A gramophone record, also known as a phonograph record, vinyl record, or simply record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed spiral groove. The groove starts on the outer edge of the record, and as it plays, it spirals towards the center. This was the most common recording medium for much of the 20th century, only giving in to the rise of digital media towards the late 80s. During the 20th century, many songwriters would have their work recorded onto only vinyl records. As a result of this, it's often difficult to obtain less famous musicians and compilations, as many of those recordings cannot be found digitally on a CD or in MP3 format today. Many times, the only solution involves manually transferring the existing record to a digital media file. Prior to transferring, you will need to obtain a few pieces of equipment. For starters, you will need to obtain a turntable. I recommend going with a USB turntable as it has an easy to use, direct connection to a computer with a USB connector. Numark, for example, makes a quality USB turntable at a legitimate cost. You will also need a computer with an available USB port, computer speakers, audio editing program, and a CD burner and blank media (if planning to put onto a CD). The first thing to do is to locate the album or record you would like to have transferred. Prior to initiating the transfer process, it is wise to closely look at the record for visible deterioration such as cracks, warping, or deep scratches, as well as visible dirt, dust or other material that could get inside the grooves. This debris can result in a loud popping or cracking throughout the record. If the album is has a considerable amount of wear and tear, there are several commercial products available that provide a fantastic job at cleaning the grooves. Starting off with a clean record will save you much headache and frustration during the restoration process. Once the record has been sufficiently cleaned up, it's time to begin the conversion process. After ensuring that the turntable is correctly hooked up the the computer, you should be ready to start recording. For the recording application, I recommend using Audacity, a free but powerful audio editing software. Turn the turntable on, place the record onto it and place the record needle on the outer rim of the disc. If needed, you may blow compressed air onto the record prior to recording to ensure no dust remains. Click record button on audacity to start recording, then press play on the turntable and once the sound kicks in, you should notice peaks forming on the timeline in audacity. If you see that the sound is recording, then simply sit back and wait for the record to finish. Once finished, click the stop recording button, and you should have an audio file of the record you just recorded. The next steps are up to you, but I would recommend running Audacity's built in pop and click removal tool, which vastly reduces the sound of popping and clicking which is characteristic in most old records. After you have fixed the audio to your satisfaction, all that is left to do is export the file as a wav, or if preferred, an mp3. Now, if you would like an audio CD of the record, all you need to do is load up your favorite CD burning software and import the recorded.wav file you just exported. From there, simply burn the CD and you are ready to go.
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