[...the steps H, I and J were a bit garbled earlier; they're all better now...]
Here, folks, is a real-world case study in which the open source sound recording program AUDACITY is seen to be very, very nice indeed.
Problem: you have 500 vinyl records, a new turntable and you just got an iPod nano onto which to rip songs. The 6-year-old Mac you've dedicated to music projects due to large storage won't run the most recent version of iTunes, which controls the iPod and other Apple devices. And what files do you tell Audacity to convert songs into - and do you need a copy of Audacity on two computers, so that a PC or newer Mac can convert the files from Audacity's .aup file to something the iPod can read? And can you drag/drop onto the iPod or does iTunes control that, too - and which version of iTunes? The old on the music project Mac or on the Mac/PC that has the newer version of iTunes that can talk to the iPod?
First world problems.
The simple way would be to have either a brand new Mac or PC (or even a Linux desktop at the initial burning stage) with outboard storage and do everything on one computer.
However, as John Belushi would say, "Buuuuuuuuuut Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo".
I insist on using an old Mac for ripping and a Win7 box for loading. Plus there's the issue of how to get out of a vintage stereo receiver into a computer (it's actually not necessary with newer turntables)... here's how I did it. Preparation
1. Setup A consists of conventional receiver, speakers and new turntable with both RCA line level connections and USB output.
2. Setup B consists of older Mac with whatever version of iTunes was current when unit was delivered, and newest version of AUDACITY for Mac
(Audacity is available for Windows, Mac or Linux at http://www.audacity.sourceforge.net
and a USB-to-miniUSB cable (probably provided with the turntable) connected between the turntable and the Mac.
3. Setup C consists of recent Win7 box (with iPod optionally connected) and latest iTunes for Windows downloaded, plus newest version of AUDACITY for Windows. Stragety
A. Ignore iTunes on the older computer.
B. Ignore the conventional stereo during recording. Use the powered speaker system on the Mac locally to "monitor" the "live" LP output as the recording's taking place. To do that, switch on the turntable's internal preamp (this would be a modern USB-era turntable - I use an Audio Technica ATLP-120usb) for recording to the computer and switch it off for normal playback to the conventional stereo.
C. Fire up Audacity on the first computer (older Mac dedicated to music production) and hit File / New and hit the record button.
D. Start the turntable (since Audacity has begun recording you can hear, or monitor, the record through the computer speakers now), queue up before the song, scratches and all.
E. Record the song and delete the extra stuff before and after the song (which you can wipe off of the graphic screen with the mouse).
F. Hit File / Save Project, give the rip a name and put it in a file named ".aup files".
G. Put onto thumb drive or push it to the newer PC over a network.
H. Open the ripped file(s) with Audacity on the newer computer (on which iTunes will talk to the iPod).
I. Use Audacity to export the .aup file(s) to some converted file that the iPod likes ("export" is the relevant command). Put exported files into a file named ".aup conversions". I haven't figured out the trick regarding the library for Apple Lossless yet, so I'm using AAC at the moment.
J. Drag/drop a converted file (AAC in this example) from your storage location of ".aup conversions" onto the iTunes playlist window. It will load into iTunes immediately as far as the Windows PC is concerned, and iTunes syncs the song from application to player at the point when it senses that you've hooked up the iPod via its USB line.
Done. Simple, eh? By the way, I went with the iPod as a player since my car stereo has a cable connection for one, and front panel controls for when it's hooked up. So I had to try it. The car system is a bit laggy on the commands (takes almost a second, not really instant) but good enough. The bottom line here is that you can rip on Audacity for Windows, Mac or Linux and maybe other things too - but how to get the ripped file converted and into the player? That's where you have to have any computer that runs the latest iTunes and from there it just syncs the player. Just two steps, really: create the .aup project file on anything, then get that file into the latest Audacity for conversion from project file to preferred music file, and you're pretty much there.
For clarity, let me repeat it another way: To rip LP's to iPod, getting from a USB-capable turntable into a USB-capable computer (monitoring with either phones or computer speakers) can be done on Windows, Mac or Linux, since Audacity is written for those OSs. That gets you as far as the .aup project file. After that, you have to have either a Mac or a Windows computer that runs whatever version of iTunes (preferably latest, probably) talks to the iPod or iWhatever that you just bought, plus it'll need the latest version of Audacity. Once on that newer machine, use Audacity to make MP3, AAC or whatever out of the project files, then drag/drop those new music files onto iTunes' playlist, then hook up the player gizmo and syncing (loading new songs) happens automagically. Update:
I don't yet know how it does it, but you can get from AAC to Apple Lossless by first converting the project file into AAC with Audacity, loading the song via drag/drop into iTunes and THEN right-clicking on the track listing. "Convert To Apple Lossless" is one of the choices. Then delete the earlier cut. Where does it get the extra info in the file? Maybe it just turns off a filter...