No reason at all they shouldn't use Soundforge! That's why I recommend it. It's easy to learn, easy
to use and perfect for bringing in 2 channels and now more channels at a time. Plus the latest
version comes with very nice processing and restoration tools that, again, are not hard to learn or
use. And as I alluded to, the latest version (9) finally allows for more than 2 channels at a
time -- I currently have it set up for 4 channels at a time.
An academic or institutional customer should be able to find the academic-discount price for any
software, which is cheap compared to the cost of redoing a project due to bad work.
My experience with Audacity was that it's akin to the graphic user interfaces floating around for
Linux -- it's klunky and primative and you're fooling yourself if you think it's in the league of a
real-deal, paid-professional program. It's freeware, this is something that people with no budget
use because they have to, which is fine but non-ideal for doing efficient and high-quality transfer
work. If I were a guy wanting to get my semi-worn-out LP collection into my iPod, I'd have no issues
with plugging a cheap preamp into my soundcard and using Adacity. If I were a professional trying to
preserve an archive of unique sound recordings, I'd scale up substantially and do the job right so I
didn't have to do it again and I could leave a legacy of high-quality digital audio for the future.
I'm sure any of the pro-grade programs are in the same league as Soundforge, btw, I just recommend
because I use it and know it. I will say that I find Protools overly complex for almost anything I'd
do, and a tracking/sequencing program like Acid or Cubase may or may not be appropriate for this
sort of work. Its seems like DC6/DC7 would work just as well, too, and perhaps at a lower cost.
Finally, let me emphasize that software choice should be secondary to as good an analog playback as
possible and as good a digital interface as possible. The hardware quality or lack thereof can ruin
a transfer effort right from the start. With any competent software used by a person who knows how
it works, you have to work at it some to ruin the audio quality. It's more a matter of how you want
to spend your time -- fussing with primative and klunky interfaces or getting the job done
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sam Brylawski" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Seeking recommendations for oral history digitization equipment (fwd)
You've made an unequivocal non-recommendation of Audacity. For someone
on a budget who is only re-formatting/migrating, presumably w/o
"processing," exactly why shouldn't they use Soundforge? Deatils would
be very useful.
On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 9:37 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The most cost-effective way to do a large-ish transfer project is do it once
> and do it right. So, you don't want to cut too many corners. Joel has laid
> out a bunch of good points before. Even for cassette-quality oral history
> type stuff, it's best to do a good -resolution transfer once on a
> well-maintained deck into a decent digital signal chain. Bottom-barrell
> stuff will give bottom-barrell results but there is a whole range of
> reasonably-priced and good quality gear out there.
> As for software, I hate Audacity. I think it's worth exactly what it costs.
> It's klunky garbage, at least the last version I used, which was 2 years
> ago. Much better is Sony Soundforge which can be had very reasonably if one
> is an education-related institution (see Educator Superstore website for
> instance). The newest version of Soundforge comes with restoration/cleanup
> tools that, when used conservatively and tastefully, can be very helpful
> with this kind of audio.
> Your best practice is to plan on at least three collections of files: 1) raw
> transfer PCM audio, hopefully higher resolution (I like 88.2/24 or 96/24 but
> Richard Hess makes a convincing argument that 44.1/24 is perfectly OK for
> spoken-word material). 2) processed PCM, this would be NR'd, normalized,
> EQ'd etc and perhaps saved at CD resolution with a "safety" version burned
> to archival CD media. 3) online/small-format version, MP3 or whatever
> crunched format you used, saved from the CD-quality processed PCM version.
> This would be for online/streaming or podcast use. These can be batch-made
> by Soundforge out of the processed PCM files. My caveat would be, beware
> crunching too lossy. Spoken word starts sounding really crappy when it's
> surrounded by digi-swishies and other artifacts. I never go lower than
> 96kbps for MP3, which some might consider overkill but I sure don't. I
> actually prefer 128kbps whenever possible because it preserves the upper
> mouth/throat air resonances of most voices and also a decent MP3 cruncher
> won't make swishies out of even heavy tape hiss.
> Don't neglect the cassette end of this. Having a Tascam 122MkII is one thing
> but, how old is it and how well-maintained is it? I highly recommend sending
> it to NJ Factory Service for a refurb and have him make sure the head is OK
> too. As of a few months ago, Tascam still had heads, belts and other parts
> for these machines.
> Now that you see that even this kind of "pedestrian" audio is no simple feat
> to transfer and preserve correctly, have you considered out-sourcing the
> transfer work? You could then concentrate your expertise on archiving,
> editing, and making available your assets. There are grants out there to pay
> for outsourcing audio work to audio professionals.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "JA Eaton" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 12:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Seeking recommendations for oral history
> digitization equipment (fwd)
> Hi John,
> Some thoughts on your situation...
> 1) As you are digitising for the first time, it's worth thinking about
> preserving your files for future use, especially if you expand this
> resource in the future. Therefore it's probably worth digitising your
> material in the highest quality available in a format best suitable for
> sustainability in the best possible way.
> Which leads to...
> 2) Record your audio in the best available quality and convert down to
> CD/web quality afterwards. i.e. 88.2Khz/24bit. You can back up the 'master'
> files onto a hard drive or DVD's/CD's. Even though you may not need
> these high quality files now, it'd save any future re-digitising issues and
> provide you with a backup if anything goes wrong. You may wish to consider
> using open source file formats for future proofing such as Vorbis ogg or
> FLAC, whereas WAV or AIFF are fine for CD distribution.
> which leads to...
>> One of the USB interfaces I was looking
>> at (the Tascam US-144) comes with a free version of Cubase, but I don't
>> know that it would be any better for our purposes than Audacity
> A dedicated A>D converter over USB 2.0 or Firewire is going to give you
> much better conversion quality than plugging into your internal soundcard.
> These vary in quality and price and will generally be defined by your
> budget. Quality of the pre-amps you use is also worth noting.
> 4. Pro Tools is a highly advanced multitracking and editing suite which
> although capable is probably far too advanced for your needs. If you were
> planning on digitising multiple media at once (multitracking) then
> something of this ilk may be worth thinking about. (note that Pro Tools is
> only compatible with it's own hardware except for Pro Tools M-Powered, a
> lighter version). Audacity on the other is a freeware simple interface for
> recording, simple editing, basic processing techniques and file conversion.
> One consideration is that the simpler (and cheaper) the program then the
> less 'restoration' processing features it is likely to offer (should you
> need them), such as de-noisers etc.
>> Anyway, your thoughts on a good USB interface, a good and inexpensive
>> pair of monitors, headphones
> a good pair of monitors may be worthless if your listening environment is
> not designed for audio analysis(e.g. your desk is in a big open plan office
> with lots of background noise), however there are some decent reference
> monitors on the market under the £400 mark. (KRK, Genelec being at the top
> end of the scale).
> Again look for professional headphones with a 'flat' response (i.e. not
> marketed to D.J's, live broadcast etc) but this can often be tricky judging
> between brands. Try AKG, Sennheiser.
> USB interfaces. at the top end of the price scale (for your project
> anyhow)MOTU make decent converters with quality preamps, alternatively
> M-Audio, Edirol and Mackie do cheaper products. Look for ones which offer
> higher sample rates/larger bit depth for any future needs.
> hope this is of some help!
> Joel Eaton
> Joel Eaton TSO - Sound Resources
> TASI - A JISC Advisory Service
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