Audacity Rated as Best Free Software to Rip 78rpms to MP3

  • Posted by Nathan Davis
  • February 16, 2015 12:52 AM PST
Do you still have a bunch of 78rpm record albums from the 78rpm era? If you do, don’t worry because you’re not alone. There are still hundreds-of-thousands of 78rpm recordings available and possibly just as many collectors who still listen to the music on a regular basis.

If you're wanting to digitize old 78rpm records, there are few options available to collectors (for a price) and even fewer software options for free. One such free, software program which is also, open source and specifically packaged and designed for recording and editing recordings, is called Audacity.

To digitize your music professionally, you’ll need a turntable and a copy of the Audacity software (which can be downloaded from: There are a number of audio recording software programs available, but most of them are expensive and can’t be bundled with USB turntables and don't all necessarily have as many plugins available as does Audacity. Although Audacity is free, it is extremely powerful and it’s so easy to use. Beginners can quickly learn how to create a professional transfer of recorded sound and learn everything they need to know about audio recording and production with its' helpful support file and wiki knowledge base: Audacity Wiki Home Page.

Audacity for the Mac and PC
Audacity works equally well on both Windows PC and Mac operating systems. If you’re wanting to transfer/digitize and restore 78rpm recordings or have problems restoring 78rpms, Audacity can also help using a selection of their varied plugins (such as reverb, pitch correction, normalization, equalization, cross-fading and track-stitching. There are also plugins to help with adding echo, treble or bass to a transfer as well as change/correct proper playback track speed).

At a glance, you can use Audacity to do the following:

  • Quickly convert 78rpm records, vinyl, eight tracks and tapes into digital format
  • Create and burn a CD out of any 78rpm recordings
  • Professionally record live audio with a microphone
  • Edit WAV and MP3 files directly on your computer
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix music tracks together
  • Change the speed of a 78rpm recording and fix any timing or vocal issues with pitch adjustment(s)

For song writers on a budget, Audacity provides the power and flexibility necessary to create a professional sound which can be burned on a CD and shared with business prospects and friends. Digitized music can also be shared online by uploading a file directly on a website or social media platform such as Facebook or MySpace, 78rpm Collectors' Community or the 78rpm Community Music Sharing Service.

Pros and Cons of the Audacity Audio Software

One of the best things about Audacity is that it is open source software which means developers have access to the program’s code, correct bugs and develop it further collaboratively. Because of this, software developers throughout the world have created free plugins that help musicians and music lovers perform certain tasks faster and easier.

Another advantage is the software can be used by anyone who is computer literate because it isn’t difficult to learn. If you can create a Word document on your computer, you can quickly learn how to use the software. In fact, you’ll be up and running within minutes of downloading the software.

You can capture one track at a time and then seamlessly join them together if need be. You can also add effects to your 78rpm recordings with a few clicks of the mouse - such as add reverberation to a 'flat' recording.

If you do a lot of voice over work or create podcasts, you can use Audacity with a microphone to record sounds directly on your computer.

Audacity also has a customizable spectrogram mode, a frequency-analysis window for audio-analysis applications and a built-in amplitude-envelope editor. These are all required tools for those that want to transfer, restore and digitize their 78rpm collection.

Audacity doesn’t support AAC and WMA files.

You also can’t work with restricted file formats and files that are proprietary.

There is also limited support for Windows 7, scrubbing and dynamic equalizer controls and you can’t work with MIDI files. (Although developers are currently working on fixing the Windows 7 issues).

There are several bugs in the software that haven’t been fixed. These bugs can cause the software to become unstable at times and you’ll have to restart the program if this happens while you’re working on a recording.

The program is limited in its mixing capabilities, which is a big problem for creative types that enjoy trying new things. Some functions of the software are more complex than others and not as user-friendly. But users can quickly learn with the helpful wiki knowledge base found at: Audacity Wiki Home Page.

Audacity Recap
Audacity is free so you have nothing to lose by downloading the software to see if it’ll meet your recording needs. You can use it to transfer and digitize 78rpm recordings.

If you want to record audio for any reason, all you need is a computer with a microphone input, usb turntable and/or a phono pre-amp unit and the Audacity software.
You can use it to edit pre-recorded audios you’ve transferred or downloaded to your computer and you can edit these recordings with little effort.

Finally, if you have a lot of 78rpm records you can use Audacity to create digitized versions of your collection, and you can upload the files to any device that’s capable of playing MP3 files, such as an iPod. Audacity is perfect for both musicians and music lovers that enjoy listening to music and creating new sounds.