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Tips Vinyl to Digital


Innertuber
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I think this is one of the best how to's I've seen regarding vinly to digital conversion. The resolution information was very interesting. I have the author, D. Mallette from Klipsch forums, permission to share this. Here tis -

 

I've had a number of emails/PM's in the past week or so asking for information on archiving LP's. Rather than respond individually, I decided to make a post on the matter. I am going to minimize hardware/software, etc. to the bare bones of the process. If there is interest in specfic soundcards, turntables, software, processors, etc. we'll discuss it in the thread as there will be as many opinions on the subject as there are Forum members.

 

I will open with a bit of a philosophical question: Why would an analog-loving vinyl freak make peace with the digital devil? My answer would be that the more you love records, the more aware of how each moment of sheer listening bliss steals the life from those irreplaceable discs. And, believe me, they are irreplaceable. It may seem that there is an inexhaustible supply of cheap records only you want but the oceans were once rotten with whales, too. Every few years I break a 78 and think: What if that were the last copy? Someday, it will be.

 

One other thing: No matter how much you think of analog LP's as the most pure form of readily available recorded music, there is a dirty little secret that few will bring up in polite company: It's dynamically compressed, up to 2:1 on pop and at lease 1.2:1 on acoustic/classical. Ugly, but true.

 

So, a true vinyl lover is a conservationist. How to conserve and enjoy at the same time? Digitize, of course. Make peace with the devil and make him do your bidding. The fact is that most audiophiles have little or no experience with digital outside the realm of the CD or MP3. Not surprising they cling to a "they'll pry my turntable from my cold, dead hands" mindset. Even the few DVD-A's available that offer 24/96 or 24/192 are often not all that well recorded...and at those resolutions it really starts to matter. Some will never be convinced, but the fact is that in a blind test only a very few vinyl lovers would be able to detect the difference between a 24/192 recording of an LP and the same disk played on the same system using the same equipment at the identical level, and most would be quite happy with 24/88.2. The equpment required to do this is quite modest compared to that you already have, and though a 24/192 LP recording is going to take up 4GB or so of space the cost of digital storage is dropping so rapidly that it is hardly a factor anymore. So, don't wait until the last stylus blunts itself on the last record...come over to the dark side today!

 

Optional steps will be in RED. [paragraphs 4 and 6]

 

1. Get a quality digitizing device.

There are many fine soundcards out there. I own three that excel in their price range and functions:M-Audio Revolution Audiophile USB (Low price and usable with a laptop)Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe (medium price, highly regarded)ESL WamiRack XL (a bit higher and the only one of these that will do 24/192)

 

2. Decide on a resolution.

MaxG and similar are likely to require the very best at 24/192. If you are at this level but think you just MIGHT want a CD for the car, then choose 24/176.4 since 176.4/4=44.1 for clean CD downsamples. If you want about 98% of the quality but still have reservations about the space required, go for 24/88.2. Yes, I skipped 24/96. Insufficient audible difference with 24/88.2 and doesn't have the advantage of being cleanly downsampled to 16.44.1 for CDs.

 

3. Get recording software

Again, lots of choices here but make sure it supports the resolution you choose. There is absolutely no audible difference between one recording software and another. However, there is a vast difference in features, the vast majority of which are non-essential for the purist so it that is you get the cheapest package that supports the resolution you want to use. For me, it's Sound Forge as I work at all resolutions and want some edit and processing functions as well. More on that later.

 

4. Record [optional step]

PRE-PROCESSLittle spoken of in the secret councils of the analog brotherhood is that LP's are, in fact, a highly compressed medium. If this were not so, quiet passages would simply disappear into groove/wall noise. Analog engineers constantly "rode gain" to insure that the constricted dynamic limits of the LP medium were not exceeded. In the early seventies, several remedies appeared amongst which the DBX Compander (compressor/expander) emerged as the best and longest lived. I still have an original DBX 117 on line at a friends vacation home. I've almost never listened to records without one of these since about 1975. Properly set they can over double the dynamic range of the LP and virtually eliminate groove noise with no audible side effects, and make themselves inaudible as what little noise they add is also reduced to inaudible by thier own action...neat trick!. (Unconvinced purists may skip out now) So, find yourself a bargain on Ebay and learn to set the perfect expansion level for each disc. Every disc has a "just right" spot you will find with a little practice. Set it and record and you've just combined the best of analog with the best of digital.

 

5. Store

Doing this once can be fun. The second time it sux. After that, it can be torture. Without going into all the possibilities I am simply going to recommend one product. Buffalo TeraStation. Set to RAID 5 (its default, so ready to plug and play) you get 750 GB of network-attached storage accessible from any computer and most decent media distribution devices on your network for well less than a grand. That's enough space for over 700 LP's at 24/88.2 and will take up a lot less space! When the time comes a drive fails, you just pull it out, replace, and TeraStation will take care of the rest.

