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Digitizing my Analog music.

 

New member
Username: 1402musicman1992

Post Number: 1
Registered: Apr-14
I have a 50 year LP, Cassette, and Reel analog music collection I want to digitize to be played from my PC and out through my 7.1 digital receiver. I would also like to record the music back into Cassette and Reel after it's "cleaned" and re-assorted (not re-mixed). Help? I know nothing about bitrates or sample frequencies.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3113
Registered: Oct-07
I suspect it's 'all downhill'.

Unless the recordings are all DBx or Dolby encoded, you are only getting limited quality.
And putting limited quality recordings BACK on an analogue medium like tape, will be further downhill.

I don't know how much technology is available at the consumer level to 'improve' old tapes and discs�though at one point I owned a 'pop' filter which had its own set of issues. (impulse noise reduction), I think it was called.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17885
Registered: May-04
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"Unless the recordings are all DBx or Dolby encoded, you are only getting limited quality."


I don't know what that means, leo. There is no need for Dolby encoding when transferring material.



What does "cleaned up" mean? What are you wanting or expecting to be done? When you transfer an LP to a CD format there is no magic process that suddenly removes all of the scratches from your LP. So, what does "cleaned up" mean to you? You cannot remix the music. You can only copy what's already on LP.

The easiest way to begin is to purchase a USB turntable for your LP collection. Search the web for such a product by placing the subject into a search engine. You can buy cheap but cheap turntables do you no favor if you are trying to archive your music. Buy a halfway decent table for the process.

You should also buy a LP cleaner to remove a good deal of the dirt, smudges and mold that has accumulated over the years; http://www.spincleanrecordwasher.com/video.html Or go to the archives of the "phono" section of the forum for instructions on manual LP cleaning. Do this step if you intend to save the music to a more or less final copy unless you want to record fifty years of noise.

I would suggest you buy an external hard drive though you can store the LP's music on your computer drive. The external drive will allow you to keep your entire collection in one safe place and not have so much data on your computer that it begins to run slow and is in risk of disappearing if your computer crashes. You can use your computer's built in media player to accept the USB input from the turntable by directing the media player to send the files to the external or internal drive. This copying process must be done one after the other and fifty years of collecting can make for a long term project. I'd suggest you buy from a retailer you can contact after the sale. Buying from some anonymous Amazon dealer means you can't find them later to ask questions.

There are DAW's - Digital Audio Workshops - which would allow you to do some clean up of the LP's signal. But, if you are not computer savvy, they are going to be even more difficult to use and your results will likely not be what you expect.

Plug the table's USB output into the computer's USB port. The computer should recognize the input and you will then start your media player. Direct the media player to send the signal to the external drive and start copying. You will have to stay with the process since, when one side of the disc has ended and the computer doesn't know that and it will continue to record in most cases. There's no easy way to remove twenty minutes of silence from the computer "file" of that music so you cannot easily add the second side. Repeat the procedure for each LP you want to archive.

Once the music has been stored as data on the drive, you can use it in any fashion you prefer as long as you are moving a data signal to a data storage device such as a blank CDR. Or you can use the computer as a sort of juke box if you want to listen to "this" selection.

None of this is a process I'd suggest for someone who has no understanding of computers. You can learn how to do this if you read and experiment, we all have learned how to do stuff on computers. But no one can sit by your elbow over a forum or as a customer assistance from a retailer. You'll have to figure this out yourself or get some help from someone you know.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17886
Registered: May-04
.

To move your LP's to tape, you don't need a computer. You need some sort of amplifier/receiver with a phono input and a pre amp. This process is the same as it has been for fifty years. You plug the turntable into the pre amp and send the signal to the tape machine. You can't easily buy cassette or reel to reel tape nowdays. If your tape decks have been sitting for years, this isn't a great project since they are likely to not function well. But how to record a LP to a tape is well documented on line so I don't really see the need to go through the process step by step. If you are truly confused by the process, without trying to be rude, maybe you should have someone else do this for you. Once again, each LP must be transferred one after the other.

So, just how much would you use the tape if you already have the music stored as data on your computer? Probably not at all other than to take something out to the car. Sorry to say, at times you just have to realize the world has changed. If you haven't used the tape machines recently, you probably won't use them simply because you want your LP's on a cassette.

There are no easy ways to transfer your existing tapes to a computer file. No USB cassettes or open reels. If you are dedicated to this, you will need an "Analog to Digital Converter" (ADC) and you'll need to connect its outputs to your computer. By the time you've purchased the tapes and turntable and record cleaner along with the external drive and the ADC, expect to have spent about $1,000 plus your time to learn how to do everything and to sit by the computer as your transfer fifty years worth of music.

The same instructions apply to tapes as they exist for your LP's. Tell the computer to recognize the ADC and to send the signal to the correct drive. Once again you have to stay with the process to get a full tape onto a data file without large blanks. Repeat the process, repeat the process, repeat the process over and over again.

There are services which will do this process for you. They aren't cheap and they will require you bring them your music library.

You might prefer to think the music industry has no intention of you doing this. They want you to buy new copies of the LP's and tapes you already own. That is the true reality of the situation.



