Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Digitizing Them Big Plastic CDs
April 23, 2012 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Best practices for burning vinyl to digital on an Ion Turntable?

I just came into possession of a secondhand Ion TTUSB turntable. I've figured out how to use the EZVinyl software that's on Ion's website, and really makes the tracking and titling easy, but in my first few hours with the thing it's already clear that there are many potential mistakes to be made and many things I can do to get optimal output.

Those of you who have digitized an entire collection, how did you manage to streamline it? Did you clean each record before recording? - I've already been frustrated by getting a good recording of most of an LP and then having it ruined with a single skip. Can you go back and "paste" in good copies of tracks if the other tracks are OK? Where did you set the gain? What about the tone arm - anything about the settings for balance and "anti-skate?" Any tips for interfacing with the iTunes library system?

The last turntable I had was a mid-80s vintage and I was only worried about playback, not getting a good recording. I'd really appreciate hearing any technical tips you have as well as any best practices you figured out for getting through your entire vinyl collection efficiently.

It is pretty amazing to hear the full, warm, round sound of vinyl again!
posted by Miko to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know that turntable, but the marked settings for anti-skate should be good. If it is second hand, you may want to purchase a new stylus for it.

If you know where a skip will be, you can carefully hold the headshell at that point, and with some practice you can almost always hold it in place to play through without a skip. Just put some downward pressure and left or right pressure as needed - not too much. And after doing that once, the record may play through the former skip, but with usually a pop. Otherwise you can record to WAV files, not MP3, and make several tries to get the skipped part and edit the parts together in an audio editing program, then convert the finished edit to MP3.

The gain should be set so the loudest part of the music - not pops and clicks - brings the meter just a little back from maximum. The ION instructions say to let it go "just into the orange", but no, you can and should go a bit higher than that. Just don't "pin" the meter as if the music is louder than the meter (and the computer recording) can accept.

Spin It Again , a shareware program, could be an easier way to make these recordings. It is very easy to use. It has presets for equalization and noise reduction, including click and pop removal. It also can do a pretty fair job in removing hiss when copying a tape to computer. The various noise reduction functions it has can be set manually too. And it is intended for recording live from a turntable, but it will accept other audio files for noise reduction processing. The shareware version lets you make three full recordings before switching to a ten second limit, iirc. This program is complete in itself and does not require iTunes.

The ION turntable and its program or Spin It Again is not the best way to transfer vinyl to computer, but should be very good enough for normal listening.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:38 PM on April 23, 2012


The gain should be set so the loudest part of the music - not pops and clicks - brings the meter just a little back from maximum. The ION instructions say to let it go "just into the orange", but no, you can and should go a bit higher than that. Just don't "pin" the meter as if the music is louder than the meter (and the computer recording) can accept.

The only thing I worry about regarding this is that the VU meter on the computer screen might not refresh fast enough to catch all the peaks and you could accidentally clip quick sounds like snare hits. Digital is nice in that it is linear all the way from the quietest to loudest it can handle. So always err a little quieter, you can normalize it later. Especially if you can record in 32 bit sound, which gives you a lot of headroom to work with. You can record, clean up and edit out pops in 32 bit, and then convert down to 24 or 16 bit, depending on what you want your final product to be.

When I was experimenting with one of those units, I found that I got better quality going out of the turntable through the RCA jacks into my sound card. Except that it picked up some nasty noise that way. (I think it was my computer's fault.) So I had to go with the USB connector. It sounded a little flatter, but it was quiet.

If you are really interested in getting the quality as good as you can, make sure you set up the tonearm correctly. There are tons of websites that purport to tell you the right way to do it. I liked the ones that give you a printable sheet that you can print and cut out and place on the deck to check the various angles. You might even want to invest in a testing record that has sine waves and such that you can use to make sure it is set up right. You can use Audacity to do some test recordings and make sure the sine wave looks correct. (The record should have instructions for what to look for.) When setting the counterweight, I believe the right way to do it is to start a little light and adjust down. When I got the thing fresh out of the box, it wasn't set up particularly well at all. The most egregious was that the angle of the head was off, causing a phasing issue. The second most egregious thing was that the plastic deck was a little warped, which caused the record to rise and fall as it spun around. But that was easily fixed by taping some pieces of paper under the rubber mat thing until it spun flat.
posted by gjc at 6:14 AM on April 24, 2012


« Older What is currently the best tab...   |  I'm trying to create a treadmi... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.