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Transfering Vinyl to Cd

Discussion in 'Recording' started by tobacco_slammers, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. At present im in the process of transfering some of my vinyl collection onto my pc so that I can burn the tracks to disc for use with cd players.

    So far i've just been using audacity as the recording device, having connected the output of my mixer into the mic input on my pc and saved each track on a seperate hard drive.

    Most of the tracks i've done so far sound quite good as they are but some of them have a little crackling through them due to wear and tear.

    Does anyone know if there is a feature that can be used to clean up the tracks in audacity? If not are there any alternative free programs out there that would do the trick?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Your first mistake is that your phonograph cartridge needs to be loaded into a proper 48,000 ohm input which a microphone input is not. BIG NOT. PLUS IT HAS DC on it which can actually destroy your phonograph cartridge. Microphone inputs are flat in their frequency response and phonograph records follow the RIAA preemphasis/deemphasis frequency response curve. So if you want your precious record collection to sound good? You need to use an actual phono-preamp which not only includes the proper 48k input impedance but also includes a very small value capacitor shunted across the cartridge/resistor combination to properly resonate the cartridge as its magnet and coil structure with resistor and capacitor creates a tuned circuit, which aids in a flat response after the deemphasis is applied to the signal. So just use your stereo system and take your tape outputs to your sound card line inputs for a proper record to computer system. The only thing that goes into microphone inputs on a computer is computer microphones. Not studio microphones. Not phonograph cartridges. Just $3.98 multimedia microphones. That's all that should be plugged into those anything else is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

    In the middle of a 78/33 monster archive project and utilizing API & Hafler phono preamps.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Remy's right - unless your mixer happens to have a phono preamp input built in.

    Even if it does though, it's probably under spec and likely to at least sound questionable and possibly damage the delicate cartridge.

    That being said, I don't know of any free programs that are good at this, but Magix has Audio Cleaning Lab (or similarly titled) which is only $40-$50 and well worth it. It's designed for exactly what you're talking about and works quite well given its meager price.

    How are you liking that Hafler phono preamp Remy? I'm using Creek myself and really like the sound. I just don't like that it doesn't have any other curves than RIAA. Oh well...
  4. Hi, thanks for the reply. I guess that I need to try some other way then?

    I'm pretty much limited to the mic input that is on the pc. Maybe if I give some details on the equipment i'm using someone could maybe suggest an option:

    Technics 1210 M5 Turntable
    Numark DXM 06 2 Channel 24 Bit Digital Mixer
    Acer Aspire PC
    Numark Monitors

    What i've been doing so far is connecting the turntable to one of the channels on the mixer via the phono input with the RCA connectors fitted to the turntable.

    I've then connected the mixer from the master output to the mic input on the pc via a RCA/TRS Jack adaptor cable.

    Then i've simply hit record on Audacity. My speakers are connected to the record output on my mixer.

    If anyone can help further that would be great.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Is there a line input on the computer?

    If not, I would seriously advise you to pick up even a cheap/modest external USB or Firewire device. It doesn't have to be fancy, just have a line input (stereo).
  6. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Additionally, you say you've recorded a few albums into the CPU already?
    Were they mono recordings before?
    I'd imagine they are now.
  7. Upon further investigation I can borrow an external firewire sound card device from a friend. If I connect my set up through this would it be enough?

    To answer bent's question. Yes they are mono recordings that I now have on the PC. Can I simply duplicate the track to make it stereo or is there something else i'd need to do?
  8. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Mono is mono, regardless how many speakers you play it back on, or number of tracks you copy the source to.
    Stereo is a different animal altogether.

    You'll want to re-record those albums with the FW Interface, either way - the quality will be a lot higher.

    And, yes - the Numark is a DJ mixer so you will be just fine going this route.
  9. thanks for the help guys;)
  10. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    The RIAA de-emphasis curve consists of two, 1st order (6 dB/octave) low pass filters. I forget the frequencies (look it up), but one could simply record flat into the PC and then put these two EQs onto each track and, voila, get the correct response (paying attention to Remy's note about cartridge loading - which, BTW, depends on the specific cartridge model. not all cartridges want 48K ohm loads.)

