Need help with CD ripping, and setting a "master" recording volume... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-07-2014, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll open with the usual apology for not knowing where to post this question. If there's a better place (or a more appropriate online forum), feel free to point it out. I also apologize in advance, for not knowing or using the correct electronics terminology to explain what I'm looking for.

For quite a number of years, now, I have been using NCH Software's WavePad Sound Editor to rip the contents of my audio CDs. It seems to be a fairly advanced sound editor, but I have never really attempted to use many of its features, other than copying, pasting, trimming, and fading.

About a year ago, I lost all of my ripped files, so I have recently been using the Masters Edition of Wavepad -- which I acquired just a few months ago -- to completely re-rip my CD collection, after which I have been copying the ripped WAV files onto USB thumb drives, enabling me to utilize my Oppo BDP-103 player to play the tracks back in a random shuffle.

Having completed a fair portion of this project... upon playing the tracks back, I now find that there is a huge variance in the overall volume at which some CDs are mastered, as opposed to some others. In my experience, it often appears to be as much as 10dB. Consequently, during any given "shuffle" playback, the varying output volume between successive random tracks becomes annoying, at best... and intolerable, at worst.

My question then, is... is there a setting (or a "method") that I can utilize in WavePad (or any other CD ripping software), that will allow me to automatically rip all of my CDs so that they end up with identical output-volume? If not, is there a way to do so by adjusting a specific "manual" setting? I have e-mailed this question to NCH, but have not yet received a reply.

Again, I apologize if I'm not wording this correctly... and for my obvious ignorance. Hopefully, the gist of what I'm asking is somewhat apparent.

Any clarity or help that anyone can provide, will be greatly appreciated... and I encourage you to provide as much detail in your explanation as is possible and feasible, given that I am merely a non-expert, but nonetheless fairly-astute, layperson.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 06:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by B 26354 View Post

I'll open with the usual apology for not knowing where to post this question. If there's a better place (or a more appropriate online forum), feel free to point it out. I also apologize in advance, for not knowing or using the correct electronics terminology to explain what I'm looking for.

For quite a number of years, now, I have been using NCH Software's WavePad Sound Editor to rip the contents of my audio CDs. It seems to be a fairly advanced sound editor, but I have never really attempted to use many of its features, other than copying, pasting, trimming, and fading.

About a year ago, I lost all of my ripped files, so I have recently been using the Masters Edition of Wavepad -- which I acquired just a few months ago -- to completely re-rip my CD collection, after which I have been copying the ripped WAV files onto USB thumb drives, enabling me to utilize my Oppo BDP-103 player to play the tracks back in a random shuffle.

Having completed a fair portion of this project... upon playing the tracks back, I now find that there is a huge variance in the overall volume at which some CDs are mastered, as opposed to some others. In my experience, it often appears to be as much as 10dB. Consequently, during any given "shuffle" playback, the varying output volume between successive random tracks becomes annoying, at best... and intolerable, at worst.

My question then, is... is there a setting (or a "method") that I can utilize in WavePad (or any other CD ripping software), that will allow me to automatically rip all of my CDs so that they end up with identical output-volume? If not, is there a way to do so by adjusting a specific "manual" setting? I have e-mailed this question to NCH, but have not yet received a reply.

Again, I apologize if I'm not wording this correctly... and for my obvious ignorance. Hopefully, the gist of what I'm asking is somewhat apparent.

Any clarity or help that anyone can provide, will be greatly appreciated... and I encourage you to provide as much detail in your explanation as is possible and feasible, given that I am merely a non-expert, but nonetheless fairly-astute, layperson.

The software tool that I am aware of for this purpose is called Replaygain. It is supported by a number of popular music players and formats. Google is your friend! ;-)
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

The software tool that I am aware of for this purpose is called Replaygain. It is supported by a number of popular music players and formats. Google is your friend! ;-)

+1. I'm using Foobar for the exact same purpose, i.e. Replaygain will allow the settings of various levels off the CDs to a constant level. In order to see what you are doing you will need to download a level meter called Columns UI. Making playlists has never been so easy. BTW, Foobar aslo has a neat feature of CD ripping. Give it a try, please smile.gif
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-08-2014, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies!

I agree that Google is your friend... but only if you ask it the right question, using exactly the right phrasing. My vocabulary and grammatical skills are usually more than adequate... but successfully asking Google the right question in exactly the right way, seems to more often than not require an advanced degree in cryptography.

I tried the Foobar and IsoBuster software a few months ago, because I have a few non-redbook jazz and classical CDs that I was unable to rip with WavePad. Unfortunately, neither of those would rip them either, so -- since WavePad does such a great job of editing, and I've been using it for years -- I uninstalled them.

