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How to copy vinyl to pc => to MP3

Discussion in 'High resolution audio' started by ioneabee, May 28, 2003.

  1. ioneabee

    ioneabee Member

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    I want to copy my old vinyl records onto my pc and ultimately to MP3 and onto cd.
    Can anyone tell me what hardware, cables etc and which software is best for this.
    Any tips, hints ie full instructions would be useful
    Plllleeeeaaaase ;~}
     
  2. Bike_13

    Bike_13 Guest

    The answer to this question depends on the budget for equipment and software that you already have.

    EQUIPMENT

    I am going to assume that you already have a sound card, so the first thing you need to do is find the appropriate method to connect your turntable to the computer.

    Most turntables have RCA outs, which in most cases you CANNOT connect directly to your sound card (even with cable adaptors to connect into phono jacks into your sound card). The reason for this is that turntables produce signals at very low volumes, and these need to be amplified BEFORE even an amplifier can amplify them! That's why stereo amplifiers usually have special "phono" inputs.

    So in this case, you need to "preamplify" the phono output BEFORE it goes to your sound card (ie plug your turntable into the amp, then plug the amp into your soundcard).

    It should be pretty easy to work out what to plug into which (you may have to buy a few adaptor cables).

    The downfall of this method is that there is an amplifier in the middle of the circuit, introducing noise, and degrading the signal.

    If you don't already have a turntable, you have two options to purchase (with encoding to MP3 in mind):

    1. Turntables with preamplifiers built in (output of higher volume) are available now, thus negating the need for you to put an amplifier in the middle. Reducing the degradation of the signal (no cables). You should be able to connect the turntable directly to your sound card. This will be analogue connection to your PC, and the soundcard will do the analogue to digital conversion (some soundcards are NOT as good at this as you might think!).

    2. Turntables with optical digital outputs are available now:

    http://www.crmav.com/dj/25/dpdj151_pro_turntable.shtml

    http://www.samedaymusic.com/product--NUMTTX1

    http://www.nowonsale.com/itempage.asp?item=STR8100

    If your budget can stand it (or your audio quality is important), these should enable you to connect the turntable DIGITALLY to you sound card. Analogue to Digital conversion is done by the turntable, directly from the needle/analogue signal. Without a doubt, the highest signal quality option for getting audio onto you PC.

    SOFTWARE

    So once you have audio signal coming into your soundcard, you need a method of recording this to .wav (which you can then convert to MP3 - using the LAME encoder for best results - plenty of infor on this site - use --alt preset standard/extreme for best results).

    You need a sound application for this. I suggest Cool Edit Pro (very easy to use) or Soundforge (I don't think it's as easy, but it VERY powerful). They can record to .wav or .pcm, and can then convert to MP3. These applications will enable you to split tracks, delete silence, normalise the volume, etc.

    http://www.syntrillium.com/

    http://www.sonicfoundry.com/

    I am sure there are easier apps out there to use. Perhaps one of the other members can assist?

    That's it in a nutshell. Of course it is more complicated once you are getting it sorted, but feel free to conatact me for more info.

    Vinyl (like steel) is real!
     
  3. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    Sorry to point this out, but 2 things come to mind. Firstly, there is absolutely no way that any digital output on a turntable is going to be equal to a serious Standalone converter running at 96 KHz, and to at least 24 bit, preferably 32 bit FP.
    Then again, if you're going to MP3 then quality obviously isn't one of your major concerns as the format will throw away the vast majority of your audio.
    If you are at all serious about converting your vinyl to a digital format, forget MP3.
    Stick to CD at the least, and try to record through a studio quality converter such as an RME ADI8 96K or an Apogee. Record to 24 bit, or better still 32 bit floating point and only drop down to 16 bit 44.1 KHz once you have removed all the noise and scratches.
    Even better, burn to DVD-Audio at 24/96.
    All forms of compression, with the exception of MLP encoding, are lossy. Any one telling you any different does not know what they are talking about.
    Personally, I loathe MP3. It will not, and never can, be as good as the vinyl.
    If you must digitize, stick to a well made CD, or DVD-A (not DVD-V, unless you write the audio in PCM Wave. Dolby Digital, or AC3, is also a lossy format)
    Hope this clears up the misconception
     
  4. Bike_13

    Bike_13 Guest

    Thanks!
     