 

6. POST PROCESS [optional step]

Getting a near-digital dynamic range from an LP and virtually eliminating the groove noise is really neat. Getting rid of the pops at no cost at all to the quality is a bloody miracle. There are a number of softwares to accompish this, but my favorite is the NX package for Sound Forge. Processing is done only once and the result saved. If you don't like it you can undo and reset until you are happy. Hardware devices for this purpose have been designed that work pretty well, but the downside was that the whole signal passed through adding whatever "flavor" the device might have to the sound quality. Most purists would rather have the pops... Software doesn't work like that. It has, and cannot have (since we are in the digital domain) any impact on the signal whatsoever until it gets a match to the signature of the noises its been set to look for. Then it lifts out precisely those digits and replaces them with a composite of what was happening just before and just after. While this sounds like it would be audible since some information has been synthesized, we are talking about tiny fractions of a second here and you'd really have to do some training to ever hear where the pop was. In any event, the action is much nicer than a "POP" in the middle of Miles Davis. SUMMARY Is it all as simple as it sounds? Not really. But neither is setting the azimuth on a cartridge or figuring out values for a crossover. However, it is not rocket science and the results will come closer to "perfect sound forever" than you have ever been.

 

Now, “let a thousand flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend.” Chairman Mao, 1957.

David A. Mallette

 

 

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Innertuber turned me on to this. Seems like a place I need to be. My normal haunt for a number of years is the notorious 2 Channel Forum crowd at klispch whose general motto is "If it don't rust or glow, we don't trust it."

 

I love my analog, my tubes, my 78's, and all that stuff. I also love my digital amp, my Card Deluxe, M-Audio, and ESI WamiRack XL sound cards and my homebrew DAW's and location recorders.

 

Most of my posts on the Klipsch 2 Channel Site on digitizing LP's go with almost no comment except from a few more open-minded souls like Herr Tuber. That's OK, they are fine ol' farts and I love them all. They will come around or die off...

 

In any event, I am looking forward to this forum and what I can learn from it.

 

Kind regards,

Dave

 

\"If it sounds good, it IS good.\" Duke Ellington

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Sad thing too. It is a great program. Own it. Use it. Sony purchased Sonic Foundry, the originators of Sound Forge and lot's of other great programs for music production and manipulation a couple of years back. Hopefully they will 'see the light' now that Macs run with Intel chips.

 

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Welcome Dave! We always like to see new folks here!

 

Re: the quandry about what to use for an audio editor on the Mac. - Maybe you know something of the performance of a program called "Wave Lab" from Steinberg. Being a long-time Steinberg app user, the ONLY reason I didn't (and don't) use Wave Lab instead of Sound Forge on my PC-based DAW is that I got my first version of Sound Forge (Acid and Vegas) free as an add-on user under the license agreement. That was years ago. SF is good enough for me to spend the money elsewhere instead of duplicating applications by purchasing Wave Lab.

 

From all I've heard, Wave Lab is equivalent to Sound Forge and with it being a Steinberg program, should have a version for Mac available. Do you know anything about Wave Lab?

 

We would appreciate any info you might have....

 

markr

"You cannot miniaturize a 32 foot peak to peak sound wave" - PWK

 

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Wave lab is an awesome program. It's been a few years since I used it but I recall it having a lot of features for professional use.

 

I can't address it specifically for use in LP dynamic expansion, de-popping and such, but perhaps a more current user can.

 

Being a denizen of the corporate world I can't address Mac issues either. Personally, I hate Microsoft and Mac pretty equally as both are hugely bloated, non-multitasking monstrosities designed to sell faster and faster CPU's to run slower and slower...but, as the Firesign says, 'It's a little like having bees live in your head. But, there they are!"

 

Dave

 

\"If it sounds good, it IS good.\" Duke Ellington

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1. I've read lots of positive comments on the Macintouch Web site regarding a program called "Click Repair." They say that it takes out the sharp transient noises without doing anything else. I've not used it.

 

2. I wonder if most of the objection to digital sound comes about because of hearing only mediocre digital-to-analog conversion. Last year I didn't know there was a difference, but now that I have an offboard DAC I'm never going back. LPs that I've copied to CDs still have that nice round sound. There's another thread in this forum in which I describe the process I use.

