Digital music forum: What I have learned about LP to CD conversion

by: dvautier February 25, 2005 3:01 PM PST

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What I have learned about LP to CD conversion

by dvautier - 2/25/05 3:01 PM

I have been savagely collecting LP records for 40 years or more plus a bunch of 78s I got from my sister's estate. I just recently dumped all my cassette equipment and went totally to CD and it was an interesting change for me. So for what it's worth here are some of my thoughts.

First of all don't let anybody scare you into thinking that your LPs will immediately deteriorate and have to be converted and want to sell you a bunch of stuff to do the job. That's pure bull. If an LP is properly stored vertically and kept in reasonable temperature and humidity ranges and handled properly it will outlast most of us (fingerprints don't hurt--fingernails do). The same goes for the old 78s. What can damage a record is too much stylus pressure when played. I record my records at 1 gram. I have played some of them many times with no loss of fidelity. What really damages a record is some gorilla dragging a stylus over the surface or some guy playing frisbe with it.

About the only reason I put my records on CD is so I can hear them in the car and anywhere else when I want to. Turntables are death around kids. And if a child gets just one second alone with a high quality sure M-55 you can kiss $100 good bye. CDs cost about 33 cents and take 3 minutes to burn. So go figure. It's a good way to go for sure.

1. I use .wav files for all CD recording. I can easily get 2 records on one CD and that works out just fine for me. Besides I have had way too much trouble with mp3 on all the CD players around this place. Of course my web music has to be mp3 because of size but that's the only reason to use it there.

2. I go with a stereo 41000 sampling rate setting. Believe me it will pick up everything on that darn record.

3. I remove all lead-in and lead-out silence between recorded songs (it's more like noise anyway). One easy way to do this is to record a complete record side then zoom in and put markers right at the end of one song and at the beginning of the next song. Most editing software can write data between markers as separate files. I then delete the worthless little silent files. It's a lot easier to do this than to edit a great big old file.

4. An important thing about recording is to have good equipment because digital picks up everything--I mean everything; turntable rumble, crosstalk, and pre-amp noise in particular. So lose all the old 1972 equipment right now--it's stone age (except perhaps for your turntable and cartridge. If you have a cheepo turntable look for a good direct drive on ebay or somewhere. I had to get a pre-amp with 90 db s/n ratio. My 60 db one was not good enough. I shortened all my cables as much as I could, especially the one from the magnetic pickup to the preamp which is very sensitive. Be sure to ground the turntable wire shield to the preamp. It is also good to have a pre-amp with an external power supply. Keep it as far away as possible from those sensitive low voltage pickup wires. So all you need is your turntable and stylus, a good pre-amp and your computer--that's it for hardware.

5. After I build up a folder of songs I burn it at least twice to CD, once as a music CD and once as a data CD. It is far faster to restore a data CD than to re-capture the music. It is also faster to burn an extra music CD or two than to copy a CD.

5. I use a separate hard disk formatted NTFS for all my audio and video work because I am constantly writing and deleting large files. In this way I keep my system drive fairly stable and I don't have to de-frag it so much.

6. I usually monitor older records that have scratches. If it's a good record I just let her rip. But if a record gets stuck I write down the recording time and remove the anti-skating (which applies a little back pressure to the arm to compensate for the inward torque of the rotation which describes an arc slightly above center). If this doesn't work I try to nudge the stylus to see if I can get it past the bad spot. If that doesn't work I re-queue the stylus several groves over. I then go in after and try to fix the digital sound--or delete the song. one of these methods works.

7. For faster burning, keep your work disk and your burner on separate IDE channels. I noticed that it does make a difference, sometimes 30 percent.

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