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  #1  
Old 01-10-2010, 08:00 AM
kingk kingk is offline
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Digitizing vinyl

After many years of playing vinyl I did my first digital only set on NYE (due to limited space issues). I used Traktor Scratch and a MacBook and I really liked playing with it. Only drawback was the soundquality of some of the digital files (I used cd quality AIFF files). I ripped a lot of tracks from cd, bought some digital downloads online (some sounded good, others sounded like they were mp3's converted to wav ...) and digitized some of my records (using SL1200 with fully modded Rega250 tonearm, Grado DJ200 cart, Bozak CMA 10-2DL as preamp into M-audio 1212 soundcard).
To get better sound I'm thinking of building a dedicated set up to digitize some of my vinyl. I want to build this from scratch : turntable, cartridge, tonearm, phono stage, AD converter, ...
I want to know if you guys have experience with this and what you are using. What are the most critical elements (where should I spend my money on) ?
I'm convinced that I'll have to use higher bitrates than standard cd quality. I was thinking of 24 bit / 96 Khz (harddisk space and processor speeds aren't no longer an issue), while some audiophiles are convinced you can't use less than DSD audio ... What I understood is that using 24 bit samples is the most important thing, while the higher sample rates only let you sample higher frequencies.
I'm thinking of using a modded SL1200 with external PSU (something like this http://www.soundhifi.com/sl1200/SL1200%20PSU.htm).
I don't know about the tonearm/cart/phonostage. Which part would contribute more to the soundquality (Origin Live claims the tonearm, but off course that's what they are selling ...). What about the AD converter. I've read good things about the Lavry AD10 and Mytek ADC. But maybe this is overkill. Is it a lot better than an RME soundcard ?
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2010, 12:41 PM
whaaat whaaat is offline
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This is my current setup:
Heybrook TT2 (aka the poor man's Linn LP12)
Rega RB600 tonearm
Shure V15xMR cartrige
Sutherland PhD phono stage
HHB Burnit CD recorder

I use CDRW discs for recording (an 80 minute disc can usually fit about 4 album sides) then transfer to my Mac's HD using MAX and cut the tracks up in Audacity. I like this, as it allows me to parallel process (cutting up tracks from one disc while recording another) something I couldn't do with a purely computer-based system.

I've been really happy with recording natively in 16/44.1, though some Steve Hoffman board members claim to get better ambience retrieval using 24/96 (or higher! ) and dithering/resampling down to redbook. Since Steve himself has stated that the CDRs that he makes on his HHB burner "sound just like the record" (I assume this is with regard to tonality, not ambience retrieval) that was a ringing endorsement enough for me not to look any further. There are also a lot of fans of the Alesis Masterlink over at SH.tv, whitch does record up to 24/96 IIRC.

edt: if you want to hear some examples of my work, I can upload some .wav, .aiff or Apple Lossless samples for you.
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  #3  
Old 01-11-2010, 03:37 PM
kingk kingk is offline
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Thanks for your reply.
I'd love to hear some samples of your files. Preferable a file that I can compare to the original on vinyl ...
I wouldn't dither/resample to 16/44.1 but use the 24/96 files straight from a harddisk/computer. I'll do some testing myself with 24/96 ...
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2010, 06:44 PM
whaaat whaaat is offline
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No problem. Do you have a Discogs account? I can take a look through your collection to see if there's anything I've ripped already.

It's pretty cool that Traktor can use high-bitrate tracks, but to be honest even using Apple Lossless for everything I'm starting to run out of room on a 500GB hard drive. It would be pretty nuts if one of the DVS allowed native use of DSD files sometime in the future, but I think that's too nerdy of a subsegment of users (DJs who are audiophiles or vice-versa, though I guess that describes all of us here) for it to be worthwhile to implement.

Last edited by whaaat : 01-11-2010 at 06:46 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-11-2010, 09:03 PM
T. Tauri T. Tauri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingk
I was thinking of 24 bit / 96 Khz (harddisk space and processor speeds aren't no longer an issue), while some audiophiles are convinced you can't use less than DSD audio ...

I don't see editing or playback of DSD entering mainstream music applications any time soon. Seems a world of trouble as far as practical usage goes. 96/24 is, thanks to DVD audio, something of an accepted standard (says a guy who recently ran into some problems with his 88/24 digitized collection because that isn't an accepted standard).

I've never met anyone who's compared Lavry/Mytek in this kind of situation: the percentage of rippers with a dedicated setup is small; the percentage with high end A/D smaller; the percentage who may have compared two or more such A/Ds before deciding, infinitesimally small.

Do either Lavry or Mytek have -10dbv inputs? You might need a step-up transformer for them, as well.

Peece,
T. Tauri
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  #6  
Old 01-12-2010, 05:38 PM
kingk kingk is offline
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@whaaat -> I have a discogs account, but no list of my collection. Is your collection on Discogs ?

@ T. Tauri -> so I guess I'm on my own I get carried away easily when it comes to audio. I have no experience with these high end converters at the moment. I'm just reading as much as I can right now. And like I said I have no idea if converters like the Lavry and Mytek are worth the money or just overkill for my situation. There are some samples on the Mytek site. I still have to check them.
The Lavry AD10 has both -10dbv and +4dbu inputs.
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2010, 07:26 PM
T. Tauri T. Tauri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingk
And like I said I have no idea if converters like the Lavry and Mytek are worth the money or just overkill for my situation. There are some samples on the Mytek site. I still have to check them.

You might throw a post up at the pro audio mastering forums at Gearslutz or Prosoundweb, as those are generally the folks I see seriously using high-end AD/DA. Also, there's some people with vinyl-cutting background who'd have a good sense of how they'd fit into a vinyl recording setup...

Gearslutz:
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/

Prosoundweb (Brad Blackwood's Mastering Forum is the one to post in):
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/

Peece,
T. Tauri
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  #8  
Old 01-12-2010, 09:05 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Which Macbook are you using? I think all the things that handle your signal before they reach your computer are good. Yes, you can improve on them, of course. But, the last item your signal is handled by during digitizing, is your Macbook.

Look into updating your hardrive, to a better card, higher RPM, and larger storage capacity, as this could very well be what your hearing.

When I went from my original G4, to a hot Macbook Pro 15, with all the goodies, it made a BIG difference in my sound.
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2010, 11:32 PM
deep_bias deep_bias is offline
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Short of actual dropouts due to your system not being fast enough (like lots of clicks, very noticable.. probably your recording program would just stop..) your hard drive really can't have any effect on what data is recorded from the ADC to a file, so don't spend too much time worrying about that aspect of the system. Maybe there are recording programs that really suck that make a difference with this, I'm not sure, but don't stress about the drive affecting sound quality.

Gearslutz is also a good place to go to hear about RME vs Mytek vs Lavry.. all of them are great I hear. I think there are some good threads on here for phono pre recommendations? I think the really nice ones start in the couple hundreds and then of course go up to total absurdity.

People sometimes argue that for PCM audio 96khz sampling is better for pushing digital/analog conversion artifacts out of the audible range, i would recommend checking this reasoning and out for yourself as the debate over what is the best format and what is unnecessary is always raging with insane intensity across audio forums. I still am not up on the theory enough to understand whether you need to use 96khz (or greater) dacs but can record at lower rates or actually record in 96k or more all the time.
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2010, 12:44 AM
charles0322 charles0322 is offline
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1. just get a good needle/cart with thump.. no ortofon tinniness! but maybe try another cart/needle combo and see what sounds you can get.. cheapest solution first.

2. good phono preamp stage. better than the Bozak??

3. record into any program with any decent soundcard at 16/44.1 should be good enough.. maybe try another format??

IMO You can spend way too much on this if you want to go crazy. but the results may not be worth it.

The fact you have a Bozak and a good Turntable will make it that much better than what I am getting..

And as for soundcard.. since you are using MacPro http://www.mhlabs.com/metric_halo/

Last edited by charles0322 : 01-13-2010 at 12:51 AM.
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2010, 09:24 AM
whaaat whaaat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingk
@whaaat -> I have a discogs account, but no list of my collection. Is your collection on Discogs ?
Yes, my username there is the same as here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles0322
And as for soundcard.. since you are using MacPro http://www.mhlabs.com/metric_halo/
I believe legendary mastering engineer Barry Diament is a big fan of Metric Halo.
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  #12  
Old 01-13-2010, 02:40 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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KingK, when you download, does your computer put the file in iTunes, and iTunes reads the files?

If so, whenever you download, make sure the iTunes equalizer is set to Flat, or Off. I found that my downloads sound clean, and proper, WITHOUT the iTunes EQ, as opposed to clipping distortion in the download with the EQ on.
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  #13  
Old 01-13-2010, 04:16 PM
kingk kingk is offline
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Thanks for the links. I'll check them asap.

I use a 13" Macbook (2,4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo / 4 GB 1067 Mhz DDR3 / OS X 10.6). Almost the same specifications as the bigger Macbook pro at the time I bought it (in fact these 13" macbooks are now called macbook pro). Only difference was the grafic card and the lack of a firewire connection (this could be a problem to connect a good soundcard).
At the moment playback is through the Traktor audio 4 dj soundcard connected to the USB output. The D/A conversion could be in fact the biggest bottleneck right now ...
I use Itunes to arrange my digital files (not to download files). Level matching and EQ are switched off. I hope Itunes isn't corrupting the digital files in any ways (I guess this can be checked by comparing the original and imported file - off course Itunes will add some tags to the file - I'll find out how to check this).
The files are digitized using a PC with M-Audio 1212 soundcard (I don't use the Mac to digitize at the moment). I use Wavlab or Soundforge to edit the files (just cutting of the start and end parts).
I can't see how the Macbook or PC itself could do anything wrong to the signal after it's being digitized by the AD converter/soundcard. Unless it's just messing up the data when writing it to the harddisk.
I just want to find out if improvement is possible (how much and at what price) and if some of you already have experience with certain products/set ups.
I already found some interesting stuff like the CrazyT PC Dac by BD-Design (http://www.bd-design.nl/index1.html -> products ->audio equipment). It's connected through USB but deals with the data in a way that it can't be corrupted by the USB connection. However, considering it's price, I wouldn't want to see someone spilling his beer on it (not really suited for dj use I guess, but the solution looks interesting).
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  #14  
Old 01-13-2010, 05:12 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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OK, the iTunes EQ is not your problem. I mentioned this because Serato DOES use iTunes, and I went through some downloads that just sounded distorted and found that by switching the iTunes EQ off, solved that problem.

I will also be using Traktor this summer, pretty much everyone likes it better than Serato, and in hearing it myself, I agree, it's goooood.

A GREAT outboard AD converter should make considerable difference. However, I just wonder if in fact, digitizing from record to file, that your experiencing what we all experienced in the early days of CD, when they just transferred to CD from the old analog masters WITHOUT remastering for digital. And older analog music didn't translate into digital like MASTERED FOR DIGITAL does! I bought some disco classic downloads from iTunes, and Beatport, and NONE of them sounded good to me. But modern digital music, made today, sounds quite good with the formats we are talking about. Just food for thought.

BTW, your Macbook is fine, no problems there.

Wish I had the absolute answer for you,
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  #15  
Old 01-13-2010, 05:47 PM
kingk kingk is offline
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No need for absolute answers. I like to experiment. The fun is in the journey ... I experienced exactly the same thing. The digital files that sounded best to me were all recent music.
Thing is. I had so much fun with Traktor that I really want to get the maximum out of it.

edit : and I want to play some good "old" music
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  #16  
Old 01-13-2010, 06:43 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingk
edit : and I want to play some good "old" music
I HEAR THIS LOUD AND CLEAR, !

Me too, and I have been going through the iTunes store, I mean they have an amazing selection of classic rock, soul, salsa, disco, you name it! BUT, sound quality of un-remastered oldies becomes an issue for me. And, unfortunately, the remastered versions are usually diffferent versions from the original as well.

So, I have also begun searching emusic.com for music, supposed to have GREAT sounding downloads, and amazons new download site. emusic is a subscription site, so there is a charge for joining, I'll see what I find and how I like it.

Also, since you use Traktor, and I am getting Traktor, how does their built in program EQ work? Does IT help to ameliorate some of the fidelity problems, such as too much mid, bottom end, etc?
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  #17  
Old 01-14-2010, 05:29 AM
kingk kingk is offline
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I'll check out emusic ...

The EQ does it's work (and I like some of the built in effects too - like the reverb). The EQ is only available when mixing in internal mode (not when using time code vinyl or cd's and an external mixer). It's usable as tonecontrol (press +/- to adjust in steps of about 5%, turn the knobs to finetune in smaller steps or you can totally cut a frequency range). This method isn't fast enough if you want to tweak the sound during the mix like on an isolator or the tonecontrols of an external mixer.
Most of the time I lower the mids and add a little bottom. If the mids are not distorted this can help a lot. The bottom end sounds good to me most of the time. I have far more problems with the high frequencies. I really can't stand it when they sound distorted. I don't think EQ could be of help in this case (unless you do a full cut ).
If you like I can record some music so you can hear the effects of the internal EQ.

@Whaat -> thanks for the samples !
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  #18  
Old 01-14-2010, 06:14 AM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Yeah, I feel you on all counts. I agree, I prefer an outboard program EQ, the one "I" like the sound of, that can be twiddled at the blink of an eye.

Still, digital music and DJ software and hardware has become GOOD, and also serious tools, and FUN to use. I am of the opinion we are in a period within which music AND the TECHNOLOGY is HAPPENIZING together phenomenally well.
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  #19  
Old 01-14-2010, 06:53 AM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingk
If you like I can record some music so you can hear the effects of the internal EQ.

That's nice. I would appreciate hearing the EQ , thank you!
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  #20  
Old 01-14-2010, 07:23 AM
kingk kingk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubman5
That's nice. I would appreciate hearing the EQ , thank you!

I'll record some music this weekend ...
And I agree about digital music. I'm a vinyl junkie and I guess I always will be, but I'm not blind for the advantages of digital music (if it's done well).
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  #21  
Old 01-14-2010, 01:49 PM
ianc ianc is offline
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I have TSP & I don't really use the EQ & I play all my music through it flat. I also don't download from Amazon, Itunes etc anymore. I used to when I had a mediocre set up at home but now I have a decent system its shows up all the imperfections straight away. I actually downloaded a wav file recently from Amazon & I think I binned it straight away There are a couple of places were I get my wav files from from but I am more comfortable now ripping CDs instead especially the old stuff stuff that gets remastered leaving me to buy the new stuff online. I also don' t even use Itunes anymore if I can help it I prefer XLD. I had Serato when it first came out and sold it after about 6 weeks.
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  #22  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:44 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Yes, I bought oldies from iTunes ONCE and no more. Sound quality is far less than I need and want.

Amazon MP3 is the next one predicted to become the GORILLA catalog of music, like commercial pop and oldies, because of their 9 million track catalog, and reasonable prices.

Emusic is supposed to be aimed at a more sophisticated market, offering VBR, DRM Free, MP3 files, and their catalog has alot of indie music, obscure, and classic music. And also offering up new discoveries. This one is a subscription site, so, costs to belong, but, not totally what i was looking for, save for a tune here and there.

Even Walmart now has a download site! Budget priced, cheeseball pop, and hits, but, heck, even Walmart is in the game. Yo, IF I start buying my tunes from Walmart, please come and take my laptop away from me!

Then, a new British site, 7digital is available, as well as Amie Street, and LaLa, and also for dance and hip hop, Masterbeat is being talked about. I checked out Masterbeat, but, I'll stick to Beatport, Traxsource, Juno, etc!

Alot of the tunes I download from Beatport using Apple lossless MP3, at 320kbps sounds good. WAV (IMO ) sounds slightly better, but not heads and shoulders above MP3, and file sizes are HUGE! And at a dollar more per WAV file, adds up to BIG costs.

My opinion, I wait for FLAC to become a commercially prevalent format, THESE files SOUND REALLY GOOD! And of course, Apple doesn't support FLAC, yet.

But, digital is here, and is dominating.
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Last edited by clubman5 : 01-14-2010 at 02:50 PM.
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  #23  
Old 01-14-2010, 02:56 PM
clubman5 clubman5 is offline
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Not to go off topic, but, I have a question for some that are more computer literate than I. What do you guys think of the new generation of SSD hard drives? No moving parts has to be good for something, no?
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  #24  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:04 PM
yolk151 yolk151 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clubman5
Not to go off topic, but, I have a question for some that are more computer literate than I. What do you guys think of the new generation of SSD hard drives? No moving parts has to be good for something, no?

From what my buddy at IBM tell me, this will be the way of the future concerning hdds. No point in paying the premium for it right now though, unless you are super geek. =)
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  #25  
Old 01-14-2010, 03:49 PM
ianc ianc is offline
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Sorry to go on a tangent, re the FLAC thing. I bought a track for my daughter over xmas of a very cheesy girl band from Universal Music, I think thats the record companies name & I was quiet impressed. They were only doing it for certain artists & testing the water but overall I was very impressed & reasonably priced. Would defiantly go there again. If 7 digital sold other formats I would use them.
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