    The downside of doing this is that the dynamic range of the recording will be somewhat compromised by the over-abundance of HF content being recorded. Easy fix, though - just give yourself LOTS (say, 20+ dB?) of headroom going into the PC and record using 24 bits.
  11. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    This would get you a really poor-sounding result. Equalisation curves such as those published by the RIAA for vinyl cutting/playback, are specified in terms of time constants. It's up to the equipment designer how (s)he implements these time constants in a circuit design, but they are typically done using a chain of first-order R-C networks in either feed-forward or feedback (or both) configurations around active amplifying stages. Specifying time constants not only specifies the frequency response, but also the phase response, and to get the correctly equalised sound, both are important.

    EQ sections of mixers, whether implemented as hardware or software, are made up of elements of at least second-order, and cannot be set to implement first-order time constants in both frequency and phase. You may very well be able to approximate the frequency curve, but the phase would be wrong.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Thanks for that info Boswell!

    Damn, I learn something new here every friggin day!
  13. Rimshot

    Rimshot Guest

    - I tried converting LP's to CD a few years ago and got very good results. I started by putting in a new cartridge on the turntable and took the stereo out from the amplifier into a mixer and into the stereo line in on the sound card. I used Sound Forge to clean up some of the noise (it was a record from the 40's), and played with some EQ. It was tedious, but once you find the right formula it works, and you can re-use it.

    I'd tried so-called automagic hiss and pop removal software that also claimed to auto save the recording into seperate tracks by judging where the song breaks were... neither feature worked very well. Especially if you have music with dramatic breaks in it.. it assumed these were seperate tracks and chopped them up! Hopefully someone has improved the software beyond this by now?

    Otherwise the manual method works - but it was so tedious I dread the thought of attempting this again!
  14. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    There's a german company called Terra Tec that makes a phono to usb interface that comes with noise reduction and burning software.

    Its a little sluggish as an interface and the process is VERY time consuming but it works and creats reasonable cds. I don't use it for any high fidelity things but for most pop/rock things it works. You can get a cleaner cd but it does so by introducing phase issues through eq (surprise, surprise) Where's jp22 when you need him?

    BTW-in the for what its worth department, my high school students don't know where to drop the arm on a vinyl recording- outside edge or near the label. I'm feelin' old - where's my whittlin' knife.

  15. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Actually, I remember building a passive RIAA de-emphasis network between two gain stages - and did the computer circuit simulations that matched the measured response. that's why I believe that this will work. Would I recommend it for serious vinyl transcription? not really

    The time constants (t), by definition, set the -3 dB frequencies (f) in the Bode Plot of the equalization curve: f=1/(2*pi*t). t= R*C. These define (as you correctly stated) both the magnitude and phase (integrated group delay) responses. They are two, ganged low pass filter sections.

    You can equalize in the feedback path or not. There are issues either way and a lot of it depends on the amplifier's open-loop bandwidth, phase margin, etc. Both can work and provide absolutely accurate RIAA inverse equalization.

    I should just plug my TT directly into my ProTools rig, dial in the filters and see how it works - play some white noise into it and run it through a spectrum analysis plugin to confirm. But, it's easier to just grab the phono stage output of my SP-9. :D

  16. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The RIAA time constants applied during cutting are leads at 75 µs and 3180 µs, and a lag at 318 µs. These TCs correspond to 2122 Hz, 50 Hz and 500 Hz respectively. A fourth lagging TC of 3.14µs is often used at the cutting lathe to limit cutter excursion at the very top end of the frequency range (>20KHz).

    On replay, the first three TCs are implemented; the lags have to become leads and vice versa. The replay circuit is usually implemented as a transitional lag plus a simple lag.
  17. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I love vinyl. I hate vinyl. It sucks. It sounds great. :twisted:

    I have a simple rule of thumb for clients and friends who are considering a big transcription job from vinyl to CD: if it was commercial disc, already available on CD in stores or online, then save your time & energy and just buy the new copy. (Avoid any CD made in the 80's, of course!)

    If it's not, then you're either looking to hear something from the "old dayze" because you no longer have a turntable, or you have something rare enough to warrant some transfer & restoration. If that's the case, then you can have some serious fun getting there. You may even learn a few things about the old days of vinyl mastering. (Most of which is quickly getting forgetten, judging by the lack of information out there nowadays...)

