You are here

Log in or register to post comments
jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

The March 2009 issues of both Stereophile and The Absolute Sound bring us an article about digitizing vinyl, i.e. converting one's analog LPs in digital files or even CDs. So how well does magazine present the subject and how do they compare...LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!

Round one: Background info

TAS gets the nod here by a least mentioning (but not clearly explaining) things like lossless and lossy compression. Neither article gives the reader any internet links so that one can at least try to find out some of the information that is so clearly missing. Score this round TAS 9 to Sterephile 8.

Round two: Set up

With neither article having so much as a crudely drawn diagram of how to set up even a simple an LP to digital conversion system, the two point must system deems that each one only gets 8 points out of a possible 10 points. In all fairness, a more liberal judge might give TAS an extra point for them at least mentioning the various pieces of equipment required to set up such a system.

Round three: Step by step instructions

TAS again wins the round with their "workflow" concept. Stereophile seems dazed and stunned offering only a weak counterpunch with constant Channel D Pure Vinyl jabs. Score this round TAS 10 to Sterephile 8.

Round four: Software support

TAS once again wins the round by covering more ground as Stereophile sticks to it's hopeless one punch Channel D strategy. The Channel D strategy might have paid off for Stereophile had they decided to use Channel D's much ballyhooed digital RIAA curves but for some reason this potential knockout punch was nowhere to be seen. Score this round TAS 10 to Sterephile 8.

At this point the judges stepped in to put an end to what was clearly becoming a rout. Hopefully, Stereophile will be able to pick itself up off the canvas and return with a more balanced approach rather than sticking to the one punch Channel D technique, or at the very least, bring the potential knock out power of Channel D to the fight.

In the meantime the devoted readers of these magazines have to rely on computer publications (and those publication's love of "USB turntables") for any relatively useful information on how to digitize their vinyl.

smejias
smejias's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Aug 25 2005 - 10:29am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

Thanks for the post, Jazzfan. One point I'd like to make: Michael's article was not intended to be a comprehensive piece on digitizing vinyl. It is a column on digitizing vinyl using Channel D's Pure Vinyl program, and should be viewed in that light.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
Thanks for the post, Jazzfan. One point I'd like to make: Michael's article was not intended to be a comprehensive piece on digitizing vinyl. It is a column on digitizing vinyl using Channel D's Pure Vinyl program, and should be viewed in that light.

Hi Stephen,

Yes of course I understand what the main intent of MF's article is but apparently who ever does the cover layout for the magazine doesn't: it says very clearly on the cover "Ripping Your LPs", it doesn't say something like "Michael Fremer Puts Channel D Software To The Test".

And as I stated in my original post it would appear that the main selling point for the Channel D software is it's ability to apply RIAAs in the digital domain but MF didn't test that feature of the software because he couldn't get a hold of a microphone preamp!?!?!? What no Guitar Centers near by? Or maybe it's having to actually BUY something instead of having a manufacturer LOAN it to him that put Mikey off his game. In either case, it was rather poor journalism and well below Stereophile's normally high standards.

And how about a diagram or two?? And an equipment (devices, cables and connectors) required list? Or is that too much to ask?

Or better yet, how about publishing a comprehensive piece on digitizing vinyl, complete the aforementioned diagrams, a required equipment list and some background info (with links!!!) on digital audio formats???

Oh, and please don't forget to run the follow up piece where the Channel D software is FULLY tested.

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
TAS gets the nod here by a least mentioning (but not clearly explaining) things like lossless and lossy compression.

Stereophile has covered this subject at depth in the past and we have made no secret of the fact that we strongly recommend ripping to a lossless format. See, for example, my feature at www.stereophile.com/features/308mp3cd.

There is always the question of how much supporting material to include in any one article. To assume no knowledge on the part of the reader leads to over-long, unwieldy articles. As Stephen explained above, Michael's March column was not intended to be a comprehensive essay on the subject of ripping LPs but a specific look at one solution.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
As I stated in my original post it would appear that the main selling point for the Channel D software is it's ability to apply RIAAs in the digital domain but MF didn't test that feature of the software because he couldn't get a hold of a microphone preamp!?!?!?

Michael has now received a sample of Channel D's own flat-response phono preamp for use with its software. He will be writing about using it with digital-domain RIAA EQ in a future column.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
Stereophile has covered this subject at depth in the past and we have made no secret of the fact that we strongly recommend ripping to a lossless format. See, for example, my feature at www.stereophile.com/features/308mp3cd.

There is always the question of how much supporting material to include in any one article. To assume no knowledge on the part of the reader leads to over-long, unwieldy articles. As Stephen explained above, Michael's March column was not intended to be a comprehensive essay on the subject of ripping LPs but a specific look at one solution.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Fair enough, John

However, as your response so clearly shows, including a LINK really goes a long way to help alleviate the problem of "over-long, unwieldy articles". This is the 21st century and publishing articles with links to information available on the web should no longer be considered too high tech for the average reader.

