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Digitizing Vinyl Records, Any tips?
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DaGuy
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Jul 18, 2003, 10:30 PM
 
I have a bunch old vinyl record albums which I never play because well, they're vinyl. What's a good of way getting them into my iMac? I guess I would need some hardware interface but I have no clue what to get...



P.S. I have a very modest budget.
     
Bluebomber21XX
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Jul 18, 2003, 10:52 PM
 
Originally posted by DaGuy:
I have a bunch old vinyl record albums which I never play because well, they're vinyl. What's a good of way getting them into my iMac? I guess I would need some hardware interface but I have no clue what to get...



P.S. I have a very modest budget.
Best way is to get your turntable and get a CD recorder hooked up to it. Just play the record, and the recorder will burn a CD of the music coming out of your deck as it plays.

After that, just import into iTunes. Simple.
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DBvader
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Jul 18, 2003, 11:15 PM
 
i was actually doing the same thing, and i was thinking of just getting a stereo RCA to 1/8th mini out of my turntable, and then finding a program that can record to M4A out of the line in...

...any ideas on what program can do that (and maybe clean up the sound a bit)

thanks
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hoopz
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Jul 19, 2003, 12:38 AM
 
It's actually a little more complicated because most turntables don't have a normal line level output, but a special low-level output called a phono output. Receivers and amps have a special input designed to accept phono-level signals, but the audio input to your computer might well be ill-matched with a phono-level signal. So you may have to get creative, or buy a phono preamp.

Also, phono inputs are automatically treated with a special EQ curve--known as the RIAA Curve-- without which the signal will be exceedingly tinny. Possibly there are plugins or settings made specifically for vinyl import which may apply this special EQ . . . or again, buying a phono preamp would solve the problem as well.

Hope this helps.
     
brachiator
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Jul 19, 2003, 03:03 AM
 
I'd recommend using Peak, or Peak LE, which is included with Roxio's Jam s/w. If I recall correctly, I once ripped a couple of LPs to .aiff files with a double-RCA-to-mini-jack from the phonograph to my Powerbook. Peak allows you to set the recording level, and has certain plugins to clean up (maybe not LE)...

I don't think that I ran the RCA jacks from the amp, but from the phono... could be wrong though.

Additionally, check out something like WireTap, a free (?) program that encodes any audio playing through your machine. You might be able to jack from the phono or amp into your machine and catch the sound that way.
     
barney ntd
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Jul 19, 2003, 06:23 AM
 
You need four things:

1. A record deck;
2. Some way to convert the phono signal to line level;
3. Some way to digitise the analog signal;
4. Some software to record the digital signal to a sound file.

I assume you already have a record deck (1) and an amplifier with phono inputs (2). If your mac has a sound input port (3), connect this to your amplifier's tape output, which will be at the correct level. You may need to buy a cable with the correct plugs to do this. Finally, search version tracker for sound recording program. There are several cheap ones available; Spark ME probably has the most features for the money.

If your mac doesn't have a sound input port, buy a Griffin imic or powerwave. These include 2, 3 & 4, so you can just connect it straight to your record deck, and follow the instructions in their manual.

Barney.
     
jimcpherson
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Jul 19, 2003, 08:14 AM
 
I've found that SoundStudio works best for this.
     
MacGorilla
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Jul 19, 2003, 10:19 AM
 
Hmm...on this general subject...anyone have any idea how to hook up and old reel to reel to a Mac?
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+ spiral +
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Jul 19, 2003, 11:18 AM
 
Reel to reel is the same setup. That should have a line out though, probably phono jacks. In a pinch you could use the headphone jack.

Getting into you mac: see above. If you have a more recent mac (post graphite tower) then you don't have audio in and would need a USB (being the cheapest) input like the Griffin Tech. iMic .

If it is a multi-track reel, then you will need a mixer to get it combined into a stereo signal and then do the above, or you'll need a multi-input interface like the M-Audio Delta 44 or MOTU 828 etc. My guess is that you don't have a multi-track reel to reel.

If you need more help or a step by step, post back or email me your specific setup (tape machine type, computer type) and i'll help you out how i can.

Good luck.
     
