Features

Saturday Deluxe / 13 June 2015

Hi folks. It’s the weekend, so time to take your foot off the gas and kick back with ‘Saturday Deluxe’ – the informal feature to round off the week where SDE reflects on the week past and the week yet to come. Or ‘next week’ as we like say in the 21st century.

The Joys of Vinyl Ripping

One of the delights of deluxe reissues is getting all those ‘new-to-CD’ tracks that somehow have escaped being released on the format for decades. These are often obscure remixes from the 1980s (dub mixes, promo-only reworkings) or perhaps a forgotten B-side. If there has never been a deluxe reissue (Sade‘s Diamond Life comes to mind) then to enjoy all those non-album tracks within iTunes or burnt to a CD, you have to do a ‘vinyl rip’ of the songs in question, which means finding away of transferring the vinyl to digital.

With a rapidly increasing vinyl collection, thanks to picking up goodies at charity shops with some regularity (see Second Hand News), the idea of this has always appealed to me, but I’m never been that sure how to do it. I own a Rega Planar 3, so the idea of buying some cheap USB turntable for this purpose seemed a ridiculous, and anyway I don’t want TWO turntables, thank you very much. The Macbook Air that this blog is written with (other computers are available…) doesn’t have an ‘audio in’ and I once tried recording vinyl into the Olympus LS-3 recorder that I use for interviews, but for some reason that sounded rubbish (probably ineptitude from your correspondent).

Anyway, recently I fell across this video on YouTube that demonstrated how easy it was to get great vinyl rips for the cost of the right cable/adaptor and the shareware software Audacity. Enthused with this information, I just had to seek out the right audio in/USB adaptor for my laptop. Amazon has quite a few very cheap products, but many of them only have mono in, and obviously it’s essential that you have stereo. In the end, I selected the ‘iMic’ product from Griffin Technology. I suspect that this is semi-discontinued because I had to resort to third-party sellers on Amazon to get one and it ended up costing me £40, which seemed quite a lot compared to prices I was seeing on US websites.

But having paid for swift delivery and after following the instructions on that YouTube video, I can confirm that this worked an absolute treat. I already had the twin RCA phono cable that goes to 3.5mm stereo mini-jack (they look like this). This plugs into the ‘out’ sockets on your amp and goes into the iMic device (set to ‘line’) which then connects to the USB socket on your computer. I had some familiarity with Audacity, but it’s very easy to use. It can be a little temperamental with a few unexpected crashes, but projects regularly autosave and overall it’s a joy. Even better, it’s free! With practise you’ll find yourself ripping vinyl tracks rather quickly and it’s really satisfying tidying up the audio and ‘trimming’ tracks to size. Once in the digital domain, you can have some fun and create your own edits or simply use the inbuilt filters to remove ‘clicks’ and ‘rumble’.

If you’ve always fancied having a go, I’d really encourage you to do it. Don’t bother spending hundreds on USB turntables and other unnecessary hardware, you can comfortably sort this out for under £50, probably a lot less. All I need to do now is find the time to lock myself away and dig out all that treasured vinyl and have some fun! Not easy, but I suddenly have a new hobby :)


sde_book

Stone the crows…

…The Rolling Stones have only gone and produced a decent super deluxe edition. Yes, after missing the target over the last few years (GRRR!, Some Girls) the Sticky Fingers super deluxe box set is really a superb  celebration of physical product. High quality materials and exceptional design really make this a fine item. This set also doesn’t bundle in expensive vinyl that listeners might not want (other than the bonus seven-inch) and therefore also avoids the kind of duplication that is prevalent with the Led Zeppelin box sets. And unlike the Led Zep sets, you get something exclusive in the box, in this case the 13-track CD Get Yer Leeds Lungs Out. AND it’s cheaper than those sets by over £25. The only thing that stops the Sticky Fingers SDE getting an ‘A+’ is the fact that they’ve used the 2009 remastering (not the infinitely superior Japanese mastering from 2013) and the cheapskate DVD. The video disc only has two tracks and is effectively an advert for the separate Marquee Club release. Apart from that, the numbered super deluxe edition is highly recommended.

