Is it possible to get my old LP records into iTunes using GarageBand somehow?

Yes, it is possible, but before we tackle that, a much better method of doing so would be to use Griffin's Final Vinyl which comes with their Griffin iMic/USB Audio Interface. This software was specifically designed for digitizing your old record collection, so it offers tools to make the job easier.

Yeah, but I'm cheap.

The iMic is only about $30, and the software is free. It even comes with the adaptor cable you need

I'm really cheap.

Okay, if your time is less valuable to you...

First thing you need to understand is that you can't just plug a record player directly into your Mac

Why?

There are a couple of reasons, the first is basic, the second a bit more complex

Ruh roh.

Don't Panic.

And there's still time to get Final Vinyl...

No, keep going, please.

Right, then. Much like a microphone, the output level from a turntable is very low, so the signal isn't "loud" enough for the Line-Level input your Mac might have.

The other problem relates to the "RIAA curve" which is a special equalization setting that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) developed to increase the playback time and sound quality of "Long Play" (LP) Records.

When a record is cut (literally. A blade carved out the groove on a record) the low frequencies were de-emphasized, and the high frequencies were boosted. Upon playback the amplifier, with special inputs especially for phonographs, boosts the low end and decreases the high frequencies. By cutting the high frequencies the amplifier automatically reduces hiss and clicks, and the softened low frequencies during the cut meant that the cutter didn't have to cut such deep grooves, thus increasing the amount of material that can fit on each side of the record.

That wasn't so bad. So if I can't plug my turntable directly into my Mac, how do I do it?

It's easy... Hey! No really, even more so than usual. In fact, you likely don't have to change anything at all if you already have your turntable hooked up to your stereo system... just leave that as is and run the proper cables from the Aux-Out, Line-Out, or Tape-Out (however it's labeled on your System) into your Mac's Line-In. Typically this would be a cable with 2 "RCA" style plugs on one end, and a 1/8" stereo plug on the other, called a Stereo Mini Male to Phone Y-Cable

If your Mac doesn't have a Line-in, for instance an iBook, then you also need an audio interface, and this brings us back to the Griffin iMic as the cheapest solution. And in that case since it comes with the adaptor you'd just need a standard set of RCA Style Cables.

So, once we've got the equipment we need, and we're all plugged in, we move on to the GarageBand part. You still want to use GB?

Yes, I have a Line-In on my Mac.

Okay then.

The next step depends upon which platform your Mac is based, PowerPC, or intel. If you're using a PowerPC based Mac, open up your System Preferences and select Sound

Once you have the Sound preference open, Select the Input tab and choose Line-In

If you have an intel based Mac, you don't have to do anything with your System Prefs, the setting for you is in GarageBand's preferences, and we'll get to that in a moment...

Open GarageBand and create a New Music Project and set the tempo to 40 by either moving the tempo slider as far left as it will go, or by typing 40 into the bpm text Field.

Setting the tempo low gives you the maximum amount of recording time. The Time and Key fields are irrelevant for this project.

If you are using a PowerPC based Mac, open GarageBand's preferences and make sure that "Built-In Audio" is selected under the Audio/MIDI Tab

If you are using an Intel based Mac, open GarageBand's preferences and make sure that "Built-In Input" is selected under the Audio/MIDI Tab

Close the preferences and with the default Grand Piano Track selected, choose Delete Track from the Track Menu

And then New Basic Track, also from the Track menu

So now your GB timeline should look like this

Click the button and turn Monitor "On" so that you can hear the record as it's playing (If you wish, you can skip this and listen through your stereo system's speakers. My preference would be to turn down the volume of the stereo and listen to what is actually being recorded. This way I'll know if I'm recording a clean signal)

Finally, turn off the metronome by deselecting it from the Control menu, just because it's annoying if you don't

And now you're ready to record.

Press the button to start recording, "put the needle on the record", and sit back with your favorite beverage of choice until the record finishes playing.

And I'm done?

With the recording aspect yes

Yay

Then you'll probably want to edit the recording so that each song can be added to iTunes as a separate song.

Oh. ::zzzzzzip::

????

I replaced the spring with a zipper.

::sigh:: Editing is not very difficult, I promise that your brain won't explode.

K

When you record from a typical record you can tell visually where songs start and end because there's usually a small gap between songs, and many songs fade out making it even more apparent. Here it's pretty obvious where the first song ends and the second begins

You can see the first song fading out, a small gap of silence, and then the next song begins. We're going to split up the one long region into separate regions, one for each song.

Move the playhead into part of the silence (You may wish to zoom in some to get a better view)

Click the region to make sure it is selected and choose Split from the Edit menu

And the single long region becomes two (I moved the playhead so you could see the split better)

Repeat this process until each song is in its own region (The album I used had 4 songs on the side I recorded, so I had to make 3 splits to separate the 4 songs)

Once you've completed the splits, create another New Basic Track, and select its Solo button

Click once in the newly created track to make sure none of the regions in the first track are selected and then drag the first region from the first track into your new track

Type option-z to move the playhead to the end of the timeline

Move the playhead out of the way

And you'll see a small purple left-facing triangle, this is the End Of Song marker (EoS).

Drag it to the left until it is at exactly the end of the region you dragged into your second track (You may wish to zoom out while doing the drag, and then zoom in to get the placement just right)

From the Share menu choose Send Song to iTunes

And wait a few moments while the song is exported. Once it is successfully exported, iTunes will become active and the song will start to play. Pause it. Choose Show Current Song from the File menu to make sure your song is highlighted.

Click once on the name of the song and wait about a second, the name will become editable

Type the name of the song

And press Return.

Back in GarageBand, move the first region back up into the first track and drag the second region to the begining of the second track.

Again drag the EoS Marker to the exact end of the second region

And repeat the whole procedure of Sending to iTunes and renaming.

Do this for every song and you'll have your record digitized and available for you to play in iTunes.

The final step is properly tagging the songs in iTunes. Select all the songs, press command-i, and enter the proper information for the album.

And then...

And then you're done

Yay for Done!

(Soooo done!)



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