Want to convert vinyl collection to digital - questions about conversion and USB - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 06-22-2013, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I received a USB turntable as a gift. I realize it is a low-end device, but have been messing around with it to practice a few things such as removing clicks and pops in Audacity and using an app called Click Repair. Later, it is my intent to connect my old analog turntable which isn't half bad (and has a pretty nice cartridge) to a preamp with RIAA equalization and some kind of a decent external A-D converter to digitize. I can then import to my computer and start the process of digital restoration if the clicks and pops annoy me enough to warrant the effort.

I have a relatively nice collection of vintage gear (at least I like listening to it):

- Sony TA-5650 integrated amp
- Dual 501 turntable with Grace F8 cartridge (but need a new stylus - having a hard time finding one)
- Sonab OD-11 loudspeakers
- Ancient Harmon-Kardon tuner

Anyway, I have some real basic questions about the topic:

- The turntable has both analog RCA connectors and a USB port. I presume that when the USB cable is used, the A-D conversion is done inside the turntable and is probably not all that great, but is probably also better than the A-D conversion from the sound card in my computer (a mid-2010 iMac) if I were to use the analog LINE IN jack. Any comments on the quality of A-D conversion in USB turntables in general? Mine is something called an iConvert from Brookstone. At a retail price of $129, I have pretty low expectations regarding its A-D quality.

- Any suggestions about a reasonable quality external A-D conversion device?

- I have seen some comments about USB being a poor quality audio interface, but this perhaps pertains to some kind of real-time multi-track signal instead of a simple digitized 2-ch signal for which it seems USB would have plenty of bandwidth even at 192k samples/sec and 32-bit floating point. Comments?

- Any comments on whether external RIAA equalization in an analog preamp will work any better than just doing digitally in Audacity using their curves?
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post #2 of 6 Old 06-23-2013, 06:31 AM
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If you want high-quality conversion, you probably need to do several things.

In the first place, you probably are not going to find a new stylus for the Grace cartridge for a reasonable price (if at all).

I recommend that you get a new cartridge, because the suspension in the old one may be shot anyway.

The Ortophon Blue and Red are fairly good and not too expensive.

A good phono preamp with a high-quality RIAA circuit is essential, and I recommend the Musical Fidelity V-LPS, which is very good and not too expensive.

To convert the signal to USB you need a good converter.

There are lots of them, but the prices are all over the place.
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post #3 of 6 Old 06-23-2013, 07:19 AM
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Hello. I actually transfer a lot of records for my local community radio station, so I have some experience with this.

In general it is quite safe to assume that the analog to digital conversion of built in USB turntables will be both cheap and nasty. Unfortunately all the motherboards with onboard sound built in I have tried sounded poor also. Look for good used external usb units on ebay. Before bidding, just double check they have drivers written that are compatible with your mac. For home I use an external USB unit made by e-mu that was under $100.

At the high end level, people do complain about USB sometimes. Most of the complaints I read relate to jitter and latency. I doubt these would be issues for your Vinyl conversion project though.

I still prefer the analog preamp approach to the RIAA curve. The disadvantage of adding it in later with software is you lose a huge amount of gain.

Still not an expert myself, but I hope you get on the right track.

There is a very comprehensive comparison of USB tables here at Knowzy, in case you have not yet seen it.
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post #4 of 6 Old 06-24-2013, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nintendawg View Post

Hello. I actually transfer a lot of records for my local community radio station, so I have some experience with this.

In general it is quite safe to assume that the analog to digital conversion of built in USB turntables will be both cheap and nasty. Unfortunately all the motherboards with onboard sound built in I have tried sounded poor also. Look for good used external usb units on ebay. Before bidding, just double check they have drivers written that are compatible with your mac. For home I use an external USB unit made by e-mu that was under $100.

At the high end level, people do complain about USB sometimes. Most of the complaints I read relate to jitter and latency. I doubt these would be issues for your Vinyl conversion project though.

I still prefer the analog preamp approach to the RIAA curve. The disadvantage of adding it in later with software is you lose a huge amount of gain.

Some of the best transcriptions I've done involved a legacy Conrad Johnson preamp in good shape per the test bench, and a Behringer UCA 202 USB audio interface which is dirt cheap but very good.

The sad truth is that many on-board PC audio interfaces are asymmetrical - the playback side may be pretty good, but the record side may be not so good. We're talking a 10-20 dB difference in performance.

Jitter is usually a red herring. People talk about it but very few know what it sounds like because there is so little audible jitter in most of computer audio to hear.
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post #5 of 6 Old 06-25-2013, 03:03 PM
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I've been doing this for years, although a bit different from what you are attempting. Does your receiver have a record or CD out? If so, purchase a CD recorder (Tascam makes them, others are available as well) and connect it to your receiver. Play the album and hit record! You will have to manually insert the tracks by pushing the record button in between each song. Use CD-RW discs so you can erase over any tracks that skip. Finalize the CD-RW, and download it into your computer. They come out great as you can set the recoding levels just right.
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post #6 of 6 Old 06-27-2013, 08:25 AM
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I was considering doing this myself. I already have a Pre-Sonus Audiobox USB recording interface. my plan was to take the preamp output of my HK 3490 and run it to each of the two inputs on the audiobox and then send the output back to the Main in of my HK 3490 and then send the USB to my PC. I was also planning on using Audacity for capture the audio and edit it before saving it. What file type can Audacity save as?
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