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What is required to get a perfect vinyl rip?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by music alchemist, Mar 30, 2015.
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  1. Music Alchemist
    Since the analog components matter, what is required to get a perfect vinyl rip?
    What is the minimum expenditure at which point more expensive equipment yields no further benefit?
  2. jcx
    you're still playing vinyl - most audiophile snobs wouldn't credit less than 4 figure US$ setups as "quality", much less "perfect"
    turntables, arms, cart, stands all would have to be full "quality"
    digital rips could potentially save some on preamp costs if you rely on DSP RIAA - but only if you build your own preamp matched to the cart type, coil Z and can save on audiophile "perfect" capacitors
    some serious archivists use multiple styli with different profiles to capture less damaged regions of the groove depending on record condition, playing history
    and there's http://www.elpj.com/
    Music Alchemist likes this.
  3. bigshot
    You only need different stylii if you are working with 78s or early 50s coarse groove LPs.
    The things you need to do LP transfers are a good turntable and cartridge, a preamp, and a decent capture device to convert it into digital files. Neither of those things are particularly expensive. You can set up a very good transfer system new for around $700. If you are handy and haunt the second hand stores, you can do it for as little as half that.
    If you want a Swiss Army Knife of a turntable with good sound and the ability to play just about any format (76, 45, 33), look for a used Dual 1214, 1224, 1218, 1228 or similar. It's a decent turntable, and it can do a very good job with 78s.
    Music Alchemist likes this.
  4. LNuneek

    What about those USB turntables that rip vinyl directly into a digital file? What's people's thoughts on those?
  5. bigshot
    Most inexpensive modern turntables don't hold a candle to inexpensive ones from the 70s. Back then, turntables were plentiful and well made. Today, it seems that turntables are either very well made and very expensive, or cheap and crappy. A lot of the USB turntables I've seen fall into the latter category.
  6. Music Alchemist
    I remember reading one of your posts where you mentioned ripping files from your vinyl that were indistinguishable from playing them on the analog system. However, I misinterpreted it and jumped to the conclusion that an affordable USB turntable would give me a perfect rip.
    It seems that the quality of the digital audio would only be as good as the quality of the analog system used to rip it...which begs the question, how do we know when the analog equipment is as good as it needs to be? Further, how are such things measured and demonstrated?
  7. bigshot
    Analogue equipment is different than digital. You aren't going to get a 100% guarantee of perfect audio when you are playing back using an imperfect medium. All you can do is get a well made turntable, a good cartridge and clean copies of the records to transfer. Those three things are what matter. The electronics and capture part is easy.
    A decent used turntable can be bought for as little as $75. A new cartridge is another $75. A used preamp is under $50. That would be about the cheapest you can get away with. From there, the price goes up and the results diminish proportionally. If you want to buy everything new, it will cost you three or four times as much to get to the same level of quality.
    The ultimate judge for analogue sound quality is your ears. Set up a nice turntable first and get it sounding good. The rest is easy.
  8. Music Alchemist
    I think it would be interesting if someone who has both an affordable and ultra-high-end system rips using both systems, then does an ABX test to see if he can really tell the rips apart. [​IMG]
    So basically, I probably don't need to spend more than $700 to get close to a perfect rip?
  9. LNuneek

    Bang on in IMO. It comes down to what you are willing to spend and what components sound good to you. When choosing a cart and needle, it's just as variable and subjective as picking headphones & speakers. The sound of carts and needles vary just as wildly, and that's just one aspect of the equation.
  10. Music Alchemist
    No wonder the vinyl rips I downloaded in the past sounded awful. lol
  11. LNuneek

    Tell me about it, most of the vinyl rips I've downloaded have been pretty bad.
  12. bigshot
    The thing about analogue sound is that there are multiple overlapping compromises going on... response, distortion, noise floor, etc. It's a mechanical system, so it isn't fool proof. People would certainly be able to ABX a difference between two turntables playing the same record, but who's to say which is more accurate? One might have better frequency response. Another might track better and have better distortion levels. It's all a balancing act with LPs.
    You should be able to make very good sounding rips for $700. The other thing you will need to take into account though is the post processing. Cheap noise reduction apps, sound awful and pro quality noise reduction apps are quite expensive.
    The real difference between the men and the boys in transferring records isn't the quality of the turntable you are playing it on, it's the decisions you make with the various post processing and sweetening options. Flat transfers of records can be funky, and a lot can be done to improve them with digital noise reduction.
    Music Alchemist likes this.
  13. RonaldDumsfeld
    That's easy mate. You simply compare the live sound of the record itself and a playback of the rip. Depending on your equipment you can usually do this directly via a monitor feed from the recording software. 
    What most people find is that it is v. v. difficult to impossible to tell which is the live record and which is the rip. Given usual conditions of level matching etc etc. Try it yourself.
    If you compare the live sound or the rip to a decent quality download or CD version of the same song you will be able to tell which is which on cheap analogue gear. It gets harder as the quality of your TT signal chain improves but never goes away completely.
    So if you are happy with the quality of your record playback system used on it's own you will also be happy with the ripped version.
  14. LNuneek
    Imagine that when ripping vinyl you are playing sound engineer, not considering the more automatic USB rippers of course. The needle and cartridge are like the mic you are using to record a musician (the record). Everything to how that mic is positioned and balanced has an effect on the sound. All the gear that signal goes through and how it's processed all determines the quality of the recording.
  15. Music Alchemist
    Yeah, that's true, but since "better analog gear sounds better" and whatnot, it wouldn't be a "perfect" rip, but merely one that is audibly transparent to the system used.
    I'm getting the feeling that a perfect rip from vinyl would be impossible, so I suppose I must settle for just good enough for me...
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