• mitchco
    mitchco

    Guide to Converting Analog Vinyl To Digital Files Using Windows

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    This guide provides a step by step walkthrough of ripping audiophile vinyl to 24/192 digital audio. Included in the guide are details on how to use state of the art digital audio restoration software to remove clicks, pops, and crackles, while minimizing the impact on sound quality.

     

    The guide is designed to be as accessible as possible so that people with varying degrees of skill and experience can successfully transfer vinyl to digital with minimum effort and is repeatable.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

     

     

     

     

    The audiophile import pressing pictured below has good dynamic range and a large quantity of clicks, pops, and crackles, as the record has been played many times. This will provide a real world challenge to properly transfer and restore.

     

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    Introduction

     

     

    Let’s take a quick trip down audiophile vinyl memory lane. Telarc ex.png, was one of the first audiophile record labels in the late 70’s to use a new digital audio recording system called Soundstream ex.png to record this performance:

     

     

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    “Soundstream Inc., was the world’s first audiophile digital audio recording company, providing commercial services for recording and computer-based editing.” Telarc’s half-speed mastering process and import pressing, preserves a great deal of the dynamic range captured by the Soundstream digital recorder. This performance and recording became known as the bass drum heard around the world ex.png. This caution label came with the record in addition to these technical specifications published on the inside cover. The only item left out was the Threshold 400A that powered the ADS monitors. It really was state of the art for 1978 and still sounds impressive today. Keep an ear on woofer excursions during the bass drum transients.

     

    Click to enlarge.

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    Requirements

     

    What’s Required:

    A turntable, tonearm, cartridge, and phono preamplifier. The phono preamp is used to amplify the low level cartridge signal to line level and apply the RIAA equalization curve. RIAA equalization ex.png is a specification. The purposes of the equalization are to permit greater recording times, improve sound quality, and to reduce the groove damage that would otherwise arise during playback. When this record was cut, the reverse of the curve below was applied (pre-emphasis), and when played back, the equalization curve below (de-emphasis) is applied.

     

     

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    The point is that RIAA equalization must be applied at playback, but can be implemented in different ways. For example, a preamplifier, integrated amp, receiver, etc., may have phono inputs built in, as is the RIAA equalization. Another approach, typically used by audiophiles, is to use a separate, dedicated phono preamp. For DIY, there are several circuits ex.png, designs ex.png, and modules ex.png to choose from.

     

    The RIAA equalization curve can also be implemented in software. This allows for the greatest flexibility as there are hundreds of variations of the RIAA equalization curve over decades of record production. Vinyl enthusiasts restoring records from the 1940’s, for example, would benefit from such flexibility.

    Most digital audio recording and editing software will have software plugins for RIAA equalization curves. For example, Audacity has several RIAA equalization variations to choose from:

     

     

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    I was going to write in-depth about RIAA equalization in software, but after some investigation, this would require an article onto itself. If interested, a good place to start is: HERE ex.png. For the purpose of this article, the separate component route was chosen. The Pro-Ject Tube Box S ex.png is an entry-level tube phono preamp with a pair of graded ECC83 (12AX7A) tubes.

     

     

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    Turntable, tonearm, and cartridge:

    During my research, I was surprised at how many turntable choices there were. From “all in one ex.png” solutions, to ultra-high end ex.png separates, to home built hi-fi ex.png. I was recently downtown Toronto at Bay Bloor Radio checking out their extensive line of turntables and accessories ex.png on the floor. This all in one ex.png solution has both a built-in moving magnet phono preamplifier, with line level analog outs, and A/D converter to USB, at a reasonable price point. I am using Pro-Ject Audio’s Expression Classic ex.png, with a Pro-Ject carbon fiber tonearm, and factory fitted Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 cartridge ex.png.

     

     

     

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    Pre-flight Hardware Check

     

    The Pro-Ject Tubebox S amplifies the cartridge signal to line level and applies the RIAA equalization, (and depending on the circuit design, not necessarily in that order) , which then feeds the analog inputs of a Lynx Hilo A/D D/A converter ex.png.