Check out the massive Sticky Fingers photo gallery

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42 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 13 June 2015

  1. Jeremy says:

    Hmm, interesting reading Paul. Personally I’ve been doing vinyl rips for many years now (about 20 I think), and currently use a Ariston Q-Deck, into my normal amplifier, then I have a M-Audio Delta 24/96 PCI sound card (around £45 off ebay), which can also be used for the output of all the quality BR Audio disks, so they sound awesome too! I have used various bits of software over the years, from Audacity to ProTools, but ended up the latest version of Sony Sound Forge, which gives me all the right tools at a reasonable price, it’s not free, but the results are just awesome
    I record everything at full 24/96, edit it in 24/96 then, depending on the “value” of the tracks perhaps save it as a 24/96 FLAC file or downsample to CD quality, using FLAC as the file format again. Finally, put together an MP3 for the car (as it won’t manage reasonable quality).

  2. Mike the Fish says:

    You can get pre-amps of varying quality with USB out too. The declicker on Audacity isn’t very good, and there are decent paid for solutions, but Adobe have allowed Audition 3 out for free and that has a much better declicker than Audacity. (Less is more though, some sounds on the track can be altered and even wrecked by declicking.)

  3. Mike the Fish says:

    Oh, and declicking is not a good enough substitute for cleaning the record!

  4. Jeremy says:

    @Mike – definitely agree! The great thing about Sound Forge is that you can select individual “bits” and just declick that annoying scratch, making it hardly noticeable.

    I’ve done a bit of research as well, and found a rather fabulous USB sound card being the M-Audio M-Track which is a USB 24/96 with XLR inputs, negating the quality loss going from RCA to 3.5mm jack.

    • Mike the Fish says:

      Ha – that’s serious transferring! Audacity has a good “fix” feature for large clicks that don’t get corrected adequately by declicking, and something can similar can be done in Audition, but I’m not sure if it’s as good. If using Audition, I don’t recommend the Click/Pop eliminator as it seems to hurt the original sound more than the other process that I can’t see to name at the moment as I’m using Audition to run a quad decoding script!

  5. Home taping is killing music!

  6. spaceboy says:

    Transferring vinyl properly is something that takes a bit more money and know-how. Izotope has some great tools for removing clicks/turntable hum but the record should be cleaned first, preferably with a machine (mine is a Nitty Gritty). A good preamp (Radial J33) is important too…

  7. Lee Taylor says:

    I bought an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB six months ago, but have yet to try out the ripping functionality. Anyone have any experience with it?

  8. Nigel Hall says:

    I’ve been ripping vinyl for ages now. About 10 years ago I bought a dedicated Pioneer CD recorder for my system (like Paul I had a quite expensive turntable – in my case a Pink Triangle PT-TOO) and it’s still going strong. It obviously only samples at CD quality but I’m perfectly happy with that. The whole process of recording to a CDRW, ripping and then tidying up the files is a bit of a labour of love though and very time consuming so ten years later I’m still working my way through my album collection (as well as fitting in the new vinyl I occasionally buy!) And I’m probably still a bit stuck in the dark ages with respect to software compared to some of you guys as I’m still using the same Ahead Nero CD ripper and file editor that came with a very old PC I bought and I tend to manually remove any clicks that a good clean with my Moth record cleaner won’t eliminate. But the results can be truly amazing, especially with my own vinyl that I’ve managed to keep in near mint condition.

  9. Richie says:

    I`ve been recording vinyl to CD for 25 years using a Pioneer PDR 609 CD recorder with great results. Yes, my set up dosen`t allow de-clicking and editing that are discussed above but with clean vinyl the recordings I have made have been of high quality.

    • Richie says:

      Nigel above posted his comments as I was posting mine and with clean vinyl (there are good tips on the net “How to clean old vinyl”) and a good turntable, I have a Linn Axis, the results can be excellent.

    • eric says:

      Pioneer PDR 609 CD recorder was my previous recording device. Great item! Only editing is almost impossible, although i ripped the CD-RWs with exact-audio-copy and edited then on a pc.

      But as stated here, a good cable does what it has to do without a large cost.

    • Guy says:

      I agree. I’ve been using my Philips CDR 870 since I bought it and it is still going strong bar the occasional hiccup.

  10. CJ Feeney says:

    Clearly you can spend lots of money on vinyl ripping, and the law of diminishing returns applies as with anything hi-fi related. Paul’s point is that you can get good results without spending hundreds of pounds.

    Most of my vinyl rips are done so I can listen to music in the car, so hi-res isn’t that important. Personally I don’t have the time available to declick tracks individually, and don’t trust declicking software anymore than I trust noise reduction on my old tape deck. Anything not eliminated by a good clean of the record has to stand!

