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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:58 AM
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Default Recording vinyl questions

Ok. I'm now starting to convert some of my favourite and rare dance tracks over from my vinyl collection. It's also a bit of an experiment, as I'm going to try this with a different couple of setups and the same record to test out some questions I have about connections and convertors.. But I want to make sure that I do the best possible job of it for now. Some of them are quiet old and worn, So I need your advice to help me get the best results I can...

I have a Stanton Str8 100 deck setting next to my focusrite sapphrire interface. For the reason of lack of space, I have connected the turntable directly to the interface using the spdif connection, rather then analogue connections via the dj mixer..

Now, what I want to know, is if the turntable will automatically adjust for the RIAA curves on the digital output, as it should do on the analogue outputs. Does the de-eq occur before the signal passes out of either option?

If it doesn't, what's the best way of creating the inverse curve, specifically with Logic. At the moment I'm using two independent para eq's. The problem is that these units don't boost and cut enough to fully match the curve. The curve restoration specs are (broadly) +20dB at 20Hz and -20dB at 20KHz. The best that Logic's para eq's can manage is 18dB either way. I belive that that would also be a straight line response, rather then the curve of the original eq..

Also, by applying these settings, it clips over. The record seems well mastered, and before applying the eq it hits 0dB perfectly.. that said, with the eqs applied it does sound to have more punch to it. In particular, there is an edit/flaw on the vocal that shows this. With the eq off, it becomes harder to hear.. I quite like the clarity though, but I'm now sure which is more important in the long run.. recovering the detail or keeping the extra dB's ?

The other point I'm thinking about, is that there will be a slight phase offset between L & R, because one of the tracks is also always going to be closer to the edge. Or is this taken care of by the angle of the tonearm ?

Also, what would be the best signal chain for restoring the vinyl, in terms of which processes to apply. I would like to de-noise and de-click, then warp to correct timing fluctuations inherent in vinyl and make sure that the average and peak levels can get close to that of a cd.

Is it worth recording and processing at 24/96 help, before converting the files down to cd spec ?

thanks in advance ?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 05:31 AM
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Morning Ed,

The S/PDIF output on the Stanton is surely RIAA corrected already?

Assuming so, you are of course "at the mercy" of the turntables' analogue circuitry and digital converters*, so you MIGHT get better result going thru' an outboard pre amp.

Trying to duplicate the RIAA curve with EQ is doomed to faliure, for one thing, it requires an HF slope tending to infinite attenuation, a feature not commonly found other than on phono corrected amps (and even some of those are wrong!).

Ref recording, IMHO 24bit 44.1kHz ( stay with target rate) record well down, neg 18, so that you leave headroom for spikes. A VERY good editing and vinyl cleanup demo (yes you can save for 30days) is Sony Sondforge.

Old Dave *bet they are only 16bit.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 10:57 AM
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Right, done some digging on the deck..

The model below (Str8 90), is quoted as outputting 16/44.1 from the spdif option. I can't see them spending more money on a dac for my deck. So I'd only see the benefits of higher bitdepth if I connected via analogue.

The problem here though, is I think my mixer is old and sounds quiet noisy. That said, I think it's an easier problem to tackle with something like Logic Denoiser (basic but just about works) or Waves X-Noise. I had Waves and Soundforge on my pc, but im no longer on a pc... I posted here yesterday that Soundforge is the app I miss most from my old days..

The other possible option, seeing as the deck doesn't need a dedicated earth in line mode, would be hooking the turntable up directly to the card by using phono to 3/4 jack cables. I'd then just have to turn down the input either on the sapphire's input/software or in Logic.

Why record so far down? won't that result in a generally poorer s/n ratio when converting? I can see why it's useful for getting rid of the clicks, because it leaves more room between the wanted noise and extreme unwanted. But -18 seems a large drop..

Incidentally, I have found a program with a preset for lifting the curve. It's Amadeus Pro. I may d/l the trial and experiment with it later. I need another editor... after the antics of soundtrack yesterday, I'm looking to move on !!
I'm leaning towards the idea the deck must correct the curve before it hits either output. That said, I still prefer the sound with the eq's in place. I'm not sure exactly what it's doing, but the record seems to have more presence when they're on.

Here's another q. Should I dither the analogue inputs, or will the hardware or software do this automatically ?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 11:07 AM
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A quick two peneth from me Ed..

Quote:
recovering the detail or keeping the extra dB's ?
Recovering/maintaining detail definitely... dB's (or gain/maximising can be done in software later if needed)..but try and print as close to 0db as you can by running the track for a while, or auditioning where the peaks are..

