Stream Vinyl (and cassette) from your VortexBox
If you have vinyl records with content that is not readily available from other sources it is possible to digitise these yourself but be prepared to invest a little of your time.
Although converting vinyl is not as simple as ripping CDs on your VortexBox a simple, low-cost method can obtain surprisingly good vinyl conversions using an existing record deck.
Capturing the music
If you have them use your existing turntable and amplifier. The mechanics of turntable and quality Phono input of these is likely to be far better than those of most new USB turntables. If you have not got these then beg/borrow from a friend. We will use the Tape Out from the amplifier to digitise the signal.
Check/replace stylus, tracking etc. Clean your record. You can Google for advice. There is no point in spending time digitising unless you have the best possible audio signal from the record, so make sure it is clean.
Digitising the music
You can use mike/line input on most laptops, MACs or PCs to digitise but you are unlikely to get good results, and may only get mono recordings. Much easier is to buy an external USB sound card . One sold widely for under £15 (Amazon, Ebay etc) gives good results. Worth trying this before spending more.
You need a phono to 3.5mm lead to connect Tape Out from your amplifier to the audio input of the USB Soundcard. (The lead we supply with Vortexbox Appliance will do ) Connect the USB Soundcard to your computer with a USB cable.
Google for many complex methods and suggested packages for vinyl conversion. Some are very complicated or are focussed on producing MP3 or Wav. If you have unlimited time and patience is possible to get good results with free software such as Audacity.
However, unless you like to burden your life with difficult and complex processes you will find investment in specialised SW well worth the expense. Highly recommended is VinylStudio from Alpinesoft (approx £25). Almost any PC/MAC will do but a large screen size is useful.
- All-in-one. Easy to use + can produce flac files (most others do not)
- Look-up/use album info from multiple online databases,
- Semi-automate most of the tasks required, and re-do if required
- Can reduce scratch/dirt noise digitally, if required
- Feature rich modern product with active support forum
- Inexpensive, PC/MAC and can try for free
This SW significantly reduces the skill and time required to get good results.
- Connect turntable to amplifier. Place clean record on mat.
- Connect Tape Out to external USB card
- Connect USB cable to computer. Most important is to set the input level to the USB converter correctly to optimise the dynamic range. This will vary for each record.
- VinylStudio will tell you when to place stylus on record. It will start recording when this happens. Then it will tell you to put on side 2.
- When the recording has finished VinylStudio will allow you to split the record into tracks (if you wish) VinylStudio will attempt to detect the tracks automatically – you can check the breaks and adjust if you wish. Use a track listing/album art found on the internet, or produce your own.
- VinylStudio will clean up clicks and pops automatically or leave these in the recording.
- Save to flac or burn a CD
- Copy/paste the flac to Vortexbox. (Rescan). Playstream as usual. Enjoy!
So total cost for users many will be USB DAC + VinylStudio (~£35 total) You can enhance any of the hardware for better results but you may be surprised what you can achieve with this low cost method provided your vinyl is in good condition.
You need to judge whether to use the clean up features as although sometimes they can give dramatic results many feel that this often does more harm than good. The tools are most useful when the original is really poor. Vinyl Studio lets you listen to the effects + store a copy of the original that you can go back to later . If you have time, manual restoration can be very effective. You can zoom in on an annoying scratch and carefully edit just that short section, avoiding damage to the entire piece, but, it is skilled work.
You can also connect your tape deck to digitise and clean-up your old cassette and reel tapes .You may find that these sound lifeless due to deterioration of the magnetic coatings so try before spending too much time.
© VortexboxUK 2011