  5. wilfredh

    wilfredh Member

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    Carline
    What workflow do you recommend? Assuming the turntable audio is pre-amplified to "line level",
    where do you connect that audio out cable? Next, how do you get NON-mp3 as a stored audio track format, say on the hard drive as a project file? What DVD authoring software do you use to take the NON-mp3 into a DVD compilation to do a burn, at your preferred 24/96 DVD-A? How do you handle the issue of RIAA equalization (on the vinyl) implicit in that audio stream--- do you remove it, or use the audio "as-was"? Do you prefer a particular DVD burning software, and why?
    Have you experienced problems playing back your burned DVDs on various DVD players?
    I really agree with your loss sentiments, seems to me it's not worth all the mastering work to get
    "lossed" audio as a final product.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2003
  6. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    wilfredh -
    My preferred workflow is this:
    I connect the turntable to a NAD preamp, and send the Pre-Amp outputs to my Nuendo 96K 8I/O converters, which is essentially a rebadged RME converter. This gets around the RIAA thing as it's taken care of in the preamp. I feed this into the HDSP 9652 card into Nuendo at 32 bit floating point, 96KHz sample rate. Admittedly 96K is slight overkill as in my experience 99% of people 99% of the time can't actually hear any difference above 48KHz. Any audible differences are generally down to poor PPL filter design rather than the sample rate, and research done by the AES seems to bear this out.
    It's also best to check your DVD player, as some will truncate your audio to 48KHz anyway.
    I then author the DVD-Audio using Minnetonka Audio's discwelder chrome package, using MLP encoding as well with SurCode MLP as this will double your running time to nearly 4 hours at 24/96 stereo on a DVD disc.
    Backups of the raw audio files I generally write to DVD-R, assuming I even need to keep them. Most often, I will simply delete them after authoring.
    For general DVD burning, I'm using VOB Instant CD/DVD as it seems to do the file backups okay. I guess most of these type of programs are all pretty much the same anyway!
    I still don't ever bother with any form of lossy compression, unless a client actually wants Dolby Digital or DTS for DVD-Video compatibility, although I would advise them to stick with 24/48 stereo, as all DVD-Video players should be able to handle this okay.
    MP3 is just a waste of time for me, as there is no point spending all that time and effort converting audio at high quality just to throw away 10/11 of it!
     
  7. wilfredh

    wilfredh Member

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    Carline
    Thank you! That is excellent, detailed advice you posted.
    I'm new to all this, but wish to do a good job, having a beginning-to-end description helps a LOT. I shall go away to *study* all this!
     
  8. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    Wilkes,

    Have you actually blind tested with high quality lossy compressed music, or are you just shooting in the wind? LAME MP3 encoder can reach very good results, but naturally it is a lossy codec -- so if it's a princible not to use one, then it is ok. But a high quality MP3 encoder, such as lame, doesn't "throw away" stuff.
     
  9. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    I have done several tests, using a few of the lossy codecs. The Lame one is way better than Fraunhofer IMO, but it still does throw away a lot of your audio. By definition a lossy codec loses audio. Sorry to be a pedant about this, but all MP3 is Perceptual coding, which relies on the masking phenomenon to discard information which your brain can "reconstruct".
    It's a sort of Auditory Hallucination. The bass information is not really there, your brain fills in the gaps. The basic principle is based on the fact that to be recognised by our ears as equally loud, a lower frequency has to be played back at a higher volume than a higher frequency. IE, the human ear is less sensitive to low level sounds if there are also high level sounds at the same or nearby frequencies. What happens then is the softer signal becomes inaudible to the ear enabling the information to be thrown away. This is how the size reductions are achieved, and it will never be as good as the original. Admittedly, a lot of people cannot tell the difference, but on high quality playback equipment you will notice it every time unless your DAC or speakers are poorly designed, in which case you just might not. Unlikely though. Lame does too throw away audio. AFAIK, ogg vorbis does not, neither does MLP which is why it was chosen for compression of DVD-A.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2003
  10. wilfredh

    wilfredh Member

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    Wilkes
    You say "ogg vorbis" does NOT throw away audio file info in it's compression method? AHA, is that right?! I certainly shall look into that, it's another option for my vinyl=>disc project, *perhaps* allowing my use of the cheaper CDroms.

