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Digitizing vinyl

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hi. I have a good, but aging high end living room rig (Krell, Linn, Thiel...). Trouble is, between my hectic work schedule, and family activity, I hardly listen to it. Head-Fi has been great in this regards, as I now get most of my music fix over various portable players, computers, and headphones. My question is, as an audiophile-in-good-standing, I have a tremendous amount of music on vinyl (maybe 5,000 records, lost count over 4,000), and none of this is accessible in my current situation. I bought a Pro rack cd recorder, but it is fiddly to use to records on cd, and I don't use it. I have an iMac in the living room, and a good home brew pc upstairs (built with a techie friend, excellent sound card, he tells me). It recently occurred to me it might be easier to get a turntable with phono preamp and USB for this, and I'd want great recordings at minimal expense (kids in or going to College, boy, life changes). A promo for the Audio Technica AT-120 got me thinking about going this route, probably on the pc. Any thoughts/suggestions regarding this or other ways to be able to digitize my vinyl? Thanks.
post #2 of 31
I'm assuming you already have a turntable and phono preamp, right? Any reason to not use that existing hardware + the PC?

Something to keep in mind though - this won't be automated, and you'll spend *substantial* amounts of time to do this (howeverlong 4000-5000 records will play for, plus extra time for cutting into tracks, encoding, etc). Anyways, you could go with whatever turntable/etc device you want + SoundForge (I'd suggest SoundForge over Audacity because Sony's vinyl restoration plug-in works better IMO). You just need line-out to feed into the PC (what does it have as a soundcard presently? can it accept the line-in, is basically all we're worried about (depending on the soundcard, it may even have its own phono preamp)).

You'll rip each side of the album essentially as one big "track" which you'll have to cut apart into individual tracks via whatever DAW you pick (Audacity, SoundForge, etc), and then encode that down and tag the output so it behaves similarly to a ripped CD. You'll very likely need to run pop-and-click removal on the incoming stream as well (depending on the record and so on).

If you didn't have 5000 records, I'd just tell you to go buy your music on CDs and use EAC, but 5000 records (even assuming you're only paying $5/CD) is tens of thousands of dollars of media to replace, and would still take a long time to rip (but ripping 5000 CDs with EAC would be considerably easier than ripping 5000 records). I really can't get over the monster you're wanting to slay here - I'm not saying "don't" but just wanting to make sure you understand the kind of time and effort commitment you're talking about.

Oh, you might also see if a mod would move this (or just repost it yourself) to the Computer Audio subforum - might get some more/different ideas.
Edited by obobskivich - 2/10/13 at 1:56am
post #3 of 31

Here's how I do it: from pre/pro to Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD RCA inputs, then to computer over USB. The audio file is recorded using Roxio's LP to MP3 software. This is straight forward, fast, and really easy.  You should expect to have your album in your computer's media library with cover art  in about 30 minutes in addition to the recording time. Track separation and meta data gathering is what will consume the most time. My digitized LP's are all downloaded as wav files BTW. These files are then converted to ALAC which seems appropriate for storage in iTunes. I'm really pleased with the results so far. I cannot distinguish the LP's from their digital copies. I think you might also find it easy to first get your LP's on CD using something like the TASCAM 901 CD Recorder. It can separate tracks. Then get the CD to your track  meta data software. Today, I record my LP's to DAT and having a automatic edit controller and two DAT recorders I can separate tracks there and then send to computer from S/PDIF to USB. Well, that's another story, the point however is there are many ways to skin the cat. But one thing for sure is to initially import your material as some sort of lossless file. With your collection of LP's it will take you several years to get them all on your computer. After awhile you will undoubtedly become bored with it all, saving the chore for what LP's you have that you really do like to frequently listen to, or those which are better without your  need to flip em on your turntable.


Edited by sterling1 - 2/10/13 at 4:52am
post #4 of 31

Step by step guides for both PC and now MAC at www.computeraudiophile.com

 

Hardware and software options presented.

post #5 of 31


http://www.lynxstudio.com/product_detail.asp?i=59

A much stronger A/D converter you assign a file location and do your own tagging. The unit can be had for about 25% off list.

Killer DAC function and a really good headphone amp.