    For the fun/nostalgia stuff, just go to Hammeker-Schlemmer or Brookstone and buy one of their all-in-one Turntable-to-USB devices, ditto for their cassette to computer offerings. Both are cheap, "Good enough" to do the job, and expendable if they break down in a year or two. For the cost (about $150?) it's cheaper than what you'd spend trying to do it yourself. They may also ruin your records (with the cheap stylus and needle), but how cares if it's not serious stuff?

    For serious restoration work, I wouldn't recommend any one particular 'magic-button" software package. (Again, if you're going to go that route, do the Brookstone gadget process.)

    In our work on vinyl restoration, we use a number of things, from various sources, for each problem as it occurs. Many are unique to the job at hand. (To be honest, Sequioa/Samplitude has most tools I need, save for a few really exotic things)

    Assuming you've gotten as far as a good turntable, cartridge & preamp, you must also make sure you've got the right stylus for the job. 78's, 33's, and 45's all require different stylii. (ESPECIALLY 78's.) If the record is worn, you may also try different size and shape styli to find a non-worn section of the groove walls, when doing really nitty-gritty restoration, esp with 78's. (They're mono, so sometimes it's a case of finding which "Channel" - left or right - yields better sound. (the less worn-out section of the grooves, as it were.) Do a Google search for phono cartridges and stylii, to start off.

    Also assuming you've got the whole preamp to UBS (or Firewire) interface sorted out, right off the bat you're going to want to reduce anything below 80 hz or so. Most of anything below that will be platter rumble or junk that the cartridge may induce. You can do that with just about any good EQ plug. Also too, no matter how careful you are, you'll probably get some 60 hz AC hum & 120 hz buzz from the interface. It's almost unavoidable even with the best gear and phono cart preamp. (Don't forget the green ground wire!!)

    Remember too that most vinyl recordings had the low end summed from 200 cycles on down when doing EQ and stereo checking. "Panning" the bass was always treated as nearly impossible, mainly to keep the needle in the groove during loud passages.

    Spikes from tics, pops and pow!'s can be reduced by gently cleaning the disc before you ever put a needle down. Discwasher used to make a great system (Dunno if it's avialable any more or not) and I still have (and cherish) mine. I have a de-static gun, a soft-cloth cleaner brush (you wet it with distilled water, and hold it gently on the disc as it rotates, removing gunk, etc.) For discs in really bad shape, you can always clean it separately with warm water and mild soap. (Ivory dish soap is one of the best.) Clean & rinse it gently, and pat-dry with a lint-free soft cloth. USE NO SOLVENTS, of course!

    Once you've actually transferred your beloved treasure to digital, then it's time to gently remove the remaining transients that will otherwise kill your gain structure. Whether it's a digital process that removes it numerically, (Declicking) or whether you go in one spike at a time and limit/redraw it, you'll eventually get it looking (onscreen) & sounding decent again.

    Your software may have a decrackle feature, or hiss removal, etc. Always toggle back and forth to make sure what you're removing isn't harming the music as well. (remember the audio hippocratic oath: Frist, do no harm!)

    One other tip for now: Remember that for LP mastering, there was usually a 5 db rolloff at 15k from start to finish, from the outside groove to the inside. (This is one reason why all the best tracks got put on first, and the worst stuff - usually filler tracks - were put on the end of an LP.) You can compensate for that with a gentle, gradual +5 db rise in the EQ curve for the length of the LP side. (usually an 18-22 minute stretch.)

    With the software I use (Sequoia) we put two copies of the wav file of each LP side, one over top of each other on the timeline. One is flat, one is EQ'd for a boost of +5 db at 15k. We cross-fade out the top one, going from full amplitude to full off over the playing length. We do the opposite for the lower (EQ'd) track, (gradually fading in, from start to finish) and make a new bounce/composite. The resultant track now sounds consistent from beginning to end. (Think I'm kidding about this? Go play an old LP record that's still in good shape, just the first track alone. Then lift the needle and put it on the last groove. Whooooeeee!!! Where did the high end go?!?!? You never notice it as it happens gradually, but you're in for a shock when comparing the last track alone.....)

    Hopefully, that should get you started, or scare you off entirely. (We'll leave tracking error and stylus weight for another time....) :wink:

    In spite of all that, I still love listening to vinyl, FWIW.

    Did I mention it sucks? :twisted:

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