PC soundcard suggestions for recording my vinyl LPs to CDRs

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by charles-isc, Nov 24, 2005.

  1. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest


    It's great to find this site. I just discovered it.

    I see a lot of discussion about professional recording, mastering, and recording live music on computer - (which I used to do) but I can't find much about simply transferring vinyl LPs to CDRs. So here's my question.

    I want to buy a new soundcard for my PC. My old SoundBlaster Live! is hopelessly out of date and is poor in frequency response - especially bass, when you play a CD track after an imported WAV file. I don't mind spending something in the mid-range (up to $200) - but can't afford a $500 LynxONE or Aardvark and I wonder if they are overkill anyway.

    One suggestion I have been given is the new Creative X-Fi - but I wonder about features that 'enhance' sound (for gaming I presume) which I don't need or want for music transfers.

    What do people suggest?

    Thanks for your input.

  2. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    cant see how your SB live would "lose bass".

    Either it has accurate frequency response, or it is dead..or defective.

    I find for LP archiving, the most important part is the phono preamp. If you are not using one that contains the proper RIAA alignment (the riaa equilazation) then no sound card made..unless it has a dedicated phonograph preamplifier, will sound right.

    The problem is not your card..it is your phono preamplifier.

    I have a 4th box (my oldest spare computer) and it has an SB live card..with break out digital inputs. With my stand alone phono preamplifier, it sounds just fine for archiving vinyl through sound forge to burn CD's.
  3. I use an emu 1820 card - it has phono inputs with a hardware RIAA preamp. i'm absolutely happy with the results.

    the difference between the emu and my previous setup of using turntable -> phono inputs of hi-fi amp -> soundblaster is huge (however not quite as huge as when i upgraded my turntable).
  4. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest

    Thanks for the response.

    For an ampilifer I use my old Yamaha stereo amp which is quite adequate when speakers are attached. http://www2.yamaha.co.jp/manual/pdf/av/english/IntA/AX-570.pdf

    I assumed I didn't need something like an emu system because I already use an amp/preamp.
  5. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Make sure you are using the right kind of cartridge for your phono preamp. I caught a guy the other day not using a moving magnet or moving coil. he was using a ceramic.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Ran into a really good deal on RME cards at my local GC. They were selling the DIGI96/8 PAD for less than $250.00 on closeout. You would not be disappointed with the card and RME cards have some very nice features like digicheck. If you need AES/EBU inputs you have to also purchase a $35.00 adapter cable for the unit.

    I too would say that the most important thing to consider when transferring vinyl is a good low rumble turntable with a good magnetic cartridge but the most important is a good phono preamp that has a good implementation of the RIAA curve. We are using a Stanton preamp which I modified for less noise and hum and picked up at are local hi fi shop for under $200.00. It has a +4dBu output and is a very good phono preamp. We are using it with a Micro Seiki turntable and a Ortofon cartridge

    We have transferred 100s of records using it and all the clients so far have been very pleased.

    The other thing that you need to do is get the records really clean before you transfer them. It is far easier to get rid of the dirt before the transfer than trying to use some software approach afterwards.

    Best of luck!
  7. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 cards sound vastly better than the SB Live, and are easily within your budget ;)
  8. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest

    I keep hearing that nothing approaches the performance of the new SoundBlaster X-Fi (XtremeMusic) - which is within my budget. How does this compare with the posted suggestions?

    I'm also wondering if it's better to go with a modern preamp like the ones suggested instead of my old Yamaha which was a budget $400 buy in its day (mid '90s).

    I still use what used to be the standard Shure stylus and cartridge in the pre-CD days (can't remember the model number). I just had my turntable serviced at a very high end audio equipment store and was told the stylus is fine and the cartridge as adequate for transferring to CDs. My turntable is a Marantz 6300 - I was told that several people asked if it was for sale when it was in being serviced!

