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View Full Version : [OT] Digitizing LPs?



Michael Iles
2004-06-14, 06:55
This isn't directly related to Squeezeboxes, but I'm starting to eye my
record collection and thinking how nice it would be to start recording some
albums and making them available through my Squeezebox.

Does anyone have any tips for this? I'm imagining that I'll simply plug my
record player into a sound card, possibly through a pre-amp. Will the
results mostly come down to the quality of the sound card? Will there be a
huge difference between cheap and expensive cards?

What about formats? I rip my CDs to flac not because I think I'll be able to
hear a difference between WAV and high-bitrate MP3s (I haven't done the
listening tests myself), but more because I can't bear the thought of having
to re-rip hundreds of CDs in the future to some other lossy format. This
isn't an issue with analog recordings though, because there's obviously no
digital source stream. So would high-bitrate MP3s (or Vorbis) suffice?

And what about software to aid the process? Is there any software that would
automatically detect the gaps between songs and break the audio stream up
into individual files?

Thanks for any input...
Mike.

Mark Komarinski
2004-06-14, 07:11
I did this a few years ago, and I'll probably re-encode now that I
know more about it.

On Mon, Jun 14, 2004 at 09:55:04AM -0400, Michael Iles wrote:
> This isn't directly related to Squeezeboxes, but I'm starting to eye my
> record collection and thinking how nice it would be to start recording some
> albums and making them available through my Squeezebox.
>
> Does anyone have any tips for this? I'm imagining that I'll simply plug my
> record player into a sound card, possibly through a pre-amp. Will the
> results mostly come down to the quality of the sound card? Will there be a
> huge difference between cheap and expensive cards?

Get the pre-amp. Don't change the gain when you record on the sound card.

> What about formats? I rip my CDs to flac not because I think I'll be able to
> hear a difference between WAV and high-bitrate MP3s (I haven't done the
> listening tests myself), but more because I can't bear the thought of having
> to re-rip hundreds of CDs in the future to some other lossy format. This
> isn't an issue with analog recordings though, because there's obviously no
> digital source stream. So would high-bitrate MP3s (or Vorbis) suffice?

On the first rip, get it in some raw format like WAV. That will get you the
highest quality, and a lot of software will work with WAV. You can always
encode to FLAC/MP3/OGG later on. In fact, I keep the originals and finished
versions in FLAC.

> And what about software to aid the process? Is there any software that would
> automatically detect the gaps between songs and break the audio stream up
> into individual files?

I had some really good software called Cool Edit. The company since
sold it to Adobe and it's called Adobe Audition. It's probably a lot better,
but now costs $299. Cool Edit was something like $99 and there were add-on
modules like click/pop detection and effects you could buy separately.

There are apps for Linux that can detect tracks and split, but I have
not really used them. I think I messed up my original sources by adding
too much gain when recording.

-Mark

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Roy M. Silvernail
2004-06-14, 08:11
Michael Iles wrote:
> This isn't directly related to Squeezeboxes, but I'm starting to eye my
> record collection and thinking how nice it would be to start recording some
> albums and making them available through my Squeezebox.

I'm doing a bit of that as well.

> Does anyone have any tips for this? I'm imagining that I'll simply plug my
> record player into a sound card, possibly through a pre-amp. Will the
> results mostly come down to the quality of the sound card? Will there be a
> huge difference between cheap and expensive cards?

You need a pre-amp. (I use a stately old Yamaha receiver) I'm actually
using a fairly cheap generic PCI sound card and getting acceptable (for
me) results. It probably depends on where in the Audiophile scale you are.

> What about formats? I rip my CDs to flac not because I think I'll be able to
> hear a difference between WAV and high-bitrate MP3s (I haven't done the
> listening tests myself), but more because I can't bear the thought of having
> to re-rip hundreds of CDs in the future to some other lossy format. This
> isn't an issue with analog recordings though, because there's obviously no
> digital source stream. So would high-bitrate MP3s (or Vorbis) suffice?

I rip to a single wav file, build a cue sheet for it and burn an audio
CD. Then I rip the CD with my usual process to MP# using 'lame --preset
extreme'. I don't have quite enough space for flac storage.

> And what about software to aid the process? Is there any software that would
> automatically detect the gaps between songs and break the audio stream up
> into individual files?

All the automatic stuff I tried gave me less than wonderful results.
Im' running Linux, so I use snd to record the album, gcdmaster to build
the cue sheet and burn the audio CD, and grip/lame to encode to MP3. I
don't know if there's a Windows equivalent to gcdmaster.
--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
Never Forget: It's Only 1's and 0's!
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Pat Farrell
2004-06-14, 10:08
At 09:55 AM 6/14/2004, Michael Iles wrote:
>Does anyone have any tips for this? I'm imagining that I'll simply plug my
>record player into a sound card, possibly through a pre-amp. Will the
>results mostly come down to the quality of the sound card? Will there be a
>huge difference between cheap and expensive cards?

