HydrogenAudio

CD-R and Audio Hardware => Vinyl => Topic started by: Damned536 on 2020-07-13 09:48:55

Title: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-13 09:48:55
Hey everyone,

So after seeing a bunch of my favorite video game soundtracks being vinyl only, as well as some vinyls having awesome orchestrated arrangements, I am looking to start buying and learning about transferring vinyl and cassette tapes to my PC. Here are my overall goals...

1. Transfer the audio as high quality and accurate to the source material as possible

2. Do so using equipment that is as simple to use as possible

What I am looking for is a fully automatic, high quality sound turntable with a simple plug and record jack (Whether that is USB or a 3.5 mm audio jack, whichever would be higher quality). I do not want to have to fiddle around with buttons, knobs, or other settings in order to get the sound just right or play the record properly (Knowing me, I'll do something wrong and break a record). I just want something where I take it out of the box, put the record on it, connect a 3.5 mm audio / USB plug into my PC, and hit play to start recording. Also, I won't be using the turntable to listen to the records at all, only transfer them.

I am willing to spend around $300-$500 in this endeavor. So would anyone be able to recommend a turntable around that price range that can do all of the above?

Now for cassette tapes, I understand that you should buy a dedicated tape deck in order to get high quality sound. I'd like to only spend around $100, since I doubt I'll be transferring that many tapes.

From my research, I understand there are different types of tapes as well as something called "Dolby Noise Reduction", and that you need to set these properly on a tape deck in order to transfer audio correctly. Are there any other settings I need to worry about and how do I know what to use (Is it true the majority of "Recorded by professional record companies, then sold in stores" tapes are type 1 and use Dolby Noise Reduction B)?

As for transferring and recording the audio, someone mentioned that a blue "Line In" jack is better to use than a microphone jack (They made no mention of a USB jack). Is the "Line In" jack the best to use? How about the frequency and bit depth to record at? I figure 16 bit is the proper setting as I know from reading articles that 24 bit is worthless, but should I be recording at 44100 Khz or 48000 Khz? Do I need special cables to ensure the audio is actually being recorded in stereo, rather than 2 channel mono (I believe the correct cables are called 3.5 mm audio cables)?

As for recording, I think I have that part figured out decently enough, as I've used Audacity before to do basic editing. The only questions I have concern monitoring the recording for clipping. From what I understand, I should avoid going into the "red zone" on the volume...monitoring...thingy, and that going into yellow is generally okay, but the absolute best recording volume wise is one that only goes into the farthest of "green". Is this true and is there any specific volume that is a sweet spot, or any trick to ensure you can just record at 100% volume and not go into the "red zone", or is it all just trial and error? Am I supposed to be controlling the volume from one specific device / Audacity itself, or does it not matter?

I also heard that supposedly, at least for cassette tapes, that if you record through your audio jack at too loud a volume you can damage your computer's circuitry! Is that true? Finally, should I turn on the "Software Playthrough of Input" option under "Recording" in Audacity (Someone in a video said I should, but then the version of Audacity he was using mentioned something about not checking it if recording stereo tracks, which I will be).

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Roseval on 2020-07-13 11:14:34
You might have a look at Sony PS-HX500, it does USB out.

As cassette decks or phono stages have line-out you must use the line-in of your AD converter.
Signals at line level are way to hot for microphone inputs.

You can connect a turntable directly to a AD converter skipping the phono stage.
The output is very low so you need the microphone input (you need 2 of them as your record is stereo).
Using a program, they apply the needed RIAA correction afterwards.

Always record using 24 bits simply because of this you have more headroom.
Allows you to keep say 20 dB headroom.
Audacity stores everything as 32 bit, even better if you do some post processing.
Likewise you might go for 88 or 96 kHz sample rate.
It is overkill but as recording analog is a horrible job, you rather do it once.

When all is done, you might decide to downsample the final product to 16/44.1.

I don't think you can damage your computer by recording to loud.
The only thing I can imagine is if the line-in signal is to hot or you feed it to a mic input,  you might blow your soundcard.

"3.5 mm audio cables"
Most of the time this is a stereo plug.
Depending on your outputs and inputs you might need a 3.5 jack to 2x rca adapter.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: jaybeee on 2020-07-13 13:20:08
I can't help with the vinyl digitisation, but many years ago (and I've just updated it) I wrote a fairly simple guide to digitising cassette tapes (https://wiki.themixingbowl.org/Digitising_cassette_tapes).

It's all fairly self-explanatory. If there's one thing to really focus on after the basics are in place, is that you adjust the azimuth. So, ensure the cassette deck you have allows the azimuth to be adjusted: either by a dedicated control knob; or via access to the tape head screw. I cannot emphasize just how important adjusting the azimuth is in eliciting the very best audio from the tape.

Good luck :)
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: 2tec on 2020-07-13 15:58:33
https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/sample_workflow_for_lp_digitization.html
https://anarchivism.org/w/How_to_Rip_Cassette

As cassette decks or phono stages have line-out you must use the line-in of your AD converter.  Signals at line level are way to hot for microphone inputs.
Correct me if I'm wrong but you should connect RCA output to the BLUE mini-jack input of a soundcard / motherboard, which should be the line in.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_card#Color_codes

Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-13 18:59:16
Jaybeee, do you know of any inexpensive decks that allow for azimuth adjustment whilst still having high quality audio output? I really don't want to spend any more than $200, because, as I said, I'm only going to be transferring a few tapes. I understand you can just take the door off, but that makes me a little nervous (Unless it is really intuitive).

Also, here is one of the tapes I want to transfer...

https://vgmdb.net/album/3436

It has the "Reverse DD" logo on it, which means noise reduction was used, but how would I know the right noise reduction? Like I mentioned earlier, I was told in a video that "Dolby Noise Reduction B" and "Tape Type 1" were usually safe bets to use. Is this correct?

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You might have a look at Sony PS-HX500, it does USB out.

Would there be any difference in audio quality between using the blue Line-in and the USB ports?
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-13 21:16:31
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What I am looking for is a fully automatic, high quality sound turntable with a simple plug and record jack
Almost all good turntables are manual.   Some are semi-automatic where they lift the stylus at the end.

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(Whether that is USB or a 3.5 mm audio jack, whichever would be higher quality).
A "traditional" turntable has unamplified RCA connections from the phono cartridge.  There are no internal electronics.  You need a phono preamp to apply the RIAA Playback Equalization (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization) and to bring the signal up to line-level. 

