... and other music-related stuff

Vinyl to CD

[This section is necessarily short at present, but will be completed and possibly expanded when time permits. It is envisaged that paragraphs which appear below may eventually grow into separate pages.]

In any computer-based vinyl-to-CD transfer there are a number of processes to undertake. The only ones in the following list which are absolutely necessary are numbers 3 and 7 : all the others will improve the result in some way. Even number 7 is not absolutely necessary if you're happy to play your digitized vinyl directly from your computer. The optimum order of work is as follows:

1) record cleaning
2) off-centre record correction
3) digitization to hard disk
4) automated noise reduction
5) additional manual noise reduction
6) track location and division
7) burning to CD
8) creation of disk label and case insert

Other factors not addressed in the above list (eg quality of music information extracted from the vinyl, quality of digitization process) will be covered elsewhere.

Digitization to hard disk

The signal from your (hopefully clean and in good condition) record is captured on hard disk, a process also known as "ripping". You need to find a way of getting the signal from your turntable to your computer's sound card, and you need software which will capture the input signal and convert it to .wav format (300-400 megabytes from both sides of a typical LP). I have several pieces of software, some paid, some free, which are capable of this. My preference for this operation is CoolEdit (now owned by Adobe and marketed as Adobe Audition). Before finally saving the .wav file you have the opportunity to remove (by cutting) the sound of the stylus entering the groove at the start and leaving it at the end. When digitizing you need to be aware of the frequency response of the signal etched into the vinyl. Known as the RIAA Equalization Curve, the bass is damped down (and the treble emphasized) to allow closer spacing of the grooves. This curve must be reversed on playback, or the sound will be thin and screechy. If your amplifier has a "phono" input, this requirement should be taken care of. If you don't have a phono-enabled amplifier, you might be able to record direct, but then you run into the problem of the signal being too low-level. However, there are possible ways round this [check back for more detail]. If you record direct, you can use software to apply the reverse equalization curve and regain accurate sound.

Burning to CD

Even if all you have done so far is digitize the signal from your vinyl record and have ended up with a large .wav file, you could go straight to the CD-burning stage. If you made sure to burn an audio (not data) disk, you would have a transfer which should play in a standard CD player. However, any noise which was present when played on the turntable will be faithfully reproduced on the CD because you did no noise reduction, and your CD will contain only one (huge) track, which will make finding your favorite section rather tiresome.

[Much more to come. Please check back.]