Converting your vinyl records and cassettes to digital

What to do with your old vinyl records and cassettes? I know they are tucked away in closets, basements and garages, but there’s still reason to bring them out and enjoy them, what with the resurgence of vinyl records, even digitize them.

Doing your own analog to digital conversion,  especially older hard-to-find ones can be rewarding. It’s not rocket science and there are a few simple ways to do so. Once converted they can be synched to iTunes in your private collection or Windows Media Player. Here are some examples of analog to digital converters I have run into and how they work.

Pyle Vintage Turntable left, and Ion Vinyl Duo Deck LP Tape Converter
Pyle Vintage Turntable left, and Ion Vinyl Duo Deck LP Tape Converter. supplied

-The Ion Duo Deck available at London Drugs in this week’s flyer for $49.99 is small, light and can play 33 RPM and 45 RPM records. It runs on four AA batteries and comes with a wall power plug too which connects to its USB input. It also has RCA red and white connection for hooking up to a better stereo unit to listen to records and tapes. The same USB input also sends the tape or record music to your Mac or PC USB input. It comes EZ Vinyl/Tape Converter software for recording one or multiple tracks (it can be set to automatically record each track as a new track for easier organizing) and lets you input key meta data like artist, track and album title, but no editing other than volume recording level.

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Pros: It’s cheap, light, and easy to use and handles both records and tapes. Cons: It has one inferior mono speaker so I wouldn’t count on it being a portable party machine and the stylus pickup provides below average quality music. Recommended for folks who are on a budget and don’t own a cassette or record player anymore.

-The Pyle Vintage Retro Belt Drive Turntable, $99.99, also at London Drugs is much better quality and built sturdier. It has internal rechargeable batteries and two stereo speakers in a neat briefcase. It also plays back 78 RPM records and has a better quality pickup stylus for clear recordings. Its USB out sends music to your PC or Mac and charges the batteries at the same time. It comes with free Audacity software, much better than the Ion Duo above, with a huge editing suite including noise reduction filters from noisy dusty recordings.

Pros: A nice portable, ready for party unit with descent speakers. It too can connect to a stereo player with RCA red and white cables.  Cons: Would have been perfect if it had a cassette tape player.

ART USB Phono Plus does it all if you have a turntable. supplied

-For the same price as the Pyle, $99.99 the Art USB Phone Plus, at Log & McQuade, is a small box on steroids, clearly the best option if you already have a descent record player or tape deck. It is powered via USB from your Mac or PC computer but has much better electronics for the analog to digital conversion. You can control the volume out from this little box, optical in and out for quality component connection from your HiFi stereo, low filter on off for noise reduction from the get-go, even a ground to ensure no electrical hum. Includes Bias Sound Saver Software with good options.

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Pros: Excellent if you have a record, tape or all in one stereo player. It can hand direct connection from a record player with its built-in pre amp. Excellent manual on the included software CD. Cons:  Its USB 2.0 an older standard today, but good enough for what it does.

If all this seems too much work, you can always buy many of your old tunes online and look for another home for you analog music collection.

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