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Digitizing my Vinyl collection


Spirit
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Here's the 'many-a-true-answer-spoken-in-jest' answer :

 

Decide which ones you can't live without - go buy 'em on cd - donate the vinyl to charity - have a stress-free life! ;)

 

The problem with the real answer is that there are millions of 'em! Probably as many as there are opinions on jitter! And cables! but, well, you did ask -

 

1. Rubbish in = rubbish out. Get your deck/pre-amp/records properly set up, cleaned, isolated, lubricated, well-fed, .....you get the idea! The better the set-up is, the better will be the results.

 

2. Get a quality soundcard and record at a high bit depth. I would suggest 24bit minimum and high sample rate if you can hear the difference. So, say 24/96. Personally I'm not so good at sample rate detection but word length(bit rate) is a no-brainer. If it was me I'd do a sample run at 24/44.1 and 24/96 and see if you can tell the difference. I'd insist on 24bit though, to try and capture as much of the dynamics as possible. you may even like 32bit, but that will almost certainly mean dithering before you could play them back, so I wouldn't bother.

 

3. Use a good quality DAW. Audigy is well liked and free, Wavelab is probably the industry standard and sodding expensive! Record one whole side then cut it up into the tracks and save them out. (Highlight the track portion, cut, paste into new wav, save as). Keep doing this until you're either finished or stark, raving mad! Either way you'll realise why the advice to go and buy them again was, actually, quite good advice! :)

 

4. The audiophile bits : (Me being anal about sound quality)!

 

Do not normalise. Ever. Vinyl has dynamics, try and keep them!

Do not use any sort of digital plug-in, including the dreaded 'de-clickers', de-hissers, or de-anything. Ever. Vinyl has dynamics, try and keep them!

Do not use software RIAA compensation - use an outboard pre-amp. Even the RIAA plug-in in Wavelab is rubbish.

 

It isn't really a complex process, if you know your way around a good DAW. It is, though, a labour of love! There are businesses out there who make a living doing this sort of thing - that ought to tell you a lot.

 

Me? Tried it once. Life's far too short!!

 

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Bob:

Could you give me an idea of some brand-name products that I should look at if I decide to venture into this thing.

I assume that the RCA jacks of the Turntable would plug in directly to the Sound card - is that correct?

Perhaps you can give me a set-up primer.

 

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As Bob points out there is definitely some work here.

 

I've taken a few runs at doing this for selected albums. In the end I bought an Alesis Masterlink 9600. This is a hard disk recorder with built-in ADC, DAC, and DSP. There are basic controls for splitting and merging tracks. You can also normalize if you want and there are other DSP features as well. I just do the most basic trimming.

 

After you get the recording to your liking, the Alesis unit will then cut a CD-R either in Redbook or as a set of 24/96 aiff files. There are some other options as well.

 

You can find reviews of this device online. For example there's a review in Stereophile. There are similar products from other manufacturers also. I think Tascam makes one or more device like this.

 

Basically you'll take the output of your phono preamp, straight into the Masterlink. Or if that output level is too high or too low then you may want to use your main preamp's output in order to adjust the level.

 

Anyway this is one option. For better and worse it removes the many controls, and some of the flexibility, of a computer software audio package. Also note that the recording is in real time. A record with 50 minutes of music takes 50 minutes to record. There's more time to get the tracks right. And then, with this approach, there's additional time to write the CD-R. Then you read the CD-R into your computer.

 

So in a given evening you won't be doing too many of these. I always clean the record before I start, using my VPI record cleaning machine. I do the recording, split the tracks, fiddle with the space before and after, write the CD, transfer to my computer, enter the title, track names into iTunes. Then maybe I can find the cover art online.... or maybe get out my camera and photograph the album. And then -- well you see what I mean. Doing one album a night is about all I can stand. :-)

 

 

 

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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Jim Hagerman makes a device (The Ripper) that is a phono stage including a USB input. The unit has a dac and ADC in it as well.

 

I do not use vinyl yet that device looks good.

 

Let me know.

 

 

 

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You probably have all the hardware you need. There is advice on the web on converting vinyl to CD. All this advice applies, except of course you won't need a CD burner or blank CDs and, as Bob pointed out, you have the option of choosing to make a higher-than-CD-quality copy (or a lower-quality copy if you need to conserve disk space.) The turntable signal is probably too weak to plug directly into your sound card. You want to keep that plugged into whatever you use to listen to LPs. That device is also needed to equalize the tone of the signal. Instead use a line-level output (labeled "Rec Out" or something like that) from the device to feed your sound card.

 

What you might need to obtain is some audio editing software to take the sound you capture and do whatever cleaning up or other editing you wish. You don't necessarily need anything expensive - there is free software available that you can try, as well as basic versions of pro audio software that are inexpensive. You will at least wish to adjust the volume of your recordings and create separate files for each track. You might also try filering out the low frequency rumble from your turntable. I found I was not happy hearing each tick and pop from my LPs preserved for all eternity. Somehow random ticks and pops that didn't bother me when playing a real LP drove me crazy when coming from a CD or music server (and always at exactly the same place in the recording!) You can try using software to remove the ticks and pops. I found some noise reduction software would work like magic on certain program material but fail completely on others. You can also edit out the ticks & pops manually but this can be very tedious. Whatever you do, you always have to check the results. The goal is to eliminate noise but avoid eliminating any of the music that you love. If you find your editing is sacrificing the music, it is better to leave the noise in.

 

As a final step, you'll want to add some information about each recording to your sound files. (Track name, artist, album, date, track number, album art, etc.) You can do that using your music player software.

 

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