Digitizing those old vinyl LPs with a SONY PS-LX300USB turntable and Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0

Following is a description of how I’ve transferred LPs to MP3 using the SONY PS-LX300USB turntable (purchased off-the-shelf at the local Best Buy) and Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio 9.0 software (included with the turntable).

I purchased the turntable specifically because it has a USB output in addition to the usual audio output cable. Like many people, I rarely listen to CDs, records, or (shudder) tapes any longer, so I was looking for a turntable that would allow me to convert my old vinyl albums into a digital format. As it turns out, the out-of-the-box information for using the turntable is limited at best; perusing message boards for information about the turntable and (especially) the software shows that I’m not the only one who initially struggled to produce quality recordings.

I hope that this tutorial will be helpful

The operating system that I used to prepare this tutorial is Windows Vista. The following procedure should be almost, if not exactly, the same for Windows 7. The Windows XP experience may be slightly different due to differences in the Sound and Device Properties dialogs.

1) Start by plugging the turntable into an open USB port on the computer. You must do this first! When you run the software (step 2), it expects to find the turntable attached to the computer.

2) Start the Sound Forge Audio Studio application.

3) Choose Options/Preferences from the menu.

4) Select the Audio tab of the Preferences dialog.

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5) On the Preferences dialog, choose Windows Classic Wave Driver as the Audio device type.

6) On the Preferences dialog, make sure the USB Microphone is chosen as the Default recording device. Depending on the other peripherals attached to your computer, this choice may be different for you. You may have to identify which is the appropriate microphone device for the turntable.

7) The settings you have just changed should ensure that you will be able to hear the audio through the speakers attached to your PC. Click OK to close the dialog.

8 ) Choose Tools/Vinyl Recording and Restoration from the Sound Forge Audio Studio menus to open the Vinyl Recording and Restoration Tool dialog.

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9) Click the Device Properties… button to open the Sound dialog to the Recording tab.

10) Select the appropriate USB microphone device on the Sound dialog.

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11) Click the Properties button on the Sound dialog to open the Microphone Properties dialog, and then select the Levels tab on the dialog.

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12) Reduce the microphone level to 1 or 2. This will make the sound output from your computer speakers very low, but will greatly reduce distortion in the recording.

13) Click OK to close the Microphone Properties dialog.

14) Click OK to close the Sound dialog.

15) Click Next in the Vinyl Recording and Restoration Tool dialog.

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16) Start the turntable and click the round Record button on the Vinyl Recording and Restoration Tool dialog to begin the recording. The record button will become a Pause button.

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17) When finished recording, click the Pause button.

18) Click Next. The application will attempt to detect the tracks in the audio you’ve just recorded.

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19) The next page of the Vinyl Recording and Restoration Tool dialog will allow you to specify the name of the album and artist, as well as the names of each track that was identified. However, with the recording level set so low (1 or 2), it is unlikely that any tracks will be discovered, so simply leave everything blank and click Next.

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20) Check the Audio Restoration and Peak Normalization boxes and click Next.

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21) The application will work for a minute or two, removing hiss and pops, and increasing the sound level of the recording.

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22) When the processing is complete, click Next. Don’t worry about the options for burning a CD or saving tracks to your computer.

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23) Check the “Leave underlying data window open” box and click the Finish button.

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24) The Sound Forge Audio Studio window should now look something like this.

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25) Choose File/Save As from the Sound Forge Audio Studio menu.

26) Pick a folder into which to save the audio file, give the file a name, choose a file type (i.e. MP3), and template (i.e. 192Kbps, CD Transparent Audio), and click Save.

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27) Once the save is complete, you can use the audio editor of your choice to break the saved file into individual tracks. Audacity is a great free utility for editing audio which I recommend. You can also use the Sound Forge Audio Studio application itself to do the editing, though I found its interface to be anything but intuitive.

Using this process I have been able to produce nice digital copies of my old vinyl records. I’m not an audiophile by any means, so I can’t give precise metrics on the quality of the transfers. I’m satisfied with the results, and I’m thrilled to be able to conveniently access music in my collection that had been relatively unavailable.

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