 

3. Alesis' Masterlink ML9600 recorder is a very nice device for LP transfers. It has excellent analong-to-digital converters, and is very reliable. It's a recorder that first records to its hard disk at your choice of data rate, up to 24-bit, 96kHz. Then you can do some editing, and after that's done the way you like it, burn a Redbook CD that sounds very good. I'm a bit leery of using a computer for recording because I'm never sure exactly what it's doing.

 

I remember dbx. I owned two 122 noise reduction units for recording, but never got a 112 or 117. I've been thinking about them. Why not put this in software? As part of a recording program, or editing program, expansion makes a lot of sense.

 

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I still use my 117 acquired in 1975. However, I'd recommend at minimum a 1BX, next a 4 or 5BX if you can afford them. The remote control of the 4BX's and up is a tremendous improvement.

 

The Alesis stuff is very fine.

 

You are dead on about the issues with digital. It's all about the engineering. I spent 10 years researching and experimenting after I determined I was musically malnourished after 10 years on CD's from 1981 to about 1994. Luckily, I'd never disposed of my 2200 or so LP's and when I finally returned a TT to service I was stunned and wanted to know why. As computer media professional, I knew that theoretically digital was superior to analog in most every way, except that what I was hearing did not bear that out.

 

I've written a LOT about this in the past that I will not regurgitate yet again here, but if you'd like to hear some of the results of my experiments, download the three pieces of music at ftp.mallette.org/incoming and listen for yourself. The "Clair de lune" is performed by Stewart Wayne Foster, first winner of the Dallas International Organ Competition played on a Kawai (not the greatest instrument, but decent) in the superb acoustics of the Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville, Tx using a rather novel mic plan of my own devising. "St. James Infirmary" was recorded live at the Saxon Street Pub in Austin, TX also using an interesting mic plan. The "Handel on the Strand" was recorded in the rather cavernous but interesting acoustics of the Mesquite Center for the Performing Arts by members of the Dallas Symphony including an Amati played by Delbert Petty, now retired principal second violinist.

 

I stuck these up a month or so back as references to a thread on the Klipsch forum and intend to rotate them out soon.

 

I'll be interested in your comments.

 

Regards,

Dave

 

\"If it sounds good, it IS good.\" Duke Ellington

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- you can run Sound Forge on a Mac Under Boot Camp, RHA. I cannot give you any personal recommendations about it though. Here is a forum that was talking about it a couple of months ago, try asking around there for some help:

 

http://osx.tribe.net/thread/168569f1-5a56-4589-8df3-788f56f60911

 

The bottom few posts are aimed more to your question.

 

And yes, to run Windows (I'd recommend XP Pro) under BootCamp, you will need to install (purchase) Windows. I've found great prices on http://www.pricewatch.com/software_oper_system/. I paid about $100 for XP Pro and got a Logitech USB keyboard and mouse to boot! That was over a year ago, so the prices are probably lower now.

 

Be careful on pricewatch - some of the lowest prices are just upgrades for the OS (that won't help you).

 

markr

 

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The "Operating system filters" heading there means that the pricewatch website has 'filtered out' everything BUT OS's. OS updates and service pack updates are included in that though. You don't want those. Just the OS.

If you decide to get XP PRO, the current service pack is SP2. You could buy one with SP1 for less money, but I wouldn't recommend it. It isn't as secure or as compatible. Also, forget XP PRO 64 bit. I'm pretty sure that would be pushing it. I don't even know if Sound Forge is 64 bit compatible, never mind if BootCamp is. Stay with the 32 bit version.

 

And once again, I have to stress that you are venturing off into territory that no one else here so far has any experience with (running Sound Forge on a Mac under BootCamp). At least not anyone who is talking about it. Not necessarily a bad thing. It could be interesting and/or fun. Keep us posted.

 

markr

Ancient Chinese Curse: May you live in interesting times.

 

Just trying to be funny, RHA..... do your homework FIRST.

 

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RHA - Make sure to get a version that has SP2 already integrated. Bootcamp says it won't work with an SP1 install even if you plan to upgrade to SP2 later.

 

You can also purchase XP and then create a slipstream XP with SP2 disc. If you're not familiar with that we can help you here. There are automated tools to do it for you.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Chris is right. While I haven't used bootcamp yet, it sounds like Chris has. For myself, I have experience emulating one OS or another in both hardware and software going back about 20 years. We WILL help. I love this kind of stuff. It keeps me up WAY too late all the time. Just ask SGB.

 

markr

 

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Thanks guys. I think I'm getting in way over my head. SP1 / SP2??? Create a slipstream (?) XP with SP2 disc?? Luckily you're here to help and I haven't got into the doodoo yet. The pricewatch site says it's offering a Dell reinstall disc. Is this a valid way to go? Have I missed anything?

