My new hobby – digitizing vinyl

Not sure if hobby is the right term, but leisure time activity reminds me of Leisure Suit Larry… yeech! Maybe background task is better? Anyway I set up a vinyl digitising station yesterday, using gear that was gathering dust, so I can start digitising vinyl before it starts gathering too much dust!

When I’m working on things at home (writing/blog/data etc) I listen to music most of the time so I figured I might as well listen through some of the more interesting vinyl I own & record it at the same time. I’m not aiming to do this for the purpose of loading my iPod, I’m doing this for other reasons. Very good reasons. Have I told you about my record collection?

Last time I moved studios I posted the photo below, and that gives a little idea of it, but its the details that are very interesting… See amongst my library of records is an actual Music Library!

vinyl rules

So maybe a third of my records I inherited by being the right person at the right place at the right point in time…. And so I received a call on a certain happy day a decade or so ago, that the big collection of records I had kept asking about, were on their way to the dump – was I serious about wanting them? HELL YES!

See this record collection came from a post facility that has existed since the era of silent movies… Accordingly they had collected all of the music libraries that were available, for licensing use in films, video etc… But as times change & technical evolution occurs these unused & unloved LPs hadn’t been touched in decades…

vinyl rules

These records are an incredible resource as a reference and source of inspiration (& god forbid…. sampling!) but I am very clear about the legalities of music licensing and of course many of these companies still exist but a quick flick through reveals literally hundreds of music library albums from labels such as KPM, De Wolfe, Sylvester, Impress etc etc…

I’ve owned a copy of this LIBRARY MUSIC book for a while, but to actually have access to the records is a crate diggers wet dream… And yet all I have done with them so far is make sure they are stored carefully & have an occasional listen to some of them… So here is my new digitizing setup:

vinyl rules

Technics SL1200 + Vestax PD2000 > Pioneer preamp > Apogee MiniMe > SPDIF into ProTools 002r at 24bit 96kHz > Mac Mini server running ProTools 10…

I know I could use an audiophile steam powered turntable with oxygen free cables in a room with negative pressure air con… but then again I more likely wont – I’m a pragmatist.. and its taken me ten years to get around to starting this process…. But I’ll explain what I plan to do as I haven’t really started yet and I am open to suggestions!

– Digitise each side of LP at 24bit 96k > archive 24bit 96k master A+B sides
– Break each song/track into seperate files > name & tag metadata > output 24bit 96k master individual tracks
– Output 16bit 44.1k and 320 AAC files for easy/quick access/reference
– Shoot photo of album covers & inserts > archive original photos + output real size JPGs

Does this make sense so far?

So one question, before I start digging through google etc – what is the best way to clean records before digitising? I know expensive record cleaning machines exist, but whats a more practical approach?

Here’s a little selection of the first few I will digitize, even the names are genius eg Music for Space and Oceanographic Science by Eric Towren (wow – quick search & not that I would or could ever sell these but the last copy of this LP sold online for US$81!)

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

18 Responses to My new hobby – digitizing vinyl

  1. John says:

    Considering how many you have, it may be false economy to skimp on a cleaning process. An ‘expensive’ cleaner may be ideal. Once digitised, you could always sell the cleaner.

    I’d contact a local audiofile club for recomendations

  2. Hugo says:

    Spin Clean might be the way to go if you don’t want to spend a fortune. From what I have read it seems pretty good. I’m probably getting one soon… I have about 500 records and most of them are 2nd hand and in need of a clean!

    By the way that collection of Music Library records you have is indeed a crate diggers wet dream… I have a modest collection of about 20 Music Library records in my collection. I love them!

    – Hugo

  3. wolfgang says:

    what are you doing with the vinyl recs after digitizing? selling? if yes, please send me a mail.

    a record washing machine is most important for excellent results.

    best wolfgang

  4. Richard says:


  5. Damien says:

    The best and most efficient way to clean a record is gran ma’s technique…

    Water, clean and smooth sponge and little of soap and dry it immediately.

    The others chemical products are not so good for your record and for you.


  6. paul says:

    So liking your stuff here… beaut! thanks! etc
    BUT this one has me tapping out a note:
    I have an even larger collection of LPs, also with memories intertwined, and they sit in storage, hoping that I’ll do something like this one day.
    SO, have you thought of how long all this is going to take you? especially with the splitting into individual tracks, meta-tagging, photo of covers, etc? It sounds like YEARS.
    You must know that sound exists in TIME as well as in SPACE (well, the storage does anyhow). I have calculated that even if I were to listen to all the music I have, I’d be over 100 before I got through it. Something’s gotta give…

    • tim says:

      Of course, but that is true of everything in life and thats why we have this very conscious skill of creating priorities! And one thing is sure: the longer you put off starting the less likely it is that anything will ever happen!
      I have a seperate crate which is my NEXT-TO-BE-DIGITISED bin… It gets re-ordered fairly regularly, i.e. every time I come across a high priority record that needs to be shuffled up to the front of the cue….

      As a side note, I read a book about manipulating time that I highly reccomend – Time Warped and as far as digitising records, the key is to start & just do one a day (more if you feel like it)…. Splitting into individual tracks, photos & meta-tagging can wait & be done in a burst (eg every 30 records or so) but as you know digitising takes real time and lets face it: it only requires a commitment to listen to one LP a day! Is that too much to ask? A week later your 7 most important records are archived, a month later 30 records, after the first year over 300…. Surely that is better than none?

      Prioritize your records!!!

  7. David says:

    good luck on digitizing all those, i have been doing my collection (about twice as much as you have shown) i’ve been doing it now for 15years, and i’m still going at it…….lol

    again good luck.

  8. Garciela says:

    can i request
    rip some losless vniyls in selectedsound library here please

  9. Patricia Bijvoet says:

    Cleaning out the sound studio of my father, who recently died, makes me wonder. Maybe you can help me.
    He used to make audiovisuals and has a huge collection of Vinylrecords from different sound libraries from the seventies and the eighties. We (siblings) won’t sell them peace by peace but are looking for somebody who is in the middle of these records and would be happy with them. So I came up to your blog. Do you perhaps know where and how to look?
    Any reaction is welcome!
    Regards, Patricia

  10. leonardo faria says:

    that pioneer `preamp`you said is an mixer?

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