Older stereo receivers had a phono preamp built-in.   You can buy a stand-alone preamp or you can buy an USB interface with a built-in preamp such as the Behringer UF0202 or Art USB Phono Plus.

Some newer turntables have a built-in preamp and/or built-in USB interface. 

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I am willing to spend around $300-$500 in this endeavor. So would anyone be able to recommend a turntable around that price range that can do all of the above?
I'd say that's the "sweet spot".   If you go too cheap you'll get "cheap" sound.   And if you spend a lot more you're still listening to analog vinyl (and the record itself becomes the weak link.)   Knowzy.com (http://www.knowzy.com/Computers/Audio/Digitize_Your_LPs/USB_Record_Player_Turntable_Comparison.htm#LP2CDCategories) has lots of reviews & recommendations.

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Now for cassette tapes, I understand that you should buy a dedicated tape deck in order to get high quality sound. I'd like to only spend around $100, since I doubt I'll be transferring that many tapes.
Cassette decks are more rare than turntables.  Try B&H PhotoVideo (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Audio%20Cassette%20Player&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&ap=Y&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI66_KofDK6gIVi4bACh33QwDXEAMYASAAEgKjPPD_BwE).   I don't think you'll find Dolby for $100. 

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From my research, I understand there are different types of tapes as well as something called "Dolby Noise Reduction", and that you need to set these properly on a tape deck in order to transfer audio correctly. Are there any other settings I need to worry about and how do I know what to use (Is it true the majority of "Recorded by professional record companies, then sold in stores" tapes are type 1 and use Dolby Noise Reduction B)?

The "type" is the tape-type/formulation.   It's critical to set the correct tape-type when recording to tape.  It's less critical for playback.

Dolby B noise reduction was very popular.    Dolby B sounds a little "bright" if it's not decoded (the high frequencies are compressed & boosted) but it's listenable and you can turn-down the treble or EQ to taste.   (That doesn't properly decode it.)    Some people used to leave Dolby off during playback because they preferred the brighter sound. 

As far as I know, Dolby C wasn't used on commercial releases.   It's more aggressive and it's probably not listenable without decoding.  (Dolby A is strictly for recording studio use.)

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As for transferring and recording the audio, someone mentioned that a blue "Line In" jack is better to use than a microphone jack (They made no mention of a USB jack).
With a USB connection you are bypassing your soundcard.

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How about the frequency and bit depth to record at? I figure 16 bit is the proper setting as I know from reading articles that 24 bit is worthless
The bit depth is first determined/limited by your soundcard/interface.    If you are using Audacity, by default it will up-sample to 32-bit floating-point for temporary/internal processing.   There are advantages to floating point processing.  when you export to your final-format you can choose the bit-depth.

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but should I be recording at 44100 Khz or 48000 Khz?
Either one is OK.  Uncompressed/lossless files will be proportionally larger at 48kHz.

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Do I need special cables to ensure the audio is actually being recorded in stereo, rather than 2 channel mono (I believe the correct cables are called 3.5 mm audio cables)?
A 3.5mm stereo plug is a TRS (https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=5576) connector.  It has 3 connections - Tip, Ring, Sleeve - Just like a regular headphone plug.    (A headset may have a 4-conductor TRRS connector with an additional connection for the mic.)

Your turntable will have left & right RCA connectors (https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=2868).   Some USB audio interfaces have RCA connectors and some higher-end audio interfaces have left & right 1/4-inch (https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=601415)/XLR (pro microphone) combo connectors.

The cables/adapters will depend on your particular hardware.

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As for recording, I think I have that part figured out decently enough, as I've used Audacity before to do basic editing. The only questions I have concern monitoring the recording for clipping. From what I understand, I should avoid going into the "red zone"
The ADC (analog-to-digital converter) is hard-limited at exactly 0dB and it will clip if you "try" to go over.   Nothing bad happens when you get close to 0dB.   And at 16-bits or better, digital has a wide dynamic range so you can safely record down to around -12dB (25%) or less.

Digital recording levels are not THAT critical as long as you avoid clipping.  You can amplify or normalize after recording/digitizing.

With a USB turntable or an inexpensive USB interface you probably won't have a recording level control.    (to avoid clipping, the analog level has to be controlled before  the signal is digitized.      Usually you'll have enough headroom, but some setups can end-up with clipping. 

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I also heard that supposedly, at least for cassette tapes, that if you record through your audio jack at too loud a volume you can damage your computer's circuitry! Is that true?
That's not true.    You'll only "damage" (clip/distort) the recording.  ;)  You could damage your soundcard by connecting the speaker output from a high-power amplifier, but not with a mic or line output.   

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Finally, should I turn on the "Software Playthrough of Input" option under "Recording" in Audacity
Yes.   That routes the sound to your computer speakers/headphones so you can hear what you're recording. 

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but then the version of Audacity he was using mentioned something about not checking it if recording stereo tracks, which I will be).
Depending on your soundcard/drivers there is sometimes a setting called "Stereo Mix".   That's one way to record the sound going to the computer speakers.  You should NOT be using Stereo Mix.  It's one way of recording streaming audio.   (Stereo Mix and Software Playthrough together will create a feedback loop.)

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Would there be any difference in audio quality between using the blue Line-in and the USB ports?
There could be a difference.    One could be noisier than the other, or they may clip at different (analog) levels. One could be 16-bits and one could be 24-bits, etc.
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Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: itisljar on 2020-07-13 21:36:19
I've digitized vinyls and tapes, and I'd just make few remarks:
DON'T buy turntables with USB outputs; they usually record at 44100, 16 bit, and if the record is hot, it will clip, as it has fixed gain. Look for turntables with line outputs, which can be variable but you will have to adjust recording level in recording application. Phono out requires RIAA correction, I don't know if USB soundcards allow variable input gain before digitizing.
Second, for tape, buy used, don't buy stuff from 70's and early 80's, buy late 80's to mid 90's decks, Yamaha, AIWA, Denon, Technics, Sony, Pioneer... and watch out to buy one in working condition. Here, in my country, you can buy good tape deck for that money.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: jaybeee on 2020-07-13 22:52:20
Jaybeee, do you know of any inexpensive decks that allow for azimuth adjustment whilst still having high quality audio output? I really don't want to spend any more than $200, because, as I said, I'm only going to be transferring a few tapes. I understand you can just take the door off, but that makes me a little nervous (Unless it is really intuitive).