I did this for a while a couple years ago using a SoundBlaster
(I think -16, altho I forget the exact model), and have recently been
working on doing it into my studio's AD card, which is a few
notches up the audiophile ladder from a sound blaster.

You need a preamp stage, which as others note, can just be an old
receiver. You want it for two reasons, to skip the terrible
quality mic-level input on most consumer sound cards, and to
make sure you have the proper RIAA equalization curve processing.

The quality of the results depends on the quality of the signal chain.
This starts with the LPs, catridge and turntable, then preamp,
and soundcard. Things like tracking force, condition of the grooves,
et. all have impact. Maybe even the cables.

The first huge problem is that it takes a long time.
At least twice as long as the LP takes to play.
First, you have to play it. Then you need to at least spot check
the recording. I then use CoolEdit to chop the songs to the
proper lengths. It is pretty fast, probably a couple minutes per LP,
if the album cover has track timings on it. If you want to
do noise removal or gain adjustments or anything else
that takes more time, and often requires you to listen
to the whole LP again.

The second huge problem that I had is that I had stopped
listening to LPs close to 20 years ago when CDs came out.
This meant that I didn't have a working preamp. I had several
receivers and an integrated amp, but none of them had phono
inputs. When I borrowed a preamp from my brother, it
turned out to have not been used in 20+ years, and didn't
work reliably. So I had to get another preamp, from another
brother. Then I confirmed that the 20+ year old cartridge in
the turntable (borrowed from a brother) was gone. The
rubber (or whatever) that holds the stylus gets dry rot
in a few years and becomes useless. I knew this when
I was a LP fan. So that was $100 getting a new cartridge
and time to install and test. Of course, I gave away all my
cartridge installation tools, overhang measures, stylus
force gauges, VTA tools, etc.

I still didn't like the sound, so I borrowed yet another turntable.
With two turntables and two preamps I could then isolate the problem.
It was in the cables at this point.

I have decided that for popular stuff, it is simpler and more cost
effective (measured in time, effort, money, etc.) to just go to Amazon
and order the CD when it is still available. This works for nearly
all popular pop/rock/folk/jazz stuff, including fairly obscure
artists and albums.

The only ones I'm taking the time for are pop-ish records
that are no longer in print. That is a fairly small percentage
of my old LP collection, since I did not have a lot of
critical classical recordings. With classical, you can nearly
always get a re-release if you are willing to get a different
orchestra, conductor, hall, etc.

If you have 78s, then you have special considerations.
First, you need a turntable that spins 78, none of mine do.
There was no RIAA standard back then, so you need
a preamp with adjustable EQ curves. And you really should
get a large stylus, mono cartridge or stylus, which will sound better
than a modern LP oriented cartridge.

Once all that is done, I put them into a directory structure
with the same genre/artist/album structure as my CD sources.
Then I flac them, and the tags get set automagically.
At that point, my albumcover utility works just like it was from a CD,
and all is happy.

I do not use noise reduction during the songs, but I do use it between
songs and for the first and last notes (sometimes even a measure) of the
song. Everything I've tried has audible impact that I don't like. I'd rather
hear the surface noise than the artifacts.

One other quality note, further OT, is that with all the quality I've
got thru my SqueezeBox, I can hear bad engineering on the replacement
CDs. Many of the "remastered" CDs have far more distortion, usually
from too much gain, than you'd expect from a "perfect sound forever" medium.

Pat

Robert P. Goldman
2004-06-14, 13:16
>>>>> "Roy" == Roy M Silvernail <roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com> writes:

Roy> Michael Iles wrote:
Roy> All the automatic stuff I tried gave me less than wonderful results.
Roy> Im' running Linux, so I use snd to record the album, gcdmaster to build
Roy> the cue sheet and burn the audio CD, and grip/lame to encode to MP3. I
Roy> don't know if there's a Windows equivalent to gcdmaster.

I've used gramofile with Linux. Not entirely happily. It makes a
good effort to find track boundaries, but I've never had it work
100%. After a few tries, I just gave up on that aspect and set the
track boundaries myself with a graphical sound editor.

r

Mark Bennett
2004-06-14, 13:34
Michael Iles wrote:
> This isn't directly related to Squeezeboxes, but I'm starting to eye my
> record collection and thinking how nice it would be to start recording some
> albums and making them available through my Squeezebox.

I basically agree with everyone else, so I'm not going to comment on this.

> And what about software to aid the process? Is there any software that would
> automatically detect the gaps between songs and break the audio stream up
> into individual files?

If you're looking for something cheap then I recommend CDWave. It works well
at allowing you to enter, edit and test split points, and more recent versions
seem to handle flac directly.

See:
http://www.homepages.hetnet.nl/~mjmlooijmans/cdwave/

It also has an autosplit facility, which I think works OK, but since I've
mainly been dealing with live recordings there aren't always clear gaps
between the tracks.

>
> Thanks for any input...
> Mike.
>
>