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Discussion Starter #1
C'mon now, admit it: those beautifully tactful albums are taking up too much space and you really, really want to free some of it up by digitizing some or all of your collection. But you'd rather not give up the "character" that makes vinyl so attractive to you.
  • So how do you translate those undulating grooves into 1's and 0's?
  • Should you create redbook CD's, FLAC files, or DSD files?
  • Are USB turntables an option for serious archival?
  • Do they sound close enough to the original?
C'mon now--you know you want to! Go ahead and share your questions, tips, and experience for all things "Digitizing Vinyl" :bigsmile:
 

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LOL Lou,
Most of the USB turntables are not very good quality from what Ive read so it would be better to hook up the turntable you already have or buy a better one than a USB one to your receiver as usual and then take a zone two out or tape out (if you still have one) and run that to the computer and record it that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Interesting take on that, Tony. Here's an internal $200 sound card an audiophile could love. I'm sure some HTS members have their favorites. Hope to hear some of them check in!

I've not yet made the leap, but am in the planning stages. For now I'm using an Alesis ML-9600 Masterlink HD Recorder to create FLAC files on HD, which it can then burn to either Redbook CD or FLAC files (about one vinyl side per CD) in resolutions up to 24/96. Not really an efficient way, since I have to then rip the CD to a server or NAS. Also not a popular solution for the vast majority here, since the unit has long been discontinued and has analog-to-digital converters which are antique by today's standards.
 

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Its ok Lumen, this too shall pass and you will place those licorice discs onto your most awesome turntable while finding a bit of storage space....in my home for example. No digital copy of those round 12" joy bubbles will never sound as good as your analog set up brother.
 

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Sell the LPs.
Sell the turntable.
Buy CDs.
Rip CDs to format of choice.

Depending on size of LP collection the time saved is worth more than the price of CDs especially if you tap the used mail order market.
As far as the character of the LPs....that hiss, pops, and clicks won't be missed at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sell the LPs.
Sell the turntable.
Buy CDs.
Rip CDs to format of choice.

Depending on size of LP collection the time saved is worth more than the price of CDs especially if you tap the used mail order market.
Your right that time is precious, Charlie. And I like your practical concept for those tunes that can be digitally replaced, and for those albums that have more than average wear. Yet there are several analog renditions in my collection that present a significant improvement over their digital cousins. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "One More From the Road" comes to mind. Both the original and remastered CD's are unlistenable to me on revealing and properly set up systems. I cherish that LP for its totally musical and involving presentation. Other examples are Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" and REO Speedwagon's "You can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish." FWIW, I was perfectly and innocently happy with their SQ on my earlier systems that stamped each tune with its own homogenous character.


As far as the character of the LPs....that hiss, pops, and clicks won't be missed at all.
Really? The mantra of the masses? :blink:
Clean records (I use a VPI wet vacuum) and a good turntable reduce typical vinyl noise to a bare minimum. It's an eye (and mind) opener! Some say that the vinyl's imperfections prevent suspension of disbelief. Others say digital's "nasties" prevent immersion in the first place. It's a personal choice, not an absolute. :eek:lddude:

For those comfortably worn albums that sneak past Tier-1 defenses of quality gear and cleaning, up pops (hah-hah) Tier-2 with tremendous benefits courtesy of KLH Burwen Research TNE7000A for click/pop suppression and DNF1201A for hiss reduction. Anyway, most of my LPs are in very good to excellent condition, so Tier-2 "gimmicks" can be bypassed. :T
 

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Recording Vinyl...

Turntable= Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. (I'll pass on USB turntables)
Cartridge= Ortofon 2M Red.
Phono Preamp= TCC TC-760LC.
Computer Soundcard= Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 2G.
Computer Software for Vinyl Audio Recording & Processing= AlpineSoft VinylStudio.
Recorded as= FLAC (lossless), 96kHz, 24bit.
Computer Audio Software= J River Media Center
Results= digital recording sounds much better than the original vinyl because VinylStudio takes out the ticks, pops, and hiss.