    Before I record, I run through a checklist:

     

    1. Check cartridge Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA), overhang, azimuth, tracking force, and any other adjustments. Calibrate to spec as required.
    2. Check phono preamp to see if impedance load and capacitance values are matched to the cartridge.
    3. With all cables plugged in, check for hum or buzz. Ensure ground leads on table and phono preamp are secure.
    4. Wash records. VPI ex.png makes effective cleaning machines.

     

     

     

    Software

     

    What about digital audio recording software? There is no shortage of recording software for the PC, some are open source like Audacity ex.png, to commercial Digital Audio Workstations ex.png (DAW’s). In my case, I use Audacity to record at 24/192 to get the best transfer possible. Once I have the conversion, then I will try vinyl restoration software in an attempt to restore this audiophile recording to an enjoyable state.

     

    Audio Device Configuration and Audacity Setup:

    I recommend using the ASIO ex.png driver if the sound card or outboard A/D D/A supplies one. ASIO bypasses everything Windows and the application (e.g. Audacity) communicates through the ASIO driver directly to the hardware. ASIO is the standard in the Pro Audio world because of this and its inherent low latency design.

     

    In case of Windows 7 (and Windows 8) audio system, from the Start menu->Control Panel-> Sound:

     

     

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    Above I have set USB Play 01+02 as the Default Playback Device. Click on Properties for the Default Device. Ensure that the level on the Levels tab is set 100%. Check that “Disable all enhancements” on the Enhancement tab is checked on. Finally, match the sample rate and bit depth to the desired rate and depth of the A/D D/A converter. In my case, everything is configured for 24/192.

     

    It is the same procedure for the Recording tab below:

     

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    Software Tips

     

    Now that everything is setup, configured, and warmed up, I am ready to start the transfer process. A couple of tips based on my experiments. Monitor the recording using headphones and not speakers to prevent any acoustic signal or vibration from getting into the recording. With nothing playing and headphones on, slowly turn up the volume to check for any excessive hiss or hum from the setup. Because I am using Lynx Hilo’s supplied ASIO USB driver, I am using the ASIO version of Audacity:

     

     

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    Label 1 is where to select the audio device used for recording and playback based on the little speaker and microphone icons to the left of the drop down lists. Turning to Label 3, note the drop down arrow to the right of the microphone icon. Clicking on it drops down a list of items, one of which allows the selection of turning monitoring on. With it on, I now have meters and headphone monitoring. Back to Label 1, clicking on the recording drop down list produces the following list of sound devices from my computer audio setup:

     

     

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    I have selected the ASIO device. The same settings can be referenced from the Audacity Edit menu->preferences->Devices:

     

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    Label 2 is the project’s sample rate. In addition to selecting in the drop down, this and other parameters can be set by clicking on File menu->Edit->Preferences->Quality:

     

     

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    Label 3 is the peak recording meter that I need to keep an eye on. More on that shortly, but now I am ready to record.

    Recording:

     

     

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    Spin The Black Circle

     

    Step 1 is to locate the loudest passage on the vinyl, whether capturing a single cut or the entire side. This is required to properly set the maximum digital audio record level. In order to do this, I need to monitor the input level, not only with headphones, but the peak level meters as well.

    The idea is to set the recording level close to the end of the meter, but no clipping during the loudest passage. In the case of Audacity, a clipped level will leave a red marker at the end of the meter while monitoring. Just like in the screen shot below:

     

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    I use the A/D converter on my Lynx Hilo for different audio tasks, location binaural recording, acoustic measurements, and now ripping vinyl. That was one criteria I used for the selection of this device. The Hilo has an onboard 32 x 32 channel mixer that is controlled by a touch screen. I use it for patch bay routing, analog and digital loopback, and in this case routing the A/D line input to Audacity digital input channels 1 + 2. I set Audacity’s input level at 0 dBFS and use the Hilo’s faders and metering to control the digital input level to Audacity.

