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ADC for recording LP to CD


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14 replies to this topic

#1 of 15 OFFLINE   BillG

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Posted September 24 2003 - 01:56 PM

So here I am looking at a collection of well over 2000 LPs. I want to turn at least some of them into CDs. I've messed with it a bit and had moderate success, but now I want to get more serious about it.

The big issue, as I see it, is the analog to digital converter. I've been using the one in my cheap Sound Blaster card. Time for something better. What can anyone recommend?

Whatever I get has to run in Red Hat Linux 8.

For processing software I've been using something called "gramophile". It does a pretty good job of de-clicking and has some other filters which I've never tried. My big complaint is that the documentation is pretty sketchy and so I have no idea what those other filters are or how to use them. On some of my records I'd like to take out tape hiss as well as clicks. It is also hard to set track breaks on things like live recordings or concept albums where there is no silence between the cuts.

I've considered just getting an audio CD recorder. Two problems with that: 1) No way to de-click and 2) Requires music blanks which are more expensive than data blanks.

The rest of my equipment should be OK. I have an AR-XA turntable with a Shure V15-III and a Rotel RA932 integrated amp to provide the phono preamp and RIAA eq.

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   John_Berger

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Posted September 24 2003 - 02:30 PM

For several years now, Easy CD Creator Deluxe has had the ability to remove clicks, remove hiss, and split songs all from a single captured file. I can't imagine that there wouldn't be something out there for Linux to do that. Maybe EZCDC would even work through a Windows emulator.

There really is no reason to upgrade the sound card since the new sound card would also use the Line In function. Just about all new sound cards provide enhancments for playback rather than Line In recording. The audio manipulation would really be determined by whatever audio cleanup software you use.

Also, those filters that you mention might be industry standard terms. You should do a search for those terms to see if you can determine what they mean before looking for replacement software.

#3 of 15 OFFLINE   David Susilo

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:57 AM

Use Steinberg Clean Plus 4.0 (or in some places being sold as Pinnacle Clean Plus 4.0). It works grrrrrreat!

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   BillG

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:18 PM

What you are saying is that all sound cards have equally cheesy analog-to-digital circuits. Right? Hhhhhmmmmm... Gotta be a better way. Too bad I can't capture the bitstream from the A/D in a good quality pre-pro.

As for the software, neither Clean Plus nor Easy CD Creator will run in Linux. My house is a Microsoft-free zone. No Windows allowed.

I've used ECDC at work and am less than impressed by it. The biggest problem is the way they do device drivers. Even if I was willing to try WINE or something like that, it's near certain the ECDC drivers would not load.

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   John_Berger

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:21 PM

I think that you would find it difficult to find any quality difference between older 16-bit cards, like the Sound Blaster Live series, and the newest, greatest sound cards. I never said or implied anything about being cheesy. My point is that most sound card manufacturers have been focusing on improving output and performance quality than improving their input quality. So, I firmly believe that looking for a brand-spankin'-new sound card for analoig input is more likely than not a waste of time. The really, really, really, really high end cards might have superior ADC chips, but I doubt that the difference will be noticable.

#6 of 15 OFFLINE   David Susilo

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:27 PM

Clean Plus is not only a software. It's a hardware pre-amp (good quality one) and a software.

I'm bound to NDA but the remastering capability of this particular combo is so phenomenal it's being used by several famous mastering studios.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   David Susilo

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:32 PM

Quote:
I think that you would find it difficult to find any quality difference between older 16-bit cards, like the Sound Blaster Live series, and the newest, greatest sound card.


That's quite untrue. I've done sound comparison (analog inputs only) on an SB 16 OEM, SB Live! Platinum, SB Extigy Platinum, M-Audio 2496. Their brand-new prices don't go higher than $200.

The sound quality difference between each and one of them is extremely different. The winner is M-Audio 2496 by very very very very far compared to the (similarly priced) SB Extigy Platinum.

I don't know, however, whether M-Audio comes with Linux driver.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   John_Berger

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Posted September 25 2003 - 02:47 PM

Quote:
These guys must want lower record sales.
I was referring to Line In quality.

