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jwilson55

Music Server

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I found flac temporarily useful in the last days before storage became dirt cheap. Can't think of anything useful about it now as it simply means an extra step when burning a CD.

Dave

Dave,

Not arguing at all with your opinion, only questioning in areas I am most ignorant in here.

For my purposes of making a music server, it would seem that FLAC would be a great solution and a much better alternative to MP3. I have no intentions of making new CDs from my FLAC files. I'll FLAC the CDs and pack them away to give me more room on the shelves for more music [:)]. I have a spare laptop that will run the WINAMP PRO program and with a connected harddrive full of FLACed music it will be easy to play the music.

But for records, I am truly without any knowledge of how to make digital files of the records. So, do you digitize your records and then make a CD of the music to play at home and in your car? What program do you use that converts your vinyl to digital?

I guess my real request is that would you / could you please describe your process of converting your vinyl to CD. I think we would all benefit from your experience and knowledge.

And of course anyone else can chime in on their methods. Since I am just starting out in the vinyl conversion, any and all input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike

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Well, lots of good reading. From what I have read at this point, I still haven't heard of an easy way to convert my LP Album collection to wav lossless format. I have elected to stick with wav files because storage is just not that expensive these days. I'll just buy more hard drives when I run out of space.

Again, I have used three or four different third party apps to accomplish this. The end result is a wav file in lossless format. I don't have any complaints about the quality of the wav file. The real issue for me is the time involved, as it is mostly a manual process. You can either take the time and do one track at time, or record an entire side of an album and then spit it into tracks using the software. Either way takes a considerable amout of time.

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For my purposes of making a music server, it would seem that FLAC would be a great solution and a much better alternative to MP3.

No argument there. MP3 at it's best isn't close to vinyl. Before I purchased my Korg MR-1 I did my LP's at 24/88.2 as it is very close, perhaps close enough, to vinyl quality and could be transcoded to 16/44.1 which is an even multiple if I or someone else wanted a CD. That's important as it prevents dithering of the uneven sample rates like 48, 96, or 192. Now I use the Korg which at 1 bit, 2.8mhz the sample rate is so high that it transcodes (at least to mine and a few other ears) transparently to any PCM rate.

IMHO, 24/88.2 is as low as you can go with vinyl on PCM and get anything like vinyl results. I posted a rather detailed "how to" several years ago with my procedures for vinyl digitizing to PCM and it's still valid if you are wanting near vinyl sound without purchasing a Korg or similar device that can do DSF.

If you are satisfied with CD quality, I think you might use the "trial" version of the program I mentioned in an earlier post to this thread. I am a big fan of Sound Forge and that is what I used prior to getting my Korg, as well as it's on board NR plugins when required. SF costs a few bucks, but is the best there is IMHO as an all around audio digital acquisition and editing program.

The Korg is cheaper and since it is a "press record" device that looks like an HD to your PC, it's about as easy as anything can be. It comes with Audiogate, which allows you to transcode to any PCM sample rate you want.

If any of this interests you and you want details, let me know. If not, just try the easy one I suggested...while I've not used it myself I've studied their page and listened to other users and believe it to be good. I'd get a copy myself if they'd at least support 24/88.2.

Dave

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The real issue for me is the time involved, as it is mostly a manual process. You can either take the time and do one track at time, or record an entire side of an album and then spit it into tracks using the software. Either way takes a considerable amout of time.

Well, it's an LP. It's not like you can spin it at 32X to record it.

[;)]

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I know the original post was related to Windows but I wanted share the recording method that I have come across. I use a Mac mini with Pure Vinyl software. I like the Mac because it has no cooling fan to make noise. The software applies the RIAA equalization curve to the raw digital file. The software in my case eliminates the use of a traditional phono stage. I record the raw digital file. In my case I modified the tonearm cable with XLR plugs and connect to a microphone preamp (TC Electronic Impact Twin). The preamp is then connected to the computer with firewire. There are other topologies but this one worked best for me with an MC cartridge. This particular preamp allows for 196/24 files. It also has a good sounding DAC for output at 196/24. The software also includes a plug in for itunes called Pure Music that does a great job up sampling lower density ripped cds and mp3 files. The software is free to try so you have nothing to lose if you have a Mac.

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Dave,

I downloaded the software from this site you suggested -

http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk/

I've done one album. I really like the features, just not sure about the quality yet. The features are geared toward LP Albums for sure. I'll post again after I have my tracks split and get a real feel for the quality. Thanks for the post

Joe

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Joe:

I think a thorough "pro and con" review would be useful to us all.

Regards,

Dave

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Mainly a matter of form factor and the ability to synchronize more than one for multiple channels. Never A/B'd them, but the MR-1 appears to record and playback accurately as my ears can hear and produced a recording of a Direct to Disc recording (the highly regarded Virgil Fox LP) that was not distinguishable from the actual LP to 7 well trained listeners in my music room a year or so ago.

All I can do is repeat Demining here: "Quality is defined as fitness for intended use."

Dave

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Dave,

I downloaded the software from this site you suggested -

http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk/

I've done one album. I really like the features, just not sure about the quality yet. The features are geared toward LP Albums for sure. I'll post again after I have my tracks split and get a real feel for the quality. Thanks for the post

Joe

I like this thread. I have been trying figure out the best way to record my LP collection as well for a long time and fianally decided to just jump in instead of researching any more. I was always a bit confussed about just what hardware I might need to get the signal into the computer properly. I downloaded the Alpine software (Thanks Dave) with no trouble. Then to make the connection, I was hoping the worst that could happen would be it would just sound like crap. I was hoping somehow I wouldn't fry any parts, stereo or computor. As always with new sonic ventures I started out with the speakers turned off and volume all the way down on the stereo equipment and volume off on the PC as well. I hooked up the second set of main outputs from my C28 directly to the mic input of the PC with a patch cord that had 2 RCA connections one right,one left into a pin jack that fit the mic input on the PC. There was an immediate clicking noise through the amp. Won't do that again!

Next I took the signal out of the "Line out" on the C28 and into the mic input of the computor. This worked just fine. I set the volume of the input to the PC with the C28 then restarted the record and started the software. Very easy, I have not gotten back to learn all the abilities of the software but it seemed very good. Pretty slick really and very easy to use. I copied a whole side of one album with out breaking tracks just for expediancy. Once the file was made and saved I started up itunes and added the "song" to my itunes library. The way I remember it a 20 minute side was about 2 MB in wav format. Once in itunes I converted it to the "apple lossless" format which took the file size down actually to about 650 KB. I was also able have itunes find album art, I also added artist name, recording date and genre.

The whole process took about an hour for this first try. The resulting file was in no way as good as listening to the record itself (unfortunately, but not supprising)and is probably due in part to an older sound card in my older sony viao laptop. I would say the result was about like listening to an average quality CD recording.

Sorry for the long post, hope this helps someone to de-mistify the process a little bit.

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The way I remember it a 20 minute side was about 2 MB in wav format. Once in itunes I converted it to the "apple lossless" format which took the file size down actually to about 650 KB.

Can we assume you mean "gb" in the first instance and "mb" in the second? If not, something isn't quite right here.

Dave

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While there is newer hardware (like the Korg DSF and plenty of good PCM devices), software (Pure Vinyl, Audacity, etc), and storage options have dropped to not even being a consideration, I went back few years to a post I wrote on digitizing back when it wasn't cool and decided there was still info of merit in there.

To wit, I repost from 2007:

I've had a number of emails/PM's in the past week or so asking for information on archiving LP's. Rather than respond individually, I decided to make a post on the matter. I am going to minimize hardware/software, etc. to the bare bones of the process. If there is interest in specific soundcards, turntables, software, processors, etc. we'll discuss it in the thread as there will be as many opinions on the subject as there are Forum members.

