Okay, I plug what into what?

Having reconciled yourself with the fact that Apple will never release an iPod with a turntable option, you have decided to go ahead and digitize your prized LP collection of Tuvan throat singing. Wonderful! Now how do you get from point A to B?

The traditional method is to connect your computer to your stereo. This requires several important pieces. First, if you have never connected a turntable to your receiver, check if it has a phono input? Many home theater receivers do not. Look for a button or setting. If you do, great, if you don’t, or it says Phono/Aux, then you are going to need a phono preamplifier between the two, to boost the signal strength. This piece can run from $15 to “Oh my God.” You won’t need the best, but a super-cheap one could hurt sound quality. 

Next, connect the receiver to the computer. This requires an interconnect cable with two RCA jacks on one end and a stereo 1/8th inch mini-jack on the other. The RCAs get plugged into your tape out jacks, while the mini goes to the computer’s microphone input. Your computer might have other jack options as well. 

Once the connections are complete, you need to install software that helps convert the music. There are dozens of programs available from third-party vendors.

If all this sounds complex, and it can be, you can streamline the operation with a USB turntable that connects directly to your computer using a USB port. This subtracts the receiver from the equation. USB turntables are becoming a popular item and NPR has a nice piece about them.

Yet another option is to let someone else do it for you. A little searching on line will deliver a list of vendors eager to digitize your vinyl if you monetize their accounts. It’s up to you.

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