    The painful reality is that the much better DVD recordings at 24+/96+ get downsampled to 16/44 output by *every* DVD Audio player on the market, thanks to the RIAA imposed decoding "rules" for firmware. That's handled via Dolby Labs licensing to the mfrs. of the DVD-A codex in their player's DSP chips--- they *must only* output 16/44 audio. This is a true "gotcha" for us audio people!
    Please tell me I have got this info. wrong!
     
  11. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    You probably know the word "placebo effect". This is why properly designed scientific tests must be performed in a double-blind way if something is tested that includes functions of the human body (hearing is one of them). So if you haven't performed your tests in this way there's a big chance that your ears/your brain have played tricks on you. You might want to have a look at this:
    http://www.pcabx.com/
    and this:
    http://www.pcabx.com/training/index.htm

    "IMO" ... that's an important point. If people who don't know much about the topic read "Senior Member" next to your name many will assume you know what you're talking about and take your opinion as truth. Because of this - I hope you agree with me - being a bit more careful about your statements would be important if you want to help people.
    E.g. Lame (3.9x) is better than (recent versions) of Fraunhofer at high bitrates (160kbps+ for sure), at low bitrates (<128kbps) Fraunhofer is better as Lame isn't capable of intensity stereo.

    most of this is true ...
    - lossy encoders don't throw away bass information (unless they're specialized in encoding speech at very low bitrates)
    - in fact lossy encoding/decoding adds noise (that is masked by the original signal) in most cases. Do a wave substraction original - compressed and you'll hear it.
    ... but
    You simply can't conclude this from the explanation you gave before, especially talking this generally. If you do a fair test (same equipment, ABX) I bet you won't be able to tell what's the original and what the copy using Musepack at standard setting (VBR ~ 160-180kbps), no matter how good your equipment is. If you try the same with lame mp3 + --alt-preset standard (or higher) you'll be surprised how hard it is to find differences (not talking about the known problem samples).

    Compared to training (for hearing artifacts) equipment doesn't matter much. This has been confirmed many times by audiophiles with x0,000 $ equipment over at http://www.hydrogenaudio.org .
    I assume you're talking about Ogg Vorbis - it's lossy so it "throws away" information. IIRC, Flac (lossless) has been integrated in Ogg container recently, so Ogg supports lossless as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2003
  12. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    No.
    What would you use for playback for Ogg Vorbis?

    WOW! That's interesting!
    Are you talking about digital output of the players or about analog (high res -> downsampling to 16/44.1 -> D/A conversion)? Where did you get this info from?

    Taking all this trouble into accout maybe it would be better for you to build and use a (silent) audio PC that could handle every (free) lossless high res format ...
     
  13. wilfredh

    wilfredh Member

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    Hi guys, obviously you disagree (and civilly!) re lossy vs. lossless audio as arriving at the ears of listeners. I appreciate *both* of your excellent and germaine comments!
    My comments re every audio format getting downsampled to *only* 16/44 was gained from reading a large amount of i-net content about the DVD-A formats, licensing, MLP, Dolby, etc. over the past 3 weeks. I read that requirement many times, give me some time to retreive this info. (it's all in my cptr).
    I do believe the 16/44 rule applies ONLY to audio processed by the DSP chips in the players---digital outputs that is.
    If one outputs just the Analog audio, 2 channels (stereo) only from the DVD-A player, it seems to me you might get much better performance than 16/44. However the HT "receiver" (in my case) will only output 2 channel stereo with only level and balance controls active--- no other HT features will work. Evidently the digital (either coaxial or optical) audio paths contain handshakes back to the DVD player that control its DSP audio handling (IMHO) so as to only output 16/44. Some of my i-net reading stated these low bit/sampling #s were mandated to prevent users from copying DVDs.
    How much better the digital audio world would be now if RIAA had decided long ago to do as Apple now does---direct sales to consumers! Apple's iTunes delivers MPEG4/AAC audio, they state it's indistinguishable from lossless encoded audio. It appears to me that the music industry just will NOT deliver music to us consumers at anywhere near full quality PCM or WAV formats, in effect we buy a license to play their (untouchable) disc through (untouchable) players of their specification.