Quote:
The other point I'm thinking about, is that there will be a slight phase offset between L & R, because one of the tracks is also always going to be closer to the edge. Or is this taken care of by the angle of the tonearm ?
Would you really need to correct something that was part of the inherent 'feel/sound' of vinyl..? I thought the tone arm's 'anti'skate' function compensated..? I may be wrong though..

Quote:
Also, what would be the best signal chain for restoring the vinyl, in terms of which processes to apply. I would like to de-noise and de-click, then warp to correct timing fluctuations inherent in vinyl ..
I'd avoid warping functions like the plague. For one, they artificially cut up the audio taking it, granted even though subtly, away from its true sound/recorded performance.. And, is it worth this (maybe purist) sacrifice simply to correct minor timing fluctuations (older vinyl dance tracks have timing irregularities by the dozen due to the fact that a helluva lot where pieced together from multitrack takes printed and edited on 1/4" or 1/2" 15ips and 30ips tape)


Quote:
Is it worth recording and processing at 24/96 help, before converting the files down to cd spec ?
I'd use 24 bit 44.1 personally.. This can be dithered down accurately (with settings sympathetic to the source material) to 16 bit in software like Bias Peak

Having done loads of vinyl archiving myself, I'd recommend keeping perhaps two copies of your file.. One would be a straight recording, de-clicked, and top 'n tailed.. The other, would have your processing such as EQ and/or dynamics (mastered, compressed, inflated.. whichever suits).. Oh, and once you've got your stuff archived, buy a second portable hard drive, chuck a copy of everything on that, and leave it at a good friends house - it's belt 'n braces should, God forbid, anything happen to/at your property...
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Old 1st September 2008 , 12:18 PM
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Can you not beg or borrow a reasonable amp or reciever to grab the records? Come out of the tape out sockets, keep the leads short because it will be unbalanced and at not a very low source Z.

Modz1, sir, if you mean 0dBVU I agree, for that is where -18dBFS is on my system. If you mean record as hot as possible, I cannot agree. The whole benefit of 24bits is that you do not have to worry about noise and can use the massive dynamic range to avoid overload.

I can see why the decks are 16bit, on paper there is no point in doing better since vinyl is such a technically appaling medium anyway! Tracking distortion, tracing distortion, neg 70dB noise floor(if you are lucky!) cutter amp contribution and that's before you add in the analogue tape ***t! Oh! and a crosstalk figure so poor it might almost be mono. But, in playing back real world recordings you need that headroom for the spits.

Having said all that, a year ago I copied 100 sides of 45rpm punk for my daughter, I did them at neg10 16bits because A) the records were very scratched and B) punk has a dynamic range of 1dB and I was not going to stuff my hard drive with anymore crap than I could help! When I retire and get to my Bach and stuff, 24 bits, with a Prism, I hope.

Dave.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post

Modz1, sir, if you mean 0dBVU I agree, for that is where -18dBFS is on my system. If you mean record as hot as possible, I cannot agree. The whole benefit of 24bits is that you do not have to worry about noise and can use the massive dynamic range to avoid overload.


Dave.
Indeed, 0dbVU .. thanks ecc83 for clarifying..
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Old 1st September 2008 , 12:54 PM
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Pheeew!

I AM glad that's sorted!

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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:15 PM
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Thanks Modz. The reason I want to get it so clean is because I will be moving over to purely digital formats soon. I want them to be as clear as possible, even if it means losing some of the quirks and sound of vinyl.

I'm not sure if the deck is performing some sort of normalisation on the outputs. So far, I have recorded 3 vinyl, and all 3 print to 0dB with no adjustments in logic. Either that, or 3 engineers did a bloody good job !
That said, I will start cutting back, maybe down to -10dB to allow room for the declicker and other processes to work without pushing past 0. But if the deck is doing some sortof naughty voodoo, then that's a big flaw in that plan.. I haven't tested the print via analogue yet..
Saying that, you boys have just made my head hurt. It's been ages since I went over dB conversions. Please remind me

I'm aware of the slightly destructive nature of warping. I know it will introduce distortion in the form of frequency smearing. That said, I'm not going crazy with it, so it should be subtle enough to be acceptable. I will eventually get round to dj-ing with live, which lacks the hands on manipulation of vinyl, cdj and dedicated dj software. But the plus points outweigh this negative, so it's the route I will take. Warping is therefore a needed evil..

Old dance records have wonky bpms anyhow. As you mentioned from 'the edit factor', but also because they were normally running inaccurate clocks. One of my mates who's been around for donkeys years found this out when he converted lots of old track parts. When he went to line them up in Logic, they were all over the shop compared to the grid..