Also, here is one of the tapes I want to transfer...

https://vgmdb.net/album/3436

It has the "Reverse DD" logo on it, which means noise reduction was used, but how would I know the right noise reduction? Like I mentioned earlier, I was told in a video that "Dolby Noise Reduction B" and "Tape Type 1" were usually safe bets to use. Is this correct?

I take the door off of my cassette deck; it's easy to do. I would say most models are also easy to do. http://www.tapeheads.net/ is worth looking at too.

itisljar makes a good recommendation for looking at late 80s / early 90s used decks. Two heads for definite and three heads is ideal.  Mine's only two and yet yields great audio reproduction with other procedures followed.

I understand your concern about Dolby. I always listen to the tape in the various modes to see which sounds the best. Ideally you use the one that it says to use; for good reason. 99% of my tape rips are from my own recordings (from the radio), so Dolby was of little concern to me.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Apesbrain on 2020-07-13 23:02:00
It has the "Reverse DD" logo on it, which means noise reduction was used, but how would I know the right noise reduction? Like I mentioned earlier, I was told in a video that "Dolby Noise Reduction B" and "Tape Type 1" were usually safe bets to use. Is this correct?
The "Reverse DD" logo means Dolby noise reduction; it is Type B unless it says otherwise.  Likewise, the tape is Type 1 unless it says otherwise, e.g. "70 ┬Ás" or "high bias".  Practically any cassette deck should be able to play both types.  Ideally, the cassette deck you choose will have an output level control to help manage potential clipping.  If open in your area, you might try a local Goodwill store as they can have great deals and offer 7-day return.  If your PC lacks a line-in, you're going to need a USB audio interface such as the Behringer UCA-202.  As for a turntable, you can't really beat the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB at anywhere near your budget.  It has both USB and line level output.

This equipment plus Audacity with which you are already familiar should be all you need.  Set your "Project Rate (Hz)" to 44100 and keep your recording peaks below -6 dB.  Put your turntable on a solid table or shelf and don't disturb it while recording.  If you're going to be working at the PC while recording, it's a good idea to not put the turntable and PC on the same worktop!  Turn speakers off or play at low volume to avoid airborne feedback while recording.  Of course, these are lesser concerns when recording from cassette.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-14 01:55:45
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DON'T buy turntables with USB outputs; they usually record at 44100, 16 bit, and if the record is hot, it will clip, as it has fixed gain.
The review for the Audio Technica LP120-USB says it has a LOW output.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: punkrockdude on 2020-07-14 08:31:49
To get very good sound quality from vinyl records I can't stress what a difference a good cartridge does. The ones that come with turntables in many sub $400-500 range sound very good on the outer grooves but when it reaches the inner grooves the sound is so hard to listen to because of inner groove distortion. One cartridge that is not too expensive but makes a huge difference compared to like Grado Black or Gold is the Audio Technica ML440 and is a moving magnet (MM) which does not require an upgrade to the RIAA phono preamp.

I can't stress this enough.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-14 12:12:59
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Almost all good turntables are manual.   Some are semi-automatic where they lift the stylus at the end.

My main concern with a manual turntable is how you apparently need to do all this adjusting of the tonearm and you need to be extremely careful when placing the stylus on the record, placing it in exactly the right spot, and apparently taking it off right when the record ends, otherwise you scratch it. Granted, I could just be acting paranoid and its much easier than I think. I could always try a record I don't care about as a "test run" to see how to play vinyl correctly and how to record.

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The bit depth is first determined/limited by your soundcard/interface.

Any easy way for me to determine that? My sound card is the integrated audio chip on my motherboard, a Realtek ALC892. I looked through the Realtek HD Audio Manager, and apparently under the "Default Format" tab, the highest it will go is 24 bit / 192000, so if I'm understanding correctly, that would be the highest the audio chip could support, and it would be a waste of time to record in Audacity at 32 bits or am I wrong?

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The cables/adapters will depend on your particular hardware.

After reading this thread I'll probably be using the RCA cables, hooked into a female end RCA to male end 3.5mm cable, then finally going into the Line In jack on my motherboard.

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(to avoid clipping, the analog level has to be controlled before  the signal is digitized.      Usually you'll have enough headroom, but some setups can end-up with clipping.

So altering volume levels in Audacity wouldn't work I'm guessing? Would altering the volume via the Windows Sound Mixer work or would I have to alter it from a volume knob on the turntable itself?


As for a turntable, you can't really beat the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB at anywhere near your budget.  It has both USB and line level output.

This one, yes?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N3S4X3P?tag=georiot-us-default-20&th=1&ascsubtag=trd-us-1408978876582051800-20

I was actually eyeing that one and a lot of sites I checked mentioned it very favorably. Can I replace the cartridge head on it, with a Audio Technica ML440, as punkrockdude suggested? Is this easy to do for a beginner like me? I just don't want to break delicate equipment.

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This equipment plus Audacity with which you are already familiar should be all you need.  Set your "Project Rate (Hz)" to 44100 and keep your recording peaks below -6 dB.
 

Any particular reason I should avoid 48000? I may just import the audio at 24 bits or even 16 bits, as I know nothing about audio remastering and don't want to risk making the audio sound worse, making 32 bit pointless as from what I understand it is only useful for editing audio beyond basics like Cut and Paste (As I learned from my previous thread, in order to keep the signal truly lossless, without dithering or down sampling, I need to import and export the audio at the same bit rate without dither turned on, unless changing the bit rate of imported audio in Audacity essentially alters the "native" bit rate at will so I can get the best of both worlds).

To get very good sound quality from vinyl records I can't stress what a difference a good cartridge does. The ones that come with turntables in many sub $400-500 range sound very good on the outer grooves but when it reaches the inner grooves the sound is so hard to listen to because of inner groove distortion. One cartridge that is not too expensive but makes a huge difference compared to like Grado Black or Gold is the Audio Technica ML440

You mean this?

