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So, I recently found some pretty good vintage techno records in mint conditions and ridiculously low prices, but had no way to play them, and was really not willing to ruin them with some nasty old turntable from the thrift store or burn good money on some newfangled "USB turntable" or worse yet, get the whole turntable-preamp combo shit.
So, I borrowed a normal turntable from one of my neighbors, and simply connected it to my Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop's.... mic/line in port and set it up as mic in. Using the mic-in allowed me to get usable signal levels without using a preamp, recorded the signal as it came from the turntable and applied the RIAA equalization curve in software with Audacity. It helps that my laptop happens to have a stereo mic in, though, because of the sharing with the line-in connector.
The results? Pretty damn good, after I compensated for the mic-in's noise. Much better than what I heard from vinyl rips made with certain USB turntables.
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I don't know how usual it is to have soundcards which allow stereo recording from the mic in (not from the line in) without forcing you into mono or something like that (I can't adjust the L-R balance when recording, but I do get true stereo recordings from the mic-in), and how many have clean enough mic boosters that can work as phono preamps. Guess I got particularly lucky, especially since it's integrated into a laptop (Sigmatel Audio, in case anyone wonders).