Hilo_Archiving Records.pdf 132k .pdf file
Edited by Happy Camper - 2/10/13 at 7:52am
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the helpful feedback, I don't have archiving all the vinyl as a goal, just albums I'd like to transfer to a dap or computer to listen the way I mostly do these days. I do have a HHB CDR-850 on my rack, haven't been able to get it to work for me. The computer is on another floor, not easily accessible to the main stereo... That's why I considered a turntable with preamp and usb. I probably should try to get the hhb to work, as it is already in place, but I have had difficulty when I did.

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post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
I do but cd's of albums I own on vinyl, even mp3's if they're cheap, but it seems my own vinyl would be a

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post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Great source, and I hate paying for the same music again and again. (just bought the big Beatles box, talk about rip offs I felt I needed)

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post #9 of 31

Check out http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_copying_tapes_lps_or_minidiscs_to_cd.html

 

Audacity is a free audio editing program that has versions for Windows and Mac. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

 

You don't need a USB turntable.  A better option is the ART USB Phono Plus preamp.  It turns almost any turntable into a USB turntable.

 

 

700

post #10 of 31

Lots of good suggestions here. Here's what I've done and what I have been doing:

 

First shot at digitizing my vinyl was using my Rega RP1 along with the Rega MiniPhono Amp/USB ADC. This was a very simply setup: you connect your turntable to your amp as normal and instead of hooking up the amp's analog outs, you simply hook up the USB cable from the amp to your computer. Adjust the levels on the amp, and its basically a dedicated ADC/Mic In for your computer. I would then use Audacity to record, edit, label, tag, split and convert my files to FLACs. Only problem with this is that the MiniFono's ADC can only output 48/16. A lot of people will argue that this is enough to rip an LP faithfully. I don't disagree and of course 48/16 is more than enough if you are looking to put this stuff into CD form, or into a FLAC/mp3 that most DAPs can handle.

 

However, the quality of the ADC is also in question. I do think my original rips sounded fine, but still lacked alot the warmth and detail of playing the LPs on the same Rega, through the same MiniFono (but straight analog out, no A-D conversion), through my home stereo system. So what I decided to do was get myself a sound card with a GREAT ADC and with Analog In. So I got myself the E-Mu 1212m PCI. This card is a few years old, so you can pick one up for fairly cheap. The ADC on the card is fantastic, and it does have stereo analog in's (although they are 1/4" Ins and not standard RCA ins, so you'll need a goof 1/4" to RCA stereo cable); it also has the ability to output at 192K/24-bit. Overkill for vinyl? Sure, but I'll explain why this might be a good capture setting. So the process of hooking everything up is similar: you hook up your TT to your amp (any amp) and hook up your amp to the 1/4" analog ins of the EMU via your speacial cable. 

 

The recording process is a lil trickier to set up at first (hell, setting up the card to output AND input sound is tricky itself at first), but once you set up the recording process once, its easy to do from there on (you essentially have to set up appropriate "profiles" on both the sound card driver and recording software, but once you save these, you are set - if you go this route, you can always ask me for my profiles which are set up to rip LPs and playback music at the highest bitrate). I am still mastering the card, but so far I've had to keep the card set to ASIO, which means Audacity wont play nice with it. This is fine. The card comes with Sonar LE which can record through ASIO and at 192K/24-bit (again, I have profiles setup to do this, which I'd happily share). Once you record an entire side of an LP, you then output the file as a WAV, and edit it in Audacity. Audacity has descent algorithms to help clean up recordings from clicks and pops, but before diving into editing in Audacity, I prefer using DeClick and DeNoise software (that their name) to help clean up the WAV.

