy those 300 records for quite a long time now. Creator and Toast can automatically identify tracks digitized from LPs, so I don't even have to type in many song or artist names. I've also been experimenting with the handy noise reduction and sound enhancement filters in both programs, and highly recommend them to maximize your sound quality.
I've posted complete tutorials on digitizing your LPs for both Creator 10 and Toast 9 in the Hot Topics area of MyMoments. Take a look and tell me about your own experiences with digitizing your musical past.