Besides that a nice comprehensive article or feature on converting vinyl (or other analog material, such as tapes) to digital audio files would be nice to see.

ChrisLee
ChrisLee's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 7 2005 - 10:05pm
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

Also, as he was using a mac, it would've been real great info as to how it compares with Apples own ripping software, Logic Express/Pro which provides the tools to rip at different sample rates.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
Also, as he was using a mac, it would've been real great info as to how it compares with Apples own ripping software, Logic Express/Pro which provides the tools to rip at different sample rates.

What you're saying is that there was a wasted opportunity for Mikey to provide some useful information and he missed it? Gee, what a surprise!

scs
scs's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 2 2009 - 1:23am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

Been using Macs & PC's to rip vinyl for > 10 years and the best software I've found for this purpose (reasonably priced, good interface, easy to use and least "bloated" with irrelevant bells & whistles) for this job:

On the PC: Adobe Audition (AKA CoolEdit Pro) (v1.5 - later versions somewhat bloated) - has great 2 track editing and noise reduction features built-in that puts the competition to shame.

On the Mac: Sound Studio 3.5.7 - this inexpensive gem is IMHO flat out the best tool on the Mac for ripping vinyl to disk. Everything needed with exception of noise reduction (that's what I use Audition for) and nothing more. With this software, tracking, splitting and tagging high-res digital (192/24bit) copies of LP's in Apple Lossless format is a snap. Just hook a good firewire audio interface to the output of your phono preamp and you're good to go!

Carefully transferred copies of LP's in hi-res (192/24) lossless format always sound better (to my ears) than the same material ripped from commercial CD's when played back directly from a computer using a good DAC.

It's also great to restore those priceless analog disks which might have been scratched in years past by digitally removing those nasty blemishes.

alrmad
alrmad's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: Dec 20 2007 - 2:17am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

I think it's fair to say Stereophile actually makes an effort to describe a revolutionary product here. MF does mention his lacking computer (PC?) skills. The scope of MF's Analog Corner doesn't seem to be a comprehensive 'How to...'-article. On the other hand, MF's repeatedly mentioning how brilliant this or that CD-R he brought to this or that show (always made on the Alesis Masterlink from his Continuum Labs 'table) must have left some readers reeling as to how they can digitize their vinyl.
As for software, Korg's AudioGate (included with their MR-recorders) is an easy recommendation. I'm familiar with Sony SoundForge and the like, but AudioGate cut down editing time to at least 20%. And it works with DSD-recordings.

scs
scs's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 2 2009 - 1:23am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

John:

It would be interesting to hear what MF and various readers have accomplished with their efforts to digitize vinyl. Would it be possible for MF and the readers to archive a few short 'snippets' (to avoid legal problems) of standard LP titles they have converted with various software/hardware setups for comparison purposes?

DraganH
DraganH's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 7 2007 - 11:32pm
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

Hi,
I too have been digitising vinyl for the last couple of years. My setup includes a PC with a Lynx L22 card (similar to MF) and Audacity software. My observations include:
- hirez files (in my case 24/96) sound much better than other low rez, including CD redbook (no brainer really,but needs to be said)
- soundcard has a bigger impact than software,
- PC setup (both software and hardware) is also important on overall sound quality (both import and output/playback)
- playback through DAC is better than straight from the PC (soundcard DAC)
and finally
- I like the sound of my phonostage (Audible Illusions tube preamp) and by running this signal to the Pc/soundcard, I am in effect preserving this important feature.

Things that would be nice to know:
- experiences with other cards
- best PC/Mac setup (power supply, other software running)
- playback software - foobar vs Quicktime/iTunes Windows media
- sound restoration software experiences, value

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
Things that would be nice to know:
- experiences with other cards
- best PC/Mac setup (power supply, other software running)
- playback software - foobar vs Quicktime/iTunes Windows media
- sound restoration software experiences, value

Hi Dragan,

Excellent post but I'm afraid that what you're asking for seems, at least at this point in time, to be well off the radar for Stereophile and especially MF. Sure he likes to digitize some of his vinyl but I'm beginning to think that he only does it so that he can show how bad the average CD sounds when compared to his homemade digitized vinyl CD/DVD-A.

As for actually using a computer as the front end to a high end audio system - no f*&king way! Got to support those $1K+ power cords, $5k+ power conditioners and all the other overpriced high end voodoo. A computer based front end doesn't care about all that mumbo jumbo since, in this case, the old "bit is bit" axiom really does apply. No more free meals, junkets or what have you from the fat cat cable and power conditioning companies.

It appears that Stereophile is going to stay with the tired old model of the 20th century music and high end audio business as that ship continues to sink. The unfortunate thing for MF is that the only thing that life preservers and vinyl have in common is that they're both round with a hole in the middle. News flash for MF: vinyl ain't coming back regardless of how much any of us audiophiles may love the sound of analog.