    I have done plenty of vinyl transferring over the years (to tape) so I'm aware of the dirt issues. I agree with other comments on this site that using water on records does give you one good recording but permanently damages records. I tried it with a reel-to-reel tape deck in the 1970s. You will never get the dirt out of the grooves once it dries and settles and it sounds dreadful after that. Might was well toss the vinyl out at that point. It's not an option. I find the CoolEdit Pro (Audition) click fill works fine. My albums are mostly UK imports and have all been kept in as close to new condition as possible.

    Any more thoughts?

  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    You seem hell-bent on that SoundBlaster card.

    I'm not sure who you're hearing this from, but I bet it came out of the mouths of one of the advertising agencies representing Creative Labs.

    Plenty of cards rival (err, dessimate) the Sound Blaster. True, in the consumer world, it's a good sound card. For pro-audio applications, it's the equivalent of pulling out a Black and Decker 7.2 volt drill to work on a NASCAR in the pit.

    There are quite a few excellent sound cards in the sub $200 (USD) price range that can do just fine. As for the phono-preamp - I would shy heavily away from any phono pre that's built into a receiver or home audio preamp - especially made during the 90s. (See, in the 90s, audio companies weren't putting out high-quality stuff inside of receivers - they were having a hard time cramming even mediocre equipment into a $500 piece of gear and records, as they saw it, were a niche product and didn't deserve the consideration of even a mediocre phono-pre.)

    Check out the M-Audio line and a decent phono pre. If you can't afford to drop the $$, don't expect to get even acceptable results. Sorry, but it's a harsh reality.

    Good Luck!!!

    J. :cool:
  10. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest

    This is great.

    I'm not hell bent on SoundBlaster (and it was only a friend and other online posts that lead me that way).

    Thanks for the info on the receiver. Now I know I should ditch it and go for something better.

    I will check out M-Audio and if I have to spend more I will. I was just hoping to get away with a mid-range soundcard but it doesn't look as if that's going to be good enough quality for me.

    Any specific model numbers to recommend?

  11. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest

    A local audio specialty computer store recommends the UA-1X (or 1EX I guess) which is made by Roland (we all know who they are) - runs off of a USB connection so no soundcard is needed.


    "The UA-1EX is a simple ASIO-compatible USB audio interface capable of 24-bit/96kHz operation and designed to offer component-quality audio signals in and out of your computer. The UA-1EX offers excellent sound quality for connection to any RCA or S/PDIF optical device. The UA-1EX features professional A/D and D/A converters, ensuring accurate recording and playback, whether you’re recording tapes or vinyl to the computer, or just playing your MP3 collection thru a home stereo receiver. The UA-1EX also offers an electret condenser microphone input similar to the “MIC-IN” on most internal soundcards and a headphone output with volume control to quickly and easily listen to audio from your computer."
  12. Calgary

    Calgary Active Member

    Nov 25, 2005
    FWIW The best value card on the market in my opinion is the Emu 1212m, I have one and it is superb. The DACs are best in class for the price. And for a few dollars more you can add the 1820m I/O at any point which includes a turntable in. I can't say enough good things about the Emus, I just ordered in the 1820m I/O for my 1212m today. I've been using the 1212m for over a year without a single glitch. :cool:
  13. charles-isc

    charles-isc Guest

    Emu 1212 may be the greatest but it seems overkill for just burning vinyl - below is quoted from their website:

    Hardware-accelerated effects - over 600
    standalone and E-MU Power FX VST plug-in
    effects with no CPU overhead

    E-MU Production Tools Software Bundle -
    includes Cakewalk SONAR LE, Steinberg Cubase
    LE and Wavelab Lite, Ableton Live Lite 4 for
    E-MU, IK Multimedia AmpliTube LE and T-RackS
    EQ, Minnetonka diskWelder BRONZE, SFX
    Machine LT, plus E-MU's Proteus X LE Desktop
    Sound Module - everything you need to create,
    record, edit, master and burn is in the box

    All Digital Audio Systems ship with the following
    Effects Plug-ins: (28 of them listed).

    The card may be great but you sure are paying for a lot of software extras.
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