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You’ve probably stumbled across amazing old vinyl LPs at a friend’s house, yard sale, or record store, but reluctantly passed them up, because in our mobile digital wireless world, vinyl records are about as convenient as a telephone attached to the wall. Next time don’t pass them up, snap them up. With the Vinyl Digitizer Phono Preamp, you can “dub” records onto your computer and convert the sound files for your phone, MP3 player, car, or anywhere else you need music.

The system consists of 5 parts: your record turntable, the Vinyl Digitizer Phono Preamp that we’ll show you how to build, the Diamond Audio USB interface, your computer, and Audacity software. I designed the preamp to do three things: amplify the tiny signal from the turntable’s phono cartridge, apply a frequency equalization specifically for vinyl records called the RIAA playback curve, and optimize the gain (volume amplification) to be compatible with the Diamond USB sound card. From there, the sound card converts the input signal to a digital data stream, and the Audacity software nimbly turns those old 45s, 78s, and LPs into new MP3s (or the digital audio format of your choice).

Vinyl Digitizer

Why should you care about a dead medium like records anyway? Because as an inquisitive person you’re susceptible to having your mind blown by what’s on them. Fifty-plus years of Gilbert and Sullivan, opera, rockabilly, Delta blues, prog rock, Lenny Bruce, Beethoven, Balinese gamelan, jug bands, “Yardbird” Parker, klezmer, and much more that you can’t even imagine. Long playing records were the primary format for music distribution for the second half of the 20th century, a tremendous time for musical creativity and performance. They were produced by the hundreds of millions. From Bozo Under the Sea to Van Cliburn at the Tchaikovsky Competition, it’s all still out there and much of this material never made the transition to digital.

Here’s how to build the Vinyl Digitizer Phono Preamp and bring your discoveries into the future with you.

Ross Hershberger

Ross Hershberger

I've been an electronics tech since trade school in the 1970s. I've worked as a mainframe programmer, tooling machinist, restorer of vintage tube amps, custodial equipment technician and several other unlikely jobs. Since 2012 I've worked as a YAG Laser Field Service Engineer for the North American division of TRUMPF GmbH.

  • MikeD

    No Schematic, no Radio Shack, could be a problem……

    Sorry, didn’t go down far enough in details, schematic is there

  • bobbarrall

    Completed but only half successful. I have no output from the L Channel and you said resistance between tip/ring and ground should be 47K Ohms and I have 17.7K Ohms ring/ ground and tip/ground.I have rechecked all my wiring and solder joints. I am at a bit of a loss what to check, thinking I must have overheated something or perhaps placed a wrong value resistor. Any suggestions?***UPDATE*** gave up and just reordered all the parts from Mouser and built it again. After I did that, found had made a simple wiring mistake. Works great!!! Thanks for a great project.

    • ricardoutsumi

      Same here! whats your wiring mistake??

      • bobbarrall

        Figured it out once I built the second board and looked at them side by side. I had placed one of the csp/resistor pairs in a wrong hole.

  • Robert

    Is the Diamond USB interface really necessary or can I use the line in of the computer sound card?

  • George

    Was thinking about building this for use as a normal preamp because my reciever does not have a phono input. Is there anything different about this preamp that would make that a problem?

  • Dave C. Jones

    Can’t find the Diamond USB sound card anywhere. Sold out everywhere–including online. Could I swap out the sound card for any external 7.1 sound card?

    • Will

      newegg has some

  • Guest

    Is it possible to use another external sound card, I’m having the same problem of I can’t seem to find that card,

  • Will

    ok, i’m an idiot, but where are the instructions on how to make this? I know I saw them at one point…

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