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The sound of "digitizing" software


RHA

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I've been recording vinyl to HD using Audacity at 24/96. When it works it's great but there have been lots of glitches that have shut me down for days. As a result I've been surfing trying to find a new 24/96 capable program that can do the job. While visiting the Amadeus site I came across a statement in their forum: "... though Audacity does not have the same sound quality as Amadeus...". It was my understanding that breaking the analog signal into bits was pretty much the same for every program but that the difference in sound quality came when you reorganize the bits back into the analog signal using various algorithms. (Please forgive my ignorance and technical terms). Am I totally off base here?

 

By the way if anyone has had experience with a 24/96 capable recording software that has some editing capability (label tracks, fade in/out, normalize, click repair, etc.) and doesn't cost an arm and leg I would definitely like to hear about it. Thanks. Cheers,

 

RHA

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

 

I began on the path of digital vinyl transcriptions last year. Like you, it was my original opinion that sound quality was not really an issue for software, since so long as it could record at a given resolution, I thought that would be all there was to it.

 

After I purchased an X-Fi card (which afforded the possibility of using ASIO drivers), that experience made it clear that ASIO versus kernel streaming versus DirectSound, etc, will all influence (sometimes significantly) the resultant audio quality.

 

Anyway, I was after an affordable solution as well. I had originally purchased the German product known as "Acoustica" but after buying the X-Fi card, I began to appreciate that using ASIO drivers could potentially improve the audio quality (the standard editions of Acoustica do not support ASIO). After comparing recordings using Acoustica with the bundled ASIO recording software that Creative provided with the X-Fi soundcard, I settled on making the actual recording using the Creative ASIO software then doing the subsequent editing in Acoustica.

 

I should add that Acoustica is now available in a premium version that supports ASIO, however at the time of writing it has a conflict with the X-Fi soundcards (possibly just the X-Fi Extreme Gamer) that the company is aware of - a bit rediculous though, considering how popular these cards are.

 

Always looking to continue my experiments, though, I purchased a Zoom 24-96 stand alone digital recorder earlier this year. I never intended to use it for vinyl transcriptions but conduced an experiment nonetheless. I was very, very impressed with the results, which were clearly better than using any software on my computer.

 

So now I actually record directly to the digital recorder, then transfer the files from the flashcard to the computer, where I do editing in Acoustica (and for any "post production" DSP stuff I use Plogue Bidule).

 

Anyway, so long as your soundcard works with it, I still recommend Acoustica on account of it's excellent feature set (does everything you would ever need), superb interface, fair price and it's very intuitive interface. But you would want the Premium version which supports ASIO.

 

As for click repairs, I spent a lot of time critically comparing products. I actually found that nothing comes even remotely close to the capability of Click Repair (an Australian product that sells for only $40 AUD), unless you are talking huge amounts of money for very solid professional-use noise reduction products. Virtually all click removal products butcher the sound to one degree or another. It never ceases to amaze me when people post files on the internet of the "before" and "after" effects of these products. They enthuse that the clicks have been removed but so has at least half the music! With Click Repair, the effect on the music can be as small as that of a perfect Dolby "B" encode and decode cycle - which means the effect is minimal if the record is in good condition to begin with. You can never expect to remove clicks and pops without some side effects, but I have not come across any software yet that does it as thoroughly as Click Repair in the context of the degree of noise removed versus sonic "damage" it leaves behind.

 

Both these products - Acoustica and Click Repair - have free, time limited demos available.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Virtually all click removal products butcher the sound to one degree or another. It never ceases to amaze me when people post files on the internet of the "before" and "after" effects of these products. They enthuse that the clicks have been removed but so has at least half the music!"

 

yep and amen....

 

click removal programs work several different ways, but the two most common are 'spike removal' and hard limiting...

 

in spike removal, clicks/spikes are 'recognized' on the basis of a normative algorithm which then simply deletes the offending spikes leaving a gap [which is supposedly not noticed, uh huh]....but the truth is that depending on the music and the algorithm used, you may lose more than just the click...

