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Amazon's AutoRip now offers MP3s to vinyl snobs

Amazon's AutoRip provides free 256 kbps MP3 tracks for every song on a vinyl album purchased from Amazon

Even if you prefer the warm, fuzzy sound of vinyl records, Amazon wants to give you some MP3s for the road.

Amazon's AutoRip feature, which launched for CDs in January, is now extended to vinyl records purchased through the site. AutoRip provides free 256-kbps MP3 tracks for every song on the album, and automatically adds them to Amazon's Cloud Player online storage.

The service isn't just for future vinyl purchases. It also applies to any vinyl or CD purchase from Amazon.com dating back to 1998, when Amazon first opened its music store.

Vinyl records that come with AutoRip have a logo that appears on the product page. At the moment, Amazon has just over 5000 records that include AutoRip.

Why do it?

This feature is arguably more important for vinyl than for CDs. While it's easy to create MP3 files from a CD, ripping digital files from a vinyl record is much more complicated.

You either need to record the audio output from a record player, or use a USB turntable with vinyl conversion. Either way, you don't end up with a pristine studio recording.

On the downside, Amazon is only offering MP3s--a lossy file format--with AutoRip. True audiophiles might rather have their music in a lossless format, such as FLAC, but no such option exists through Amazon.

Still, it's nice to have the convenience of digital files at no extra cost, because even the most hardcore vinyl lover might still like to listen to music in a car or on a computer. Starting a record collection now seems just a little more enticing.

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