 

 

 

 

RHA

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...you gotta ask yourself: did he fire 5 shots, or was it 6?

 

I can tell that you ARE NOT a Windows user. Do you have a friend that is a Windows user? They can get some of this stuff answered more quickly than we can, but I'm here now:

 

SP1/SP2 = "Service Pack" (1/2). These were MAJOR upgrades to the OS. SP2 is the most recent and the one that you should get to begin with ( that is, "Windows XP Pro, SP2" - install or reinstall ), but when you get XP up and running and finally registered - it might take a day or two after the install before they approve it down to your computer - a little icon will appear on the menu bar to remind you of the amount of 'trial usage time' that you have left (30 days) until they approve it.., there will be LOTS of minor security and other updates to download from Microsoft available on the web after that. DEFINITELY do all of these minor updates ASAP. You can install Sound Forge before all of that is done though.....

 

I DO NOT know what Chris meant about 'slipstream' (is it a "minimal install", Chris?)

 

Now...... you KNOW that you can get ripped off on the net, right? The one you are asking about is the first one on the pricewatch list, ( $91 ), from Best Memory International, LLC - right? From what I read there. This will work for you. Here is my experience with pricewatch vendors: 100% no rip offs. YET. I have purchased from various vendors found there probably about 30-40 times. I know nothing about 'bmem.net'. Use the internet to see if you can find anything out about them. There are ALWAYS comments about internet vendors available on the internet - unless they went into business 2 weeks ago. There are always both good and bad comments. At least I've never seen any company with all good or all bad comments. Hell, the A/D/A box I decided to buy (it wasn't cheap) had a lot of bad comments on it, but all the bad comments were almost a year old at the time, and they only lasted about a month........ then the comments got MUCH better ( the manufacturer released firmware updates)....Go from there. If you don't want to risk it, go to your local computer retailer - I see compusa has XP Pro for ~$140... Your choice man. From my point of view, Windows IS doodoo. And lots of it. But I still use it. I have to.

 

markr

lemmeknowifIcanhelp!

 

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In simplified terms, it is using an XP disc and incorporating all the service packs into the OS before installation. That way you can install on something like Bootcamp that requires SP2, even if you don't have an SP2 installation disc. For example, using an XP disc purchased with no service packs, you can combine the SPs with the files on the disc and create a new disc with an up to date version of XP. This is called a slipstreamed install. There are many free programs that automatically do this for you, so almost anyone can easily can do it.

 

 

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

In computer jargon, to slipstream updates, patches or service packs means to integrate them into the installation files of their original software, so that the resulting files will allow a direct installation of the updated software.

If not directly supported by the software vendor, slipstreaming can be technically possible, depending on the updates, the structure and type of the program to be slipstreamed and of its installer, if any.

In Windows environments, it is common for system administrators to make slipstreamed installation sources of the operating system available on network shares. That greatly simplifies deployment for new installations. Microsoft also usually allows ordering slipstreamed CDs from their website. Newer versions of Microsoft products usually come either already slipstreamed or with a separate CD holding some updates.

Slipstreaming can save time and money. It is possible to add service packs and other updates and patches to the install source, as well as extra drivers. In a Windows environment, slipstreaming all needed drivers onto the install source will save time downloading them from the internet. However, if newer drivers are available then a new install source would be needed. It also involves more work initially, but can save time later on in reinstallation terms. This is especially significant for administrators that have to manage a large number of computers, where the default case for installing an operating system on each computer would be to use the original media and then update each computer after the installation was complete, as opposed to using a more up-to-date (slipstreamed) source, and having to download/install a minimal number of updates.

Adding patches to the install source is also another time saver. However, not all (Windows) patches can be applied in this fashion and one disadvantage is that if it is discovered that a certain patch is responsible for later problems, said patch cannot be removed without using an original, non-slipstreamed install CD. Online instructions for this way of doing things emphasise the use of virtual PC environments (such as VMWare and Microsoft Virtual PC) for testing, as the end user often gets no support from the program manufacturer for using these "homemade" CDs.

Using slipstreamed OS CD (e.g. XP Pro) can avoid installation errors caused by drivers and hardware components.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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You could try Audacity. It's available for just about all operating systems. It runs fine on my Linux machine at home and Windows and Macs at work. It's Open Source, so it's "free" in both the cost and freedom senses.

 

Some professional users find it a little clunky, But you can't beat the price ;-)

 

It does not, to my knowledge, have a plugin to automatically repair ticks. That can be time-consuming by hand, I'll admit. On the other hand, you have the warm and fuzzy that you haven't chopped out any music by accident.

 

-Carl

 

 

 

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