Digitizing My Life: Five Vinyl Album Takeaways

Bored Gazette readers are justifiably tiring of reading about my record digitizing efforts. I understand completely. One of the benefits of retirement is having time to spend on frivolous activities like mid-morning naps, mid-afternoon naps, converting record albums from the last century to a digital format, and writing tedious, repetitive blog posts about it all. So, here goes.

I've been using a free, open source, cross-platform bit of software called Audacity to rip a collection of about 200 vinyl records into AIFF format so I can import the music into iTunes and get rid of the physical albums. 

We have plenty of closet space in our house so storage isn't really a motivating factor, although records do take up a lot of room. What I don't have is room in our A/V cabinet for a turntable, nor the inclination to play records. Having to get up every 15-to-24 minutes to flip a platter is such a chore.

I'm almost finished with this project, and here are a handful of observations that might benefit anyone thinking about doing the same thing.

  1. A good quality USB turntable will make your life easier. I have an Audio-Tecnica AT-LP120-USB unit. This player can be connected to a receiver with a phono pre-amp and played through your home theater speaker system, or connected directly to a computer via USB cable to make digitizing vinyl drop-dead simple. The turntable even comes bundled with the aforementioned Audacity software. And speaking of Audacity...

  2. The right software makes your life even easier. Audacity is the right software. It not only provides intuitive and simple controls for digitizing your albums to your computer, it has extensive features for editing, cleaning up, and enhancing the music. Audacity has many more uses beyond digitizing LPs, but even if that's all you want to do with it, it's worth the cost (did I mention it's free?). Its documentation even provides a sample workflow for digitizing your records.

  3. Not all music ages gracefully. OK, that's probably not fair to the music. Let's just say that my musical tastes have changed since the mid-60s, and some of the music I thought was worth buying in the past is not worth keeping today. I'm not sure why I thought Virgil Fox's Heavy Organ at Carnegie Hall was a good buy and whatever attraction I once had for The Mothers of Invention's We're Only In It For the Money has disappeared with time. The oldest album in the collection was a 1964 release entitled Draggin' and Surfin' with classic songs like Little Surfer Girl and Wipeout. Sadly, I had forgotten that instead of featuring the original groups like the Beach Boys and Surfaris, the LP was recorded by a studio band called The Jalopy Five. The cuts didn't make the cut.

  4. Buying an entire album to get one good song was a loser's game. Anybody remember the 1984 song 99 Luftballons by the German singer Nena? It's a pretty good 80s anthem, but the rest of the LP (same title) is forgettable. I kept only two songs from that album...the German- and English-language versions of the song. This is just one example of record after record with one or two "good" (yeah, it's subjective) songs. And 45s were not always an option, and even if they were available, they weren't good options. So, digitizing your LPs lets you pick and choose which songs you feel are really worth listening to again.

  5.  Discogs is probably an underappreciated resource for vinyl fans. Admit it, you've never heard of Discogs, because if you had, you would have told me about it. It's the most comprehensive database of recordings I've found; it's a combination of Wikipedia and eBay for music..an "open-source" collaborative website where you can not only find information about albums (and singles) but also buy, sell, and trade. And now that I've found this resource, I'm beginning to regret donating my old albums; check out some of the prices for "the most expensive items sold on Discogs" in a given month. Granted, our copy of Henry Mancini's Greatest Hits is not going to garner the same interest as a vintage Sex Pistol's album, but who knows what nostalgia people are jonesing for nowadays?
I mentioned at the top that I'm almost finished with this project. But a variation looms on the horizon...I have a 7" stack of 7-inchers (aka 45s) waiting for the same treatment. And I'm just sure some of them will be ridiculously irresistible to Discogs junkies.

Photos of 7-inch record covers
I'm going to be rich! Rich, I tell you!

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on January 29, 2019 7:28 PM.

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