 

Ok so back to the topic of ADCs and recording at 192/24. The most important thing, whether you buy an EMu or not, is that you buy a card with a great ADC (it doesnt have to be 192/24 capable, 96/24 would be fine) - this is the KEY to getting the most out of your vinyl rips. Even if you want to burn 44.1/16 CDs or do 320k mp3, both will sound BETTER if the source they are being created from is of better quality. So having a really high quality ADC is most important. Recording at 192/24 (which I do, just cuz I can and I have the HDD space), or even 96/24 is just a good idea. Sure its much more than is needed to completely capture the fidelity of an LP, but it also gives you wiggle room to "assure" yourself you care capturing EVERYTHING. Most good cards with great ADCs have ADCs that can capture at 96/24 and some like the EMU can do 192/24 very very well (although the converse is not true: just because a card can capture at 192/24 or 96/24, does not mean its a great ADC, in fact you COULD argue that for most consumer grade cards, a card with an ADC that can top out at 96/24 is more likely to do 96/24 extremely well, than an average card that does 192/24 - for your purposes you would prefer a card that does 96/24 extremely well, than a card that can so 192/24 just OK; thankfully, the EMU does 192/24 extremely well and its cheap because its a bit old).

 

Once you have a 192/24 or 96/24 FLAC, you can just get something like JRiver to burn the FLAC to CD and/or mp3 while doing the downsampling automatically. The point here is the better the rip, the more accurate your CD or mp3 will be. This also applies to the idea of getting a new TT with a built in USB connection, in general, not only will the TT/cartridge usually be a lil lower in quality, the built in amp and ADC will also be a lil lower quality, making the rips sound far inferior than what you are used to listening to on your regular TT/system. Also, by recording at a higher sample/bit rate, you can always listen to the full fidelity of your LPs when you play the FLACs on you computer, so you assure yourself that you get the best, most accurate representation of your LPs possible for a given format (FLACs on your desktop, CDs in your car and mp3 on your DAP). So if you have a good TT and a good amp already, just concentrate on getting a good card/usb stick/external DAC with a very good ADC. 

 

Again, I recommend the E-Mu 1212m PCI or one of its bethren! Very economical and a super ADC for the price! (Of course if you got some $$$, you can get something much better, but I find that my 192/24 FLACs sound as good as the original vinyl).

 

So wh

post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Lots of interesting suggestions, thanks for the input. The ADC/DAC sounds appealing... I have an ancient Museatex Bidat, which came with a transport that died... State of the art at the time, probably surpassed today by inexpensive good gear. I use the DDH recorder as my current player and the DATABASE sits around (I tried a Theta Data, also too out of date).
As far as the audio card, not sure what I have, could find out. My desktop was put together by a friend, supposedly with a great card(for work purposes, as we're trying to use Dragon for much input). Does Realtek HD audio manager, audio driver 6.0.1.6251 mean anything? I have a custom laptop, Clevo, parts chosen by my same friend (nVidia GTX 560M only card I see on the order... Is that it?) . (dropped it, cracked screen, out for repair). Also have an iMac in the mix, seems not as friendly. When I get the Clevo back, maybe that would be an option, as I can move it near the main rig. Of course, I'm not opening the laptop if I do need a better card, though maybe I could have Clevo upgrade it(if needed) while they have it.

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post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorjazz View Post

Lots of interesting suggestions, thanks for the input. The ADC/DAC sounds appealing... I have an ancient Museatex Bidat, which came with a transport that died... State of the art at the time, probably surpassed today by inexpensive good gear. I use the DDH recorder as my current player and the DATABASE sits around (I tried a Theta Data, also too out of date).
As far as the audio card, not sure what I have, could find out. My desktop was put together by a friend, supposedly with a great card(for work purposes, as we're trying to use Dragon for much input). Does Realtek HD audio manager, audio driver 6.0.1.6251 mean anything? I have a custom laptop, Clevo, parts chosen by my same friend (nVidia GTX 560M only card I see on the order... Is that it?) . (dropped it, cracked screen, out for repair). Also have an iMac in the mix, seems not as friendly. When I get the Clevo back, maybe that would be an option, as I can move it near the main rig. Of course, I'm not opening the laptop if I do need a better card, though maybe I could have Clevo upgrade it(if needed) while they have it.

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 You prob have a Realtek card and might be the built in soundcard on the MoBo (not sure how many different varients of the RealTek HD there are, I know RealTek makes alot of the stuff for built in MoBo components). I just built my computer about a month ago and have a built in RealTek HD sound card that does in fact do 192K/24-bit OUT. Its perfectly fine for output from a computer. To my ears, its not as nice as the much older EMU that I have, but its certainly much nicer than the old Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio card I had in my previous rig (which also has a RealTek sound card built in which was not as nice as the Creative). However, I've never tried to capture with the RealTek so Im not sure what it can do in that respect (not even sure what type of DAC or ADC it has). 