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   David Susilo

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Posted September 25 2003 - 04:15 PM

I am talking about line-in quality.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   John_Berger

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Posted September 26 2003 - 03:03 AM

I'll take your word for it. That's still bizarre. I'll also make sure to copy the right quote next time. Posted Image

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   David Susilo

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Posted September 26 2003 - 04:08 AM

ha ha! Took me a while yesterday to figure out what you meant by the quote. 'Twas fun nevertheless. Posted Image

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted September 26 2003 - 04:48 AM

I've converted probably over a hundred of my vinyl records to CD using my computer.

I agree that anything short of pro-audio level Analog-to-digital conversion in the PC is going to be inadequate if you're interested in quality sound.

However, dedicated components have excellent ADC, even cheap ones. In my office I use a Sony MDS-JB920 MiniDisc deck with high quality Sony ES Analog-to-digital conversion onboard. I use no MiniDisc, and hit record, it goes into monitor mode and sends the digital signal (uncomressed by ATRAC) out the digital output. I then use a cheap soundcard with a digital input to record the WAV files on my PC. The results are fine to my ears, and considerably better than any analog copies I've ever tried with different sound cards.

That works for me because I'm a MiniDisc user in the first place. If you're not already into MiniDisc, here's my advice:

Get a good CD-R component deck (I'd get a Pioneer if it was me) and a small stack of CD-RWs. Record your LP through your stereo to two big tracks on the CD-RW. Then rip them on the computer to WAV. Remove ticks and pops and do whatever other editing you want. Lastly write the CDs on the PC using your favorite audio CD authoring tool.

You'll get fine quality this way and you won't have to buck up to a super expensive sound card.
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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   BillG

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Posted September 26 2003 - 11:42 AM

Phil, that is a dang fine idea! I did not think about recording to CD-RW. I sort of assumed I had one shot at it with a CD-R deck.

Thinking to myself ... If the CD-R deck has a digital output, maybe I could use it like you use your MD deck. Hhhmmm..... Gotta look into that.

I'll check out the M-Audio card, too. It almost certainly does not come with Linux drivers, but something is probably available.

Thanks, everyone, for your input.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   BillG

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Posted October 20 2003 - 12:14 PM

Phil's last idea was so good I went and did it. I bought a Denon CDR-W1500. $550 at a local high-end shop. I bought some music CD-RW disks, though as it turns out I can use ordinary media. You only need the "music" disks if you are dubbing from a CD or digital source with SCMS.

I recorded some old Karla Bonoff and Bruce Cockburn disks to CD, ripped them on the computer with cdda2wav, track-ified and de-clicked them with gramophile, and burned CD-R media with cdrecord. The results are very, very good. Three of the four albums were clean and required very little processing. The fourth is halfway to unlistenable. Gramofile did a pretty good job cleaning up the noise.

I need to tinker with the track detection parameters in gramophile. It tends to chop the last 1 or 2 seconds of a song that fades out, and it got pretty mixed up with "Nanzen Ji" - made three tracks out of it! With practice I should be able to get it down. Gramofile can take a TXT file containing start/end times for tracks, so I can manually specify if I want.

Many, many years ago I bought an SAE 5000 Impulse Noise Reduction system. It works well on horribly scratched records, but does not take out slight to moderate ticks. It also mangles some instruments pretty badly - trombone, for one. Gramofile's noise reduction is far better.

Timewise, it takes real time to make the original CD-RW. It takes about 1/4 of that time to rip it, about 1/2 time to track-ify and declick, then about 1/4 time to burn the CD-R. Faster computer gear would help. I'm running on a Pentium 350 and a 4x4x16 CD-RW drive.

I did check out the M-Audio card. There are Linux drivers for it - from the mfg, even! In the end my decision was driven by the need for a new CD player as well as recorder. The Denon is an excellent CD player, better than my Panasonic DVD-A110 which has done yeoman duty for five years.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted November 05 2003 - 05:17 AM

Bill,

I'm glad that things worked out for you! And I have to comment that you have exceptional taste in music. Bruce Cockburn is one of my favorites.
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