Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Record Vinyl on Your Mac

In this age of Spotify streaming and mp3s and flacs, only a true luddite would have CDs still burning the midnight laser. So what does that say for people who have vinyl? I probably have to trot out words like Mezozoic or Paleozoic to describe you freaks of nature. Luckily there are ways to bring you into the modern age and digitize your old record collection so you can play them on your iPods, iPhones, and iClouds.

There are several ways to go about this. You could get a USB turntable to hook up to your Mac, but their quality can be dodgy. You can get an iMic, made for laptops with no microphone-in jack, and use it in conjunction with Final Vinyl, but you're not likely to get the best sound quality out of that method either. If you have RCA cables, you could get an RCA to USB adapter, or probably best of all, you could get a PCI card with RCA jacks for analog I/O. As far as software goes, in addition to the above mentioned Final Vinyl, there's also Audacity which is a great freeware solution, and there's also Roxio's CD Spin Doctor which requires Toast.

But if you're like me, you don't do any of that. Because if you're like me, you have a spare Power Mac 7600 in your closet with built-in RCA ports that you can fire up to bring back a whiff of the good old days when hearts were young, skies were blue, and your Mac greeted you with a smiley face. All of which brings me to talking about probably my favorite utility ever made for the Mac. It's called Coaster and, though purely a Mac program, it exemplifies that old Unix credo, "one thing well." Simply put, it records audio to disk as aiff files. And it's intuitive enough to split tracks into separate files. It runs exclusively on Mac OS 8-9 and is as good an excuse as any to make that old Power Mac useful and rip your ancient vinyl collection that's been gathering dust. And for symmetry's sake, a 7500 or 7600 can probably be found for about the same price as a PCI card.

The only downside to all of this is there's no way around the having-to-play-it-to-record-it problem, so if you're ripping a large collection, bring snacks.

1 comment:

  1. Listening to LPs is good. However, it’s not really practical these days because aside from getting obsolete, it feels awkward to play them around together with the turntable. It’s really a good thing that there are ways to digitalize them.

    Ruby Badcoe