Saturday, October 3, 2009

Equipment Used for Digital Archival

Since the master tapes of these performances may never be released, I wanted to be able to archive these analog pressings in the best possible methods I can afford.  Back in the 1990's I was considered by some to be somewhat of an 'audiophile' so much of my equipment was already available to use.  I'll start in the order of the music:

1. Cartridge - Sumiko Blue Point (this cartridge has seen many, many hours of use, so it is ready to be retired.  My cartridge on my wish-list is the Grado Reference.  I have heard many very positive comments from other users.  But it will have to wait a while, till the budget $$$ comes up to speed.

2. Tonearm - SME Series III, I picked up this tonearm in the 'used' market and got a great deal on it. It is finicky to setup and to set VTA.  It is wired with 99.999% Mogami OFC wiring.
3.  Turntable - SOTA Star Sapphire with vacuum hold-down system.  This is a classic set-up that dates back to the mid-'80s.  It is belt-drive with a very heavy platter (15 lb aluminum) that rests on a single sapphire bearing (hence the name). The vacuum hold-down is the unique feature that that reduces 'LP induced rumble' via an external vacuum pump.  After the LP is held down, the vinyl feels like it is a part of the platter, very solid and thus very good low-end to the recording.  The platter is part of a 22 lb sub-chassis that floats and uses lead-shot for ballast.  All total this table weighs in at almost 50 pounds.

4.  Interconnect cables - Basically using Esoteric Audio throughout. Not sure of the type, it has been so long since it was purchased.  Cable manufacturers are not know for labeling their cables very well.
5.  RIAA Preamplifier - Using a B&K Sonata MC-101 preamp.  This preamp  uses Tiffany connectors throughout and a discrete JFET preamp for the phono stage.
6.  CDR Recorder - A Pioneer PDR-509 recorder set-up in a Tape Loop within the MC-101 preamp. This recorder has to use the CD-Music blanks where a small royalty is embedded in each blank CDR-Music sold.

The CD is recorded as Track 1 for Side A and Track 2 for Side B.  Then the CD is finalized and brought to a PC for editing.  The CDA files are converted to two large WAV files usually around 250MB a piece.

Then I use 'ClickRepair' to remove the pops and crackles that may be in the recording.  I have tried several different types of software for this, and this seems to do the best job and at the same time not affect the audio quality. For 'MINT' quality LP's I use a setting of 35, and de-crackle setting of 2. For very bad LP's, I use 50 or more and de-crackle setting of 5.  In my opinion, this is the 'secret sauce' that makes these LP's sound so great.  There is another application called 'DeNoise' which can reduce the hiss in the recordings, but for the most part, these recordings have minimal amount of hiss, and I do not find the hiss objectionable. 

Then I use "Cool Edit Pro" (now a part of Adobe Audition), to parse the 'click-repaired' files.  Divide them in to separate tracks and check for any large pops that may have been missed.  Then normalize the WAV file to maximize the 16 bit dynamic range for the format.  Then each track is converted to 320kbps MP3 or 192kbps WMA, and ID3 tags are added and album art is embedded if possible.  Then they are compressed into ZIP or RAR format and uploaded to Rapidshare.  That is the complete process that I use for digital archival of LP's. 


  1. I guess it is true that allow vinyl record collectors have a touch of OCD in them. Thanks for the Click Repair reference. I'll check it out. I use Audacity instead of Cool Edit Pro. Still I think it takes a bit much to back up. Though I'll get better. I'm going to make a new goal or one lp a week.

  2. Hello!
    I'm downloading your rip of Esther Satterfield's "Once I Loved" at this very moment. Thank you for rescuing her tracks from obscurity! I have a mint-condition vinyl copy of the jazz album, "Irrepressible Impulses," that I just purchased. If I were to mail it to you, would you rip it for me and make it available on your site? I haven't heard it since the early 1990s; I had it on vinyl and I lost it in a move. My email address is merrieritter{at} Thank you for your consideration.
    Best regards,
    --Merrie Ritter, Albuquerque, NM, USA