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How do I rip vinyl albums to my PC computer, CD, MP3 or iTunes/iPod?

This document will show you how to rip vinyl albums to CD, vinyl albums to MP3 or vinyl albums to iPod.

Required Equipment

You need AIPL Singulator, an RCA to PC sound card cable, a recordable CD drive with software to burn CD-Rs (if you want to burn to audio CDs), software to turn WAV files to MP3, WMA or iTunes AAC (if you desire these formats), and a turntable and amplifier to record albums, or a tape player to record tapes. Most high end record players will be compatible with software to create MP3 files. Aside from Singulator, you probably already have most of these items or can download the software to compress audio for free. If you don’t have the cable, it is available at Radio Shack and many music stores.

Connect to PC

rip vinyl albums to CD, MP3 or iPod For tapes, you connect your tape deck’s PLAY (a.k.a. Playback or Line-Out) RCA jacks directly to your PC sound card’s Line-In. Most likely, your sound card has 1/8” stereo inputs (although some are USB). Alternatively, if your amplifier (a.k.a. stereo) has dual tape recording capbailities, you can leave your tape deck connected to your amplifier, and connect your amplifier’s REC (a.k.a. Record or Line-Out) RCA jacks for Tape 2 to your PC sound card’s Line-In.

rip vinyl albums to CD, MP3 or iPod For albums, you leave your turntable connected to your amplifier/stereo (e.g. Phono inputs), and connect the amplifier’s REC (a.k.a. Record or Line-Out) RCA jacks for Tape to your PC sound card’s Line-In. Most likely, your sound card has 1/8” stereo inputs (although some are USB). You must use your amplifier since it has a pre-amp that is required for turntables. Thus, do not connect your turntable directly to the PC as the sound volume will be too low. In other words, these settings are identical to recording an album to a tape, except the tape recorder is replaced by the PC sound card.

Finally, do not connect to the microphone input of the PC sound card, unless absolutely necessary, since that will create mono recordings. A common error is to accidentally connect to the sound card’s Mic rather than Line-In input.

You can also use the headphone jack for your tape deck or amplifier/stereo (e.g. with turntable attached) and connect it to the PC sound card’s Line-In. For optimal sound quality in this case, both the headphone volume and PC sound card Line-In volume should be at similar levels (not one at 3/4 volume and the other at 1/4 volume). You should start both in the middle, and change both volumes slightly, keeping them equal, to obtain the proper levels as described below. This configuration will require a 1/4” stereo to 1/8” stereo plug converter and cable with two 1/8” stereo plugs (available at Radio Shack and many music stores).

Start AIPL Singulator

You can simply just click on the Record button and Singulator will record with the default settings. Alternitively, you can select a new base file name (and folder) by clicking on the New button, or use the default, My Music/Song.wav (or Desktop/Song.wav if the My Music folder does not exist such as for Win9x or 2k). The program will then save the singles by adding a 01, 02, 03, etc. to the end of the base file name, in front of the .wav extension. Then, you click the record button. If any of the first 20 tracks will overwrite an existing file, Singulator will warn you. While separating your analog audio, Singulator displays the filename, recording level, clipping, song length, and total time information.

Set Recording Levels

Singulator uses Windows mixer to record. If you want to change the recording levels, select the "Record Mixer" button to bring up Windows Recording Controls. (These Recording Controls are part of Windows Mixer, and provided by your sound card manufacturer not AIPL.) To start with, Line-in should be selected, and the volume should be in the middle.

Then, start recording in Singulator (and leave the Windows Recording Controls open in the background) and watch the recording meters in Singulator. The peak recording level, displayed as the top single illuminated LED, should never reach the red clip LED, but should usually be in the upper half of the yellow LEDs. The average level, displayed as illuminating all LEDs below its level, should rarely reach the yellow LEDs, but should usually be in the upper half of the green LEDs. These levels leave some head room by recording below saturation. Thus, they are preferable since you have head room to compress, normalize, de-hiss and de-click your digital wave file. We recommend AIPL WarmTone for increasing sound levels and harmonic structure before converting to MP3, WMA or iTunes AAC.

