How to Connect a Turntable to a Computer

By J.T. Barett

A step-by-step guide to connecting a turntable to a computer. The article covers turntables with standard RCA audio jacks and USB data outputs.

Things You'll Need

  • RCA-type audio cables
  • Analog to digital audio converter box, available at electronics and computer stores
  • USB cable

You can connect virtually any turntable to a computer, although for a standard record player, you must pre-amplify the signal. Some modern turntables have a Universal Serial Bus connector that eliminates the need for a separate preamp, allowing you to plug the turntable directly into the computer.

Standard Turntable

Step 1

Plug the connectors at one end of a RCA stereo cable into the turntable’s output jacks.

Tip

  • In most cases, 6-foot audio cables are sufficiently long to connect most stereo equipment.
  • Each end of stereo RCA cable has a red plug and a white plug. Connect the red plugs to the right channel of the audio device; the white plug goes to the left channel. The convention, "red equals right," avoids reversing the stereo channels by accident.

Step 2

Plug the connectors at other end of the stereo cable into the preamp’s input jacks.

Step 3

Plug the RCA connectors at one end of the adapter cable into the preamp’s output jacks.

Tip

For turntables that have a separate ground wire on the unit's chassis, connect the wire to the grounding screw on the preamp.

Step 4

Connect the mini stereo phone plug into the computer’s line-level input jack; the jack’s color is light blue.

USB Turntable

A USB turntable, unlike the conventional type, is designed to work with computers; for this reason, most USB models include programs for recording or transferring vinyl to data files. Software packages offered include Audacity, a free, open-source recording and editing program, Cakewalk’s pyro Audio Creator LE, the OEM version of the pyro Audio Creator, and MixMeister's EZ Vinyl/Audio Converter. Audacity is used below as an example because it works equally well on Windows and Mac computers and is bundled or recommended for use with several turntable makes and models.

Step 1

Install the manufacturer-provided software for your USB turntable onto your computer.

Step 2

Turn on the power to your USB turntable.

Step 3

Plug the turntable’s USB connector into a USB socket on your computer.

Step 4

Start the Audacity software. Click the Edit menu and select Preferences.

Step 5

Devices screen

Click Devices to see a list of options for recording and playback devices. Click the Device pulldown list in the Recording group. Select Microsoft Sound Mapper or the USB driver provided by the turntable maker. Click the OK button to close the screen.