As for the anti-skate/ angle phase issue. I thought anti-skate was there to keep the needle central to the groove, and stop it loading onto the walls and missing the middle. I've never really had a skate problem with one side being overbearing, and when I visually inspect the setup it appears ok.

I'm unsure as it's something I've never really touched before I asked this question. It's not an s-arm turntable, but the needles are angled at 12* to compensate. I thought the angle of the needle would be what could correct the phase issue between the information on each wall, since phase is also typically measured in radians or degrees. By angling the needle, surely one side would touch the inside wall before the other, therefore counteracting the difference between the two.

If I'm wrong or you have any more info, please let me know
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
Can you not beg or borrow a reasonable amp or reciever to grab the records? Come out of the tape out sockets, keep the leads short because it will be unbalanced and at not a very low source Z.
Don't need anything else to connect via analogue inputs. The deck can run at line level, so i'd just need to either make up or go buy the cables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecc83 View Post
I can see why the decks are 16bit, on paper there is no point in doing better since vinyl is such a technically appaling medium anyway!
If that's the case, how much benefit will I see from going upto 24 for processing ?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:45 PM
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Ah! yes!

Well the KEY phrase was "on paper".

At the risk of confusing things, if you were transposing even very good analogue tape recordings there would indeed be no benefit. Even the very best pro machines began to squash at +6 to +8 over peak flux (we won't go there!) and there was no chance of 20dB+peaks.

Playing back the excretable black things, a cartridge CAN respond to a scratch or particle and put out a horrendously large transient so my idea is to give yourself a good margin to accomodate such peaks.

This will, of course, result in very quiet cds! But you can crank the level in software after recording and get the level you want. If using a burner like Nero I would advise against the "normalize" function, they always come out too loud for my home hi fi system. But of course the great thing is once you have the music in the digital can, you can experiment ad.n.

Dave.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:02 PM
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Tah Dave

Whilst giving extra room for large clicks, wouldn't turning down the recording also make it more difficult to remove the crackles. They are a more constant and close to wanted noise source, but subjectively less obvious because they tend to be masked the audio a lot of the time.

I hate normalisers. Very rarely use them, only if I need sounds to conform to a level. They are useful for matching up against absolute peaks, but I would never put a normaliser on one of my own productions or mixes. It's much more satisfying getting good dynamics, rather then let some piece of kit try and hide everything in the roof !
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:09 PM
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Would splitting the signal down to its mid side components help. That way, I can process the channels separately. The more discrete you can be, the more noise you should be able to pick out.. or am I barking up the wrong tree ?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:50 PM
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OK Ed,

Let me tell you what I did (not for the punk stuff but a decent opera for T&S).

Signals via balanced line from Hi Fi system into small mixer to 2496card.

Recorded on Samplitude se8 (at neg18). Trimmed the recordings and bounced across to Sony soundforge* demo and tried vinyl restore, there are various degrees of treatment. Once I was happy that I had it as clean as I could get it without artifacts I upped the level, in stages, to find a good burn point.

I was very happy with the results but MORE importantly, so was 'er indoors!

*Why did I not go straight into SF? Because I am slick as paint editing in Sam, total Klutz in everything else.

M S treatment! What irreplaceable masterpiece are you prepared to spend so much time on? The last performance of Fartfingers' Requiem for a Dead Manatee?

Dave.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 06:41 PM
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They are some quiet rare dance tracks etc. A lot of them are promo copies with mixes that never made the release, or they are unofficial mixes that got sneaked out etc. They are getting on, and I want to convert and perserve them.

Stop telling me about soundforge . It's a great tool that I miss. To this day, I've not found an editor that lets you repair so easily. Ie the classic 'copy other channel'....

I've had some joy with the denoisers in Logic and Izotope RX. It's the crackles that are killing it though. When you lift the broadband noise and air, they become a lot more noticable.

I mention MS, because I've noticed that when you get bad cracks, the software struggles to tell it apart and takes the wanted sound with it.By seperating the common and side info, I thought it may help stop it sounding so drastic..
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Old 1st September 2008 , 07:01 PM
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SORREEE!

Know what!

I would buy a s/h pc (really need an xp disc* for this but oh well!) dld SF demo.

Do the biz. If after 30 days you have not finished. Format the pc and start again. Naughty or what! Once all is done, flog it (bet you don't!).

Sorry if that sounds a bit flippant but I have run out of steam mate and I wish you all the best of luck with your project.

*But you don't have to get it activated.

Dave.
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