DIY Memory Lab - Transfer Vinyl (Long Play and 45s)


  • The DIY Memory Lab supports transfer of the following types of vinyl records:
    • LPs (Long Play 10-inch or 12-inch)
    • 45s (7-inch)
  • You must bring your own headphones if you want to listen to your vinyl transfers.
  • Please do not adjust the anti-skating dial on the turntable; it is preset.

Step 1: Let Octavia Lab staff know you are transferring vinyl. Check out the turntable.

  • Plug the turntable’s power cord into the surge protector. Connect the turntable to the computer with the USB cable.

Step 2: Load your vinyl

  • Make sure to handle vinyl discs by the edges with your palms. Do not touch the grooved areas where the recorded content is. Finger oils attract dirt and dust, which affects the quality of playback.

  • photo demonstrating how to handle a vinyl record
  • Open the dust cover on the turntable. Place an LP (Long Play 10 inch or 12 inch) record on the turntable.
  • If you are digitizing a 7-inch 45 (with a large hole in the middle) then you must use the insert.

  • photo showing vinyl insert for 45 and 7 inch records
  • Place the insert below over the spindle at the center of the turntable, then place the 45 record over it.

  • photo showing vinyl insert for 45 and 7 inch records

Step 3: Power on the turntable

  • The power knob is on the bottom left hand side of the turntable. Rotate the knob clockwise to power on the turntable.

photo of on/off switch

Step 4: Set the record playback speed

  • Select Quartz mode to lock the turntable at the exact speed of 33 ⅓ rpm.
  • To change the pitch of the record, press the Pitch control button and use the speed slider control to make the record spin faster or slower than 33 ⅓ rpm. The center position of the slider is set for normal speed playback, but it is best to use the Quartz button for normal speed Quartz-lock playback.

  • photo demonstrating where the pitch and quartz controls are
  • Select the speed: 33 for 10-inch and 12-inch LPs.

photo demonstrating where the 33 and 45 rpm playback buttons

Note: EP (extended play) records can be 7-inch, 10-inch or 12-inch discs and are intended for playback at either 33 or 45 rpm.

Step 5: Clean your record

  • Use the dry brush method if your record only has dust particles on it:
      Push the Start button on the turntable.
    • Use the Audio Technica record cleaning brush to lightly swipe the record clean.
  • Always clean your records moving with the grooves, never across them.
  • DO NOT press the brush down on the record. This causes stress on the turntable motor. Let the weight of the brush do the cleaning.

  • photo demonstrating record cleaning brush
  • If your record is more heavily soiled, check out the RCA Discwasher kit. See cleaning instructions on the right side of this page.

NOTE: Do not attempt to clean the stylus (needle)--only staff should clean it.

Step 6: Open Audacity Audacity logo

  • Once you have logged onto the computer, double click the Audacity icon.
  • Note: If the icon is not there, search for Audacity in Finder and double click the icon that pops up
  • Audacity will open up to a blank screen and monitors.
  • Make sure of the following settings:
    • [mic] set to USB AUDIO CODEC
    • [sound] set to Built-in Output
    • 2 (Stereo) Recording Channels or 1 (Mono) Recording Channel is selected, as appropriate

  • screenshot showing Audacity settings for vinyl
  • Set recording parameters for digitizing audio by going to Edit > Preferences > Quality. Recommended settings:
    • Sample Rate: 44100 Hz or higher
    • Sample Format / Bit Depth: 16-bit or higher

screenshot showing quality preferences on Audacity

Step 7: Test your audio

  • Click on the words Click to Start Monitoring displayed over the numbers at the top of the Audacity window.
  • Raise the tone arm off of its base using the black lever. Once the tone arm is in the up position, gently slide the tone arm over to a point just above the outside margin of the record (outside where the tight grooves start).

  • photo demonstrating where the tone arm is
  • The tone arm can also be lifted with the right forefinger and thumb. First unlock the tone arm lock on the tone arm rest. Be careful to place it very gently on the record so as not to damage the record or the stylus.

  • photo demonstrating where the stylus is
  • Once the tone arm is in the up position, gently slide the tone arm over to a point just above the outside margin of the record (outside where the tight grooves start).