    Fine, I just want to get *my* vinyl onto discs with NO losses, and playable on any DVD-A equipment I own. All these hoops I have to jump at/through to arrive there are from a crazily fearful industry and are a pain in the xxx.
    Sorry about this rant, it's been a really long, exhausting and expensive 3 weeks about digital audio on DVDs.
     
  14. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    As far as DVD-Audio players only outputting at 16/44.1 goes, this very much depends on the player in question. The Limit DVD9900SE that I use as my main DVD player has several output options. For each of it's supported playback types, you have PCM output - the player uses it's built-in decoders, RAW output - the player outputs the signal to the digital outputs in it's original form, or off. There are also Analogue outputs as well, and the output of all these can be either 44.1, 48 or 96KHz. For DVD-Audio multichannel ie non DTS or Dolby Digital, you have to use the Analogue outputs, as the Optical links cannot carry more than 4 channels of audio at 24/96.
    However, the point is that downsampling is only done if you choose to have it done in the players Digital Audio setup menu. It certainly doesn't automatically drop to 16/44.1.
    If you try and use the digital outputs on a DVD-A multichannel High Resolution disc at 24/96, it will only output in Stereo or ProLogic though, using the downmix functions.
    To go back to the MP3 thing again, It is only my opinion that MP3 is never as good as uncompressed wave files, because I do not believe that lossy compression based on psychoacoustics and masking will ever be as good. However, there are many people who state categorically that the better MP3 codecs, Lame in particular, are not "near CD" quality, but actual CD quality. Personally, I still wait to be convinced, but I reservce the right to change my mind in the face of better evidence.
     
  15. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    The truth is somewhere in between. Even if you have performed training to hear artifacts > 9 of 10 songs will be indistinguishable mp3 <-> CD if lame --alt-preset standard (or higher) is used, no matter how hard you try. For this 1 song out of 10 you'll need to listen to short passages (~3 seconds) multiple times to compare and finally find slight differences. Only in very rare cases you'll find problems that are so obvious that you notice them without comparing. (And comparing to verify is still necessary as some types of digital processing like noise reduction can create pseudo-encoding-artifacts that are in the original CD.)

    Fine. If you're really waiting, I can tell you how to find out (= test) what's the deal yourself.
    http://www.pcabx.com/training/index.htm
    Is a good starting point (artifact training). The easiest way is to use your PC (either with good headphones or connected to your stereo), but you could also burn the samples to CD and tell a friend to play them back randomized on your stereo.
    If you really want to do this feel free to ask for further instructions or any other help.
     
  16. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    Wilkes,

    [bold]About the MP3 issue[/bold]

    Theoretically the MP3 is, of course, worse than any lossless solution. There is no debate in that, as it is a lossy compressor. It is a good princibl e to encode everything lossless, no doubt about that.

    As you are an audio industry professional, I strongly suggest that you try ABX testing, with LAME -alt-preset standard for example. Only good things can result:
    -You hear the differences and your feedback can be forwarded to LAME team
    -You don't hear it and you learn about the abilities of MP3 and the defects of humar hearing.

    I myself have been facing the ABX challenge and the result was that I am a very poor listener (Genelec 1030A bi-ampped active monitors). I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in audio compression tech.

    On the other hand, I hope you don't mind me saying, in the last 5 years or the audio scene has seen a lot of audio engineering pros entering the communities with strong statements, backed by their professionalism. Many of them have had to revise their opinions later._X_X_X_X_X_[small]http://CD-RW.ORG - Online since 1996
    Millions of burners served[/small]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2003
  17. wilkes

    wilkes Regular member

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    Can't do anything for a week as I have an urgent mix job on up in cumbria and will be out of my studio, but I will be investigating this much more closely when I get back. I will check out the necessary links and tests, and naturally post back with my results.
    Here's hoping humble pie doesn't taste too bad, but we'll have to wait and see I guess. It's going to be educational no matter what way it turns out.
     
  18. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    Yes, very educational.

    And there are many so called "bat ears" that do hear MP3s from originals, no matter what settings used. It is not at all impossible and you very well may be one of those people. If that's the case, then your participation in possibly upcoming LAME listening tests would appreciated by the whole audio scene.
     

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