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATN440MLA-Replacement-Stylus/dp/B0053WGYYQ?th=1

Do you know anywhere I can get a genuine one, because apparently one of the Amazon reviewers mentions fake ones being sold...
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Apesbrain on 2020-07-14 14:07:05
Can I replace the cartridge head on it, with a Audio Technica ML440, as punkrockdude suggested?
Yes, you can replace the cartridge but why?  The stock AT-VM95E cartridge has been well-reviewed.  The ML440 is great, but now discontinued and cost more than the turntable.  If I were to upgrade the stock cartridge in any way, I'd replace the stock bonded elliptical stylus with the nude elliptical, but you can do that when the original wears out.  If you mess around with cartridges, not only will you need to get into cartridge alignment but then you are tempting issues with output clipping.  The stock cartridge has an output of 4 mV and I wouldn't go any higher.
Any particular reason I should avoid 48000?
It doesn't really matter. If you are planning to burn your files to CD, I'd go with 44100 as that is "CD format".
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-14 15:39:06
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My main concern with a manual turntable is how you apparently need to do all this adjusting of the tonearm and you need to be extremely careful when placing the stylus on the record, placing it in exactly the right spot, and apparently taking it off right when the record ends, otherwise you scratch it.
Most manual turntables have a "cue lever" that gently lowers/raises the tonearm.   You do have to manually move the tonearm to the "right spot" if you want to play a particular track.   (From what I found on the Internet, the LP120 does have this.)

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Any easy way for me to determine that?
Unfortunately, no.  There may be a way to find out, but the drivers automatically make any required conversions.   So for example, you can play a 24/192 file on any-old cheap soundcard.  The same goes for recording.   (Of course up-sampling while recording doesn't actually increase resolution.)   

But, it's not a big problem because "CD quality" (16/44.1) is better than analog vinyl (and better than human hearing).   The analog resolution is limited by noise.     Records can go higher in frequency than CDs but digital frequency response is flatter than vinyl across the audible frequency range.   (A lot of the ultrasonic content on vinyl is noise and distortion anyway.)

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So altering volume levels in Audacity wouldn't work I'm guessing? Would altering the volume via the Windows Sound Mixer work or would I have to alter it from a volume knob on the turntable itself?
If ADC has already clipped there's nothing software can do.    Reducing the volume after the signal is digitized doesn't remove the distortion.  

You may not have that problem...    The LP120 review say it has a low output so clipping wouldn't be a problem with that particular turntable.  You can amplify after recording.*

It does sometimes happen with some setups and there are a LOT of variables (record loudness, cartridge output, preamp gain, ADC sensitivity).    With a USB turntable or USB cassette deck there is usually nothing you can do.   (Cassette levels are a little more "controlled" because the tape can only go so-loud before it saturates.)   If you're using a USB interface with no recording level control you can buy a line-level attenuators or if you are using a headphone output to a line-input there is always a headphone volume control.

The ART USB Phono Plus (https://artproaudio.com/product/usb-phono-plus-project-series/) has a recording level control.   Higher-end Audio Interfaces (https://artproaudio.com/product/usb-phono-plus-project-series/) always have recording level controls.



* At low levels you are loosing resolution.  i.e. You are not "using" all 16-bits or all 24-bits.   But as a practical matter, you are not going to hear any difference with 14 or 15 bits of resolution.   There is still more usable dynamic range than the original analog vinyl.    (The Knowzy review of the LP120 indicates that it wasn't a problem.)

Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-14 16:02:01
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To get very good sound quality from vinyl records I can't stress what a difference a good cartridge does.
I grew-up with vinyl and I was always upgrading, or wanting to upgrade...    But after I got my 1st CD player I realized I'd never get "digital quality" from records.  Now, I only use my turntable to digitize (older) music that is not available digitally.  

Above a certain price point, the main difference is frequency response.   A "better" or more expensive cartridge may not "sound better".   You may prefer the less expensive one.   You can adjust frequency response/balance with EQ and the record itself usually makes a bigger difference.   The frequency response/frequency balance varies a lot on older records.  I don't have any new records but I assume they are more consistent now...

You can get tracking distortion and some cartridges are better than others but you shouldn't get audible distortion with most records.

Shure no longer makes phono cartridges but their best used to sell for around $100 USD.  If I was in the market for a cartridge that would about be my price limit.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: punkrockdude on 2020-07-14 16:51:06
You can get tracking distortion and some cartridges are better than others but you shouldn't get audible distortion with most records.

That is not true in probably 9/10 cases. Every single cheap cartridge (<$50) I have used have audible distortion on the inner grooves. Some are unbearable and sound like you have put the audio through a distortion guitar pedal.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-14 20:59:11
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But, it's not a big problem because "CD quality" (16/44.1) is better than analog vinyl (and better than human hearing)...The LP120 review say it has a low output so clipping wouldn't be a problem with that particular turntable.  You can amplify after recording.*

Sounds like it would be best to record at 16/44.1 then. I guess I could always listen to the output and if I don't like the volume level, re-record at 32/44.1 and try this "amplify" filtering (If you know of any tutorials that will teach me the right way to do this, I would be appreciative).

Thanks for all the help so far everyone!
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Apesbrain on 2020-07-14 22:16:12
Ok, understand something: when you record with Audacity it defaults to 32-bit floating point.  If you set your project rate to 44100, then the file you record will be 32/44.1.  It's only when you are done recording and post-processing that you "Export" the files from Audacity at your target playback format, be it 24/44.1 or 16/44.1.  These things have nothing to do with "volume level".  After you get some experience recording, you'll understand.

I typically record each side of an LP separately into Audacity and save each side as WAV 32-bit float.  Before saving, I remove any DC offset using Audacity's "Normalize" tool.  I also run its "Measure RMS" tool and adjust if one channel is significantly lower level than the other.  (I sometimes do this also if one side is much different in volume than the other which can happen if one side is much longer than the other.)  Then I stitch Side A and Side B together and save it as an Audacity "Project".  From there, I can cut excess silence and mark track transitions, then save the Project again.  At this point I amplify the entire recording so that peaks hit -1 dB and save again.  A typical LP Project takes about 1GB of disk space.  When everything is ready, I "Export Multiple" as 16-bit FLAC tracks, default compression 5.  I save and keep the original Project should I later need to come back to fix something.

For simplicity's sake, I've left out a few steps which are optional.  Before stitching the sides together, I run them through a noise reduction program to remove most pops/clicks and lower the background hiss.  I also play them through using headphones and manually remove/repair any defects the NR program could not handle.  On average, it takes about 4 hours per LP from the time you drop the needle on the first side until the time you have finished files ready to play.  Everyone does this differently and it will take a lot less time if you skip the optional steps.  All in all, if you can buy the CD it will be a lot easier!
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-14 22:57:03
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...and try this "amplify" filtering (If you know of any tutorials that will teach me the right way to do this, I would be appreciative).
Assuming Audacity - There is an Amplify effect and a Normalize effect.    Easy!!!!  

