There's no trick at all to turning your computer into an audio recorder and then storing those old LP recordings in a form any PC, Mac or portable music player can handle.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Turn those old LP records into digital audio files

Jan. 18, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   You've been putting this off long enough. Your old LP records are about to start molding in the grave. You're worried that you'll never be able to listen to them again.
   What can you do? It's easy. Just turn them into music files you can play on your computer or iPod.
   I know what you're saying -- easy for a whiz kid, maybe, but not for Joe and Jane Sixpack. But there's actually no trick at all to turning your computer into an audio recorder and then storing those recordings -- your old LPs -- in a form any PC, Mac or portable music player can handle.
   You don't even need your old record player. It's probably no good by now anyway because the rubber parts get crumbly with age. So I'm recommending two devices from Brookstone, which has stores in malls around the country as well as an online order center.
   Brookstone's Ion Turntable connects to your computer (Windows or Mac) by a USB cable and does half the work. You do the rest by running software that captures the sound while records are playing.
   Brookstone's other device, the iConvert USB Turntable, doesn't need a computer at all. It does practically all the work for you, producing MP3 audio files that it puts on a thumb drive (a memory storage stick the size of your thumb). You can then plug the thumb drive into your computer and listen to the music there or transfer the audio files to an iPod or other portable player.
   Both of these list for $130 but were selling for about $100 when I checked in December. Go to www.brookstone.com to check current prices.
   The Ion Turntable is a good quality hi-fi device that comes with recording software for Windows and Macs. After you dub the music, you can save the resulting audio file as a standard WAV file so that you can burn the music to a CD -- but make sure you have a CD burner before you start -- or you can save it as an MP3 file for playing on any computer or portable player like the iPod.
   The iConvert USB turntable doesn't quite have the hi-fi playback quality of the Ion Turntable but should be fine for transcribing casual record collections. The automatic MP3 function makes everything as easy as possible.
   Before you dub any records, make sure you clean them thoroughly. Clean the kitchen sink, then fill it half full with warm water. Add some mild detergent (Ivory Liquid works well) and submerge each record for a few seconds while wiping it with an old t-shirt. Rinse with warm water and air dry.
   Keep the turntable's playback stylus clean, too. Brush it gently from back to front using a child's watercolor paintbrush dampened with warm water.