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Jul 19, 2003, 11:30 AM
 
One annoying thing with records is that you'll have to individually separate tracks so that you'll have tracks on the cd. When you initially record a side of a record, it will be one really big audio file (like 20minutes long) then you need to cut it up into seperate files. make sure you don't delete anything between the tracks when you are cutting, and when you burn the cd, have no gaps between songs so the hiss and crackle is seamless between songs. It sounds dumb otherwise.

I've not tried it yet but apparently Jam (from Roxio) can mark track breaks on a big audio file so you don't have to save out individual files. That way toast will burn the marks as track breaks. Don't quote me on that but i think that is how it works. Jam can also import Sound Designer marks so you can use an audio app to mark all your track breaks, then import into Jam.
     
Terri
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Jul 19, 2003, 12:33 PM
 
Toast comes with Spin Doctor which is made just for doing this. It is even suppose to remove the pops and scratches.
     
midwinter
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Jul 19, 2003, 03:00 PM
 
Originally posted by DaGuy:
I have a bunch old vinyl record albums which I never play because well, they're vinyl. What's a good of way getting them into my iMac? I guess I would need some hardware interface but I have no clue what to get...



P.S. I have a very modest budget.
Pick up an iMic from http://www.griffintechnology.com

Download FinalVinyl from www.Macupdate.com

Plug the turntable into the iMic and the iMic into the iMac, fire up final vinyl, and start the record up. You can use quicktime pro to split the album up into tracks if you like. Drag and drop it all into iTunes and convert to whatever. Burn from there.
     
DaGuy  (op)
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Jul 20, 2003, 01:52 AM
 
Thanks guys/gals. Got lots of good ideas. I appreciate your help.

     
NeilCharter
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Jul 20, 2003, 03:06 AM
 
Getting sound out to your computer at the right level can be tricky. Most stereo set-ups won't allow you to send sound out other than the speakers.

The way I have it set up is to connect the mac sound in to the line out of my tape deck. By having the tape deck set to record and pause and the amp set to the tape setting, I can play the vinyl and the music will then go into the mac.

The suggestion about using the headphone jack from the stereo actually makes more sense - well it is easier and more convenient. You just need an adaptor to go from a large jack to the small one the mac needs.

You can buy DIN to small mic adaptors from places like Radio Shack for cheap. I now have a iMic that allows you to use the USB for sound in which is supposed to give higher quality.

As for apps - Roxio bundles Spin doctor with Toast and that has the ability to find the tracks for you (thou not very well), Sound Studio is more complex but may do a better job and Final Vinyl is for the iMic and looks pretty simple to use.

Compared to ripping a CD, it is a lot more involved. You need to get the levels set properly, record the album, divide it into individual tracks, and export into iTunes or Toast. I would estimate 2 hours per album in all.

It's wierd - I used to record albums all the time when I was a kid, but now its too much work considering how little time it takes to rip a CD! Still a few albums aren't available on CD, so it has been worth the effort to do that. BTW I found tapes transfer pretty well too.

Have fun,

Neil
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Spheric Harlot
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Jul 20, 2003, 05:15 AM
 
Originally posted by NeilCharter:
Getting sound out to your computer at the right level can be tricky. Most stereo set-ups won't allow you to send sound out other than the speakers.
Only if you're talking about those all-in-one mini-stereos.

Nearly ALL stand-alone amps have a tape send or tape output or recording output that you use to hook up a tape deck to record with.

The way I have it set up is to connect the mac sound in to the line out of my tape deck. By having the tape deck set to record and pause and the amp set to the tape setting, I can play the vinyl and the music will then go into the mac.
That's an unnecessary reduction of quality, since everything you're recording passes through that tape deck's recording AND playback circuitry.

Skip the tape deck altogether, and just use the amplifier's tape send (or "recording out" or whatever it's called; the pair you use to record to tape).

Simpler and better-sounding, if that makes a difference to you.

-s*
     
GENERAL_SMILEY
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Jul 20, 2003, 07:36 AM
 
Don't use a drum scanner...
     
TimmyDee51
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Jul 21, 2003, 12:06 PM
 
Either this month's or the previous month's MacAddict had a how to on digitizing your vinyl and even how to clean up the sound. Check it out.
     
midwinter
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Jul 21, 2003, 01:06 PM
 
Originally posted by DaGuy:
Thanks guys/gals. Got lots of good ideas. I appreciate your help.

I neglected to mention that you will NOT have to use an amplifier with Final Vinyl. Just plug the RCA cables into the iMic (via an adapter, of course) and start the record. Final Vinyl will amplify the signal just fine. I digitized my entire Frank Zappa collection this way a while back. Piece of cake.
     
NeilCharter
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Jul 21, 2003, 10:47 PM
 
Nearly ALL stand-alone amps have a tape send or tape output or recording output that you use to hook up a tape deck to record with.
I do have separate stereo components. I tried connecting the mac directly from the amplifier recording output, but found that the sound output was too high for the mac. I tried connecting both via an iMic or via the regular line in. In both cases, the input sound was too high and would clear result in distortion.

With the input levels either in the Midi setup app or the Sound preference pane set to zero, the input sound was still virtually maxed out.

That's an unnecessary reduction of quality, since everything you're recording passes through that tape deck's recording AND playback circuitry.

Skip the tape deck altogether, and just use the amplifier's tape send (or "recording out" or whatever it's called; the pair you use to record to tape).
So this is why I think I originally had to pass the sound through the tape deck. This was the only way to reduce output levels because I could adjust the sound level using the recording levels. It's not an ideal solution, but its the only way I've been able get the sound level low enough to make a decent recording without distortion.

I may try connecting the record deck directly to the mac and see what the levels are like.

Anyone had a similar problem?

Neil
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zigzag
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Jul 22, 2003, 12:39 AM
 
Originally posted by NeilCharter:
I do have separate stereo components. I tried connecting the mac directly from the amplifier recording output, but found that the sound output was too high for the mac. I tried connecting both via an iMic or via the regular line in. In both cases, the input sound was too high and would clear result in distortion.
Something about your system is messed up. The normal thing is to go turntable > receiver/amp (via phono input) > Mac (via tape-out or line-out). Just as if you were recording to a tape deck rather than a Mac. There should be no need to put a tape deck between the receiver and the Mac. Spheric would know more about this but maybe your cartridge isn't properly matched to your receiver/amp? Some receiver/amps have switches for moving magnet/moving coil cartridges. If you have it set for a moving coil (low output), but are using a moving magnet (high output), that might explain the overload. Just a guess.

FWIW, I've used Toast/Spin Doctor successfully. I haven't tried iMic/Final Vinyl but it sounds convenient to hook the turntable directly to the Mac. My stereo and Mac are in different places and it would be nice to only have to move the turntable.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 22, 2003, 06:09 AM
 
Originally posted by NeilCharter:
I do have separate stereo components. I tried connecting the mac directly from the amplifier recording output, but found that the sound output was too high for the mac. I tried connecting both via an iMic or via the regular line in. In both cases, the input sound was too high and would clear result in distortion.

With the input levels either in the Midi setup app or the Sound preference pane set to zero, the input sound was still virtually maxed out.
That is very odd. I agree with zigzag, something might be out of whack here. I can't really help you out much, though.

I wouldn't have thought of the MM/MC thing - I would have assumed that if you used an MM cartridge with an MC setting, the amp itself would already distort due to signal overload, but that depends on your equipment, I guess. Good idea, zigzag.

I take it there's no "record level" dial on the amp where you could just lower the recording output's signal strength. (No offense, just drool-proofing.)

- Does the regular signal from your turntable seem distorted or much louder than other sound sources, when you listen to it over the speakers? If yes, it could well be an incorrectly set/adjusted phono pre-amp.

- If you switch the record input on your amp to something else, say tuner or CD, does the signal overload the Mac's sound in when you connect it directly? If yes, then your amp's recording output is apparently running too hot. Not serious, especially since you've found a workaround, but good to know.

So this is why I think I originally had to pass the sound through the tape deck. This was the only way to reduce output levels because I could adjust the sound level using the recording levels. It's not an ideal solution, but its the only way I've been able get the sound level low enough to make a decent recording without distortion.
Makes perfect sense in light of your problems; I would have done the same.

-s*
     
NeilCharter
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Jul 23, 2003, 02:15 AM
 
I take it there's no "record level" dial on the amp where you could just lower the recording output's signal strength. (No offense, just drool-proofing.)

- Does the regular signal from your turntable seem distorted or much louder than other sound sources, when you listen to it over the speakers? If yes, it could well be an incorrectly set/adjusted phono pre-amp.

- If you switch the record input on your amp to something else, say tuner or CD, does the signal overload the Mac's sound in when you connect it directly? If yes, then your amp's recording output is apparently running too hot. Not serious, especially since you've found a workaround, but good to know.
Nope - there's no record level on the amp.

Tuntable sound is what should be expected nd the levels are comparable to other sources.

If think the mac is ****ed - I've plugged in the sound from the stereo and the computer display mid-level sound even when there's nothing playing.

I unplug the leads from the amp and the level of the mac goes down to zero.

I plug the leads back in - and the levels go back up.

I switch the amp off - and the levels go back down.

So my guess is that the sound input on the mac is on crack - and is having hypersensitivity issues.

What'ya think?

I wonder if zapping the PRAM would do anything?

Neil
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NeilCharter
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Jul 23, 2003, 02:35 AM
 
Just tried booting into OS 9 (man that was freaky - I believe people still prefer that ****).

Anyway got the same results - higher than expected input levels.

Zapped the PRAM - no joy.

Oh well - not a biggie, but its interesting.

The only thing that may be an issue is that the AMP is from the UK and I use a voltage converter to step down to 110 V that the States uses. Can't see how that will make a difference, but you never know.

Neil
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Ludovic Hirlimann
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Jul 23, 2003, 03:23 AM
 
Originally posted by DaGuy:
I have a bunch old vinyl record albums which I never play because well, they're vinyl. What's a good of way getting them into my iMac? I guess I would need some hardware interface but I have no clue what to get...



P.S. I have a very modest budget.
You might want to check this out.
     
Bluebomber21XX
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Jul 24, 2003, 07:04 PM
 
Here's another link to scope out.

http://lowendmac.com/lab/03/0724.html
The online resource for Rockman & Forte!
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midwinter
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Jul 24, 2003, 10:37 PM
 
The iMic has a switch on it that moves between a line-level signal and a db boosted signal. Toggle that switch. All you should have to do is come out of the turntable DIRECTLY into the imic (no amp) and use final vinyl's db boost option.
     
ibookuser2
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Jul 25, 2003, 12:29 AM
 
I've been doing this for several years now, and I think I've really got a good procedure figured out for digitizing vinyl.

I started out using a Pioneer turntable and a Performa 6400 to record. Since I didn't have a decent preamp, I used an old Mac PowerBook 165 to do the preamplification. That sucked. The PowerBook only handled mono audio, with no RIAA curve. It got the music onto CD, but it didn't sound great.

The next stuff I did, I ran through a Harman/Kardon CD491 tape deck. I plugged the turntable into the microphone inputs on the back, and plugged the Mac into the headphone jack on the CD491. That worked fairly well, especially since the CD491 has a headphone level control, so it was easy to get the right sound level into the Mac. It required some postprocessing with an equalizer, though... still no RIAA curve applied through hardware.

I then brought a h/k PM650 amp into the equation and used its preamp, with the Mac still connected to the headphone jack on the 491 for level adjustment. That worked well until my 491 died.

My current setup is a DJ style mixer board, the Pioneer turntable, my PowerBook G4, and BIAS Peak. The turntable is plugged into the mixer, which does preamp, RIAA curve, level adjustment. I record the entire disc into Peak, through BIAS SoundSoap to take out some of the hiss and a little bit of the crackle, set markers at the beginning and ends of the tracks, convert markers to regions, throw them into a playlist, and burn with Toast. This seems to work exceptionally well. If the source disc is in good condition, the audio quality is nearly as good as if I went and bought the CD. Turning SoundSoap off boosts the quality a little bit, but there's a little bit of a hiss.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 25, 2003, 03:44 AM
 
Originally posted by ibookuser2:
This seems to work exceptionally well. If the source disc is in good condition, the audio quality is nearly as good as if I went and bought the CD. Turning SoundSoap off boosts the quality a little bit, but there's a little bit of a hiss.
the hiss is most likely due to the phono preamp in the mixer.

A good preamp will not hiss audibly.

-s*
     
Cincinnatus
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Jul 25, 2003, 03:00 PM
 
Not sure if this was already mentioned, but make sure your turntable is grounded properly. If not, you will hear a low frequency hum. Also, make sure that the cartridge is connected to the tonearm leads properly (no shorting or disconnected wires).

/Cincinnatus
     
   
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