Normalizing adjusts the volume for peaks at a predetermined level (usually for "maximized" 0dB peaks).   Audacity has already pre-scanned your file and by default the Normalize effect adjusts for peaks of -1dB.   The Amplify effect can also be used for normalization as it will default to whatever change is needed for 0dB peaks.  (With either effect, you can change the target-peak level.)

As Apesbrain mentioned, the Normalize effect has a couple of other options such as DC offset removal (which won't be needed unless you have a DC offset problem).   And, it can normalize the left & right channels independently  (which generally you shouldn't do because sometimes the left & right peaks are not supposed to match and it can throw-off the left-right balance.)

It's usually best to normalize the album as a whole.    Usually some tracks are supposed to be louder than others, plus the peaks don't correlate well with perceived loudness so if you normalize ("maximize") the songs separately you can throw-off the relative loudness between tracks.

If your channel balance sounds off, the latest version of Audacity has a Loudness Normalization that can be used to match the loudness of the left & right channels.     That effect doesn't check the peak levels so you'll need to run regular normalization after that to avoid potential clipping.

...Audacity also has a helpful forum (https://forum.audacityteam.org/) and the user manual has some tutorials (https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tutorial_copying_tapes_lps_or_minidiscs_to_cd.html).

From what you've said you'll mostly be digitizing new records so clicks & pops may not be a problem.    That's usually the biggest issue with vinyl.   Audacity has a Click Remover effect and a couple of other tools.    And there are some specialized "vinyl clean-up" applications.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-15 11:33:51
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Before stitching the sides together, I run them through a noise reduction program to remove most pops/clicks and lower the background hiss.

Would these programs be ClickRepair and DeNoise?
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Apesbrain on 2020-07-15 13:18:17
Would these programs be ClickRepair and DeNoise?
Those are good options; they require Java.  VinylStudio and Golden Records are alternatives.  There are many more.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-15 16:31:44
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Would these programs be ClickRepair and DeNoise?

In addition to the Click Removal effect, Audacity has a Repair effect (where you have to zoom-in and manually select the defect) and there is a Drawing tool where you can zoom-in and re-draw the waveform (usually a last resort).  

Audacity's Noise Reduction effect may be helpful with any constant low-level hum & hiss, including tape hiss.  But if the noise is bad "the cure can be worse than the disease" so it's something you just have to try.  (Regular Noise Reduction won't help with "snap", "crackle", and "pop" from a record.)

...The cure can be worse than the disease with any of these tools.

Wave Corrector (https://www.wavecor.co.uk/) is FREE.

I also have Wave Repair (http://www.delback.co.uk/wavrep/) ($30 USD).   You have to manually select the defects so it's usually VERY time consuming.    (With new records it wouldn't be too bad, if you need it at all).     The good thing is it only "touches" the audio where you identify a defect.    It has several repair methods  options and it does an audibly perfect job on most (but not all) clicks  & pops.  It often works best on the worst clicks, maybe because they are easier to find in the waveform/spectrogram.   (Wave Repair ONLY works on 16-bit 44.1 or 48kHz WAV files.)

This page (http://www.delback.co.uk/lp-cdr.htm#clean_pops) (written be the developer of Wave Repair) lists more software options and has a TON of information related to digitizing vinyl.  (Some of the information on that page my be outdated.)
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-15 21:52:14
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...Audacity also has a helpful forum

Sadly, when I registered a while ago, I never received my email to activate my account no matter how hard I tried  :( .

Alright, so I believe I finally have the workflow for this down!

1. Connect turntable via RCA cables to Line In jack on PC
2. Record at 32/44.1
3. Export both sides at 32 bit and save both audio files as a "Master Copy", in case I ever want to return when I'm more confident / experienced in my remastering abilities
4. Perform DC correction with Audacity
5. Export to 32 bit
6. Use ClickRemoval with Audacity's recommended settings
7. Use Audacity's Noise Reduction with recommended settings
8. Amplify audio so the loudest parts hit -1 dB
9. Cut up the audio into multiple tracks
10. Output to my preferred audio format

Just a couple more questions...

1. According to Knowzy, the LP120 has very low volume output, so should I amplify the volume before I use ClickRemoval and Noise Reduction?

2. Also according to Knowzy, they say integrated audio chips can cause increased noise in the audio, plus I was always considering buying a sound card anyway. My motherboard has PCIe 3.0 and 2.0 slots in it, and I'm perfectly comfortable with installing new components. Apparently the Asus Xonar D2X is a great card, but it is now discontinued. Would anyone be able to recommend a high quality card for around $250 that works well with Windows 7?

3. Just so I'm clear, Amplify just makes the volume on the recording louder, without altering the loudness of the peaks in correlation with each other right? I was always told before that using Normalize on audio was a mortal sin, because it tries to keep the peaks completely uniform in loudness, which would obviously throw off the way certain parts of the song were intended to be louder than others.

4. Is there really any tangible difference between backing up the "Master Copy" audio as an Audacity project, rather than an audio file? Both seem to essentially do the same task.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-15 23:05:40
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Alright, so I believe I finally have the workflow for this down!
I don't see anything wrong there, but listen carefully after the Click Removal and Noise Reduction results because you can get artifacts/side effects.

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8. Amplify audio so the loudest parts hit -1 dB
Personally I normalize to 0dB, but some people worry about "inter-sample overs" (where the analog waveform goes over 0dB).  Or, if you make MP3s you may want to leave some headroom because as I think I mentioned MP3 compression can change the peak levels slightly.    I don't worry about either of those but if you are "paranoid" just go with -1dB.    (It's only a slight difference in loudness.)

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1. According to Knowzy, the LP120 has very low volume output, so should I amplify the volume before I use ClickRemoval and Noise Reduction?
Yes.  But you may want to amplify/normalize again as the last step.   If you have an extremely loud click and that's the "loudest thing" your normalization will be based on the amplitude of that click.  (I don't think I've ever seen that.)   Other effects/processing such as EQ will also change the levels so I usually normalize (again) as the last step.

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2. Also according to Knowzy, they say integrated audio chips can cause increased noise in the audio
You'll have to decide if noise is a problem.   The line-inputs can be perfectly acceptable.  Usually, noise from the record is a bigger issue, plus you can get AC hum picked-up through cartridge an/or through the preamp, as well as preamp hiss.   There is always some noise and the soundcard usually isn't the weak link.    