  11. Jeremy says:

    CJ – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, my “ripping” setup probably cost a total of £150, but I too don’t trust “full” declicking, and perhaps what I didn’t explain very well is that I only “declick” obvious clicks, the majority of the track is left untouched in it’s original form. I don’t run the records through endless filters and gates to get the sound “perfect” it is recorded at the highest possible quality, direct from the source, so (hopefully) will sound as good as when I drop the needle on the record (to use an old cliché!)

  12. eric says:

    I have a tascam ss-r100. It records to SD-card. Then i cut the 44.1/16 wav into the correct length with CD Wave Editor, convert to FLAC, append A & B sides in one file, create a cue sheet with CD Wave Editor, Done.

    http://tascam.com/product/ss-r100/
    http://www.milosoftware.com/cdwave/
    https://xiph.org/flac/

    • TheRedPen says:

      I also have the Tascam SS-R100. I was a big fan of the Minidisc format because of its editing functions and was sad to see its demise, so when I discovered this solid state recorder that has all the same edit controls and with the ability to record at CD quality too (WAV), I was extremely happy. I have my Rega Planar 3 plugged into the back of it (via a Cambridge Audio pre-amp) so whenever I play any vinyl, I can make a digital copy by just hitting RECORD.

  13. ENGLAND says:

    …and this is why SDE is such a fabulous site – not only do I get most of my new (re)release information (without spending £5 on Mojo etc) AND deal alerts – but for these absolute gems of useful tips both by PS and the readers whose contributions are invaluable and keep me reading every day.
    Oh, it wasn’t “home taping” that killed music, it was THE RECORD COMPANIES. :-(

  14. Steve Benson says:

    At risk of starting a whole other conversation, this makes me wonder what are the most sought after albums that are not available on CD and never have been. I’ll nominate Nic Jones ‘The Noah’s Ark Trap’ to kick things off.

    • Richie says:

      Right then I`ll nominate Neil Young`s – `Time Fades Away`, Neil Young fans have be crying out for a re-release of this on CD for years.

      • Gazelle says:

        Seconded. ‘Time Fades Away’.

        Another notable album that has never been released on CD is ‘Live At The Hollywood Bowl’ by The Beatles.

        • CJ Feeney says:

          The OST of Absolute Beginners double LP has not had a full CD release, just a cut down single CD. Must be due for an Anniversary relsease soon?

        • Derek Cornish says:

          It actually has….in Japan…I have a Beatles live at the Hollywood bowl cd

    • Mark Hanson says:

      Buckingham Nicks

  15. Spencer says:

    Or you can just go to YouTube, find the obscure mix you are looking for, convert it with a program like yonverter, and you’ve got what you need minus most of the hassle. Just saying.

  16. Jeremy says:

    @Spencer – a couple of reasons – 1. There is sometimes zero availability (even on Utub!) of certain tracks/albums… (Try finding Virginia Astley albums, or Kelly Monteith or Hello Cheeky) It took me 7 years to find one of these previously mentioned, from an obscure record shop the other side of the world. Then, having finally managed to secure the album I sure as hell wanted to listen to it at the best quality possible, without further damaging the vinyl – hence ripping it at highest quality possible, and… sit back… relax. Plus I don’t want muddy low bit-rate MP3s. I’m a music snob, and I’m proud of it.

  17. Cal says:

    Having been a record collector for years, and at first against cd`s , i now prefer cd`s, yes ive collected minidisc and tapes, but i would never go back to vinyl, it takes a lot more to destroy a cd than vinyl in my view and you usually have a 2nd chance of restoring a cd using a cd buffer , a few years back i spent months ripping my vinyl collection, i used the old pva glue on the vinyl to remove the dust etc and then spent hours removing the clicks and pops manually – redrawing the wave form to remove the click, but it makes me wonder, the whole record industry spent years convincing us to abandon vinyl, in favour of cd, now they realised that a lot more people would not rip vinyl – as they would cd so now theyre introducing the vinyl again at a hefty price so that people who got rid off will have to pay again.

    Over the last couple of years i have ripped my cd collection into flac, flac is a much better option than mp3 because if your cd gets damaged you can re-create a duplicate cd using a couple of free tools, it is near impossible to re-create a vinyl record, so i would have to spend yet more money on the same old recording, i much prefer to spend my money on new stuff than constantly repeating the same purchase.

    • Mike the Fish says:

      I seriously doubt your idea that vinyl has been re-introduced to eliminate ripping: they frequently come with download codes or CDs. Amazon vinyl purchases often come with autorip facility.

