When trying to record a mix from my vinyl turntables, to my laptop, I'm getting heavy distortion, especially during the heavy bass sections of the mix.

I'm running my turntables into a 3 channel mixer, then outputting via RCA "Record" ports, to a small headphone jack into my laptop's microphone port.

My mixer is a Numark DM2050 3 Channel Mixer

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I've tried using Windows Sound Recorder and Audacity, but these both produce heavy distortion.

How can I avoid the heavy distortion caused? Someone has told me I'm supposed to use "line-in" on my laptop, but I only have headphone and microphone ports. What is the difference with "line-in" and is this what I should be using?

  • what is the laptop model?
    – horatio
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 15:54
  • I'm not certain to be honest! It's about 3 years old now, its a HP.
    – Curt
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


The 'mic' input on your laptop is designed for a microphone's low level input. It has a preamp to boost the signal to 'line' level hence if you are feeding a line level signal into a 'mic' input it will be amplified into clipping aka distortion.

Assuming that your 3 channel mixer has "phono" level inputs and line level outputs, it would be good to get yourself a USB line level input device for your computer. Here is an example of such a device:


Disclaimer: I have not used this product and do not have any recommendations regarding its performance.

It appears there are tons of devices like this one, choose wisely and test to be sure it does what you expect it to before you purchase it.

  • 1
    the OP probably will probably need to adjust the output levels from the mixer OR the input levels on the pc to ensure the outputs are not peaking, correct?
    – horatio
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 22:03
  • I would adjust the mixer output levels, as the input adjustment on the PC may be too late if distortion is happening on input.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 8:35
  • @horatio Assuming that your 3 channel mixer has phone level inputs and line level outputs. I'm not certain whether my mixer has these levels. I've attached a link to the mixer in my question. Can you see whether it does? Cheers!
    – Curt
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 9:14
  • @Curt On the mixer, make sure you're using the inputs that have an associated "Phono" mode switch, and set that switch.
    – Kevin Reid
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 12:09
  • 1
    @Curt Yes, though it isn't guaranteed to be RCA — line level can be found on 1/8" connectors as well (line level is close enough to being the same as "headphone" connections for "consumer" purposes) — but you probably want a good interface which will probably have RCA inputs.
    – Kevin Reid
    Commented Mar 9, 2012 at 13:38

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