The really terrible part about this whole affair is that Stereophile and it's staff of very knowledgeable writers will slowly lose their clout and influence in the world of audio to other magazines, writers and individuals whose real expertise is in the world of computers rather than audio. Hooray for iTunes, iPods, badly compressed audio and throwaway earbuds!!!

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
As for actually using a computer as the front end to a high end audio system - no f*&king way! Got to support those $1K+ power cords, $5k+ power conditioners and all the other overpriced high end voodoo.

Not really. Stereophile has covered the use of a computer as a high-end source for quite a while, and we have been doing so since TAS was still on "its computers have no place in a high-end audio system" jag. See, for example the round-up I published at www.stereophile.com/computeraudio/1008servers, which has a lot of relevant links to other stuff we have published.

What does puzzle me is the idea of digitizing your vinyl, which in some aspects, unless done with great care and true high-resolution gear, gives you the worst of both worlds. YMMV, of course.


Quote:
A computer based front end doesn't care about all that mumbo jumbo since, in this case, the old "bit is bit" axiom really does apply. No more free meals, junkets or what have you from the fat cat cable and power conditioning companies.

Good grief, Jazzfan, what happened to make you go off the rails?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

DraganH
DraganH's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 7 2007 - 11:32pm
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

Thanks Jazzfan,
unfortunately, I am starting to agree with you, especially on your thoughts on the disapearance of vinyl. For me, digitising LPs is the only way of preserving my collection, which I don't want to get rid of and I don't want to further damage by playing the favourite tracks over and over again.
Getting back to the MF article, the whole idea was to promote the software, which, I think, in general is way down the list of factors affecting quality of digitised music.
If you already have records, one would assume that you have the equipment to play them on, and that if you wish to transfer them to your hard drive, the main issue would the preservation of the sound of the total LP playback system (which includes LP, turntable, cartridge, cables and phono stage).
The next question is format, and I think that we agree that a hi rez format is the only way to go (24 bit and 96 or 192 kHz).The last question is how do we play those files back (using our system), and how well has the process been able to preserve the analogue sound.
As you say, there is not much room here for adding any expensive equipment in this process, which is why this topic will not be coming up in future issues of the magazine.
Pity - because I know there are many vinyl lovers who are very interested in this topic.

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl


Quote:
there is not much room here for adding any expensive equipment in this process, which is why this topic will not be coming up in future issues of the magazine

Oh dear. Another conspiracy theorist heard from :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: Celebrity Death Match 2009 - Digitizing Vinyl

And...if we want to go all the way back..in the 'way back' machine..one could dig up JGH's work with the early digital recorders that he was so fond of-with regards to having fun. These events I speak of were barely past the days when the rag was stapled.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Off the rails

First off let me say that in all my posts regarding using a computer based music system I've always stated that the computer would only be acting as the "front end" of the system and even that usage of "front end" is not really the same as what we are all normally used to. It's more like the computer is acting as the CD or LP in that it's the storage medium for the music (or more correctly, the music files) itself. So sure there will be people who will claim that different brands of hard drives have different sounds but, by and large, those claims will be relegated to extreme fringe of this wonderful hobby.

There will still be plenty of places where all the things normally associated with high end audio will be present. The DAC, preamp, power amp and speakers are all analog devices and will still need to meet the demands of the average audiophile. But make no mistake - the storage medium is moving away from traditional physical media (LPs, CDs, SACDs, etc) and into the world of files and Stereophile can either get with the program or be relegated to the scrap heap along with all the other dead technologies. And please no more coverage about iPods and iPod docks - the iPod and the iTunes store have done more harm to the quality of music reproduction than the once ubiquitous boom box.

Now as for my "going off the rails" (JA, I love those British idioms you throw in every now and then):

I worked for 30+ years as an engineer involved in the construction industry and while I never witnessed any outright bribery I did run across a fair amount of "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine". By that I mean the common practice of vendors buying the engineers lunch or sending them on a trip to the factory (which also might involve seeing a golf tournament or football game). No money changed hands and no promises were made but the understanding was that the engineer might give that vendor a more favored status when designing the next project. Nothing illegal, just the way business normally operates.

Now for Stereophile and it's editors to expect it's readers to believe that the "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" way of doing business doesn't apply to the world of high end audio, well then you must be off your rails.

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: Off the rails

Actually..in all my years in around the business, I've never heard a hint of this sort of thing happening at stereophile. To be sure, it's darned near impossible to not form friendships with the odd person. This is a small market, and if two (people,companies, whatever) where to be found to be in bed with one another, you can be damned sure that someone from some other side of the table/audio world would be screaming from the rooftops about it, and the rest of us would know about it in less than a week.

So -NO- Jazzfan..this is not the construction business and it's not even remotely the same situation/world/genotype.

This audio world is too damn small to even pick your nose and not have someone else find out about it.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading