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limbok's picture
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Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?
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Hi All,

I know the subject is a bit of an oxymoron but please hear me out and perhaps someone can help or add weight.  I like Vinyl very very much but I cannot transport my setup with me on my travels.  So whilst away from home, I want to listen to my favourite music on MP3.  I listen to all kinds of popular music, so what is the best (and not too expensive) way to convert my Vinyl?

This is what i have available on my travels:

IPOD Classic 80GB, Goldring NS1000 or Goldring DR150 headphones, Heed CanAmp 1 (headphone amp), IBM Thinkpad T61.

This is what I listen to at home :

Linn LP12+Denon DL-160 on SME IV, Graham Slee gramamp2 SE stage, Cyrus 8vs2, Cyrus CD8, Focal 706V, REL Quake (if needed).

Before you answer, I have discovered some annoyances about my IPOD/MP3.  When I rip my CDs to MP3 (256 bit variable) using Itunes, i find the output from my IPOD is bass heavy compared to the original source, so much so that i have to use the bass reduction EQ all the time.  Is this an effect of the compression algorithm or something on my computers or the IPOD, i wonder?  I don't want the same result for my vinyl but i can appreciate i will never get the same neutrality as my source.  Has anyone else had the same experience?

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

how much music do you want to copy?

how much time before you go on your travels?

 

do you want the track tagged and with art work etc...

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Hi Nads, i would say I have about 300 Vinyl albums worth to copy but will do bits at a time as I return home regularly.  I've seen plenty of cheap USB converters from Maplins, etc, which seem to have a knob on the front to control the level.  i wonder if they are any good? 

I guess it would be a manual task to tag the albums with artwork, etc but its not essential right now. Have you done such a thing?

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?
limbok:When I rip my CDs to MP3 (256 bit variable) using Itunes, i find the output from my IPOD is bass heavy compared to the original source, so much so that i have to use the bass reduction EQ all the time.  Is this an effect of the compression algorithm or something on my computers or the IPOD, i wonder? 



Does everything sound bass heavy on the iPod? If so, it may just be that is how it sounds, so using the EQ is the way around it. Does the MP3 file sound bass heavy directly from iTunes if you plug the same headphones into whatever it is that you're running iTunes on? If not, it's the iPod, and using EQ will resolve it for playback, leaving your files intact.

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Hi fatboyslimfast, I did a quick random test listening on my system, directly from itunes (through some creative 2.1 speakers) and finally the Ipod and it looks like it is every single track on the Ipod that is bass heavy.  Direct Itunes is a litte muddied by the bass but not enough to throw away all my CD rips...phew.  My Cyrus sounds just fine...well its not a fair comparison really.  i suspect Apple are boosting the bass a bit on Ipods to allow for tinny earbuds to sound better under low volume levels..tut tut.

So, back to my 1st question: Vinyl to MP3, can anybody share their experiences please?

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Actually, yes!

I've recorded quite a bit of mine to WAV (I then burn them to CD for storage), and then convert to Apple Lossless, but the process is the same.

I use the output from my preamp direct into the line input on my mac mini (but have also done this to a Windows XP PC) and use the freeware program Audacity to record, and then split the recording into separate WAVs for each track. If you export each section to MP3 rather than WAV at this point, you have the option to include ID3 tag information (name/track/album etc).

I normally avoid any of the noise-reduction features unless there are heavy scratches, when I use the "de-click" filter, which reduces them down to an acceptable level.

Once I have a collection of WAVs, I burn them to an audio CD, then re-import to iTunes. If you have MP3, you can import directly using the "add file/folder to library" function.

I've done quite a bit of this, so if I can help further, just shout...

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Thanks for your info.  i have actually used Audacity before on my Linux PC to rip sections of MP3s to make ring tones for my phone but I am no expert on the application.  Your method sounds nice and simple.  I think the MAC/PC soundcard route sounds like a lot of sense as i know I can buy a very decent soundcard for fewer pennies than a bespoke audiophile marketed item.  I have an old eMac that can probably take the input (just need a cable) or I may invest in a dedicated high-end soundcard as I don't think onboard soundcards are very good at all.

i agree about not using filters...just need to make sure those black disks are super clean. So, how do your vinyl recordings compare to the original?

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

It sort-of rather depends on the disk in question, and how well-played it is. I still reckon that the copy of "with the beatles" (1st press - my mums!) sounds as good as the remastered mono box set version, but generally I only rip the items that I can't get on spotify or itunes (I'm a lazy begger at heart!), so have no other media to compare with.

