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Ripping Vinyl: Using Pure Vinyl's Software RIAA Correction vs using an Analog Phono Stage

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Hi there,


This is Todd from AudioFlea.


I'm about to get going on a project to rip all of my vinyl to digital! The idea is that I want to take my music with me when I travel (for playback with Shure SE846 headphones), use in my car with my McIntosh and Dynaudio based system, or listen to when I'm in the office.


I understand that the folks over at Channel D strongly recommend using their own software-based RIAA correction, but I'm wondering if anyhere here has any anecdotal experience in comparing the Pure Vinyl RIAA with a good high-end, analog phono stage.


In my case, I would be using the ASR Mini Basis Exclusive as a phono stage.


My cartridge is the Rega Apheta which is a low output moving coil, so I will need to figure out my gain stage to put between the table and the software.


For anyone who has walked this path before, how did you end up using your low output, moving-coil cartridge with the software based RIAA correction in Pure Vinyl?

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I don't use pure I use adobe audition. First I set my gain on my phono preamp for my cart 60dbs. The I use my lavry ad11 to amp to capture peaks at -6dbs. Then after you process the album ie declicking you can apply 2-3dbs of gain to each side.

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I do quite a bit of vinyl ripping and recommend trying out both solutions. If you already own the ASR maybe you can trial the Channel D. I would then recommend recording a range of music with different sounds to see how well they were captured.


A lot of people tend to forget that the cartridge and phono stage are a bit of a marriage, the phono stage provides loading for the cartridge and the "right" marriage between the two is what makes this work so well. The result could be a different sound than you are used to when you use the Channel D because the ASR's load is no longer on the cartridge (which you may find better or worse).


Sorry it's not the simple black and white answer you were probably hoping for.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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I can't answer your question exactly. But can provide some related input.


Using a friends analog rig, I fed the cartridge into a microphone pre-amp with the required cartridge loading. Mic pre's have similar gain to a phono stage. I then digital performed RIAA correction using Audacity. Surprisingly, it wasn't much different compared to his Beveridge pre-amp.


Somewhat more interesting perhaps, I once fed a 24 bit digital recording of very high quality out from a DAC into his phono preamp. I had done the opposite RIAA curve and reduced level so as not to overload his phono pre. I also included an impulse and some white noise just before the music. It did an outstanding job of playing the digitally based recording with very little degradation. I know such percentages judged subjectively are rather arbitrary, but I would say the amount of quality lost going through the phono pre-amp was on the order of 5%. I would say nearly all of that 5% was from having to digitally reduce the level of the music file which put some low level parts into the noise floor deeper.


The impulse and white noise showed that his pre was quite flat in response. Not as flat as digital DAC's, but flat enough not to be an issue. In short my experience with that phono pre-amp and a few mic pre's is they are doing less damage to the music than is often supposed. I am not familiar with your phono unit, but if it is of good quality I doubt there is really much to choose between it and doing the RIAA digitally. The digital RIAA most likely can measure a bit better, but it quite possibly is so small an amount you would hear very, very small differences or no difference.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Use an ADC with built in RIAA correction, all of them. Has RCA inputs, is programmable and outputs directly by USB 2.0. Also has a digital input for as is output (which I've used for laserdisc digital tracks). M2tech Joplin.

That way you can just input from the TT to the Joplin to the PC.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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For anyone who has walked this path before, how did you end up using your low output, moving-coil cartridge with the software based RIAA correction in Pure Vinyl?


My journey was a little easier than many, the to warm was already wired up balanced. Needed a junction box to go from 3pin locking DIN to TRS(balanced phono plug).

I use a TC Impact Twin as the gain stage and ADC. The mic preamps are balanced. Every phono cartridge is balanced also. Just most tonearms are single ended..

The rssults are very good. Maybe a more expensive interface would be better. The top

Top of the heap is something like the Metric Halo ULN8. This has RIAA software included.


2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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