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Help me build my bunker of sounds from vintage vinyl.
July 20, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Minimum computing horsepower for recording from vinyl?

I am the happy owner of a new Audio Technica USB turntable, and I'd like to put the USB functionality to use.

Has anyone out there used a relatively low-powered system to record from vinyl? Web instructions aren't much help - basically they'll say "your Mac or Windows system should work fine " but I'm thinking about using something like Linux running on the RikoMagic MK802. I'm thinking of buying the MK802 for other uses as well.

I've seen reports that at least one current Audio Technica model is recognized by Linux without much fuss. The peripheral support available on the MK802 is a separate issue and something I'll have to think about as well, since I'd like to use my USB soundcard.

This question really is more about : what kind of processing speed and RAM will make it possible for me to get good-quality audio from my vinyl?

I have a question out to one of the MK802's vendors on this but have not heard back.

Examples of what you used would be helpful, especially if you are running Linux.
posted by Currer Belfry to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This question really is more about : what kind of processing speed and RAM will make it possible for me to get good-quality audio from my vinyl?

Seriously, in terms of processor and RAM, any computer bought more recently than, say, 1998 will be able to manage this without any problems.
posted by cincinnatus c at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


If the turntable is outputting on USB, then the heavy lifting (digitizing the audio) is done in turntable. The specs on the RikoMagic look fine for writing a digital audio stream to a file.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2012


Seriously, in terms of processor and RAM, any computer bought more recently than, say, 1998 will be able to manage this without any problems.

Please read the full question. The OP is asking specifically about not using a standard desktop, but a thumbdrive-sized computer that doesn't even have its own power supply.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2012


Please read the full question. The OP is asking specifically about not using a standard desktop, but a thumbdrive-sized computer that doesn't even have its own power supply.

Oh sorry, I should have been clearer. I'll try again:

Seriously, in terms of processor and RAM, any computer bought more recently than, say, 1998 will be able to manage this without any problems - including the Rikomagic MK802.
posted by cincinnatus c at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Outwith processor and RAM considerations, it looks like USB audio devices will be supported when the latest version of the firmware is released any day now. Still could be tricky though.
posted by cincinnatus c at 9:25 AM on July 20, 2012


The beaglebone does cost a little bit more than the rikomagic, and it is more than twice as big, but still small. And it does USB audio out of the box, and unlike android is based on a standard GNU toolchain.

Also the beagleboard is set up to be easy to use for arduino style sensor/controller experiments (on a completely unrelated note).
posted by idiopath at 9:46 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't recorded a whole album, but I got decent short recordings on a Raspberry Pi reading from the USB DAC in a Technolink TC-772 preamp (which will likely use the same TI/Burr-Brown chip as your turntable) and arecord at 48/16.

I had to turn every spare service off (don't even think of running X). It was probably more fiddly than it was worth.
posted by scruss at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2012


idiopath, I hadn't heard of the beaglebone. Thanks for the recommendation, since I haven't made any final purchasing decisions.
posted by Currer Belfry at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2012


I have a MK802 as I mentioned in the comment the OP linked to above.

This question really is more about : what kind of processing speed and RAM will make it possible for me to get good-quality audio from my vinyl?

The MK802 should be able to do that without any problems. As griphus said I believe the turntable itself is doing all of the difficult stuff so the MK802 just has to save the incoming data stream to a file. I wouldn't be able to verify without actually trying it out with that particular turntable but overall it's within the range of things you could expect to do with it.

The peripheral support available on the MK802 is a separate issue and something I'll have to think about as well, since I'd like to use my USB soundcard.

This is actually the major thing I am struggling with right now because I want to setup my MK802 as a portable audio streaming device without needing a TV to hook it up to. I bought one of these, which works fine on a standard x86 Ubuntu install. The problem is that the MK802 being a ARM-based device (which all of these ultra-cheap and small computers are) means it needs a special ARM build of Ubuntu (or Lubuntu or whatever), and at least for the images I've seen posted most of them are not compiled to have the snd-usb-audio driver that I need for my device in the kernel. I think I just need to re-compile the kernel myself with the module enabled but that's not exactly easy to do and I haven't had time to try it. Anyway I think this is completely doable but since I'm one of the first few people trying it, it involves some Linux hacking to get it to work, once more people do the same sorts of projects there will probably be more full featured images with relevant drivers. If your USB turntable can work with the same or similar drivers you will probably be in the same boat. But in general expect to have to jump through some hoops running Linux on your MK802 that you wouldn't have to deal with on a standard Ubuntu install.

I have a question out to one of the MK802's vendors on this but have not heard back.

Most of the newest development stuff is getting posted to this forum, you might want to post or keep an eye on things there. The most active activity seems to be around Toby Corkindale's Linaro build, for example he just figured out and posted instructions for getting some initial support for using the hardware video decoder chip rather than doing it all in software.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2012


Historically, we were able to record 22kHz stereo on a Mac IIci which ran a 25MHz 68030 as long as there was disc space. As long as the drivers are there and don't suck beyond belief, you should be able to do the same on any PCish machine going back to, say, a P200 (which was when USB started to appear). In other words, no problem as long as you aren't recording to a drive that's on the same USB chain.
posted by plinth at 5:37 PM on July 20, 2012


Uh, maybe my previous success with Raspberry Pi was overstated. On retrying, I can record ~21 seconds from the USB preamp before the Pi gives a USB disconnect.
posted by scruss at 3:49 PM on July 21, 2012


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