How To Sample Vinyl Records

Music Production Tutorial

How to sample vinyl records in FL Studio 20
May 13, 2020 Tieme
how to record vinyl into fl studio

Sampling is a technique used for decades and since the 80’s very popular with the release of the first Akai MPC. Today it’s mainly used to create Hip Hop and you can sample tracks in your DAW without any external equipment. However, sampling digital tracks just isn’t the same as sampling vinyl. Not only does vinyl sound different, the whole process for the producer is different and will challenge you in ways your DAW or mp3 sample simply would not. Therefore sampling vinyl records is still very popular and will give you that old school Lo-Fi vibes many producers are looking for. This tutorial will show you how to sample vinyl in FL Studio 20.

Equipment needed for sampling vinyl

So what equipment do you really need for sampling vinyl? There are multiple answers possible and mainly depend on what you’ve access to already. Since you don’t want to buy a lot of hardware when you’re about to explore the world of sampling for the first time. 

This is the equipment you need for sampling vinyl in FL Studio:

  1. Soundcard
  2. Record player
  3. Mixer or Pre-amp (when not build in the record player)
  4. RCA Female to Jack Male adapters or cables.
  5. Optional: Mixer   

There are 2 different types of record players: with build-in pre-amp and without build-in pre-amp. This tutorial describes how to sample vinyl with a turntable with and without build-in pre-amp.

When you don’t know if your record player / turntable has an build-in pre-amp, here are a couple things you can do:

  • Check the internet for specifications on your device.
  • Check the back of your turntable to see if there is a line/phono switch. When there is one, it has a build-in pre-amp.
  • USB turntables always have build in pre-amps.
  • Turnplayers with a volume knob have build in pre-amps.
  • Most old turnplayers don’t have build in pre-amps.
Turntable with build-in pre-amp to sample vinyl
The back of a turntable with build-in pre-amp, indicated by the PHONO/LINE switch and USB output.

Sampling vinyl with a record player with build-in pre-amp

This is the most simple way to sample vinyl. Make sure the turntable is set to “line”. Because the “line” signal coming out of your record player is ready for your PC or DAW. Therefore you can simply hook up the analog stereo RCA cables (red and white) to your soundcard’s line in ports. You probably need 2 RCA Female to Jack Male adapters. 

When I started sampling I bought an Numark TT-USB and hooked it up with 2 Female RCA to Male Jack cables directly on my M-Audio M-Track.

The quality of low budget record players isn’t that good, same goes for low budget (pre-)amplifiers. Upgrading these will definitely improve the sound quality. But for sampling to create Hip Hop or Lo-Fi instrumentals it will not make a lot of difference, you will probably edit the samples anyway. I now have a Pioneer PLX-500 for a couple of months and it fits my needs perfectly.

Sampling Vinyl with an old record player without build-in pre-amp.

I have also used a older turntable in the past, the Technics SL-D202 and this one doesn’t have a build-in pre-amp. So it only outputs a “phono” signal and when I hook this up directly to my soundcard the volume will be very low and there will be a lot of noise. This is where the external pre-amp or mixer with pre-amp comes in, it boosts the signal before it goes to the soundcard. 

A pre-amp boosts your phono signal to a line signal

So the RCA from the record player goes into the pre-amp (I used the DAP PRE 101 back then, very simple but effective). From there I sent the the signal through an RCA to Jack cable to the line inputs of my soundcard (M-Audio M-Track). 

Sample vinyl records into FL Studio 20

Now that you’ve setup your turnplayer, you are ready to sample vinyl records into FL Studio 20. I recommend to use Edison, to do this, simply open up Edison on one of your mixer tracks. At the top right of your mixer select the input of your soundcard where the turntable, pre-amp or mixer is connected, see the image below. Now when you hit record in Edison it will get everything you hear from the record player. So also the needle drops, vinyl static and scratches. 

How to set up your turntable in FL Studio as input
How to select your turntable as input in FL Studio

It is of course also possible to record directly in the song view of FL Studio or any other DAW (e.g. Ableton or Logic) for that matter. Personally I use my Maschine to record en chop up samples most of the time. After chopping them, I import the samples in FL Studio as wav files or I open Maschine as a vst inside FL Studio.

An recorded vinyl sample in FL Studio Edison
A recorded vinyl sample in FL Studio’s Edison VST plugin

If you have any questions or comments regarding sampling vinyl records in to FL Studio (or any other DAW) please feel free to write a comment or check the F.A.Q. below.

Check out our Lo-Fi sample packs, recorded entirely of old vinyl records:

Lo-Fi Hip Hop – Vinyl Drums (100 drum samples for 1 dollar)
Lo-Fi Hip Hop – Vinyl Sounds (100 vinyl sound hits for 1 dollar, coming soon)
Vinyl FX (20 free vinyl FX samples, scratches, statics and needle drops)

FAQ – Recording Vinyl to a DAW

What is the difference between PHONO and LINE?
Simply said, a phono signal is much weaker than a line signal. Therefore a phono signal has to be amplified. After a phono signal is amplified, it’s a line signal which can be send directly to your soundcard.

Does my record player has a build in pre-amp?
As stated in the article:

  • Check the internet for specifications on your device.
  • USB record players always have build in pre-amps.
  • Record players with a volume knob have build in pre-amps.
  • Most old record players don’t have build in pre-amps.

Do I need a mixer to record vinyl in to FL Studio?
Not when your turntable has a build-in pre-amp, or when you have an external one. But if you want to record scratching samples, I highly recommend a mixer with crossfader.

Can I use an old or normal amplifier instead of a pre-amp?
Probably. Most stereo amplifiers have a “phono” input. This is for your record player.

Can I record scratching in FL Studio, Ableton or any other DAW?
Yes with above set-up that’s possible. But make sure your turntable is capable of scratching and a dj mixer (with crossfader) is recommended.

Belt driven record players aren’t made for scratching and not all direct drive record players are capable, same goes for the needles. So it is wise to do some extra research about this.

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