I will open with a bit of a philosophical question: Why would an analog-loving vinyl freak make peace with the digital devil? My answer would be that the more you love records, the more aware of how each moment of sheer listening bliss steals the life from those irreplaceable discs. And, believe me, they are irreplaceable. It may seem that there is an inexhaustible supply of cheap records only you want but the oceans were once rotten with whales, too. Every few years I break a 78 and think: What if that were the last copy? Someday, it will be.

So, a true vinyl lover is a conservationist. How to conserve and enjoy at the same time? Digitize, of course. Make peace with the devil and make him do your bidding. The fact is that most audiophiles have little or no experience with digital outside the realm of the CD or MP3. Not surprising they cling to a "they'll pry my turntable from my cold, dead hands" mindset. Even the few DVD-A's available that offer 24/96 or 24/192 are often not all that well recorded...and at those resolutions it really starts to matter.

Some will never be convinced, but the fact is that in a blind test only a very few vinyl lovers would be able to detect the difference between a 24/192 recording of an LP and the same disk played on the same system using the same equipment at the identical level, and most would be quite happy with 24/88.2. The equipment required to do this is quite modest compared to that you already have, and though a 24/192 LP recording is going to take up 4GB or so of space the cost of digital storage is dropping so rapidly that it is hardly a factor anymore.

So, don't wait until the last stylus blunts itself on the last record...come over to the dark side today and save those discs for quiet moments with yourself!

Optional steps will be in RED.

1. Get a quality digitizing device.

There are many fine soundcards out there. I own three that excel in their price range and functions:

M-Audio Revolution Audiophile USB (Low price and usable with a laptop)

Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe (medium price, highly regarded)

ESL WamiRack XL (a bit higher and the only one of these that will do 24/192)

2. Decide on a resolution.

MaxG and similar are likely to require the very best at 24/192. If you are at this level but think you just MIGHT want a CD for the car, then choose 24/176.4 since 176.4/4=44.1 for clean CD downsamples without dithering. If you want about 98% of the quality but still have reservations about the space required, go for 24/88.2. Yes, I skipped 24/96. Insufficient audible difference with 24/88.2 and doesn't have the advantage of being cleanly downsampled to 16.44.1 for CDs.

3. Get recording software

Again, lots of choices here but make sure it supports the resolution you choose. There is absolutely no audible difference between one recording software and another. However, there is a vast difference in features, the vast majority of which are non-essential for the purist so it that is you get the cheapest package that supports the resolution you want to use. For me, it's Sound Forge as I work at all resolutions and want some edit and processing functions as well. More on that later.

4. Record

PRE-PROCESS

Little spoken of in the secret councils of the analog brotherhood is that LP's are, in fact, a highly compressed medium. If this were not so, quiet passages would simply disappear into groove/wall noise. Analog engineers constantly "rode gain" to insure that the constricted dynamic limits of the LP medium were not exceeded. In the early seventies, several remedies appeared amongst which the DBX Compander (compressor/expander) emerged as the best and longest lived. I still have an original DBX 117 on line at a friend’s vacation home. I've almost never listened to records without one of these since about 1975. Properly set they can over double the dynamic range of the LP and virtually eliminate groove noise with no audible side effects, and make themselves inaudible as what little noise they add is also reduced to inaudible by thier own action...neat trick!.

(Unconvinced purists may skip out now)

So, find yourself a bargain on EBay and learn to set the perfect expansion level for each disc. Every disc has a "just right" spot you will find with a little practice. Set it and record and you've just combined the best of analog with the best of digital.

5. Store

Doing this once can be fun. The second time it sux. After that, it can be torture. Without going into all the possibilities I am simply going to recommend one product: Buffalo TeraStation. Set to RAID 5 (its default, so ready to plug and play) you get 750 GB of network-attached storage accessible from any computer and most decent media distribution devices on your network for well less than a grand. That's enough space for over 700 LP's at 24/88.2 and will take up a lot less space! When the time comes a drive fails, you just pull it out, replace, and TeraStation will take care of the rest.