     

    Alternate Sources for Analog to Digital Converters (ADC). Depending on the computer or laptop make and model, it may have a 1/8” mini jack line input to an onboard A/D converter. The issue is whether the jack is stereo or mono. If it is stereo, then it is an existing way to gain access to an A/D converter. If not, and again depending on the computer make and model, one can acquire an internal/external sound card/interface that has an A/D converter on it. As mentioned earlier in the guide, some turntable “all in one units” have an onboard A/D converter and USB connection to stream the digital audio to Audacity, for example. There are many choices.

     

    During the loudest passage on the record, a good peak level is between -6dBFS and -3dBFS. It is worthwhile to experiment with setting the maximum level and go over the loudest passage on the record a few times to get the level just right. Make sure no clipping occurs like in the picture below:

     

     

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    Getting the right level is the most important step during the recording process and may take a few iterations to get it just right. It is worth taking the time. Now that the level is set, I press record in Audacity and drop the needle. I monitor the recording on headphones and watch the meters. In this case, I am recording the first cut on the record. Once the song ends, I press stop and then immediately listen back to the recording over headphones to see if it sounds the same as my memory imprint. Be sure to turn on Show Clipping from the Audacity View menu to catch any recorded clipping. This will mark the waveform in red if there is clipping.

     

     

    Here is the finished recording in the waveform display in Audacity.

     

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    As mentioned on the albums Caution label, cut 1, near the end, has a build up with the bass drum, followed by 3 transient hits of the bass drum heard around the world. It is easy to spot near the end on the waveform display. Using TTD Dynamic Range Meter (or Foobar plugin) from DR Database ex.png, the result is a DR of 14. Correlating that to the legend on the DR Database site, this 1978 vinyl import pressing has good dynamic range:

     

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    Dynamic range - check. I was lucky to get away with -0.5dBFS peak level. No clipping, but cutting it pretty close. Looking at the waveform again below, I have zoomed in on the time scale, so I am viewing the first 60 seconds of the waveform. Note the numerous vertical “spikes”, those are vinyl clicks.

     

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    How does it sound? Careful with the volume. The needle drop is loud. Gapless playback may have to be turned off in the software music player in order to hear the silence and transition to the needle drop.

     

    24/441 Clicks and Crackles ex.png (1 minute 16MB WAV)

     

     

    The needle drop is loud! There are a lot of clicks, pops, and crackles. One can correlate the visuals with the sound. Download and open the WAV file in Audacity or other digital audio editing software. Watch the play cursor go over the needle drop and clicks in real-time in the waveform display and correlate by listening to the sound. Now that I have a good transfer to digital audio, what’s next? This is where state of the art Digital Signal Processing (DSP) software designed for digital audio restoration can help out.

     

     

     

     

    Digital Audio Restoration Software

     

     

    There are several digital audio restoration software packages/plugin modules available. This category of DSP software has capabilities to automatically and/or manually remove vinyl clicks, crackles, and pops. Audacity has this capability, as does an oldie but goody, Wave Repair ex.png. Audacity also has a Sample workflow for LP digitization ex.png with a section on click and crackle removal. However, I wanted to try state of the art commercial software to see what the latest in DSP software algorithms can offer. One such software is iZotope’s RXII Audio Repair Software ex.png. It has a wide range of digital audio restoration capabilities, but for this article, I focused on click and crackle removal. I feel that the Help manual has done an excellent job outlining the restoration procedure:

     

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    I am impressed with the user manual as it is clear to me what I have to do and in what order, plus a couple of tips. Below is what the track I recorded in Audacity looks like in iZotope RXII software waveform display and spectrum analyzer:

     

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    Here is a zoom in on the time scale showing the first 60 seconds or so.

     

     

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    Wow, look at the spectrum of the amount of clicks! The high resolution spectrum display clearly shows the detail of the clicks. I will be impressed if the clicks are reduced without audibly degrading the SQ. I am going to take the advice of the manual and listen to the output of the clicks only. What an awesome feature. I am going to start with the default vinyl preset, give a listen, and fine tune the Strength as recommended.

     

    56,835 clicks repaired! That was using the default/preset Strength of 5. With “Output clicks only”, I tried a variety of Strength settings, but ended back at the default setting.

