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Old 01-21-2003, 03:04 PM
barbara barbara is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 11
digitally encoding my vinyl

I am interested in creating digital copies of my vinyl on my computer, primarily for archival purposes.

To do so I was thinking that it would make sense to investigate a better turntable, cartridge, preamp system than my existing Technics 1200, HP680, Rane 2016 mixer setup.

Does anyone have any suggestions for turntable, cartridge, and preamp setup in the $800 or less range for this purpose? I was looking at a Rega Planar turntable, possibly a Sumiko cartridge, and I have no idea what to get for a preamp. Any advice on any of this?

I have a fairly nice pro audio computer interface at my disposal for doing this so I don't need any soundcard recommendations ... however if there is a really great sounding A/D convertor that I could run the preamp into I could run a digital signal into my interface so any A/D suggestions are welcome as well.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-21-2003, 11:31 PM
francois francois is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 217
The Zen of encoding to digital

what a big topic!!

Encoding for archival means that you want to be able to enjoy this for years to come; this in turn means to be able to do it in a format that will not sound ridiculous in the future. (like CD's do, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, yuck, my ears are irritatedly remembering all this edgy digital harshness on a sound system) Please don't think about MP3 except as a painful toy. Anyone really wanting to DJ in a club with MP3's is obviously in need of a serious reality check. (well, for some the fashion quota has always been far more important than the content...)

I am in the process of doinf this myself, and chose 24-bit, 96 KHz as my baseline, which appears to be a format which will probably still be relevant 10 years from now. 24-bit and 192 KHz would be optimal, but very expensive right now, as only a couple of systems allow this, (Digidesign ProTools HD and MOTU's new one) and both extremely pricey.

There are many products to choose from to accomplish this, from very reasonable to extremely expensive.

Regarding the turntable, the combination of cartridge and so on, you seem on the right path. There is without question much better stand-alone outboard phono preamplifiers than the Rane. (that's for sure) Many can be bought on eBay for very cheap (UREI, Stanton, Shure, all made one) You can also go audiophile (Mark Levinson, Krell, Linn, etc...)

As for the D/A converter, too many to choose from. Pick one such as the Apogee 'Rosetta' that is seriously rated by pros. Equally important to get great sounds is to pack optimum levels before hitting digital , which is why the Aogeee's 'Soft Limit' feature is so great.
You are only getting 24 bits if you hit maximum level (-0.1 dB for the purpose of this talk) If the level is - 3 dB, you are only getting 20 bits.... and so on.

Then comes the question of what software to use to edit, trim, maxime and de-click your digital recordings. Spark or Peak (OS-X) or Sonic Foundry (Windows) both do the job.

Lastly, an application to play those recordings back. Personally, I bet my money on 'Traktor' by Native Instruments. (Windows or Mac)The program is undergoing tremendous development right now, and although they can't play 24bit-96K files as of yet, they should be able to in a matter of months. (They also just merged with 'Final Scratch', for those who crave a vinyl controller)

Not mentioned in this post would be the amount of storage you will need (at 24-96, 1 Gig of Hard drive space should yield betwen 4 and 6 songs) I currently see 200 Gig hard drives fro $250. Then you would be a total fool not to consider investing in a backup system after spending that much time doing your encoding. There it gets a little stickier, personally I think that DLT is very safe and reliable, but comparatively expensive. (This is a whole other topic; however note that if you encode and don't backup you can lose everything in a few milliseconds---scary stuff---)

More to all this, but this should spark an interesting dialog from others who have the same experience with different gear.

Doing all this for $800 will not be possible, although acquiring most of the gear used from reputable people (Ebay for example) should help make it a reality. However, what I mentioned above should stand scrutiny on a sound system any size, and be a very enjoyable music collection for many years to come.

Good luck.
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Old 01-24-2003, 01:28 AM
barbara barbara is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 11

Thanks for the great input FK. After I made the post I realized $800 wasn't going to cut it, and that's ok. In this case I think it's worth it to push my budget.

Anyone else have any advice, suggestions?
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Old 01-30-2003, 01:35 AM
barbara barbara is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 11
lossless compression for archival

In doing more research into this, I have come across some forms of "lossless" compression, which can help save space when archiving digital audio, and I thought I would just add my findings to this thread for anyone interested.

Monkey's Audio is one program that can compress 24bit wav files of any sampling rate to about 70% of their original size. The files can then be decoded (in realtime) to their original state, bit-for-bit, with absolutely no change to the data (no "loss" ).

There are some other programs out there that can do lossless compression (Windows Media Player for example), but this one is totally free, more specialized, and the creator seems to be more focused on making a serious tool for audiophiles than marketing a product for everyone.

When you install the program it offers the option of installing a plug-in for winamp so that files compressed with monkey's audio can be double clicked and played at will.

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Old 02-09-2003, 11:55 AM
philpot philpot is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 16
digital archiving of analogue record collection

i've been buying vinyl for years and am now preparing myself (very very deep breath!!)to catalogue digitaly with a view to my vinyl collection becoming my reference library.

i have recently invested in a denon md1050 pro minidisc recorder with my planned transfer working so: vinyl to minidisc, minidisc to denon cd recorder. i'm aware that opinion is divided over the quality of md and cd sound compared to analogue and wondered if there is potentially another way to do it.

i'm also in the process of building a pc for music use with a terratec dmw 6 24-bit/96 KHz sound card with digital inputs. given that my mixer has digital outs, would it be better to record from vinyl to pc and then to md/cd?

i like good quality sound but appreciate the more practical nature of digital formats. any advice that helps me get the process right first time round will be greatly appreciated.


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Old 02-09-2003, 04:34 PM
barbara barbara is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1969
Posts: 11

Phil I would avoid going to minidisc at all costs! MD's use compression similar to MP3 in order to reduce filesize and thus you are sacrificing quality with them. I'd either go straight into your new soundcard, or into your mixer and then digitally into your soundcard. It would depend which has nicer A/D converters, the mixer or the soundcard. Follow me?
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