I still haven't heard back from NCH Software... but it turns out that there's a separate program called "Switch", that's part of the WavePad Master Suite I have, which has a Normalize function (either "Peak" normalize or "RMS" normalize), which can be applied to individual WAV files, or in batches.

This, of course, is exactly what I need... and I expect to be playing around with its settings for the next week or two, before I attempt to "finalize" this project. I will definitely post my thoughts, once I've reached some conclusions.

Incidentally... as of tomorrow, I'll be commencing with "Round 3", of my attempts at ripping those non-redbook CDs. "Round 2" consisted of purchasing one of these:

http://www.banggood.com/EzCAP-3_5mm-RCA-To-USB-2_0-Audio-OGG-MP3-WAV-Capture-Converter-Adapter-p-85023.html

In principle, it worked... but during recording, it also introduced a very low-level ground-loop hum somehow, that I couldn't eliminate or find the source of. Thankfully, the unit wasn't much of an expense... and it did come with a CD containing Audacity recording software, which is great.

Hopefully, the "real" solution will arrive in the mail tomorrow:

http://www.amazon.com/ART-USB-Phono-Plus/dp/B000BBGCCI/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1388522089&sr=8-8&keywords=ADC+to+USB

What I see as the best thing about this device, though, is that along with being able to record directly from my turntable (it even has a connection for the turntable's ground-wire)... I can run a digital-optical connection from my Oppo BDP-103 directly into this unit, so when I'm using it to "rip" the non-redbook CDs, no analog-to-digital conversion needs to take place at all, when I'm recording with Audacity.

Theoretically... perfect. I'll post my findings, of course.
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 06:13 AM
 
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Thanks for the replies!

I agree that Google is your friend... but only if you ask it the right question, using exactly the right phrasing. My vocabulary and grammatical skills are usually more than adequate... but successfully asking Google the right question in exactly the right way, seems to more often than not require an advanced degree in cryptography.

I tried the Foobar and IsoBuster software a few months ago, because I have a few non-redbook jazz and classical CDs that I was unable to rip with WavePad. Unfortunately, neither of those would rip them either, so -- since WavePad does such a great job of editing, and I've been using it for years -- I uninstalled them.

I still haven't heard back from NCH Software... but it turns out that there's a separate program called "Switch", that's part of the WavePad Master Suite I have, which has a Normalize function (either "Peak" normalize or "RMS" normalize), which can be applied to individual WAV files, or in batches.

This, of course, is exactly what I need... and I expect to be playing around with its settings for the next week or two, before I attempt to "finalize" this project. I will definitely post my thoughts, once I've reached some conclusions.

Incidentally... as of tomorrow, I'll be commencing with "Round 3", of my attempts at ripping those non-redbook CDs. "Round 2" consisted of purchasing one of these:

http://www.banggood.com/EzCAP-3_5mm-RCA-To-USB-2_0-Audio-OGG-MP3-WAV-Capture-Converter-Adapter-p-85023.html

In principle, it worked... but during recording, it also introduced a very low-level ground-loop hum somehow, that I couldn't eliminate or find the source of. Thankfully, the unit wasn't much of an expense... and it did come with a CD containing Audacity recording software, which is great.

Hopefully, the "real" solution will arrive in the mail tomorrow:

http://www.amazon.com/ART-USB-Phono-Plus/dp/B000BBGCCI/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1388522089&sr=8-8&keywords=ADC+to+USB

What I see as the best thing about this device, though, is that along with being able to record directly from my turntable (it even has a connection for the turntable's ground-wire)... I can run a digital-optical connection from my Oppo BDP-103 directly into this unit, so when I'm using it to "rip" the non-redbook CDs, no analog-to-digital conversion needs to take place at all, when I'm recording with Audacity.

Theoretically... perfect. I'll post my findings, of course.

IME the standard tool for CD ripping is EAC. I've never seen it fail with a reasonble or even some unreasonable CDs. Setting it up for mass conversions can be some work that I can tell you how to short-circuit. I recently converted several hundred CDs to Lame 320K MP3's of which I have by now listened to most of. Other than music preferences I find them all to be brilliant and I mean that in a good way.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again, Arnold. I really appreciate your willingness to help.

Following your recommendation -- and on the offhand chance that Exact Audio Copy (EAC) might actually work -- I downloaded and installed it this morning, after first reading every word on their website... including the entire FAQ.

No deal. As with every other attempt, the software can't read the disc, simply because a computer's drive can't read it in the first place. Back when I first attempted to rip these CDs, I Googled "ripping copy-protected CDs", and discovered a large number of possible solutions. Nearly every article I read had a decent explanation of how these "non-CDs" differ from redbooks, and why, and what can be done about it.

Defeating the computer's Autorun function was the first -- and main -- suggestion, which was easy enough to do... but didn't accomplish anything. Nor, as I mentioned, did trying Foobar or IsoBuster, which were the two most highly recommended software "solutions" mentioned in in the online articles I read.

