Wednesday, June 1, 2016



A practical primer.




The age of vinyl records and magnetic tape recordings has come and almost gone. Some present day recordings are still being released in very limited quantities in these formats. I say “almost” in that there appears to be a slight resurgence of this past technology by the purest, but for us normal folk what do we do to preserve and enjoy these recordings?

 (TIP: There is a debate by some that the quality of vinyl and magnetic tape far exceeds that of the various digital media currently available. Some also believe that the vacuum tube produces better quality than does solid-state technology. While there may be some truth to all this, an adult’s hearing, after the age of 30, gradually looses its ability to hear higher frequencies and continues to do so to the point where hearing aids become a necessary evil. Some of this was as a result of listening to music at very high volumes in our younger years.)

There are several ways to convert your old media to a CD, computer file or memory stick. In the case of vinyl recordings you need a turntable that either has a USB output, or the more common analogue RCA connectors. If you have USB you can connect it directly to one of the spare USB ports on your computer and then use a software program that we’ll discuss later to make a recording. If you have a turntable with RCA connectors you will first have to plug this into some sort of pre-amp. A pre-amp boosts the very low signal from the stylist to a level acceptable for recording purposes. I’ve found the Behringer U-Phono UFO202 a perfect solution. This device has a phono pre-amp built-in that can also be switched off allowing various other analogue tape recording devices such as tape decks to also mate up with your computer. A USB cable is attached allowing direct connection to virtually any computer platform and provides a high-resolution 48 kHz conversion for high-end audio quality. It’s also used to power the unit. The green LED is a USB status light that indicates power is coming from the USB connection. Two analogue RCA output jacks are provided allowing you to plug into the audio input of other devices. An eighth-inch headphone jack and accompanying volume control are built-in allowing you to monitor the conversion process. A selector switch turns the pre-amp off for non-vinyl conversions. If you’re interested in only converting analogue magnetic recordings you might consider the UCA202, without the pre-amp feature, but since it costs about the same why choose it?


TIP: The UFO202 is outfitted with a ground lug. You will need to connect a small wire to it and to the metal frame, not plastic, of the turntable. This is necessary to eliminate any hum or buzz that may be picked up from the electrics in the turntable mechanism. Worry not, you won’t be shocked when making this simple hookup.)

Any audio recording of this type requires a software program to make it work. I’ve found AUDACITY, a FREE multi-platform program, works very well. Not only can you use this as your recorder, but you also can edit, filter, speed correct, and equalize the material. Behringer offers this and many other downloads for FREE on their web site. Once the recording is complete it’s just a matter of saving to your hard drive, a CD or memory stick.

So, don’t throw away your precious recordings, transcribe them to your computer and store them on a CD, memory stick or other storage media. Turntables, reel-to-reel recorders, audiocassette and 8-track decks are readily found on EBAY. Happy listening!


MSRP: Behringer UFO202 (with pre-amp) $39.99
Behringer UCA202 (no pre-amp) $39.99

Available at retail or from Amazon.
Graphic credits: Behringer

Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at, or followed at for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.