INTRODUCTION:

With twenty years of vinyl still sitting in the spare room of my apartment.  I figured it will most probably take me the best part of a year, to transfer it all across to CD.  Knowing how much time I'll be investing in the process, I have extensively used all the resources available to me, to find out "What is the best way of doing this".  From the end of 1997, I have read hundreds of reviews, on the internet and in magazines, in Australia and overseas.  I have tried out many models (whearing thin some retailers generosity) and on the way, I have even made one or two expensive mistakes.   By sharing the lessons I've learned, I hope the info will head people off in the right direction, choosing the right equipment, and avoiding the same mistakes I've made.

1.   OVER VIEW:

They are three important stages, when producing the final CD copy of that classic "Boz Scaggs" album

Stage 1:     Choosing the right equipment
Stage 2:     Installing the equipment in the correct place and finally…
Stage 3:     Recording the Vinyl to CD.

When performing the transfer.  The resulting CD is only going to sound as good as the weakest link in the chain. 

2.   Soundcards:

The first thing we need to look at is the Sound Card in your computer.  Most computers that have been manufactured since the mid nineties will carry the Sound Blaster Live or SBLive Sound Card.  These cards were manufactured, to give your computer sound capabilities and nothing more.  Using them to record external sources such as cassettes and records, is not worth the effort.

They are two kinds of sound cards.  The professional and the poor quality.  A professional sound card is manufactured with many considerations In mind. 

Basic soundcards, like the sblive, are very vulnerable to many sources of interference.  These may include the transmission of electrical signals from transmission towers like radio amd television stations, mobile phones, static electricity, earth leakage, and many more things that can omit these kinds of eletrical signals.  The circuitry is also mass produced by cheap factory facilities, therefore chances are that parts are made as cheap as possible, resulting in a poorer quality sound input and output.  Cheaper cards are also aimed at the domestic market, thus manufacturers endeavour to be more imaginative, with adding extra features and connections, that can impact on the cards final sound quality.  This was the reality with the Sound Blaster SBLive Platinum.  Although it had extra features, the final result was a loud buzzing and humming sound.

WHAT IS DB (db)?

Noises we hear everyday are measured in decibels, however measuring sounds during the recording phase, is measured by the minus decibels, which is abbreviated as db.  The point that something can be recorded before exceeding the limits and becoming distorted is -0.00db.  Most software, soundcards and computers will display a decibel gage from -100db (silence) to -0db (maximum loudness).  The gage in Sound Forge 6.0 starts at -135db and peaks at 0db.  Any sound that exceeds the -0db level will clip and be distorted.

Shown below is the gage that appears in Sound Forge 6.0, and an idea what each levels' sound would be equivalent to listening to.

As well as having much better circuitry then basic sound-cards, The M Audio Delta 66 is specifically build for recording and sound playback in mind.  The Delta has been coated with a special material that protects it from all forms of electrical interference.  Better quality parts result in the Delta having a superior frequency range.  Recordings made by this card will have notable improvements in the low and high frequency response areas.  Above all, the class of cards that the Delta comes from, will have a very quiet silence. (doesn't silence mean quite?) As stated above, quite for some cards is a rather noisy subject.  When I had the Sound Blaster Live Platinum set up with my pre-amp and turntable, with no sound signal coming through, the levels were registering -35 to -30db.  (equivalent  to a cheap audio tape)  The Delta registered an incredible -88 to -83 db.

For some audiophiles this is still kind of midstream.  For this project though, this card is perfect.  The Delta retailed around $1,100 Australian.   This would be around US$600 American. 

They are cards on the market that will drop to an astonishing -130 to -140db.  These would be in the price range of about $3,000 to $5,000 Australian.  I think this would be a waist of money, due to the fact that as soon your turntable and amp are switched on, your line inputs will immediately rise to about -80 to -75db, making the extra expense for the quieter cards pointless.

LP2CD  -  Copying your vinyl to CD
using Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge 6.0.

1.   General Overview. 
2.   Choosing the right soundcard. 
3.   Choosing the right turntable. 
4.   Purchasing a Phono preamp. 
5.   Positioning of equipment. 
6.   Connecting your computer and hi-fi together for duplication. 
7.   Configuring the record and playback controls on Sound-Blaster Value. 
8.   Configuring the record and playback controls on the M Audio Delta 66. 
9.   Recording the sound signal to hard-drive. 
10.   Opening and Configuring Sound Forge for Recording and Playback. 
11.   Starting a recording session. 
12.   Increasing the volume of softer recordings. 
13.  Tidying the beginning and end portions of a sound file. 
14.   Preparing raw vinyl track for CD. 
15.   De-clicking and de-crackling dusty recordings. 
16.   Enhancing the finished track.   


Version 1.2 by Mark Boerebach  -  Updated Tuesday 26th August 2003