And again, if you are using the LP120's USB port your soundcard isn't involved.

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Would anyone be able to recommend a high quality card for around $250 that works well with Windows 7?
Good USB audio interfaces with line inputs start around $100 (or you can find them for a little less).  Check the link above.    The Art USB phono plus is less than $100.  

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3. Just so I'm clear, Amplify just makes the volume on the recording louder, without altering the loudness of the peaks in correlation with each other right?
Right!    It's exactly like turning-up (or down) the volume control. 

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I was always told before that using Normalize on audio was a mortal sin, because it tries to keep the peaks completely uniform in loudness, which would obviously throw off the way certain parts of the song were intended to be louder than others.
No!  Normalization is simply a linear volume/gain adjustment with a target peak level.

"Typically" amplification (or attenuation) is by a certain amount.   i.e.  +6dB of amplification is double the amplitude (4 times the power/wattage).   But, Audacity's Amplify effect has an additional feature of allowing you to set to a desired peak level.   i.e You can use the Amplify effect to normalize.

Some people (and some applications) misuse the term "normalization".   It's a concept derived from math or statistics where the data is adjusted to fit 0 to 1.0 (or 0 to 100%.).   "Loudness normalization" or "RMS normalization" don't follow that 0-100% model but they are also straightforward-linear gain/amplification adjustments.

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4. Is there really any tangible difference between backing up the "Master Copy" audio as an Audacity project, rather than an audio file? Both seem to essentially do the same task.
An Audacity "project" has some additional information and it can contain multiple tracks for mixing, etc.    The audio in a project is split into many small files and there's small "main file" that keeps it all organized.     It's NOT a good master or archive format because if you move files around everything can get trashed and it's just more fragile with all of those little files.   Plus, you can only open it in Audacity.     I always recommend exporting to WAV immediately after recording whether you make project or not.    (The things I do are similar to what you'll be doing and I rarely make projects.)
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Groove on 2020-07-16 20:45:08
1. Connect turntable via RCA cables to Line In jack on PC
2. Record at 32/44.1

No, you need a preamp stage between the turntable and the soundcard.  A variety of options are available, and they do make some difference to the quality you will obtain.  A cheap second hand amplifier is one decent possibility, but takes up some space.

On another note the cartridge certainly makes a material difference with various models giving different responses through the frequency spectrum (some more bassy, brighter emphasising mid/highs, and some more balanced).  Much depends on the type of music you will be ripping and your personal preferences, so I would strongly suggest trying to see if you can test drive different options yourself in a friendly store.

I have relatively recently revised my opinion on the importance of the cartridge and would suggest you spend your money there and on the turntable (+preamp), and save your money on the soundcard.  But FWIW I did use the PCI version of the Asus card you mentioned until 4/5 years ago and it is an excellent option with great converters and no noise whatsoever.  You could probably pick one up secondhand on ebay, but the Asus DX card is also a great option I have in lounge system that is much cheaper but still fairly high quality.

Have fun!

Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-16 22:57:12
So I talked to my co-worker yesterday (I believe, from what he was telling me, that he has worked with audio professionally for over a decade.) and he suggested I get a preamp instead and control the gain during recording from the preamp, rather than amplify the audio after recording (He told me audio will distort if you do that). My turntable is the LP120X, which allows you to change the preamp from the built in one. After doing a bit of research, I decided to buy this one...

https://www.whathifi.com/us/rega/fono-mini-a2d/review

So I'll be controlling the volume level from the unit and outputting via USB instead, recording until I can get the highest peaks to -1 dB (Although ApesBrain mentioned not going above -6 dB, any reason why?), then doing all the other basic remastering I mentioned earlier to fix any artifacts in the audio.

Thanks for all the help guys!
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-16 22:58:44
Quote
No, you need a preamp stage between the turntable and the soundcard.  A variety of options are available, and they do make some difference to the quality you will obtain.  A cheap second hand amplifier is one decent possibility, but takes up some space.
The Audio Technica LP120 (like all USB turntables) has a preamp built-in.   It also has analog line-level analog/cartridge outputs.  (Most USB turntables do.)    Or it has a switch to use an external preamp.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: DVDdoug on 2020-07-17 02:56:12
P.S.
If it was me* I'd probably buy the LP120 and use the USB connection.    It seems like a reasonably good turntable at a reasonable price, it's ready-to go with the built-in preamp and USB output, and it comes with a reasonably-good cartridge.    Then if I had a problem with the levels (such as clipping) when using USB I'd use the line-output.


* Like I said, I only very-occasionally digitize older records when I can't get digital versions.  I already have an older direct-drive turntable and an older receiver that somebody gave me.    (Plus, I have a preamp I built way back in the analog days.)      And, I have a couple of tower computers with regular soundcards and line-inputs.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Groove on 2020-07-17 08:17:21
. .  .preamp. . . After doing a bit of research, I decided to buy this one...

https://www.whathifi.com/us/rega/fono-mini-a2d/review

So I'll be controlling the volume level from the unit and outputting via USB instead, recording until I can get the highest peaks to -1 dB (Although ApesBrain mentioned not going above -6 dB, any reason why?), then doing all the other basic remastering I mentioned earlier to fix any artifacts in the audio.

I think that Ragga preamp looks like an interesting choice that I hadn't come across before.  I once had a Pro-Ject preamp in a similar form factor which is great but I was not impressed by the sound, and to the extent I am asked for an opinion I would recommend against that make!

Moving on I see a couple of points. First of all I hate to give you conflicting advice, but I would strongly suggest you output analogue audio from the preamp via the RCA/phono outputs, assuming you have a decent soundcard like the Asus Xonar DX I mentioned earlier to go into.

The main reason for that is that hardware drivers can be a big issue and cause major headaches you may not discover for long periods depending on your workflow. 

In my view it is just more transparent and timely to confront those potential issues inside your computer which has some features intended to trap and alert you to that kind of problem, that although not foolproof are much better than having them located in what is literally a black box that doesn't talk!

This is also one of the main reasons pro audio equipment is so relatively expensive; users have significant hardware investments and can not afford downtime so demand rock solid driver support, which requires programming resources to ensure they don't glitch or fall over for example with new Windows updates.  In my view this is one very good reason to go with an Asus soundcard, since they have ample programming resources with a good understanding of low level hardware through their motherboard side.  Unlike say Ragga!

