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The Compleat Guide to Digitizing Your LP Collection

For anyone over 40 (or maybe 30), having a music collection probably means that, in addition to racks of CDs and ridiculous piles of MP3s, you’re also sitting on bookshelves (or “borrowed” milk crates) full of vinyl LPs. Hundreds of pounds of space-consuming, damage-prone vinyl. LPs were music you could touch, with glorious full-color 12″ album art, meandering liner notes, and the practical involvement of lowering needle to plastic. Long-playing records represent an era when music was less disposable – we actually sat down to listen, rather than treating music as a backdrop to the rest of life. Dragging a rock through vinyl was not some kind of nostalgic love affair with the past – it was just the way things were. The cost of admission was pops and scratches, warped discs, having to get up in the middle of an album to flip the disc, cleaning the grooves from time to time, and getting hernias every time you moved to a new apartment.

Digitizing LPs has almost nothing in common with ripping CDs. It’s a slow process, and a lot of work. But it can be incredibly rewarding, and going through the process puts you back in touch with music the way it used to be played (i.e. it’s a great nostalgia trip). Over at, I’ve written up a guide which I hope will thorougly cover the process of prepping your gear, cleaning your records, and capturing as much of the essence of those old LPs as possible, so you can enjoy them in the context of your digital life.

Read: The Compleat Guide to Digitizing Your LP Collection

From → More Cowbell

  1. Roger permalink

    This is a complete tour de force on a very tricky subject. You have convinced me to give this a try, and that will be my official excuse for not having free time for the next year.

    I have sometimes said I prefer the “warmth” of vinyl sound, but I suspect that theory wouldn’t survive a blindfold test. My deeper attachment is to looking at images on large square pieces of cardboard. But that may not be permanent either. A year ago, I thought I preferred the “feel” of printed books, a theory that didn’t last an hour with a tablet.

  2. Scot Hacker permalink

    Thanks Roger. I feel the same about squares of cardboard – that’s why I’m obsessive about getting digital album art for every record I encode. It’s not the same, but does replace some sense of lost connection. You should come over and I’ll show you the “rig” and the process – would be fun.

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