 

hard limiting simply 'flat tops' the entire waveform...destroying the dynamic of the recording, effectively decreasing its 'loudness', and creating distortion...this is really a problem with a lot of newer recordings, as a great many of them are already flat topped/overly compressed [the result of a seemingly growing trend towards less-than-intelligent recording practices]...

 

yes, if you have the software there are other ways to deal with clicking....

 

but, i have to say, in my opinion, youre at best simply degrading the recording, and at worst effectively re-mastering it by running any blanket de-click program...

 

my advice is essentially the same as JonP's...[plus a more generalized bias against anti-click programs]...try different software...they do sound different...and some are bloody awful...

 

hopefully you wont need or want a de-click program after finding something which suits you...

 

ana...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Richard Vandersteen of Vandersteen Audio claims that we should be grateful for every click we hear. Otherwise the music industry would never allow us to have access to such a high rez format anymore.

 

Richard may be a little jaded.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Thanks for the feedback. After working with Audacity a while I'm starting to get the kinks out. I purchased Click Repair some time ago but haven't used it much because it was easier (less time consuming) to do the click repair directly within the recording editing software and not transfer the data files. I agree with the comments that click repairs can alter the sound. I do not do a blanket repair of the sound. When I hear or see a click in the wave form I zoom in on it, select the smallest area of possible of the click and then do the click removal. Generally I'm able to get the click without affecting to much of the sound. Anyway it's better than the click. In rare cases where the click tool will not remove the click I can zoom in on the smallest area to the point that you see the individual pixels (?) and using the pencil tool I can flatten out the wave form to the point that the click all but disappears. That's a tedious process though. As an experiment I used the click removal tool and then zoomed in on the waveform to check what the waveform looked like after repair. To my surprise the repaired area looked just like the waveform before and after it. No gaps or flattened out spots.

 

anabella, you mentioned "...try different software...they do sound different...and some are bloody awful..." What have you tried and do you have a favorite? I have used Audacity, Amadeus, Spin Doctor, Snd Sampler and Pure Vinyl. I haven't really been able to detect much difference between them although there can be a big difference in ease of use and that's why I've been using Audacity.

 

I've been using an audio interface (Focusrite Saffire) into my iMac for recording. As such I have no need for ASIO drivers, but I'm curious about Acoustica. Is it Mac friendly?

 

Thanks for the comments. Cheers!

 

 

 

RHA

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No, Acoustica is only Windows. Just on the subject of manual removals, I do actually do this using Acoustica. Acoustica has an interpolate function which makes manually removing blemishes extremely easy. I just zoom in on the tick or pop on the waveform, select that area with the mouse and select "interpolate" in the drop down menu. Acoustica does the rest. The effect is completely inaudible unless you are an alien or the blemish is severe (in which case you would be using other strategies).

 

My usual process is to first run my output through Click Repair at a setting of around 11 (with no crackle) and then play the output file through Acoustica and fix anything remaining manually using the interpolate function. If there are any bits that would benefit from decrackling, I simply cut and paste those little bits to a temporary file, run that temporary file through Click Repair with an appropriate setting, then overwrite paste the output back into the main file in Acoustica. I would challenge any human to discover where any such "patching" took place. I have extremely critical ears and when I play back the file after I have forgotten where I did things, I simply can't tell. I find this process leaves me 99% of the time with a recording that is as noise free as it's CD equivalent (I am speaking of analogue sourced recordings of course), but far better sounding than CD could ever hope to be.

 

I wil say once again that although nearly all noise reduction and declick programs destroy the music, Click Repair is different when used properly and in my opinion is vastly superior to other programs costing thousands of dollars. It might have an incredibly basic interface and be missing some highly desirable features such as selecting areas and being able to preview the output on the fly, but I still would have happily paid $500 for it rather than the $40. I have tried suites worth several thouand dollars that are a joke in comparison.

 

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RHA....

all of the programs mentioned have their pros and cons...sorry, but it really does come down to what sounds good and works best for you...[i definitely approve of having the ability to de-click by hand erasing the offending spike...but then the ability of the program to draw a detailed waveform would become important to me]

 

while i love little apps that do one thing well, on the whole this sort of thing doesnt meet my needs...im used to having more options.....