Ah well. USPS just now delivered the ART USB-Phono-Plus pre-amp, so perhaps the end is in sight.

Again, I truly appreciate your input. I also understand your enthusiasm about being able to convert your CD tracks to Lame MP3 format... but I'm strictly a WAV guy. Prior to acquiring the Oppo 103 last February, all of my music "compilations" were .wav files burned onto CDs. The Oppo's ability to play back ripped .wav tracks that had been copied onto USB thumb drives, along with its ability to create a playlist on each thumb, and to play tracks back in a random shuffle, has changed everything.

"Storage space", however, has never been a concern for me. I've never been a member of the iPod, earbud crowd, and I don't ever listen to music on anything but my amazing HT setup. I've always been much more concerned with having the sound I'm hearing be as close to "the real thing" as possible, and with my current setup -- for me, at least -- it is. So my interest in MP3 -- or compressed music files of any sort -- is zero.

As always... de gustibus non disputandum est. wink.gif

I'll post my USB-Phono-Plus pre-amp test results soon.
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-29-2014, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Non-redbook CD "ripping": SUCCESS!!

The ART USB-Phono-Plus pre-amp turned out to be a beautifully-made little gem. Mine came with a copy of "SoundSaver Express" software on a CD, but I already had "Audacity" recording software on my laptop, so I didn't bother installing SoundSaver.

I connected the Phono Plus via USB to my laptop... but because this was all new to me, my initial attempts at recording went poorly. I tried running a toslink connection from three different CD players (as well as from my AV Receiver's toslink audio out) into the Phono Plus, but in each case, the input signal was far too loud, and massively distorted and clipped... and the gain control on the Phono Plus had no effect on the signal whatsoever.

The solution came from within Audacity.

The Audacity software's "Input Volume" slider has a range of 0.00 to 1.00, and I initially had it set at about 0.40, which seemed like a reasonably logical starting point; not too much, not too little. Also, that setting had worked (at least from the standpoint of being an appropriate input volume) when I was attempting to use the ground-hum plagued "EZ-CAP" device for this project.

Not this time. But since it had been an appropriate volume-setting with the EZ-CAP, I then spent way too much time fiddling with and trying every different physical connection method I could think of -- both toslink and coaxial -- assuming (again, because this was all new to me) that I must be doing something wrong with my hookups.

After giving up, and "sleeping on it"... the following day I was finally able use the toslink connections to successfully record input signals from all of my digital output devices, by lowering the Audacity input volume-setting all the way down to 0.03 for certain "test" CDs with the "loudest" mastering (Taylor Swift's "Red", for example), and 0.04 for older, more "quietly" mastered CDs, like the classical-content Erato and Apex ones that were my actual "target" CDs for this project.

The Phono Plus being a pre-amp... it is, of course, not at all necessary to use an AVR as an output source. Doing so, however, works perfectly well. For the "final" recordings, I ended up using a direct link from my Oppo BDP-103's toslink out.

Caveats:

Obviously, if you have a large number of CDs that you need to record, using the Phono Plus is not a very practical "ripping" methodology... simply because the recording can only be done at normal playback speed. It is, however, the only way I've found that enables me to obtain a copy of an otherwise un-rippable non-redbook audio CD, using a recording methodology that is purely digital from output to input.

There is, of course, the added benefit of being able to record directly from a turntable: the Phono Plus's primarily-intended purpose. Oddly, I found that the Phono Plus's gain control again had no effect on the signal. And, as in the other cases, the Audacity input-volume needed to be set extremely low, at 0.03.

The "real-time-recording" aspect is obviously true when recording LPs as well... but a much more seriously time-consuming aspect comes with having to clean up the Audacity recording's flawless pickup of even the minutest of dust particles on the vinyl.

I have a few extremely well cared-for classical LPs in my library, none of which, sadly, have ever been (nor will probably ever be) re-mastered for CD.

I used the Phono Plus to record two of them, both of which I've had since the mid '70s. Both LPs are completely free of scratches, and considering their age, are remarkably clean. Even so, I spent the better part of an entire day on each Audacity recording, using WavePad editing software to isolate and take out every dust-particle "pop" that I could manage to locate (easy to do, during soft passages... impossible during louder ones). The end result is that I now have CDs of both of these albums, which, when played back, sound like very clean LPs being played on a good turntable.

So... was it worth the effort involved? For those two LPs... yes. Will I be doing this with many of my other LPs? Not likely. There are one or two others I have that are dear to me, and that probably will also never be re-mastered for CD. I'm sure that I'll get around to recording them this way... eventually. rolleyes.gif

In the meantime... what's more important to me, is that I now have the means to "rip" any non-redbook CDs that happen to come my way in the future. And that is extremely worthwhile.
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