  • photo demonstrating the up position of the tone arm
  • Release the tone arm to be gently lowered onto the record and close the dust cover.
  • Press start on the turntable.
  • In Audacity, you should see green bars moving across the numbers as your vinyl is playing.
    • If the bars are generally below the -15 mark or above the -3 mark (and showing some red), you will need to adjust the recording volume. You can also listen to the record by plugging headphones into the computer’s headphone out jack.
    • To adjust recording volume, move the slider next to the microphone icon toward the minus sign (softer) or the plus sign (louder), as shown below:

Audacity screenshot: slider

Step 8: Capture your audio

  • Adjust the stylus to the beginning of the record.
  • Press the red record button on Audacity.
  • Press play on the turntable.

  • Audacity screenshot: activity

    You should see activity in the window like that in the screenshot above.

  • Tip: It is a good idea to record 15-30 seconds, then save and play back your file to ensure the audio levels are where you want them to be. You may then adjust the volume in Audacity to your liking if needed.
  • Allow the needle to play all the way to the channel groove at the end of the record before raising the tone arm so as not to cut off the last track on the record.
  • When you are done transferring, press the stop button in Audacity, as well as on the turntable.
  • Tip: The thin blank areas between tracks are called bands. To record selected tracks per side, place the raised tone arm above the band before the track, then gently lower it.

photo demonstrating bands

Step 9: Save Your File onto your USB

  • Make sure your USB is connected to the computer.
  • Go to File > Export > Export as WAV in the Audacity menu.
  • Give it a name that is consistent and obvious.

  • Audacity export menu
  • When you save the file, a window will appear for you to enter metadata (description info) about the file. Be sure to include how the file was digitized and who owns the rights to the recording.

Audacity metadata

Step 10: You are done!

  • Remove your vinyl record from the turntable.
  • Unplug the turntable power cord and USB cable.
  • Check the turntable back in with Octavia Lab Staff.
  • Do not forget your USB drive and vinyl records.

Diagram of vinyl digitization process

What hardware are you using?

  1. Turntable: Audio-technica AT-LP120-USB
  2. Cable: USB
  3. Computer: Computer: Lenovo ThinkCentre M900z on Windows 10

What software are you using?

  • Audacity

Why should I save as a WAV file?

Good question. MP3 is the more common audio file, and it is small. Since it is small in size, MP3s are great to upload and download. So why WAV? WAV files are the recommended preservation file. It's simple. Many computers and machines recognize it; and it is an accurate, lossless format, which means you won't lose your audio quality.

RCA Discwasher Record Cleaning Instructions:

  • Application: Apply 3-6 drops of D4+ Cleaning Solution in a line on the leading edge of the record cleaning pad (the arrow on the end of the handle points toward the leading edge). Distribute the solution along the leading edge of the pad using several deliberate strokes with the bottom of the D4+ bottle, forming a strip of damp fabric.

  • Diagram of vinyl record cleaning process showing leading edge
  • Position: Position the record cleaning pad with the arrow end of the handle towards the outer edge of the record. Gently contact the record with the damp leading edge of the cleaning pad, being careful not to contact the record with the wood handle.

  • Diagram of vinyl record cleaning process on turntable
  • Clean/Dry: Manually turn the record turntable by placing your finger on the record label and turning in the same direction that the turntable normally turns. Allow the damp leading edge of the pad to contact the record for about three revolutions. Always clean your records moving with the grooves, never across them. Dry the record by rolling the wooden handle towards the middle and back edge of the cleaning pad for about three revolutions. Air drying is not recommended.

  • Diagram of vinyl record cleaning process showing damp leading edge
  • Maintain Recording Cleaning Pad: Clean the record cleaning pad by lightly brushing in the direction of the arrow on the handle with the small, red-handled brush. A dry record cleaning pad may be lightly brushed lengthwise.

  • Diagram of vinyl record cleaning process showing how to clean the cleaning brush
  • Cleaning Heavily Contaminated Records:
    • Place the record on a soft, clean surface.
    • Apply fluid as directed in step one of the instructions. Proportionately more fluid and pad pressure may be necessary to clean badly contaminated grooves.
    • Move the pad firmly and evenly in concentric circles around the record label. Always move with the grooves and never across them.
    • Carefully dry the record. (The pad itself may be dried with a towel to speed fluid removal.) Air drying is not recommended. The contamination will be removed from the record by the capillary action of the record cleaning pad.
  • Maintaining the Care System:
    • After use, always groom the pad with the mini dust brush.
    • When the pad is wet, brush the fibers in the same direction as the arrow on the cleaning pad handle. When dry, brush the fibers lengthwise.
    • Do not contaminate the pad with tap water, other cleaners, soaps or sprays of any kind.
  • It is OK if the record is still slightly damp when you are ready to play.