Getting back in the groove with LPs

  • Article by: RANDY A. SALAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 21, 2008 - 5:39 PM

LP Dock is a handy system for transferring old vinyl albums to the digital domain.

While testing Ion Audio's new LP Dock -- a USB turntable and iPod dock -- I was quickly reminded why I hated LPs so much back in the day.

Yes, the tactile feeling of holding a big record and album-cover art is cool. Yes, the analog sound might be "warmer" than today's digital ditties. And, well, blah, blah, blah.

LPs are simply a pain -- being careful not to scratch the record, fussing with the turntable's tonearm, guarding against vibrations from people walking across the floor, and so on.

But, hey, a favorite album by the obscure '80s Irish group Minor Detail has never been released on CD, so I was game to return to the audio Dark Ages to transfer that forgotten gem to a digital medium. LP Dock made the process a breeze -- ignoring the previously cited quirks of LPs.

LP Dock connects to a computer using a USB cable, but it also has standard AV cables and a built-in preamp to connect to any stereo system. Transferring an old album is a simple process that's optimized for the iPod generation.

Just play an LP. You record using the included software (EZ Vinyl Converter for PCs, EZ Audio Converter for Macs). At the end of each track, click on "new song." When you're done, the resulting MP3 files go into iTunes, where they can be easily transferred to your docked iPod. Nifty.

Advanced users who want to burn the music on a CD, like me, can use the included Audacity software, a powerful program that lets users save to the hard drive in a variety of formats and do things such as eliminate clicks and reduce the sibilance that pervaded my transfers.

LP Dock sells for $250 at retailers such as Minneapolis-based the Needle Doctor (www.needledoctor.com). Check Ion Audio's website (www.ion-audio.com/lpdock) for more info.

With services charging $25 to $40 to transfer one album to CD, LP Dock could quickly pay for itself if you have a large LP collection.

Me, I found that I didn't have as many albums stored away as I remembered, because I had gotten rid of them as they came out on CD over the years. But now, at least, I can't overlook one Minor Detail.

Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542

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