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Topic: Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs (Read 4293 times) previous topic - next topic
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Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

I'm recording my Vinyls to my Hard drive and everything is going great except for one thing. I am useing EAC, and it works great for this. But I can't really fine tune the recording level(the Line in level)...in otherwards I can't get the line in recording level EXACTLY where I want it. When I raise the bar on the Line In sound level one movement up is to high or one movement down is to low. Is there a better recording software, perferably one that is free, that has a better adjustment(better fine tuneing) for adjusting the recording sound level?

Thanks,
-dman
Cowon Iaudio X5 30 gig. It rocks!

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #1
When its one notch too low, just how low exactly is it?
If it's giving you peaks anywhere between say, -6dBFS and 0dBFS, you'd be just fine.
However, if you can't get it into that ballpark, then yeah, you might need something else.
Free stuff... try Audacity or Krystal.
Or if you want the good stuff, any of Adobe Audition, Sony SoundForge etc will totally nail it for ya.
Good luck!
Cheers,
Bruce.
www.audio2u.com
The home of quality podcasts
(including Sine Language, a weekly discussion on all things audio)

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #2
Your post reads as though you have a significant misunderstanding: the signal level is never constant, music is dynamic. The range for vinyl is around 60dB. This means that, depending upon the kind of music, the signal may be a maximum loudness one second, almost too low to hear the next. There is never a single, constant level for any length of time.

Another misunderstand is that the recording software has anything to do with it. The recording software only accepts what it is given, it never adjusts input signal level. Some recording programs give you access to the Windows Mixer so you can play with it from within the program, but it is not the program itself that makes any adjustments.

While you can reduce the input signal level with the Windows mixer -- or the soundcard's own mixer for most pro or semi-pro card -- it is best not to do so. All this on-computer adjustment can do is reduce the bit level, making your 16 bit card function as a 14 or 12 or 10 bit input. If it is necessary to do adjustment, doing so in the analogue domain, before the signal reaches the soundcard, is definitely superior.

I've done hundreds of high quality vinyl transfers. For most the maximum peaks run around -6dB to -12dB while recording. Average level is of course significantly lower on much music. Most people who record vinyl probably do as I do, run directly out of the phono preamp into the soundcard line level inputs with no possible level control. It is never needed for most cartridge/phono preamp setups. If you do need to make adjustments, get a small mixer to go between the phono preamp and the soundcard inputs.

A 24 bit soundcard is nicest, it has the most headroom, but a decent 16 bit card will do fine for recording LPs. The only thing you really have to worry about, for quality recordings, is avoiding clipping. Even having the maximum peaks down at -18dB to -24db will give very good results from vinyl in most cases.

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #3
Many, perhaps most, Creative soundcards (SoundBlasters and such) have some built-in limiting that starts around -3dB. If your maximum signal level is getting close to that, and you have no external-to-the-soundcard level control, you should adjust down with the soundcard mixer. From reports I've read, the effect of this limiting is not pretty.  Any bit reduction via the Windows mixer is definitely to be prefered over the signal squashing the card itself does.

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #4
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The range for vinyl is around 60dB.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360915"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On a good day, with a following wind :-)

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While you can reduce the input signal level with the Windows mixer -- or the soundcard's own mixer for most pro or semi-pro card -- it is best not to do so. All this on-computer adjustment can do is reduce the bit level, making your 16 bit card function as a 14 or 12 or 10 bit input. If it is necessary to do adjustment, doing so in the analogue domain, before the signal reaches the soundcard, is definitely superior.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360915"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This isn't necessarily the case. All the Windows Mixer does is instruct the soundcard driver what to do. Some soundcards do in fact have input gain control in the analogue domain. That said, I adjust levels externally in my own setup - it feels safer.

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I've done hundreds of high quality vinyl transfers. For most the maximum peaks run around -6dB to -12dB while recording.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360915"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I prefer to see peaks a little higher; typically around -3dB. But I think that's more to do with a psychological warm feeling than being genuinely needed. My usual advice is to pick what appears to be the loudest part of the LP (by inspection of the grooves), and set peak level to about -3dB on that part. This leaves some headroom for unexpected peaks elsewhere. (In the case of soundcards with saturation/limiting problems, ie. all Soundblasters with the 137x chipset, you need to drop the level by about 3 or 4dB).