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New member
Username: 1402musicman1992

Post Number: 2
Registered: Apr-14
OK. First of all, thank you all so very much for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate it. My history: Thus far, I have been successful in recording LPs and tapes (both Reel & Cassette) into my computer via my receiver's RCA line outputs to 1/8 stereo plug into my sound card, and my question here is whether or not that process works in reverse (1/8 plug from the audio card back into my receiver's RCA inputs)? Then there is the QUALITY question - So far, the audio cards I've used in the past only do 16/44 input and output but someone told me to get an M-Audio 24/96 Audiophile card that would give me 24/96 input and output capability. Was that a good thing to do (the card was not cheap)? And finally, yes, I now have some of my music (+/- 10%) collection in my computer, but that's not where I want it to reside. You see, I'm an old dude, I like what I like. And that is being able to lay back in my old easy chair at the end of the day, a â€úJack on the Rocksâ€Ě in my hand, and fire up my old Sansui receiver while an old mix I put on a Reel or Cassette, depending on how much time I have that night, cast their spell on my soul. You may not understand, but it's not just the music, but the medium and the memories of those 50 years that come alive for me then, but I'm probably boring you, and to sum it all up: (1) will the new M-Audio card give me better quality than my original audio cards, and (2) can my PC recording process (as described above) be reversed, so I can put my "cleaned-up" music tracks back on either Reel or Cassette. Oh, yes, what do I mean by "cleaned-up"? To remove the songs I no longer want, the DJ's interruptions when I recorded from stations all over the world, etc. Again, thank you all for your kind help. PS/ I do clean my records (the word "analogy" has been bandied about), They are all in â€úpristineâ€Ě conditions, as the majority of them have only been played once or twice, when I recorded them to tapes, which I have always listened to, instead of to the records themselves.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17887
Registered: May-04
.


IMO you're still overthinking the process of moving analog to analog. Why bother with the computer? You've added unnecessarily to the complexity of the process. People have been making mix tapes for decades without computers. Using additional cables where they are not needed does the music no favors. Your Sansui would be more than adequate for the job I would think. But, if this is how you want to do it, try it. Most audio cards have analog outputs that will feed directly to your tape decks. I suppose there could be some that do not, but I am unaware of such things. I just see no need to make the process more complicated than need be. I would guess the OEM sound card that came with your computer isn't the best quality though and the analog to digital conversion may lack some overall quality. Will you notice the difference between the sound card's end result and a dedicated ADC's output? Read my next comments.


Was it waste to buy the 24/96 card? Probably. Sorry to say, if you are an old dude and you're really just happy watching reels go around, I would suggest you will not hear any repeatable improvements between a good 16/44 and a good 24/96 copy of an LP. You might though, just as you seem to prefer reels going 'round to black discs going 'round. A lot of what we perceive happens within our mind and has little to do with anything more than expectation biases. 24 bit vs 16 bit will give you a few extra bits which will exist at the bottom of the dynamic range and will be used as digital "dither". In other words, your noise floor for the recording will be somewhat lower than with a 16 bit process. However, a 16 bit format, with its stated 120dB dynamic range, will be more than adequate for virtually any LP transfer I can envision. Certainly, if your turntable is the same age as your other gear, there's nothing that will be challenged by a 16 bit format. Even with the very best contemporary gear, the advantage of more bits of dither are only valuable to an esoteric discussion of how much can be pulled from the grooves of most LP's produced in the last fifty years.

The 96Hz sampling rate is also questionable for transferring your LP's. Whenever the sampling rate is upped there are improved chances of greater fidelity to the incoming signal but, again, your limiting factor is your source material and the equipment. Theoretically, you now have a filter for the digital artifacts which begins affecting the signal at 48kHz vs the 22kHz for the 44kHz sampling rate. But you lack the source to exploit that difference. Another esoteric debate could be made for the upsampled process but I see no practical benefits in your situation. If you were recording high quality live material, manipulating it through the various stages of mastering and then moving it to a dedicated digital storage media, that would be a somewhat different story. However, your LP source material does not present high frequency limits or signal to noise ratios which stress a 44.1 kHz sampling rate. There are also objectivist vs subjectivist debates you could enter into but, face it, you are an "old dude" - just like I am. I don't want to tell you that you wasted your money with the higher sampling rate card but in all practical applications I can see no benefit to it over the 44kHz card unless the more expensive card also includes significantly higher quality parts and layout - which it might but we're still niggling around the edges rather than finding easily and repeatedly identifiable improvements.

If it makes any difference to you, the prevailing operations of digital recording/playback are built from the Nyquist theorems which say any sampling frequency can only achieve a high frequency limit of half its sampling rate. At 44.1kHz your upper frequency limit is 22kHz. That should be sufficient for any LP you own I would think. And, certainly, your phono cartridge and tonearm will have something to say about just what is occurring with your LP's at that upper frequency limit.


Does that help?






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Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 3138
Registered: Oct-07
my interpretation of the OP was that a DIGITAL copy be made as a bridge between the original analogue and the destination analogue.
I'll stand by the 'downhill' remark. And all DOLBY encoded tapes will need to be Decoded prior to being digitized than probably RE-Dolby'd as a part of being put back on tape. Same goes for anything recorded (yes, even some RARE vinyl) done using the DBx system.
If all you are doing is making a copy of 'old stuff', no need to go thru the digital intermediary.
I don't know what the current state of the art Consumer software is, but it is possible to DeHiss / Pop records and tapes in the Digital conversion.
Analogue conversions, as I stated are ALL downhill unless using the absolute BEST stuff and very HIGH tape speeds.
My original experiments with CD->Cassette showed I could make a better cassette than you could buy, and that was in '83 or '84 when using easily available equipment and NO computer at all.

Jan's cost estimate of purchasing an ADC / and the rest of the signal 'chain' may actually be LOW.
However, the audio card you ref' should include access to the microsoft supplied CODECs which will allow high quality recording:

http://www.totalrecorder.com/primerpc.htm
 

New member
Username: Bonham

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-15
HI BIAS AND METAL CASSETES AT A DESCENT PRICE. I SEE THEM HERE AND THERE, BUT WOULD LIKE TO GET THEM IN BULK IF POSSIBLE. ANY FEEDBACK WOULD BE APPRC,,,,, CHEERS, PBM-300
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