Saturday, August 13, 2016

To Vinyl and Beyond

This is a short pointer to an article in Engadget that explains how to digitise your vinyl record collection.

And Why digitise?
Marcus and Agata no longer own a Hi-Fi.  One genuine reason is that in Switzerland we don't want to annoy any neighbours and a Computer and small Bluetooth speaker provides sufficient volume for our needs.

Additionally,  the Record Player & Hi-Fi setup is bulky,  you cannot obviously travel with this gubbins, and since 1999 we've used purely portable MP3 musical equipment ... starting with a  Diamond Rio PMP300

We had it tough
With the advent of CD's and their significantly higher quality over existing Cassette or Records, Marcus was faced with the dilemma of what to do with his bulky and pristine Vinyl record collection

The date was about 1999, about 17 years ago!

You can't just take the audio output from a record player and feed it into the audio input of a 1990's computer soundcard.

Why?  Because the Record player has a /weird/ audio characteristic frequency equalisation curve.  What would work is to plug the record player into an audio amplifier and feed the output from the amplifier to your computer Line In.

Or in my case I bought a small equalisation box from Tandy (Radio Shack) which has phono input from a record player and equalised audio output.  It was powered by a 9V battery I recall.  So the conversion process was

- Make the physical connection  Record player, to Tandy Equaliser, to the Line Input port of the Computer
- Start the .WAV recording application on the computer
- Start playing the record side 1
- Go off for a 20 minute coffee break
- Come back and turn the record over
- Stop the record playing on side 2
- Stop the WAV recording application
- Use the CDWAV application to visually inspect the .wav file you recorded
- Split it up into tracks
- Name the tracks by looking at the album cover
- Use a LAME encoder to make .mp3 track files
- Set the ID3 tags for each .mp3 track so that Apple devices will recognise the music.

My advice in 2016
Converting a single 45 minute vinyl record took about 5 hours of work.  And so converting hundreds of records robbed me of literally a few years of free evenings.  I am not kidding.

My alternative strategy for today in 2016 is

- If the vinyl record is available in digital download or CD format buy it again.
- Well unless you really don't have the money, then the conversion process is to be considered
- Prefer to use the conversion process therefore for special Vinyls that are not resold today

And if you set out converting, well you will need a very understanding partner I can tell you!

The Sony Alternative

Follow the link to the Engadget review of the Sony HX500 which is a record player (turntable) that connect into your Hi-Fi, or using the supplied applications, connect via USB to a computer and thereby make the above analog to digital conversion in a slightly less tortuous fashion than I related.

Happy converting