  18. fedge says:

    I love Audacity! I have some compressed air handy to blow away any dust then ingest into my computer. Using Audacity, I can clean up a record pretty good. Cassettes too, especially with the “noise removal” feature – just highlight a non-music portion of tape hiss or turntable rumble and then apply it to the whole piece and you can automate a LOT of the clean up. There’s a bit of trial and error to get just the right settings to clean without doing further digital damage but it’s certainly a nice way to “restore” a record or tape.

  19. LostTurntable says:

    I wrote an incredibly in-depth article about ripping vinyl about three years ago.

    http://www.lostturntable.com/?p=1605

    • Paul English says:

      Thank you – it’s very informative. I am curious to see you had the same right vs left channel [one louder] issue that I have when ripping vinyl. I play my records through a mixer.

      However when I play CDs through the mixer and try to manually rip them [as if they were records] then there’s no difference in volume between the right and left channels.

  20. Mike says:

    Win, Uh Tears Baby from the 80s i wager, am not superstitious but had little voice telling me to do google search one morning and there it was a tenner from a scottish online seller. Spooky…. Fab album too.

    • Will says:

      estocks had about a dozen Win – Uh! Tears Baby on Cd for a tenner a pop on ebay just before Xmas. Absolute bargain when you consider what they normally go for.

  21. Randy M says:

    I have a Pioneer 509 CD-Recorder hooked up to my entertainment system which allows me to rip music from my TV & DVD’s as well as vinyl and CD’s. It will only record onto Music CDR’s not regular PC CDR’s.

    When I finish a rip, I mark the CDR as “Master” meaning it is not meant for listening as a finished CD but as an archive for later compilations or to move tracks to my PC for editing (I use Audacity).

    Here’s a dirty secret if you’ve committed to CD and intend to abandon vinyl. Basically I was ripping my vinyl only music and then kissing the vinyl, “Aloha! See ya later.” The dirty secret was ripping vinyl fresh at the source without clicks rather than using declicking methods later which I found distorted sound (already distorted from clicks and hopping needles). The Secret: I used a soft cloth and Pledge!!! and rubbed it into the vinyl. I could only rip 2 or 3 songs at a time before the pledge and grime gunked up on the needle but I got beautiful rips. I cleaned the needle and went to the next tracks. I would not recommend this to someone who plays vinyl as much as they do CD’s. I was moving away from vinyl and the record player has sat dormant for almost a decade. I’m done haunting used or new vinyl stores.

    • Nigel Hall says:

      If you’ve abandoned all your vinyl I’d seriously suggest you rip all your CDRs lossless to digital files cos unless you store them properly they can degrade over time! Quite a few of the first CDRs I made in the early 2000s were compilations to play in the car and many of them have now degraded to the point of unlistenability. Just sayin…

  22. SimonP says:

    I’ve been converting my 80s 12″ singles to mp3 for years now so I can listen to them in the car and find it amazing how many of my rips I can now buy on CD! I have a Rega P3 like a few others on here and have the Rega phono stage with the USB out and use Audacity as my ‘tape recorder’. I save the higher res recordings just in case I ever want to re-convert them and then export an mp3 copy for the car. No point in hi res music in a car, as most of it gets drowned out by road noise.

  23. DLG says:

    Another benefit of ripping a an old LP (in decent condition) is that it contans the original mastering, mix and EQ preference of its creators.

    I greatly enjoy remastered / remixed music, but for older music that dusty LP is historic truth. That often gets lost with remastering, and I suspect in some cases they “remaster” *from* a remaster, rather than the master tapes. If that first remaster wasn’t EQ’d, that might work. But how often is that the case…?

    My nominee for overdue on CD: Shades Of Liberty by Silent Running. Man, I want that CD!

  24. Great article, but just a point of note. All MacBooks including the Air have a bi-directional 3.5mm jack. In Preferences you can choose audio out or in.

    Therefore you can simply connect your turntable to the headphone jack.

  25. deuxhangars says:

    I have my Linn Sondek LP12/Akito /Goldring 2300 into a Linn Kollektor preamp (with phono stage) and feed the output through a Creative X-Fi HD USB soundcard into my PC.

    Record in 24/96 using Creative Recorder or Audacity. Save as 24/96 FLACs.
    Never bother with de-clicking or anything like that. Sound is usually fantastic.
    Just been listening to The Hurting LP by Tears For Fears. It sounds better than the official 24/96 mix.

    PS ((The X-Fi HD has a phono stage built in , although I don’t need it, should anyone be looking for a USB phono stage.))

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