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ARSCLIST  November 2015

ARSCLIST November 2015

Subject:

Re: Major laptop audio upgrade, cheap on sale

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 29 Nov 2015 08:21:24 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (113 lines)

Hi Michael:

Addressing your specific goal, I can offer some advice, having digitized hundreds if not thousands
of grooved disks over the past 15 years or so.

1. do yourself a favor and buy good digital audio workstation (DAW) software. Sony Soundforge is my
weapon of choice, and it's now on sale for a huge discount:
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/soundforgepro?keycode=64588

A very limited version of Soundforge is sold at a very low price as Sony Audio Studio:
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/audiostudio

2. make sure you have decent computer power. Don't attempt audio processing on an antique computer.
A modern 64-bit machine is required for the latest versions of all the major software. This is
because the DSP has become sophisticated and can actually help nowadays, as opposed to creating
awful digital artifacts or sucking the life out of everything. You still need a subtle touch, an
understanding of what can't be fixed, and good hearing taste.

3. invest in a disk-cleaning system if you don't have one. Never play a dirty disk, you are
guaranteed a crappy transfer and have thus wasted your time. In the same vein, make sure your stylus
is nice and sharp (ie replace a worn-out stylus), and clean it regularly. And, make sure you like
the sound of your turntable, cartridge and preamp. You won't want to re-do many transfers (which
tend to take at least twice the playing time of the LP by the time you do whatever processing you
want, normalize levels, split into individual tracks and gather or hand-enter whatever metadata you
desire). So make sure your analog chain is very much to your liking. Do some critical listening.
Make sure to listen for hum, electronic crackle (usually caused by dirty connections between
components), too much hiss (indicating, for instance, a weak tube or worn out transistor or
resistor, or something else), etc. Also, a good investment is a static-control device of some sort.
I'm a big fan of the ZeroStat electron gun, I still have an original Discwasher unit. A Japanese
company now makes a very similar device under the same brand. You need this for LP transfers if the
humidity level in your work area is lower than 55% or so (at least that's been my experience; get
below 55% and the static is rampant). You don't want to deal with static pop-dropouts later. Better
to just avoid them. Static charge on the LP surface also attracts dust, which causes pops and ticks.

4. test your system levels, at the interface between the preamp and the ADC and within the DAW. If
you're working in 24-bit, I think it's a good idea to keep peak levels below -6dBfs but not lower
than -12dBfs. This gives you some headroom for processing (for instance, if you decide to run a
rumble filter, you remove some out-of-phase information and thus boost certain frequencies, which
often effects peak levels; if you decide to run some EQ or other sweetening to taste, it often
effects peak levels). Very important -- make sure your analog chain is not overloading the front end
of your ADC. Test this with "loud" records in your collection. Looked for clipped peaks, listen for
clipping distortion. I think the 2i2 should interface OK with consumer-level analog inputs, although
you're going in unbalanced so you're only using half of the differential input circuit and lose some
headroom.

5. this probably goes without saying, but transfer and do your editing/processing at 96/24. If you
want to down-convert to 44.1/16 to burn CDs, do this last. And use a good sample-rate converter. The
Soundforge SRC is not the best. I much prefer dBPowerAmp's converter, which is nearly at the limits
of theoretical perfection (ie completely transparent). Remember to engage dither when lowering the
bitrate, although LPs have such a high noise floor, there should be no switching-noise problems in
the low bits.

If you do all that, you should get nice-sounding vinyl transfers that you'll enjoy in a variety of
listening situations (headphones, car, big speakers, etc).

I've digitized a couple of large LP collections for private collectors. I always tell them, do some
research and make double-sure you want a platter digitized. If there is a decent-sounding CD reissue
out there, it's always a huge savings in outsource-cost or self-labor to buy the CD and move on.
That said, in the case of one large collection of classical music, both the collector and I were
surprised to find out how few of his albums had made it to CD, and also how many of those CDs were
out of print and very hard to find at a decent price. This was the early 2000's and, ironically,
many of the classical albums then out of print are now back in print as part of large, budget-priced
CD box sets. I also did a transfer job back before the 96/24 days, for a collector of 78's. To this
day, I'm surprised we got the good results we did. I credit the client -- he had a really good
playback system, he knew what EQ curves to use to get good sound, he encourged me to put my Pultec
equalizer in the chain, and we did everything in the analog realm. We recorded to a good DAT machine
(Panasonic SV3700). I then did a SPDIF transfer into my circa 1997 DAW (running pre-Sony Soundforge
software) and did ... almost nothing to the audio except trim it into individual files and convert
them to MP3 for the client (at that time, Soundforge had one of the better, licensed MP3 encoders).
It's amazing that something like that was pretty sophisticated just 17 years ago.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Gillman" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2015 5:54 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Major laptop audio upgrade, cheap on sale


>I just bought a 2i2 from B&H for $99. My idea is to use it to digitalize
> some of my LPs. I have an idea how to use it that way but how to use it as
> a DAC rather than an ADC.
>
> Mike
>
> On Sat, Nov 28, 2015 at 2:02 PM, Richard L. Hess <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
>> Hi, Tom,
>>
>> It is very small and it's nice that it goes to 192 kHz.
>>
>> No one talks much about this:
>> http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Scarlett2i2
>>
>> I bought one and have found no flaws in it the few times I've tested it,
>> which have yet to be exhaustive. It "only" goes up to 96 but it also
>> records as well as plays back.
>>
>> Cheers,
>>
>> Richard
>>
>> --
>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
>> http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
>>
>
>

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