What is the simplest way I can convert vinyl records to MP3s
Hi Gloria C
Being a bit of a tightwad, I refuse to pay extra bucks for something that I already own, so I chose not to purchase a USB turntable; I just use my existing stereo turntable (circa 1976) and amplifier (circa 1994).
I connect the headphone socket on the amplifier to an analogue to digital converter. These are available from most electronic suppliers, and can cost from $30 to $70, depending on the brand. This unit then connects to your PC, and the included software then allows you to record your old vinyls to digital format. (Similarly, you can also record other analogue source such as audio cassettes, open-reel tapes and - [heaven forbid!] 8-track cartridge tapes...)
Then you can either copy your tracks to CD, or a removable USB memory stick, or save them to iTunes, as I do.
A couple of points worthy of mentioning, however:
1) Make sure that you have a new stylus in your phono cartridge (these are getting more difficult to obtain these days, and will set you back up to $60....) This ensures the best quality sound reproduction from those wonderful old vinyls.
2) Make sure that the volume from your amplifier's headphone socket is adjusted very, very low - otherwise you will get nothing but distortion in your recording.
I have literally thousands of tracks in my iTunes library that I have successfully copied this way, and apart from the obvious 'clicks' and 'pops' that come from the occasional scratch in the vinyl records, they sound great!
You must accept some loss of quality as you convert to mp3 format, but this is true of any analogue signal that you copy, with any sort of converter, even the aforementioned USB turntables....
Hope this helps.