I don't do this because I think vinyl sounds better than digital/CD. I do this because my parents have a collection of vinyl not available as digital/CD.

Personally I like digital and believe it to be a much more transparent recording/playback process. Sure, vinyl can sound better than a digital recording if the vinyl is mastered better than the digital. But if digital is done properly, there are fewer downsides than analog.
I'm not sure what 'nasties' are present with a proper digital process. Yes, in the 1980's there were very bad digital converters that produced bad sounding digital/CD, but that is in the past. Now, digital sounds like crud simply because of bad recording/mastering choices.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Recording Vinyl...
Results= digital recording sounds much better than the original vinyl because VinylStudio takes out the ticks, pops, and hiss.
Do you find yourself relying entirely on the automatic "cleaning" process for all recordings? If some need manual cleaning, do you "ride" the controls in real time, or do you process the worst offenders individually?

I don't do this because I think vinyl sounds better than digital/CD. I do this because my parents have a collection of vinyl not available as digital/CD. Personally I like digital and believe it to be a much more transparent recording/playback process. Sure, vinyl can sound better than a digital recording if the vinyl is mastered better than the digital. But if digital is done properly, there are fewer downsides than analog.
Same here, Glenn! Didn't mean to mislead with a blanket statement. I consider only a few of my analog recordings better than their digital versions (fairly mastered or not).

I'm not sure what 'nasties' are present with a proper digital process. Yes, in the 1980's there were very bad digital converters that produced bad sounding digital/CD, but that is in the past. Now, digital sounds like crud simply because of bad recording/mastering choices.
That's exactly the era during which my bad recordings were issued. Wholly agree that both media can be good or bad depending on care exercised during transcription from live to stored.
 

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Lumen,

For cleaning, riding the controls in real time or searching for individual bad spots is too much work for me.
With each album, I do some testing with different auto settings to hear which works best, then let it all be done in auto. There have been times that after it has been done, I will readjust the settings and do it over again.

I try to do the least amount of cleaning needed to get decent results.
Some need very little cleaning, just a slight background hiss to cover up.
Some need the max cleaning setting and still have ticks & pops. I could keep running the cleaning application over and over but it'll degrade sound quality.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the details of the digital side. They've helped me visualize how a session would progress using software capture. Aside from tick/pop/hiss cleaning, do you perform any other digital processing like normalization, compression/limiting, or EQ? My recording philosophy follows your own: minimal processing with some rework required according to limited auditioning. Some recordings would need more or less processing based on SQ.
 

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I do look to hear your thoughts on the best compression form to use, as well as Wav files. I use FLAC now as it is so universal, but I cannot say that is the best.
What about saving the files in a fairly large size onto a backup hard drive or a large main drive ?
 

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DSP...
I normalize everything that I digitize into my computer (i.e. vinyl, CD, downloads) with dBpoweramp's EBUR128Normalize. This raises or lowers the audio level of the entire track as a whole, I never compress the audio range. This helps to combat the 'loudness wars' which causes a lot of distortion.
I haven't EQ'd any files yet but there are definitely some I would like to try eventually.

FILE FORMAT...
Huge file sizes don't scare me, I used to use WAV, but it doesn't always store & transfer embedded info well.
Now I always use FLAC because it is lossless and stores & transfers embedded info well.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I do look to hear your thoughts on the best compression form to use, as well as Wav files. I use FLAC now as it is so universal, but I cannot say that is the best.
Hi Jack, good to hear from you! By "compression" I meant the manipulation (GASP!) of the analog signal before output in the final format. Compressor/Limiters, are considered by some of the audio-elite to be worse than equalization (GASP! again!!). Yet in the right hands (read: with a light touch), compression/limiting can polish a recording to professional standards. The purpose is to optimize the source material for the recorder, be it software or hardware based. Here is an excellent article all about compressors.