Regarding levels, you are getting a little confused.

The first issue is input levels into the soundcard, and you refer to a -6 dB target mentioned earlier.  This is appropriate for 16bit recording, but if you use 24bit as DVDDoug suggests you can and should use much lower input levels since the greater bit depth gives you better resolution resulting in no loss of sound fidelity even with peaks below <-25 dB (I personally aim for around -16 to -12 dB). 

This has various advantages, and the only cost is some disk space.  To use a little more of that I would suggest you capture audio at 96 kHz (combo is referred to as 24/96) and then make an archival copy of that.  BTW these are settings applied to the hardware via the driver and in software set up for 24/96, that you can then store in Audacity as 32bit 96kHz format with the conversion process from 24 -->32 bits handled automatically and transparently.

Second is the issue of the level you amplify your final audio file to and you mention -1 dB, whereas DVDdoug earlier discussed 0 dB.

The main practical basis for leaving some headroom in your final lossless file (eg 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC) is that the acoustic models used by converters to lossy formats like MP3 will alter the resulting waveform, and as such the process may produce peaks greater than the original.  Without any headroom these could exceed 0 dB generating what is known as clipping or digital distortion which is to be avoided at all costs unless you are working with 32bit files.

I personally use -0.3 dB as my target currently, which has been gradually creeping up over the years based on experience.

However, I should say the way I implement that is via what is known as a hard limiter that uses an element of compression to knock down peaks exceeding the limit, as opposed to the way the Audacity amplify function works which is to calculate the uniform multiplier applied to all data.

Finally on audio processing and going back to the workflow you posted earlier, as the first Audacity stage I would strongly urge you to apply what is known as a high pass (HP) filter, to remove any inaudible subsonic frequencies not already filtered out by the preamp.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the effect of removing this low level stuff is to actually tighten up the the audible frequencies and the resulting sound particularly the definition of the lows/bass is much better.

Unfortunately there are a number of filter designs to achieve this and I am not sure what is currently available through Audacity.  FWIW, I personally use something known as a Butterworth design which I consider the best sounding, but again there are many possible implementations and this is an area where trial and error and your own ears should determine selection.

Regardless the key parameters of all HP filters are the cut off frequency and slope, which represent first the frequency at which half the dB level has been knocked down, and secondly the rate at which the attenuation occurs (the implication of the cut-off is that the filter starts working above the headline frequency).

However, the main objective is to eliminate any hump in your raw unprocessed frequency spectrum that usually appears around 10-16 Hz.  Try to look at a frequency spectrum plot to identify the problem area on your specific system, then experiment with different cut offs (and slopes) in the 16-24 Hz area to make sure you eliminate it in what you find to be the most musically pleasing way. 

Different records mastered by different engineers pressed on different plant may also benefit from different filter parameters and one size doesn't necessarily fit all, so try to use your ears and be wary generally of entirely mechanical processes.  Speaking of which it is a good idea to have some decent monitors set up correctly!

And if you have kept an archival copy of the raw capture and find a far superior way of post-processing in future, it is no problem to go back and make changes.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: cliveb on 2020-07-17 09:58:47
One thing nobody has mentioned...

One of the most important aspects of getting a good vinyl transfer is to make sure the record is clean. The kind of surface noise caused by general dust and muck in the grooves is the most difficult to deal with in software. (Clicks and pops are relatively easy to remove in comparison).

The best way to clean records is with a vacuum device such as Keith Monks, VPI, Nitty-Gritty or Moth. But these are expensive. If you decide to try without a vacuum, be sure to rinse thoroughly with DISTILLED water.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-17 10:40:44
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Moving on I see a couple of points. First of all I hate to give you conflicting advice, but I would strongly suggest you output analogue audio from the preamp via the RCA/phono outputs, assuming you have a decent soundcard like the Asus Xonar DX I mentioned earlier to go into.

So you are suggesting instead of this...

1. Play vinyl on LP120X
2. Process through preamp
3. Output through USB

I should do this...

1. Play vinyl on LP120X
2. Process through preamp
3. Output through RCA to Asus Xonar DX sound card

Quote
In my view it is just more transparent and timely to confront those potential issues inside your computer which has some features intended to trap and alert you to that kind of problem, that although not foolproof are much better than having them located in what is literally a black box that doesn't talk!

Whilst I understand what drivers are and how they work, I'm not exactly sure I understand what you are saying here.

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The first issue is input levels into the soundcard, and you refer to a -6 dB target mentioned earlier.  This is appropriate for 16bit recording, but if you use 24bit as DVDDoug suggests you can and should use much lower input levels since the greater bit depth gives you better resolution resulting in no loss of sound fidelity even with peaks below <-25 dB (I personally aim for around -16 to -12 dB).

I'm confused. I thought the end goal was to get as close to 0 dB as possible, ensuring maximum volume, whilst still not losing detail via clipping by going above 0 dB.

Quote
This has various advantages, and the only cost is some disk space.  To use a little more of that I would suggest you capture audio at 96 kHz (combo is referred to as 24/96) and then make an archival copy of that.

I believe the preamp only supports 16/96, although maybe that is only if you are using the USB port and the audio is being converted to digital via the preamp.

Quote
Second is the issue of the level you amplify your final audio file to and you mention -1 dB, whereas DVDdoug earlier discussed 0 dB.

My co-worker mentioned that this is a bad idea because it causes distortion and that I should be amplifying the audio via the preamp, which is why I wanted to use the USB port of the preamp, as apparently the gain knob doesn't work with the analog out.

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Finally on audio processing and going back to the workflow you posted earlier, as the first Audacity stage I would strongly urge you to apply what is known as a high pass (HP) filter, to remove any inaudible subsonic frequencies not already filtered out by the preamp.

You mean step 8 here?

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/sample_workflow_for_lp_digitization.html

Here is the problem...although I really like high quality audio I'm....fairly ignorant of how it all works to put it mildly. For example, in this step it says "with a setting of 24 dB per octave roll-off, and a cutoff frequency of 20 - 30 Hz". I have no idea what an "Octave roll-off" is, reading the "High Pass Filter" page didn't help at all, and reading the definition of "roll-off" didn't clarify anything either. I'm also not sure exactly what to use for the frequency and would probably just go 25 Hz since that is in the middle of the range suggested.

Speaking of my workflow, should I always be doing DC correction, even if the waveform appears to be centered on 0 dB? It wouldn't hurt anything if it already was, right?