 

personally, i use a now out-dated, discontinued, two channel recording/mastering program [spark xl] exclusively for ripping...[this is not at all what the program was designed for]...

 

i use it even though i know i can get better specs by running input through Logic pro or Pro tools [spark has a 96htz limitation, as does audacity]....

 

i do this largely because i know the program very well, and ive always just flat-out liked the sound i get out of it...

 

its the program i learned to master on...[big points for a certain nostalgia factor]...

 

spark xl is my version of a 'little, easy to use, app'....

 

sorry im not more helpful...but i will say one shouldnt necessarily discount deejay programs....i used to use one for its 'on the fly' capability...

 

ana..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 years later...

I lost the essage I was composing looking up the name of a software.

 

I agree very much with the comments of not overdoing software correction.

 

I have adopted the method of using the software at minimal settings, eg to pick only small clicks, then labouriously removing the others manually. I use a good set of earphones and listen to the track, and over time I was able to hear and recognise on the waveform what the clicks look like. Very slow but rewarding.

 

I was using Pinnacle Clean 5.0 which comes with Wavelab Lite. Wavelab Lite has a screen pencil tool with which you can actually sketch in the waveform. This is no longer on the market as far as I can see.

 

However, Ihave progressed(?) to Windows 7, and there appear to be no W7 updates available.

 

I have been taking a serious look at a software by Alpinesoft (www.alpinesoft.co.uk) which sells for about $30 US. It has a wave correction tool which could be very good for the bad clicks. I stll might end up buying Wavelab Elements (about $65US at Amazon), but wait an try the Alpinesoft first.

 

All the best

SamB

 

 

 

 

 

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Seem to not know where Pure Music came from...

 

Pure Music is a recent off-shoot of the original software called Pure Vinyl. I even remember hearing about people using the playback capabilities of Pure Vinyl, before Channel D separated them out for the rest of us.

 

Pure Vinyl http://www.channld.com/purevinyl/

 

is a very high quality 24/192 capable vinyl transcription software. You can even give it a try, free. If you are so inclined, you can even buy their phono amp and use the software RIAA for your vinyl recordings. Or, do what I do and use the mic inputs on an RME Fireface 400 for the gain, and the software for the RIAA, unless of course you like the sound of your phono amp better. I think I might like mine better, I need to do more listening.

 

Anyway, it is a fine bit of kit, and very worth considering, IMHO of course.

 

edit: When recording vinyl through my phono pre, to 24/192 I have a very hard time picking out which is which when playing back... Additionally, my click and pop remover is a Record Cleaning Machine, IMO an invaluable device for archiving vinyl.

 

I should add that Pure Vinyl is Mac only.

 

No electron left behind.

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Depends what software you use.

 

Mine (DC-7) lets you adjust the parameters of click removal and other "cleanup" features. I usually set it to reduce the volume of clicks, not eliminate them entirely.

 

The result is that bad clicks sound like minor ones, and minor ones aren't "eliminated". IMO the actual music isn't harmed in any audible way - and in the resulting waveforms it also doesn't look like the actual musical signal has been altered.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I started digitising vinyl using Steinberg Clean 5.0 many years ago and have progressed through WaveLab, Audacity, Amadeus, TwistedWave and Pure Vinyl. I honestly cannot tell the difference that the recording software makes to the sound.

 

In that time I have also used a number of audio interfaces having progressed through a SoundBlaster card with a breakout box (the name of which I quickly forgot), an Echo Gina 24, a MOTU 828, an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and an RME Babyface. The SoundBlaster sounded poor, but all hardware since then have sounded just fine, there being, perhaps, slight improvements with each upgrade.

 

I found that Steinberg's Clean 5.0 made a very creditable job of removing clicks, but the software was limited to 16/44.1 and has never been upgraded.

 

DC6 made an absolute botch of the music when attempting to remove clicks whatever settings I tried.

 

I did most of my click removal manually for a long time after that, but then found Click Repair which is my current preference. It does not introduce any artifacts that I can hear and can handle 24/194 files. I use the lp setting modified from 50% to 30% which leaves the worst clicks slightly audible, but acceptably so.

 

I now play all my music through Pure Music and love the sound of all recordings made at 24/192 and even most ripped CD files upsampled from 16/44.1 to 24/192. However, some of these files do not survive the upsampling process very well. I have not yet been able to determine what it is that causes some of these files to sound distorted.

 

I am recording with flat EQ direct from the turntable so as to apply RIAA EQ in Pure Vinyl/Pure Music, however, that is not working for me yet. I understand from Rob Robinson that this issue is being addressed in the next major upgrade of Pure Vinyl. Once this is addressed, I will make comparisons of using flat EQ for recording against using my phono preamp.

 

Digital: iMac > Pure Vinyl/Pure Music > RME Babyface[br]Analog: NAD T763 > NAD 218 THX > Bowers & Wilkins 605 Series II[br]Also: Rega Planar 3/Dynavector 10X5/Origin Live OL1/Origin Live DC Ultra motor/SRM Tech Silent Base and Rega Enhancement kit/ > Trichord Research Dino MkII[br]

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I'm probably going to settle on Pure Vinyl myself, but I have not yet figured out how to get it to sound as good at high resolution as some stuff I wrote myself, which only runs on some uncommon computer gear and I wrote only to handle 16/44.1.

 

The high resolution recordings definitely have the potential to sound far better, but getting the settings and equipment and all the finicky details "just right" is taking me a lot of time.

 

We added vinyl capability with a little Rega RP1 turntable and it sounds pretty good, but compared to digital, it sometimes sounds "distant." Like the musicians are far far away or something. Probably the way it is mixed, or just a preference I have for a bit of a forward sound. I'm still studying the problem though. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I've tried several different bits of software for transferring LPs, including Audacity, Amadeus Pro, Pure Vinyl, and Sound Studio. I'm currently using the recording capability of the MIO software that comes with my ULN-8 (and also the RIAA curve built into MIO). I'm looking forward to trying Pure Vinyl again when it's updated. (I still strongly prefer a waveform rather than the spinning vinyl interface, though.)

 

I can honestly detect no difference in using these different programs, however --- there is an enormous difference in AD converters. I moved from using an Apogee Duet to a ULN-8 (and sold my Weiss Dac2 in the process) a year and a half ago, and the difference was so great that I redigitized all the records that I already had done. There are many excellent AD converters to consider. At the time I made my decision, a strong contender was the Forssell.

 

As far as clean-up, a necessity unless you are only transferring relatively new LPs, I've used ClickRepair and Denoise for many years. My transfers sound like LPs rather than CDs, except unlike LPs, they are noise-free.

 

Ron

 

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the higher the quality of the AD, the higher the quality of the recordings will be. I also suggest, and remember this is my opinion only, that higher quality playback devices make a difference because the AD can only digitize what it is being given by the turntable and phono amp.

 

No electron left behind.

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Paul,

 

Recognising the potential of getting 'off topic', digitising vinyl does very much depend upon the quality of the source and maybe the RP1 and/or the NAD PP2i are responsible for the sound being 'distant'.

 

I use a 1998 Rega Planar 3 which I have, so far, upgraded in every area except the plinth and dust cover. I replaced the standard cartridge for a Dynavector, the arm is from Origin Live with high quality internal and external wiring. The platter, sub-platter, bearings and motor have all been replaced with upgrades. The turntable now sits on an isolating base which in turn sits on a substantial shelf anchored into the wall.

 

I ditched my NAD PP2 phono preamp long ago.

 

All of these changes made significant improvements to the sound quality - more so than the digitising software and hardware.

 

Graham

 

Digital: iMac > Pure Vinyl/Pure Music > RME Babyface[br]Analog: NAD T763 > NAD 218 THX > Bowers & Wilkins 605 Series II[br]Also: Rega Planar 3/Dynavector 10X5/Origin Live OL1/Origin Live DC Ultra motor/SRM Tech Silent Base and Rega Enhancement kit/ > Trichord Research Dino MkII[br]

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It's possible.

