You have probably not chosen your computer only for the purpose of converting vinyl records. It is good if it is fast, but it should be OK if it is reasonably modern. You will need a number of Gigabytes (10 – 20) for your ongoing work. An album will use about 800 Mb when ready (if stored in FLAC at 96000 / 24) plus as much on your archiving drive.
If you are using a laptop, it would be a good idea to run on the battery (and no AC-adapter) if you are using the internal or a USB-powered sound card. This way you could avoid noise (hum) coming from the AC current.
Operating system and software drivers
The computer comes with an operating system (OS) that includes a sound mixer which is designed to receive and mix audio signals from different sources.
A software driver is needed for a unit to cooperate with the operating system. The driver has to be adapted both to the unit and to the current OS.
The “standard” driver for audio sends the audio information to the OS sound mixer which in turn sends the audio to speaker output or to other programs. The risk is that the sound mixer transforms your recording to its own frequency and bit depth when it is receiving and then again transforms it before sending to your recording program. Therefore we want to be sure that data from the AD-converter is sent directly to the recording program, and we need to use the drivers and internal interfaces that supports this. We want to achieve a “bit perfect recording”.
The safe solution is to use an “ASIO driver” which has become a standard for professional recording. ASIO is designed for minimum time delay in the recording chain, and also to be bit perfect from AD conversion to recording program.
Unfortunately Audacity – the most popular freeware for recording – does not support ASIO. (It is possible to compile Audacity for ASIO if you do it for yourself though, but this only for computer experts). For Audacity you should select the “WASAPI interface” in the settings if you are running Windows.
The interface “WDM Kernel streaming” can also be used in Windows as a third option and if your recording software supports it.
If you anyway – because of your setup – have to do recording via the sound mixer, then you can’t expect to achieve a bit perfect recording. I have found it hard to find information about what the optimal settings would be (to avoid transformations between 44100 an 48000 frequency bases). But if you follow the instructions (for your USB-player for instance) you may still be happy with the result.
(If you find information that explains the sound mixer and if/how you can control the transformations, then please send a link to me!)
Comments on different operating systems:
Windows Vista came with a new audio system replacing XP, and when I later upgraded from Vista to Windows 7, I could no longer use my old internal sound card for recording as I couldn’t find an updated driver at the time. (This was before I started using ASIO).
This means that you should check for updated drivers if you want to use an old sound card (USB-player etc.) or if you are updating to a new OS.
- MAC OS
I am actually writing this on a MAC but I haven’t tried it for recording though. If you can use ASIO, you are on the safe side. If you buy a vinyl recording software like for instance Pure Vinyl you should follow the setup instructions.
Audacity is also available for MAC. If you want to use Audacity for converting vinyl on a MAC, it may be a good idea to investigate how to avoid to do the recording via the OS sound mixer.
I don’t know much about Linux, but I like the idea of using Linux if I had a separate computer for vinyl ripping. When you work with the music files you prefer to see them as files in a computer rather than songs in an entertainment system, and maybe Linux has that quality?