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And if you have kept an archival copy of the raw capture and find a far superior way of post-processing in future, it is no problem to go back and make changes.

Oh, don't worry, I will definitely be keeping a master copy that is created immediately after recording.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Groove on 2020-07-17 13:27:47
So you are suggesting. . .I should do this...

1. Play vinyl on LP120X
2. Process through preamp
3. Output through RCA to Asus Xonar DX sound card
Correct, for several reason, including the fact I am pretty sure you will get better driver support with something like the Asus card, that may be pushed out via Windows update. Regardless you may want to check the card manufacturer's website regularly to see if there are driver updates.

But if your usb output from the preamp is limited to 16 bits I would personally also see that as a deal breaker, and look to capture in 24 bit.

This is linked to the issue of levels, and I'll try to explain again.  While the goal is get the final version of the file as close to 0 dB as possible to maximise loudness, there are different requirements for the initial capture which basically involve getting the best definition without suffering digital clipping.

There is some legitimate disagreement about this, but for argument sake let's say @ 16 bits you need to peak at -6 dB to fully capture the resolution (dynamic range) of your vinyl, with the wind behind on a sunny day, etc.

But as mentioned @ 24 bit resolution you can peak at significantly lower levels and still capture all the detail needed to digitally amplify the signal without any loss of quality when post processing "inside the box" say in Audacity.

This distinction is important for real world applications, because if you are aiming to peak at -6 dB @ 16bit resolution you have a relatively small margin of error to avoid clipping at signal levels that exceed 0 dB. 

For example you may not have leveled your input perfectly and find that you're actually peaking closer to -4 to -3 dB when playing main sections of tracks rather than just short sections at the beginning when spot checking levels before capture (otherwise you would have to play the record twice to precisely measure your peak to calibrate off).  That could then lead to clipping if there is suddenly a much louder section or say if there is a pop or a scratch, and you would then have compromised audio that should be re-ripped at lower levels.

With input levels set much lower @ 24 bits you have a bullet proof margin of error, and these types of risks are eliminated and you will get reliable results and crucially almost certainly save a lot of time ultimately from avoiding mistakes.

On the HP filter it is confusing, and scanning the Audacity guide i see I have used different terminology which hasn't helped.

As I suggested try to use the frequency plot function in Audacity to examine how much subsonic content your system is generating by zooming in and looking for a hump in the low frequencies between 10-16 Hz.  If there is anything there try to get rid of it, and smooth out the left side of the curve by adjusting the parameters.

A 24dB roll off is fairly aggressive, and I would generally stay below 18dB and experiment with cut offs in the 18-25 Hz range.  But try to play with some settings then look at the new frequency plots and listen out for the change; the interesting result is that - up to a point - the more you cut the louder the bass is perceived.

On the DC correction I can't help you.  It is not something I use, and unless you can actually hear some sort of hum I would be inclined to skip that stage, and it's not a tool available in the audio editor I use anyway.  That said this is partly a reflection of my mistrust of black boxes, and the Audacity team certainly know what they're doing so it is extremely unlikely they would implement anything that could damage your audio.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-17 22:50:59
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But if your usb output from the preamp is limited to 16 bits I would personally also see that as a deal breaker, and look to capture in 24 bit.

Understood. Did a bit more research on preamps that can capture at 24/192 and I found this...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QR6Z1JB/?coliid=I1RHFLWX0BJYUO&colid=3H2NSLACZ6GEG&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it&th=1

So I might purchase that and a used Xonar D2X to output to, since it'll also double as a nice sound upgrade for my speakers.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Groove on 2020-07-18 06:43:12
Understood. Did a bit more research on preamps that can capture at 24/192 and I found this...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QR6Z1JB/?coliid=I1RHFLWX0BJYUO&colid=3H2NSLACZ6GEG&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it&th=1

So I might purchase that and a used Xonar D2X to output to, since it'll also double as a nice sound upgrade for my speakers.
Ah, that's not going to work, because the preamps in the Focusrite are specifically designed for microphone/instrument input, as opposed to phono/turntable input which requires specific equalisation of the signal.

However, I must admit I appear to have made a wrong assumption about your turntable, with which I was unfamiliar; looking at the specs, it seems that the analogue output can be switched between a conventional phono out signal that requires preamplification, and one to which that has already been applied internally (presumably by the same means that serve USB/sound card processing).

If that is the case, you do not in fact need a separate external preamp, and can just take this signal straight from the turntable into the sound card.

i suspect you may obtain - perhaps only marginally - better results from the separate Ragga preamp, which is a great name in turntables generally, but you may as well try the minimalist approach first and see if you are satisfied with the results before spending any extra money.

But you should still go for a separate soundcard due to the other advantages already discussed.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Damned536 on 2020-07-18 09:20:43
Just so I am understanding this correctly, the time when the audio is turned from analog to digital is when the frequency and bit depth is determined correct? Also, if I were to apply gain from the sound card's control panel, would that be before the audio is digitized, and therefore allows me to control the dB of the peaks correct? That is honestly the biggest reason why I wanted a separate preamp. The turntable itself doesn't have a gain knob and I want to make sure I'm getting the volume of the audio at the proper level.
Title: Re: Looking to Learn how to digitize Vinyls and Cassette Tapes...LOTS of questions!
Post by: Groove on 2020-07-18 13:04:53
Just so I am understanding this correctly, the time when the audio is turned from analog to digital is when the frequency and bit depth is determined correct?
Right (strictly speaking set).

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Also, if I were to apply gain from the sound card's control panel, would that be before the audio is digitized, and therefore allows me to control the dB of the peaks correct?
I am not able to generalise on the first part of that, but you can certainly alter the gain of the digital signal via the driver and do so transparently which is the important bit.

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That is honestly the biggest reason why I wanted a separate preamp. The turntable itself doesn't have a gain knob and I want to make sure I'm getting the volume of the audio at the proper level.
If your concern is with ripping/digitising the vinyl then as I have tried to explain this should not be an issue at all with 24 bit capture. There will be plenty of gain as long as you are peaking around -20 dB.  More likely you should be preparing to attenuate levels!

If your concern is with listening to records loud while capturing that is a different issue, and you might need to look at alternatives.  However, when you are ripping vinyl you really don't want the whole house shaking as this can produce unwanted artifacts from vibration.  FWIW I invariably rip with just headphones to eliminate any potential effects from this.