How to Convert Vinyl Records to CD on a Mac
By Chris Moore
If you still have a number of old vinyl records, it is possible to use your Mac computer to convert their music to CDs. There are a couple of methods to doing this. The Apple iLife program GarageBand, which either came standard on your Mac or is downloadable from Apple, can record the songs from your connected turntable and then burn them onto the discs. You can also download and install a third-party conversion program that can work with iTunes to convert the songs.
Connect the turntable record player to the computer's audio input. This will likely require an RCA-to-mini stereo cable, with the red/white RCA jacks plugged into the turntable's output.
Go to "Sound" in "System Preferences" and click on the Input tab, then select "Line In" in the list below.
Open up GarageBand, or download, install and open a conversion program.
Select "Create New Music Product." Input a name for the project, like the name of the record you're recording from, and click the "Create" button.
Close the virtual keyboard in the application, then go to the "Track" menu and select "Delete Track" to remove the Grand Piano track. Select "New Track" from the same menu and choose "Real Instrument" in the dialog box before clicking "Create."
Go to the "Control" menu and turn off the Metronome if it is on.
Click the red circular record button in the application and play the record on the turntable.
Hit the spacebar to stop the recording once the song is completed.
Drag the arrow atop the purple-colored recorded track back to the beginning of the track and click on the Play button or hit the spacebar to confirm the song has successfully been recording.
Double-click on the track to bring up the editing options at the bottom. Drag the cursor across all parts of the track you don't want--like silent parts before and after the music--and press the Delete button to cut them.
Repeat the above steps with a new track for each song on the record.
Insert a blank CD into your disc drive, go to the "Share" menu and select "Burn to CD" to record the tracks onto the CD.
Set the correct input setting in the conversion application using the drop-down menus for each setting so it will record from your turntable. This includes the input source (which will usually be Line-In), the input device (the Mac's built-in audio) and the recording quality (CD quality).
Click on the application's main record button--which is usually a red circle--and play the record on the turntable. Click the square-shaped stop button to stop the recording when finished.
Repeat the above step for the next song on the record. If the program has an "auto define" option, you can record the whole vinyl record on one track and then click the Auto Define button to separate it into multiple song tracks.
Click on the program's Save or iTunes button to save and send the recorded songs directly to your iTunes application as either MP3 or AAC files. These songs will be saved as a single playlist.
Open iTunes, select the correct playlist from the left menu and insert your blank CD. Click the "Burn CD" button near the bottom right corner.
- Some conversion programs can work directly with some Mac CD-burning programs, meaning you can transfer the songs directly to the CD application.
- If your turntable record player does not have a built-in pre-amp, you need to connect the player's output to an amplifier and the amplifier's output to the computer for the best audio quality.
Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.