     

     

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    I am processing 2 tracks, 32 bit float at 192KHz which uses a fair amount of processing power on my i5 – 2500 quad core CPU running at 3.30 GHz, with 8 gigs of RAM installed. It also takes some time to process (11 minutes) one track. But for over 56,000 clicks being removed…

     

     

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    Let’s have another look at the first 60 seconds, now with click removal applied:

     

     

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    Remarkable compared to the previous picture above with all of those clicks. Where’s the needle drop?

    Here is what it sounds like. Again careful with the monitoring level as the needle drop is still there, but greatly reduced in level.

     

    24/441 Declick ex.png (1 minute 16MB WAV)

     

     

     

     

    Wow, no clicks and still sounds good. As recommended by the manual, run decrackle after declick. I stuck with the defaults:

     

     

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    Here is the first 60 seconds with declick and decrackle.

     

    24/441 Declick and Decrackle ex.png (1 minute 17MB WAV)

     

    Notice how the crackle of the surface noise is reduced compared to just declick. I am impressed with this software’s capability to significantly reduce the number of clicks and crackles without having an adverse impact on the SQ. A quick check in the TT Dynamic Range meter still shows a DR of 14, so the dynamic range has not been affected.

     

    These are using the default settings of the vinyl preset. The recommendation is to run the declick and decrackle in multiple passes, but this is just with one pass of each. I suppose I could have experimented more with different settings. But the default setting exceeds my expectations as is.

     

    Here is the full track so you can hear for yourself how quiet the disc sounds and the dynamic range of the bass drum heard around the world. This vinyl rip and restoration has turned from, “I would never play this disc again”, to “an enjoyable sound that I can listen to over and over again.”

     

    24/192 Declick Decrackle ex.png (333MB WAV)

     

    24/441 Declick Decrackle ex.png (77MB WAV)

     

     

     

     

    Conclusion

     

     

    I am impressed with the effectiveness of the transfer of dynamic range to digital audio and how advanced DSP software has become over the recent years. The declick and decrackle algorithms in iZotope’s Digital Audio Restoration Software are nothing short of miracles. I never thought I would be able to play this record again. Now I can enjoy “that sound” anytime I want. I could not ask for anything more.

    While I did not cover every aspect of converting vinyl to digital audio, I highlighted the essential aspects, getting a clean recording of the vinyl and how to remove clicks and crackles. Hopefully it is enough to consider dusting off those LP records and giving them another lease on life.

     

    I am developing Part 2 of this guide for the Macintosh. This will allow me to run software like Amarra Vinyl ex.png and Pure Vinyl ex.png software that has more feature automation around splitting tracks, and compare their declick and decrackle algorithms and SQ to Audacity and iZotope RXII. Stay tuned.

     

     

     

     

     

    Post Script: Final But Very Important Notes

     

    Comparing Vinyl Rip to CDROM Rip:

    For every article I write, I intend to include a section that promotes critical listening skills. In this case, I am going to compare the newly minted vinyl rip to the same recording, but ripped from CDROM:

     

    CD Cover:

     

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    Inside CD jacket:

     

    I love it that there is no question of provenance, for either the LP record or the CDROM.

     

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    Loading the digital track from the CD in the dynamic range meter reports a DR of 17. The dynamic range is greater than the LP record. I am still impressed with a 1978 vinyl pressing can report a DR of 14, especially given the number of plays.

     

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    Let’s have some fun.

     

    Do you feel you can hear the difference between the LP and CD rips? Do you think you can pick which one is which? I have to stack the deck a little, as starting out from dead silence would be too easy. But once the music masks the noise floor, who knows…

     

    I picked the last 60 seconds of the recording starting with the bass drum ramp up and finale of the three transient hits of the bass drum. I lined up the tracks timing and matched the levels as best as possible. The vinyl rip and CDROM version alternate every 15 seconds. Meaning for the first 15 seconds, you are listening to either the vinyl or CD rip, then it switches to the other rip, every 15 seconds, swap. In fact, you will hear the digital edits for the first couple of 15 second transitions. You have a 50/50 chance on getting whether I started with the vinyl rip or the CDROM rip. You could open the file in a Digital Audio editor, but that is no guarantee to figure out which is which either. There are a few telltale signs, but the point of the exercise is to use your ears Luke and have some fun.