POST PROCESS

Getting a near-digital dynamic range from an LP and virtually eliminating the groove noise is really neat. Getting rid of the pops at no cost at all to the quality is a bloody miracle. There are a number of softwares to accompish this, but my favorite is the NX package for Sound Forge. Processing is done only once and the result saved. If you don't like it you can undo and reset until you are happy. Hardware devices for this purpose have been designed that work pretty well, but the downside was that the whole signal passed through adding whatever "flavor" the device might have to the sound quality. Most purists would rather have the pops... Software doesn't work like that. It has no, and cannot have (since we are in the digital domain) any impact on the signal whatsoever until it gets a match to the signature of the noises its been set to look for. Then it lifts out precisely those digits and replaces them with a composite of what was happening just before and just after. While this sounds like it would be audible since some information has been synthesized, we are talking about tiny fractions of a second here and you'd really have to do some training to ever hear where the pop was. In any event, the action is much nicer than a "POP" in the middle of Miles Davis.

SUMMARY

Is it all as simple as it sounds? Not really. But neither is setting the azimuth on a cartridge or figuring out values for a crossover. However, it is not rocket science and the results will come closer to "perfect sound forever" than you have ever been.

Now, “let a thousand flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend.” Chairman Mao, 1957.

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The way I remember it a 20 minute side was about 2 MB in wav format. Once in itunes I converted it to the "apple lossless" format which took the file size down actually to about 650 KB.

Can we assume you mean "gb" in the first instance and "mb" in the second? If not, something isn't quite right here.

Dave

Yes, I was totally off there. I did another record to verify. This time I did a 43 minute album and in WAV format it came out to be 877MB. When I converted it to Apple lossless what changed was the bit rate which decreased from 2822 kbps in WAV format down to 704kbps. I haven't compared them yet but would assume the 2822 version will sound better??

Nice story Dave, that was a good complete discussion. Thanks for posting it again, I had not found that with prior searches.

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When I converted it to Apple lossless what changed was the bit rate which decreased from 2822 kbps in WAV format down to 704kbps. I haven't compared them yet but would assume the 2822 version will sound better??

I don't use any compression, lossless or otherwise, but if Apple "lossless" is not a lie, they should sound the same.

Personally, I don't care about space and do not want to transcode to burn a CD or get a file I am certain someone else can play, so I just use wav format.

Dave

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Here's my 2 cents worth from the software at

http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk/

I am impressed with the recording functionality of the software. I have only used the trial version so far. You can record up to 5 albums with the trail, which I have done. Three of the five albums the lookup internet feature worked successfully. This is a sweet feature. This will name and split the tracks. The track splitting feature requires verification that the split is in exactly the right place, and it is very easy to move. You drag it with your mouse. My previous experience was one track at time, so there was no splitting to be done anyway. On the other side of the fence, if the software can't find the album from the internet sources, you have to manually input the track names and manually make the track splits The two albums which the lookup didn’t work on, was a band from Birmingham AL - Hotel. These two albums were from 1979 and 1980.

I selected my output as a wave file @ 192khz/24bit. This gives approximately 2.2 GB per album. I know this huge but I'm not concerned about size at this point in time. I have a 2 TB drive. It should take a while before I'm cramped for space. I will however record at a couple different rates for comparison at some point.

As for the sound, I run my pre-amp flat. I am also running my sound card flat. Does the wav file sound exactly like the album? No but it’s close. There are so many different pc / sound card combinations, out there. Do they all sound identical? I wouldn’t think so. I haven’t had anyone else listen yet. I have a couple of friends coming over this weekend and I’ll use them for my testing.

I wasn’t looking for something to replace my lp albums anyway. If I want my best sound, then it will be from the LP albums. My wave files are on a share on my network so they can be played from multiple locations. This is very convenient & easy. Works really well for background music.

There may be something better out there, but this is well worth my 30ish dollars for the full version.

Thanks for all the input!

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MediaMonkey is a free download, converts to flac upon download, and provides lossless playback and tagging without additional cash outlay. MilkDrop visualizations are the best I've seen to date, really interesting psychedelic visuals.

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