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Most people who record vinyl probably do as I do, run directly out of the phono preamp into the soundcard line level inputs with no possible level control. It is never needed for most cartridge/phono preamp setups. If you do need to make adjustments, get a small mixer to go between the phono preamp and the soundcard inputs.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360915"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Being able to run a phono preamp directly into a soundcard line input without any need of level adjustment is a matter of luck. If the output level from the preamp isn't well matched to the soundcard's input sensitivity, you could end up quite a way off. If you're unlucky, you'll get clipping, which must be avoided at all costs. I personally use a component preamp (the type intended to drive separate poweramps) as my phono preamp, and use the main preamp outputs into the soundcard, which allows for fine adjustment of the recording level using the preamp's volume control.

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A 24 bit soundcard is nicest, it has the most headroom, but a decent 16 bit card will do fine for recording LPs. The only thing you really have to worry about, for quality recordings, is avoiding clipping. Even having the maximum peaks down at -18dB to -24db will give very good results from vinyl in most cases.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360915"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you have a really nice soundcard with a noise floor below -90dB (eg. M-Audio, Terratec, Echo), then peak recording levels of -18dB is just about acceptable. But if you're using more mainstream stuff like a Soundblaster or Turtle Beach, you should aim for peak levels closer to -6dB. And don't even think about using on-board sound for good quality LP recording.

Going back to darin's original question: The recording level controls in programs that adjust via the Windows Mixer vary quite a lot. The one in Audacity is OK-ish, but not really suitable for precision work. At least it's better than the standard Windows Volume Control adjusters. At the risk of being accused of salesmanship, I'd point out that the level control and metering in Wave Repair is very precise. If you only use Wave Repair for recording (and track splitting), then it's free.

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #5
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Going back to darin's original question: The recording level controls in programs that adjust via the Windows Mixer vary quite a lot.... I'd point out that the level control and metering in Wave Repair is very precise. If you only use Wave Repair for recording (and track splitting), then it's free.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=360942"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



I think I will try Wave Repair.... If I do, am I going to have to modifiy the Compression/Amplification section or is it ok stock? I am trying to keep this as less technical as possible.

Thanks,
-Darin
Cowon Iaudio X5 30 gig. It rocks!

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #6
I run my recordings at -14db, but I also have an RME soundcard with a proven 100db noise floor, and the preamp noise floor is -75db so I'm in pretty good shape.

Note that, strictly speaking, there is no defined "maximum" amplitude for LPs, and in fact many records are mastered at either rather low or rather high levels. (Low levels let you put more on a disc at the expense of reduced SNR; high levels increase the SNR at the expense of play time and increased potential of mistracking.) If you adjust your levels for -3db peaks based on a very long playing LP, you will likely get clips on other records.

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #7
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I think I will try Wave Repair.... If I do, am I going to have to modifiy the Compression/Amplification section or is it ok stock? I am trying to keep this as less technical as possible.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=361006"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Compression/Amplification is only applied if you explicitly tell it to do so (while editing a file). No processing whatsoever is performed during recording, only during subsequent editing (which isn't relevant if you only want to use Wave Repair as a recorder).

Fine Tuneing the Recording level for recording LPs

Reply #8
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Note that, strictly speaking, there is no defined "maximum" amplitude for LPs, and in fact many records are mastered at either rather low or rather high levels. (Low levels let you put more on a disc at the expense of reduced SNR; high levels increase the SNR at the expense of play time and increased potential of mistracking.) If you adjust your levels for -3db peaks based on a very long playing LP, you will likely get clips on other records.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=361019"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not sure, but this looks like it may be a comment on my suggestion that you should set the level to -3dB on what looks like the loudest section of the LP. I should have stressed that this level setting should be done on each individual record. You are absolutely correct that different LPs have different peak levels, so you can't rely on a single setting for all recordings (unless you have a very good soundcard with a low noise floor, in which case you can play extra safe by keeping levels right down).

 
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