     

    24/441 Which is which ex.png (18MB WAV)

     

    Does the recording start with the vinyl rip or CDROM rip?

     

     

     

    Happy Listening!

     

     

     

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    About the author

     

     

    Mitch-200.jpgMitch “Mitchco” Barnett

    I love music and audio. I grew up with music around me as my Mom was a piano player (swing) and my Dad was an audiophile (jazz). At that time Heathkit was big and my Dad and I built several of their audio kits. Electronics was my first career and my hobby was building speakers, amps, preamps, etc., and I still DIY today ex.png. I also mixed live sound for a variety of bands, which led to an opportunity to work full-time in a 24 track recording studio. Over 10 years, I recorded, mixed, and sometimes produced ex.png over 30 albums, 100 jingles, and several audio for video post productions in a number of recording studios in Western Canada. This was during a time when analog was going digital and I worked in the first 48 track all digital studio in Canada. Along the way, I partnered with some like-minded audiophile friends, and opened up an acoustic consulting and manufacturing company. I purchased a TEF acoustics analysis computer ex.png which was a revolution in acoustic measuring as it was the first time sound could be measured in 3 dimensions. My interest in software development drove me back to University and I have been designing and developing software ex.png ever since.

     

     

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    User Feedback




    Great article.

    Hope it gets more people to give it a try.

    You have shown that you do not need top shelf gear to get a good sounding rip.

    I achieve listenable results using a Debut III with an AT 120E and Vinyl Studio.

     

    Dennis

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    I agree in that this is a very nice article. Also, great idea the proposed excercise. Thanks.

     

    Regarding this:

     

    Great article.

    ...

    You have shown that you do not need top shelf gear to get a good sounding rip.

    ...

    Dennis

     

    We have to keep in mind that the Lynx used as AD is quality studio gear, priced 2200 euros (thomann store). I don't know if it is the best conversion available, sure there are other more expensive, but it is not a typical consumer device...

     

    This rises the question of which part dominates the quality of the end result: the analog side (TT and phono preamp) or the AD converter?

     

    It would be very nice to have, in adition to the already published comparison between this vinyl rip vs the comercial cd-rom rip, a comparison to a vinyl rip using the same TT and phono preamp used here but with a budget or "consumer" AD stage in a range of 100 to 300 euros (for instance a sound blaster or asus internal sound card or even usb or firewire external audio capture box)

     

    Finally, I'm curious: how was the project phono preamp interfaced with the Lynx? Simple RCA to XLR adapter cable or there was an intermediate unbalanced to balanced converter box?

     

    Regards,

     

    Jorge

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    Hi Guys - This is Mitch Barnett's first feature article written for CA. I'm sure you're familiar with his CA Blog (Link). He will be writing a followup using Mac OS X with Amarra Vinyl and Pure Vinyl. Mitch is very skilled. We are lucky to have him aboard here at CA.

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    Enjoyed the write-up and learned a few new tricks. I've been ripping vinyl by connecting my phono preamp to a $150 Tascam DR-07 24/96 recorder then dumping the file into Audacity for editing. This is a lower cost approach capable of very good results. The limiting factor in my vinyl rips is the below the vinyl noise floor bearing noise of the SL1200 TT, not the recorder.

     

    The IZotope software looks really cool. I'm going to look into that. Now all we need are software plug-ins to emulate the sound of favored high-end turntable & cartridge combinations (Linn + Koetsu, VPI + Benz, etc.). Great job and thanks.

     

    Russ

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    Regarding the which is which contest, I can't figure out which is which, but I definitely prefer the first part (and consequently all the even parts). Now I'm curious to learn which is which.

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    Hi Chris

     

    A very nice and clear written article from Mitch Barnett aka "Mitchco".

     

    Juergen

     

    PS: I will be listen to the samples when I am back home (on weekend).

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    Nice article, but IMO it's worth noting that Decrackle shouldn't be seen as a tool that can magically turn a borked record into a new one. lol :) Also, letting the Declick feature run in automatic mode can kill transients, so because you don't want that to happen it IMO is always a good idea to declick everything in manual mode only (even though it takes alot of time and effort).

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    Hi Dennis and Jorge, thanks for your comments.

     

     

    This rises the question of which part dominates the quality of the end result: the analog side (TT and phono preamp) or the AD converter?

     

    It would be very nice to have, in adition to the already published comparison between this vinyl rip vs the comercial cd-rom rip, a comparison to a vinyl rip using the same TT and phono preamp used here but with a budget or "consumer" AD stage in a range of 100 to 300 euros (for instance a sound blaster or asus internal sound card or even usb or firewire external audio capture box)

     

    Finally, I'm curious: how was the project phono preamp interfaced with the Lynx? Simple RCA to XLR adapter cable or there was an intermediate unbalanced to balanced converter box?

     

    Regards,

     

    Jorge

    The Lynx Hilo is a studio grade converter, and by one objective measure, about as transparent as they come. My point was to minimize the sonic signature of the line amp and A/D converter stage so that the character of the TT/cartridge/Tube phono preamp came through. Perhaps for the Mac version I will try a consumer A/D stage.

     

    Re: how was the project phono preamp interfaced with the Lynx? I wired my own RCA to XLR cable (unbalanced) to keep it simple.

     

    Happy Halloween!

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    Hi Russ, Efjay, Bluedelity, Juergen, and spdif-usb. Thanks for your comments.

     

    I'm curious if, and how, you separate tracks. I've used Soundforge to do it but I haven't ripped vinyl in a while.

     

    Great question. Here is one way in Audacity to split a recording into separate tracks

     

    Regarding the which is which contest, I can't figure out which is which, but I definitely prefer the first part (and consequently all the even parts). Now I'm curious to learn which is which.

     

    Excellent, thanks for playing! At some point, I will follow up with which is which.

     

    The IZotope software looks really cool. I'm going to look into that. Now all we need are software plug-ins to emulate the sound of favored high-end turntable & cartridge combinations (Linn + Koetsu, VPI + Benz, etc.). Great job and thanks.

    Russ

     

    Russ, I don’t think that is too far off. There is a software plug-in for emulating the sound of vinyl. In the pro audio industry, it is common to emulate the sound of vintage hardware tube preamps, processors, eq’s, even tape machines, with software DSP plug-ins as described in my sonic signatures article. The last time I looked, there are over 6,300 software plug-ins in KVR Audio's plug-in database.

     

    Nice article, but IMO it's worth noting that Decrackle shouldn't be seen as a tool that can magically turn a borked record into a new one. lol Also, letting the Declick feature run in automatic mode can kill transients, so because you don't want that to happen it IMO is always a good idea to declick everything in manual mode only (even though it takes alot of time and effort).

     

    spdif-usb, that was my concern as well. However, with the nifty feature of “output clicks/crackles only”, I can hear precisely what is being removed from the audio signal as I am only listening to the difference signal. The software’s guidance is, “the ideal setting should remove the most clicks without damaging the transients in the program material”.

     

    Based on that guidance, I played around a bit with the settings and the defaults are quite good. So good in fact, I invite you to play our critical listening contest. If you feel the transients have been killed, then it should be easy to hear the difference between the vinyl rip and CD rip :) So does the “which one is which.wav” start with the vinyl rip or CD rip?

     

    Happy Halloween!

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    I've been using Izotope RX2 for declicking my vinyl rips for a couple of years. I had hired a consultant to help me and we experimented and found that for my rips the default setting (5) was a bit too aggressive. We settled on 2.5 which works very well. I typically rip about 8-9 albums a day and batch process them for declicking so I can get the declicking done during the ripping and then overnight (declicking typically takes close to twice as long as the length of the files. For the occasional pop that doesn't come out with the declick, I use the RX2 in manual mode. I use Pyramix software for the ripping with a Mykerinos sound card and a PM Model Two for the ADAC.

     

    Larry

     

    Larry

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    Hey Larry thanks for sharing your expertise, much appreciated. It's great to hear from someone that has had extensive experience. Did your experiment include the tool selection as well? Or was RX2 already decided upon?

     

    What was the table, arm, cart? What type of music is being ripped? Thanks again for sharing.

     

    Btw, did you try the vinyl vs cd, which is which?

     

    Cheers, Mitch

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    Mitch-

     

    As usual, great stuff.

     

    I heartily recommend software based RIAA correction instead of HW based. It's more accurate.

     

    Also I agree that declicking etc is fine if you do it gingerly. I generally leave a slight amount of the noise in the file, just to make sure I'm not overdoing the declicking and decrackling. Doesn't seem to do any harm to the sound this way.

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    Hi Chris, Hi “Mitch”

     

    I made a quick listen, but will do more on the weekend, when I am at home.

     

    Which is which? My guess is that you have started with the Vinyl Rip, then CD-ROM, then Vinyl and ended with CD-ROM. You can reply via pm, in order to leave the result open to the public.

     

    Is there a small mistake in your first uploaded file called “Declick 1 Min”, because this file is, compared to all the other files, reduced in level and in sonic quality? Maybe this is a file, where you have set the declick settings too high, because it has the lowest background noise, but also the lowest sound quality = highest lost of sound.

     

    A thought from my side would be to make this test with a real analog recording. Sure, this Soundstream recording has a tremendous amount of dynamic and I appreciate this a lot, but it has had already a sharp anti alias filter in front of the AD converter at the recording and also an alias filter after the DA conversion when cutting the LP.

     

    So the LP is coming from an already brickwall filtered Digital Medium with already two sharp filters that have been applied to the signal, before you convert it a third time with your Vinyl Rip. PS: There are also some 44 kHz and 88 kHz lines in your 192 kHz Analog Rip.

     

    But as I mentioned in my first post, really a very nice article.

     

    Juergen

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    spdif-usb, that was my concern as well. However, with the nifty feature of “output clicks/crackles only”, I can hear precisely what is being removed from the audio signal as I am only listening to the difference signal. The software’s guidance is, “the ideal setting should remove the most clicks without damaging the transients in the program material”.

    I know, but the problem with that is it's still only a tradeoff because, in order to keep all transients nice and alive, it forces you to leave some of the (soft) clicks in there. In spectrogram mode, iZotope RX Advanced 2 can let you manually zoom in on those remaining, harder to find clicks. As perfectionist as this may seem to some folks, from my own personal listening experience, walking the extra mile pays off well. Another hard effort IMO is to find (by always comparing them) the best sounding pressings of the music that you like, in mint or near mint condition and at an affordable price.

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    Hi Guys - This is Mitch Barnett's first feature article written for CA. I'm sure you're familiar with his CA Blog (Link). He will be writing a followup using Mac OS X with Amarra Vinyl and Pure Vinyl. Mitch is very skilled. We are lucky to have him aboard here at CA.

     

    Hi Chris and Mitch.

     

    This is a very interesting subject. The article touches on all the important points on the way to high quality needle drops. I have transferred vinyl to PCM for a few years and have some experience. To begin with I too used Audacity. Then I tried Audition and a few others. I got very good results (storing up to 24/96 depending on the AD used), but the time and effort it took to record an album, remove clicks, split and add meta data was unacceptable. Also too complex for a novice PC om Mac user I would think.

    I've now used Vinyl Studio for the past 18 months http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk. VS has both Windows and Mac versions, Records at up to 24bit (or 32) /192kHz. Can use Asio. Sound quality is top notch Audiophile level.

     

    My view is this: any article dealing with digitizing vinyl that does not point to Vinyl Studio as one of the top solutions is incomplete. I do not get how Mitch could miss Vinyl Studio when doing research for this article.

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    Mitch,

     

    Great write-up! Looking forward to the Mac version. Planning on spending this winter with this very same undertaking.

     

    Bill

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    When I've done this, I found it easier to record one entire side at a time and then use the software to break it into individual tracks. Particularly for live albums, I want each track to begin just after the previous track ended and that's easier to achieve this way. The exception, of course, is where the record is so damaged that the stylus gets stuck repeating part of the groove endlessly. In that case, you need to record up to the problem and then record the remainder of the side and use the software to glue them together.

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    My method for breaking out tracks in Audacity:

     

    1. Load the recording of the entire side. For me this is a 24/96 PCM file from my Tascam recorder.

     

    2. Identify the first album track in the waveform, highlight it and hit Edit > Duplicate to copy it to a new file below.

     

    3. Repeat so that you have a separate music files for each LP track. Be sure to capture a few seconds from the tracks on either side for editing purposes. Type in track number and title for each file. This makes it easy to sequence the files for CD-R burns later on.

     

    4. Edit the beginning and end of each track to get a tight start and clean fade (or tight stop of the track ends that way). A trick for editing the beginning is to cut the track about a tenth of a second before it starts and do a split second fade-in to the down beat. This gives the track a more organic-sounding start. Cutting right on the down beat can sound clipped.

     

    5. Once all the tracks are edited, use File > Export Multiple to export all the files to whatever format and resolution you want. I export two sets; 24/96 FLAC for my music server and 16/44.1 PCM for CD-R. The PCM files are sequenced and labeled for a CD-R burn. I use Mp3tag to add metadata to the FLAC files.

     

    Russ

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    My view is this: any article dealing with digitizing vinyl that does not point to Vinyl Studio as one of the top solutions is incomplete. I do not get how Mitch could miss Vinyl Studio when doing research for this article.

    I don't see why Vinyl Studio is necessarily so much better than any other decent recording software package (like, for example, Adobe Audition).

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    Another edit you may want to perform is to apply a rumble filter (high-pass filter) to the file you have created. The idea is that if your file contains any sound energy at frequencies below 20 Hz it is mechanical noise from your record playing equipment and not part of the original recording and there is no point in having your electronics and speakers struggling to reproduce it later.

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    Hey Larry thanks for sharing your expertise, much appreciated. It's great to hear from someone that has had extensive experience. Did your experiment include the tool selection as well? Or was RX2 already decided upon?

     

    What was the table, arm, cart? What type of music is being ripped? Thanks again for sharing.

     

    Btw, did you try the vinyl vs cd, which is which?

     

    Cheers, Mitch

    Hi Mitch, my consultant recommended Izotope RX2. I had trial copies of a couple of $3K declick and denoisers and found that RX2 did as good or better a job at about 10% of the price. I didn't try any of the low cost solutions. My TT is a VPI HRX with Rim Drive with the VPI 12.6 arm and a Lyra Skala cartridge. I am ripping classical music, about 10,000 albums, mostly original British Decca (3000), original EMI (3000), and RCA Living Stereo, Mercury Living Prescence, Lyrita, Reference Recordings, Harmonia Mundi. BIS, Chesky and many others, including all of the Absolute Sound Super Disk recordings. So far I have ripped about 3000 records and prerecorded tapes - over 10TB worth.

     

    I have digitized my relatively small (1200) CD collection in lossless FLAC and ripped my 150 or so SACD's by taking the analogue stereo output from my Oppo BDP-95 and feeding it into the PM Model Two.

     

    Larry

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    I am ripping classical music, about 10,000 albums, mostly original British Decca (3000), original EMI (3000), and RCA Living Stereo, Mercury Living Prescence, Lyrita, Reference Recordings, Harmonia Mundi. BIS, Chesky and many others, including all of the Absolute Sound Super Disk recordings. So far I have ripped about 3000 records and prerecorded tapes - over 10TB worth.

     

    I have digitized my relatively small (1200) CD collection in lossless FLAC and ripped my 150 or so SACD's by taking the analogue stereo output from my Oppo BDP-95 and feeding it into the PM Model Two.

     

    Larry

     

    I envy your music library! And your patience...

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