If the levels are too low, too high (i.e. too many clipped points), or nothing is recorded, adjust the Line-In volume slider in the Recording Controls of Windows mixer. You can adjust the Recording Controls while Singulator is recording; thus, you don’t have to keep starting and stopping Singulator to set the correct levels. If you closed Windows mixer window, you can open it by selecting the Record Mixer button in Singulator, even while recording. If you have problems, check out FAQs, No Sound Recorded for step-by-step directions.

If Singulator is not recording any sound after playing with the Recording Controls, select the “Auto-Config Rec-Mixer” button to automatically configure your recording mixer. This button does not affect your playback controls (and will not affect Windows Media Player or other PC jukebox software). In addition, double check that your tape deck’s PLAY or amplifier’s REC RCA jacks are connected to the PC sound card’s Line-In (and not Mic inputs).

Singulator also allows you to change the playback levels (i.e. what you are hearing). This does not affect the recording levels. You can change the playback levels by selecting the “Playback Mixer” button. The Windows Volume Controls appear and can be changed. There are step-by-step directions in FAQs, No Sound Heard.

Singulator saves the music as WAV files that can be burned to a CD-R or ripped to MP3, WMA or iTunes, as described below (software not included with Singulator).

Optimize Settings

The following rules of thumb for custom settings will help optimize song separation. The custom settings are viewed by selecting the Customize Button from the main window. This is as much an art as a science, and there may be some songs that Singulator cannot correctly find, especially if the fade-out of a song is overlapped with the fade-in of the next song.

The presets save the custom settings so when you find ones you like, you can save them and easily recall them from the Singulator’s main window using the presets drop down box. The presets do not affect the recording or playback mixer, only the Singulators custom settings.

If each of your songs are divided into several files, you first want to lengthen the Gap Size by around 0.2 seconds and then decrease the Gap Level by 0.2 to 0.5 dB. You may also increase the Minimum Song Size. The exact values are difficult to estimate since every piece of music is different. Starting with the “Album/Tape-Clean Classical” preset is a good starting point.

If multiple songs are included within one file, first make sure that the song is not shorter than the Min Song Size. If so, shorten the Min Song Size so it is less than the shortest song on the album or tape. You may also want to shorten the Gap Size by around 0.2 seconds and increase the Gap Level by 0.2 to 0.5 dB. For old albums and tapes, the gap level should be increased (dB closer to 0) to account for the additional noise including pops, hiss and clicks. The exact values are difficult to estimate since every piece of music is different. Starting with the “Album/Tape-Noisy Rock” preset is a good starting point.

If Singulator does not stop at the end of the album or tape, the inherent noise in the system is too loud, and you should shorten the End Gap. You may also need to increase the Gap Level, but you don't want to change it too much because that may cause problems with song separation.

If Singulator stops before the album starts, or if it stops between songs, you need to increase the End Gap, assuming you start Singulator recording immediately before the album or tape starts playing.

Reduce noise, burn a CD, rip to MP3, WMA or AAC, or Podcast

For noise reduction, any major audio editing software will have noise reduction.

For CD burning, your recordable CD drive should have come with software to burn the WAV files to the CD. Remember to burn as audio (e.g. Red Book Audio) to a CD-R disk. Don’t burn as a data CD or CD-RW, as neither format will play in an audio CD player.

For MP3, WMA or MP4/AAC ripping of WAV files, you can use third party products as listed at our Audio Converters web page.

For Podcasting, use Apple iTunes to convert the WAV file that Singulator created to AAC as described in iTunes help (search for “Saving a copy of a song in a new file format”). Then, search in iTunes help for Podcast to learn how to setup a Podcast. Please make sure you have proper copyrights to Podcast the audio.

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