I bought a laptop. And because I want to work on studio stuff with that laptop, I also bought a USB audio interface.

A while back, I considered taking out an old boombox that had a phonograph input and setting it up next to my computer to transfer some vinyl. I have some records I bought from the Austin Record Convention that I never actually listened to because I don’t have time to sit and spin sides. With my mixer, external sound card and industrial strength audio software, I could make a decent transfer.

The thought occurred to me again today, but laziness, of course, reared its head. I didn’t want to disconnect my record player from the entertainment system and set it up in my cramped bedroom. Then I realized I now own a laptop, and the USB audio interface contains the drivers to power the industrial-strength audio software.

So this morning, I embarked on transferring Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?, the long out-of-print debut by the Waitresses.

First, I connected an RCA phono plug from the REC OUT of my stereo amplifier to my USB audio interface. The audio interface, of course, connects to the computer.

1. Connect from stereo amplifier

2. Connect to USB audio interface

After making sure Sony Soundforge, the industrial-strength software in question, recognized the audio interface, I put a 7-inch single of "Legs" by the Art of Noise on the record player as a test. I got a signal! Of course, I had to adjust the gain of the inputs to insure no clipping. For added insurance, I chained a limiter to the input.

3. Test levels in Sony Sound Forge

Now it was time for the real test. I put on Side A of Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?, adjusted the levels again, then recorded a few seconds’ worth of audio. I played it back. Oh dear. I’ve actually transferred part of vinyl album to digital audio.

4. Play the record

Once I was confident everything was in place, I armed Soundforge and started recording. Roughly 19 minutes later, Side A was committed to disk. I flipped the record over and did the same. Side B followed roughly 22 minutes later.

5. Arm and record

The setup

I also have CD Architect, which is incredibly flexible when it comes to burning CDs. If I used Audacity or Nero, I would have spent hours splitting files and guessing gap lengths. With CD Architect, I managed to burn a CD in less than half an hour.

I didn’t clean up any of the pops and cackles from the playback, and I’m not sure I really want to. There’s a kind of charm to hearing it.

Universal Music has been sitting on releasing the complete recordings of the Waitresses for a number of years now. I’m tired of waiting. So I took initiative on my own, and now I have a CD of Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?

This makes me a geek on so many levels.