 

On the other hand, it could be that a lot of the vinyl I want to digitize sounds ornery beacause it is old. A lot of those albums are cranking up to over three decades old, and some of them are on the south side of the five decade mark.

 

Some records sound very good indeed, when played on the RP1. Even some of the older records. Better than their digital counterparts. And that sound difference comes through when it is digitized, albeit, the sound is very sensitive to the settings and hardware used to do the A->D conversion. A TC Impact Twin sounds better amplifying the RP1 directly though microphone inputs, and letting Pure Vinyl do the RIAA curve stuff, than running the RP1 through the NAD preamp with it's RIAA equalization, and then into a line input on the Impact Twin.

 

And a buddy's pro gear (a RME FireFace 800) sounds better yet. But, the Impact Twin sounds a LOT better than the much more expensive MOTU 828MK3 unit my friend also uses.

 

It's all so confusing. :)

 

I am relatively sure I have not wrung out all the sound possible from this little unit, and am cautious about spending great gobs on money on the vinyl side of things. I do plan on putting in the Performance Pack upgrade, which upgrades the belt, the platter mat, and replaces the cartridge with a Rega Bias-2 cart, to see if that alleviates the issue.

 

I also have alternate plans, just in case. I'm turning a room upstairs into what amounts to a dedicated listening room. I'll try different gear up there to see what makes the most changes. Perhaps a small tube amp and some very efficient speakers, like the Wharfdales 10.1s or some Totem Dreamcatchers.

 

Or I will, as you suggest, just upgrade the preamp to a more expensive unit and see if that makes a difference. I did try a Furutech GT40, and really really did not like the sound that came out of it. I also have been offered a Jolida "JD9" phono preamp to try, but have not scheduled that yet. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I know what you mean about some old albums - even some of the re-issues. I started buying music in 1955, so those are also 5+ decades old, but many of my older albums were stolen in the mid-70's. The worst sounding album in my collection is Carol King's 'Tapestry' whilst 'Chicago II' from the same era sounds great. I recently re-bought Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' re-issue and am very disappointed with it's quality. Go figure! :-)

 

Your TC Impact Twin and your friend's RME Fireface 800 are both 24/192 capable. I seem to recall that the original MOTU 828 MK3 was 24/96, I think that was the maximum data rate that the Firewire connection could handle in those days. USB 2.0 also could not handle the data rate required for 24/192 until recently. Maybe your friend's 828 is the 24/96 model or maybe MOTU products are not the best - I certainly did not like my 828 MK2 and swapped it for a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R a couple of years ago, which sounded much nicer.

 

I don't like the sound of any Rega cartridges and I've tried several, the swap to the Dynavector 10X5 made a big difference - but this is probably personal preference.

 

I do not rely completely on my digitised music for listening pleasure, so I need a decent front end turntable and phono preamp. I digitise albums as a backup in case I lose any or they get damaged, but also to reduce wear and tear by playing through Pure Music depending on my mood - sometimes I just like to play records the old fashioned way!

 

However, regardless of whether playing the album direct or the digitised copy, I still have to go through power amps and speakers and these make a lot of difference. My Bowers & Wilkins speakers are old, but sound good. I have owned Goodmans, Sony, Yamaha, Denon, NAD and AudioLab amps over the years and do not like the dry 'Japanese' sound. I keep coming back to my trusty old NAD 218 THX which cleanly handles everything I throw at it and just sounds faster. The slew rate and damping factor are faster which, I think, improves the transients. I would love to try a tube amp sometime, but my wife won't allow such expenditure.

 

 

 

Digital: iMac > Pure Vinyl/Pure Music > RME Babyface[br]Analog: NAD T763 > NAD 218 THX > Bowers & Wilkins 605 Series II[br]Also: Rega Planar 3/Dynavector 10X5/Origin Live OL1/Origin Live DC Ultra motor/SRM Tech Silent Base and Rega Enhancement kit/ > Trichord Research Dino MkII[br]

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