But you raise a good point concerning storage format and media. I, too, prefer FLAC not just because of it's high sound quality, but also because of its compact size relative to WAV files. Without getting too far off-topic, I think that--and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, because I don't have the info at my fingertips--FLAC files also store artists/title metadata, unlike WAV. Again, not meaning to take this off into a discussion of formats and codecs; just indulging a little in my own thread, Hah! :sneeky:


What about saving the files in a fairly large size onto a backup hard drive or a large main drive ?
That's what my hard drive recorder does, but I've been unable to access those darling 1's and 0's directly from any of the recorders digital outputs (another story for another time). For the time being, my ADC transcription projects are relegated to using CD's as a temp medium, which must then be ripped onto the server/player's HD. The Masterlink can create either Redbook CD's or FLAC-file "data" discs. The latter can only be decoded/played on the Masterlink, but computers recognize the data as FLAC formatted files. A large music collection can start to chew up HD space, so I eventually plan to add NAS like the Synology series.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
DSP...
I normalize everything that I digitize into my computer (i.e. vinyl, CD, downloads) with dBpoweramp's EBUR128Normalize. This raises or lowers the audio level of the entire track as a whole...
Hi Glenn! Normalizing is our friend when it comes to keeping things at the same volume between tracks and sources. Few things bother us more than having to dive for the volume control every song change! For those interested in the technical aspect, a normalizer scans a track for the highest peak and then assigns that value as digital full-scale. All other signal levels are adjusted accordingly as a whole, inflicting no damage to the source.


I never compress the audio range. This helps to combat the 'loudness wars' which causes a lot of distortion.
Sorry I crossed-in-the-mail. See this article for an alternate view.


I haven't EQ'd any files yet but there are definitely some I would like to try eventually.
Being a neurotically-oriented, obsessive/compulsive perfectionist, I'm hesitant to EQ for fear it will sound wrong during listening sessions. I think I'd wish I'd done something different. Like you, I consider trying to EQ some songs, but stop short out of fear I'd never be able to stop twiddling the controls! :dumbcrazy:
 

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I understand that compressing is a necessity, but that is the job of the sound engineer in a recording studio.
I'm simply transferring a recording from one media to another. I usually don't want to alter the original recording by doing my own compressing.

Earlier I shouldn't have written that I never compress audio dynamics...
There are instances where more compression is needed and I have dabbled with it a little. I listen to some classical music which contains a huge dynamic range.
Listening at home, this huge dynamic range is appreciated.
But listening to the same audio in a loud environment (i.e. car, subway..) will cause much of the quieter passages to be 'lost.' For this situation, I have made a separate audio file with more audio compression which makes the quieter passages louder.
 

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I am wondering if some EQ may be needed in changing an RIAA curve album to a digital signal. I remember the trouble early adopters had in trying to make the analog tapes used to make records sound good when being transferred, would this same problem occur in this instance ??
 

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Jack,

If you use a good phono preamp between the turntable and the recording device (computer), then the audio should be re-eq'd already (by the phono pramp). If a phono preamp isn't used, there are computer programs to incorporate the proper RIAA re-eq'ing.

Of course just because the audio was properly re-eq'd, doesn't mean that you will like it. So you may want to do some of your own tweaking anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Indeed! Some people are unaware of the different EQ curves used in both recording and playback. I think that most curves were developed in the first half of the 1900's. Does anyone know how to determine which curve a particular album used? Is it included in credits on the sleeve or jacket?
 

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For vinyl cutting, after 1955 the industry had one curve that should have been used for all vinyl. If the 1955 curve wasn't used it should be noted somewhere.

For playback, the phono preamp should note which curve it uses.
 

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You guys are really overthinking this, just do what I did as a kid. Place your vinyl on your record player, stick a cassette in your Radio Shack cassette recorder, place next to a speaker and press Record and Play at the same time. Set tone arm down on vinyl...
 
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