What's a good audiophile setup for digitizing vinyl?
January 28, 2004 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I have been helping a friend convert his punk vinyl into digital audio. Who here is an audiophile? More inside.

Here is my hardware:
Stanton STR8-20 record player, 500B cartridge.
Yamaha CR-640 Amp, all levels set to flat.
Generic RCA to mini plug adapter.
Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Audio input.
AKG K240 monitors connected to the computer to listen.

Is this hardware good enough for an audiophile quality recording of vinyl? The cartridge is a month old, and the records have been played less than 10 times. I am using Nero Burning ROMs Soundtrax recording software, at 16-bit 44.1Khz Wave. I can edit and master the tracks, but since the records are clean I dont want to mess with the output. As a side note: I went to the doctors for a hearing test and I was told I am in the top 1 percent, so I have been noticing the clearer range of vinyl as compared to CD's.... and I like it. What should I do to be sure my rips are the best possible?
posted by Keyser Soze to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (I will be moving over some orchestra and pink floyd vinyl soon)
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2004

I don't know that particular cartridge, but I would guess you'd see the most improvement by upgrading the turntable/cartridge.

Also, investing in some software specifically for vinyl to digital conversion might be worth it - any suggestions for this? I think that it cleans up some noise and splits tracks for you.

That said - why not just listen to the records? I know that's not a great solution (esp if your friend has some collectible stuff they'd like to cash in on), but nothing's going to sound as good as the original records. At least, if your friend can, keep the LPs in good storage boxes in the event of hard-drive failure :)
posted by drobot at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2004

Response by poster: We want to make rare punk compilations, so I dont really have a choice. The record player I bought was 80 bucks, so that could be an issue.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:47 PM on January 28, 2004

First: Use a dedicated audio program to record, like WaveLab or SoundForge. This will allow you must greater control over your recordings.

Second: The recording level must be set for each record. The highest peak on the record should be between -2db and 0db.

Third: Listen to the recording. Add a marker every time you hear a click, then interpolate out the click using your software of choice.

Also: Make sure you clean your records beforehand (not just wipe, but clean), using a vaccum device will get all the dust out of the grooves that otherwise shows up as low-level background noise. You can also try wet playing/hydroplaning your needle by spraying the record with distilled water, so the needle skims on a layer of fluid and bypasses scratches and other imperfections.

Keep in mind that a turntable is a machine which is vulnerable to vibrations. Keep your sound level low. Don't listen to the music as you record it, just record it.

I'll drag up some links for you a bit later, if you're interested. Ripping vinyl is a fine art.
posted by Jairus at 4:00 PM on January 28, 2004

I should clarify: "Don't listen to the music as you record it" means "Don't listen to the music on speakers as you record it". Monitor your rip via headphones.
posted by Jairus at 4:01 PM on January 28, 2004

E-Mail me when the comps come out - I love this sort of thing. Have you checked out the Hyped to Death CDs? You might write to that guy and see how he did it - I think his CDs sound pretty good, given the quality of the original recordings.
posted by drobot at 4:09 PM on January 28, 2004

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