Given the result with the Beatles LP, I would say in general, favourably. I'm more than happy with them. I must admit to being happier with the results from the Mac's line-in that those done on my Windows laptop though.

Obv, if the record is worn, then the distortion level will be higher than the CD - not a great deal you can do about that.

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Ah..The Beatles...my collection only includes the red and blue albums and the quality is pretty naff unfortunately.  I must get some of their audiophile catalog someday.

Well I did a quick search and found a Sound Blaster Audigy SE card for £30.  Do you think the spec is suitable as it seems to have minimal line in/out sockets?

http://uk.store.creative.com/products/product.aspx?catid=1&pid=14257&nav=1

Technical Specifications


24-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion of analog inputs at 96kHz sample rate 24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion of digital sources at 96kHz to analog 7.1 speaker output 16-bit and 24-bit recording with sampling rates of 8, 11.025, 16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz SPDIF output up to 24-bit resolution at selectable sampling rate of 44.1, 48 or 96kHz 64-Voice polyphony and multi-timbral capability 128 GM & GS compatible instruments and 10 drum kits 2MB or 4MB GM SoundFont Bank included


On-Board Connectors


Line level out (Front / Side / Rear / Centre / Subwoofer) or Headphone out Line In / Microphone In / *Digital I/O Aux Audio in


* Supports SPDIF Out for Stereo Digital Speaker/ connection with Creative Digital I/O Module (sold separately)

Sound Blaster Audigy SE Audio Performance


Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted) = 100 dB (2V) Frequency Response at -3 dBr = <10 Hz to 40 kHz

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Aye, that will do. Have you tried using your normal soundcard? If so, if the reason for wanting to change it is noise floor, you may have the same issue with this one, as it's also internal (the PC case tends to reflect noise around inside the PC).

If it's for extra detail, then it might make a difference. Socket-wise, all you need is a line-in, so you are fine there. The 24/96 stuff is largely irrelevant if you are going to be outputting to MP3, as the detail will be lost.

It should do the job fine for what you want.

If you can stretch to it, the Nad PP3 or Project Phono Box USB are the real way forward, as they are designed purely for this role. But they are 3 times the price of the one you mention there.

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Hi, yes I am concerned a litlle about the internal vibrations of my computer.  As you say, the external USB converter sounds the better way forward.  Many of the external box solutions seem to only be 16-bit converters at 44.1KHz but I suppose that should be fine for MP3s.  Btw, I read some horriible customer reviews of the Project Phono Box USB.  Basically, they were saying the gain was set too high and not adjustable and therefore caused clipping/distortion with some of their high output equipment and recordings (e.g. 12 inch singles).  Therefore, I looked around for other products that had built-in gain control and found this:

ART USB Phono Plus v2

http://www.artproaudio.com/products.asp?type=90&cat=13&id=128

Does anyone have one of these to comment upon?

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Hmm, that suprises me re the Project. Henley Designs (the importer) is a regular on here, hopefully he'll drop by and comment.

It could have been that they were using the MC input and not the MM, with a MM cartridge - this would have caused the overloading issue.

Can't comment on the SQ of the ART, but it looks like a pretty well made bit of kit...

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?
limbok:Btw, I read some horriible customer reviews of the Project Phono Box USB.  Basically, they were saying the gain was set too high and not adjustable and therefore caused clipping/distortion with some of their high output equipment and recordings (e.g. 12 inch singles).

I've never had any problems with mine.

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Re: Quality Vinyl to MP3 recording?

Hi Limbok,


I've ripped hundreds of lp's over the years.  I was using my PC as a recorder and Audio Editor Pro software which lets you record whole albums as wave files which you then edit into individual files to rip to mp3.  I did use Musicmatch Jukebox on the pc and itunes on my laptop for iPod transfer.


 I've since retired my pc so I now record to a rewritable audio cd on my Pioneer PDR-609. You do have to press the record button between tracks which is a bind however. After finalizing the cd, I put it into my Yamaha Musiccast and the the laptop.  Usually both devices recognise the album even without any CD text put on it and all relevant info is recorded.  I find this method a lot quicker than using the pc software.  I've got a box of 10 audio cdr/w discs but I use the same disc agin.  Just erase and record the next album.


LP12 Ittok Majik-P Pioneer PDR-609

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