 

On my setup, I just leave that card as the default card to all normal audio on my comp and run the Emu 1212m via ASIO strictly for JRiver music playback and ripping LPs. 

 

As point of reference, I run my Emu out via analog to a very basic Yamaha HTR-3064 (lowest end of the Yamaha line of recievers). I also have a Yamaha DVD-S2500 player hooked up via analog out to the reciever (even though the S2500 is about 6 years past its prime, it is still a very very good sounding player). When I connect my Sennheiser HD650s to this whole setup and I switch from listening to a CD on the S2500 and listening to its equivalent ripped WAV on the EMu, I think the are pretty damn equal in terms of SQ. So the RealTek is not quite there, but its not bad at all. However, I didnt get the EMu for the the playback quality (which I am sure any modern $200 sound card would easily trounce it), I got it strictly for the quality of the ADC, which I think most $200 modern cards couldn't best.

 

I shouldn't say that. I should say most $200 sound cards that are geared towards audio playback couldn't best the ADC in the Emu. I am sure modern cards that are geared towards people who record music would probably best the Emu now a days; that was the crowd for the Emu, the musicians who didn't have gobs of money but still wanted a quality product to capture music.

 

As far as your laptop (or even main rig) go, you really don't have to open anything up. There are a few USB solutions when it comes to capture that are perfectly good.

post #13 of 31

I love those ART boxes.  +1  They're inexpensive, but well-made and quiet.

 

I have an Apogee Duet 2 which I use for recording voice overs-- That would be a solution, too (though expensive).  

 

You couldn't pay me to run an analog signal through a SB card.  Those things are noisy.  I'd want an outboard solution.

post #14 of 31

OP,

 

IF you can get your HHB to work, I assume it is broken or you just don't know how to use it yet, it will not only digitize your LP's but will also allow you to easily separate tracks. It will, of course, get you 16/44 which you can deliver to your computer with a simple S/PDIF to USB converter, or just put the CD in your computer and download the file to just about any location which will allow you to label tracks. I had a HHB unit like yours and sold it. If I had known it would allow me to easily get LP's into my computer I would have hung onto it. Because I did not hang on to it, but still have vinyl I want to digitize, I am looking into the TASCAM 901. It has digital XLR's which are handy for a multitude of reasons.

post #15 of 31
This has been a huge plan of mine for some time, going back even 5-6 years.
After going through tons and tons of different variations on hardware software etc. Having many headaches along the line.

I finally have a setup I find to be as close to ideal as I have heard, without getting into stupid amounts of money.

I have tried so many adc's from 100 dollars to the 2500 dollar m2tech joplin. Which I returned, what a god-awful piece of crap that was. I am not going to even get started.

Anyways for me one of the hugest gripes I had when ripping vinyl was background noise and record surface noises.
Alot of phono pre's can make your setup sing through an amp, but do they produce a clean background and have clean power...usually no.

Clean records are one key point. Get a record cleaner, if you have over 150 records it is worth it. You can get used ones cheaper than you think.
The other huge point for me was battery power, taking everything off the grid.
I do not have particularly bad power where I am but let me tell you, as I started to update all my items with battery power. The change in sound was staggering.

Literally my entire vinyl rig is battery powered now.

Turntable has an rwa power supply, I use the Clearaudio Basic+ Phono Pre with battery power supply. Which is honestly one of the best phono pre's I have heard for clean sound.
Even without the battery power it was amazing, but adding the battery power supply was next level good. I have used an rsa xr-10b (4500 usd) praised for its quiet clean background, also had a simaudio moon 310lp and 320s (3300 usd) power supply which was amazingly quiet but still. I prefer the basic+ on battery to them all especially for ripping.
My adc of choice is the apogee duet 2, which I have running on battery power and my laptop Macbook pro is unplugged.

Once I did that, My rips where sounding very close to perfect. There was a lot of tweaking and messing around with stuff along the way.
I swear, if you want clean rips where the background almost sounds non-existant go battery powered.

I got almost everything I have used too, so it was about half as much as it would be really. Ebay, audiogon and here and just be patient.
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