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Great ADC for Vinyl record listening/recording
wgh52
post May 2 2010, 11:18
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Folks,

I'm not sure this is the right forum to ask, so if this fits better somewhere else, please moderator > shift to the right place.

The Situation:
Owning a few hundred vinyl records, I really enjoy playing those on my SL-1000 II
My Audio Listening line has become mostly digital due to the use of a DEQX digital Preamp/X-Over for my active speakers.
I'm swithching digital sources (CD, Minidisk, Satellite Radio, PC, ...) with an electronic SPDIF switch feeding the DEQX digital input
I'm not using an analog preamp anymore, besides the Phono pre.

My Desire:
For ease of use (only switching sources at the SPDIF swith) and quality purposes (need 24 bit / 96 ks/s!), I'm looking to connect the Phono/RIAA Preamp to a well working, stand alone AD-converter.

The ADC shall have:
Separate (R/L) input level adjustment (to compensate cartridge chanle differences)
Capability for 24 bit / 96 ks/s and 24 bit/192 ks/s through AES/EBU and SPDIF Coax outputs
Normal HiFi line level input sensitivity
A bearable price well under 1000 Euros

I have found very few alternatives so far, so as this forum seems very analog AND digital "competent", I though I'd join and ask you folks for help and recommendations.

Thanks in adance!
Winfried
from Germany

This post has been edited by wgh52: May 2 2010, 11:20
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RonaldDumsfeld
post May 2 2010, 12:35
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I think this device does what you want. Plus a shed load more. It also fits into your budget (just).

So you should be able to find something suitable easily. I use a MOTU Ultralite which uses the same converter chips but costs almost half as much.

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wgh52
post May 2 2010, 13:22
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Thanks a lot for the quick answer!

I've looked into the specs and they seem OK for the purpose, with the convenient additions of a dig. Input and connection to PC and PC control. Maybe the RME UC (with USB) would be an even more suitable choice at same price.

The only feature I could not find is a facility to adjust left/right channel balance, because many cartridges to produce up to 2 dB channel difference; and I want to compensate this.

Regards,
Winfried

This post has been edited by wgh52: May 2 2010, 13:24
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Knowzy
post May 2 2010, 16:41
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The Vinyl Engine maintains a list of audio interfaces. RME is among them.

I'm very interested in hearing what you end up buying and how it works out for you.
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wgh52
post May 2 2010, 20:47
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Hi Knowzy,

thanks for the link! Looked at that list and found many of the systems quite PC centric, although some stand alone capability as well. I'm looking for stand alone capability.

The RME looks like it may become the ADC of choice, because of its stand alone and PC functionality.

Lake people have good one also, ADC C440, that one lacks a PC Interface, on the flipside it has the Gain adjust for right and left channel which really helps with cartridge channel differences.

It seems I cant get all features I want/need in one box somehow crying.gif
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RonaldDumsfeld
post May 2 2010, 22:58
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QUOTE
The only feature I could not find is a facility to adjust left/right channel balance, because many cartridges to produce up to 2 dB channel difference; and I want to compensate this.


In that case I would be having a good look at my cartridge and how it was fitted but anyway this is what the RME400 manual has to say.


QUOTE
Inputs 3 and 4 are stunningly flexible balanced universal inputs. Firstly, they operate exactly as inputs 5 to 8 on the rear and can be adjusted to accept standard studio input levels (+4 dBu, LoGain). Furthermore, the input impedance can be switched from Line (10 kOhm) to Instrument (470 kOhm). An additional analog input amplification of up to 18 dB (in steps of 0.5 dB) is also available. In short: There's no signal that these inputs can't deal with perfectly!


That would seem to cover it nicely.
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DVDdoug
post May 3 2010, 19:50
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QUOTE
The only feature I could not find is a facility to adjust left/right channel balance, because many cartridges to produce up to 2 dB channel difference; and I want to compensate this.
You might want to take the next logical step and digitize your recordings... (You can burn CDs and/or make FLAC files, etc.) IMO, you don't need a 1000 Euro ADC or soundcard to do an adequate job. Then you can digitally (and permanently) correct channel-balance problems* and more importantly, you can remove most of the "snap, crackle, and pop". And, many older vinyl recordings seem to be a bit dull sounding (rolled-off high frequencies), so I often add a few dB of high-end boost when I digitize older records.

For removing vinyl nose, I use Wave Repair ($30 USD) and it does an amazing job removing most defects. However, it can be very time consuming, and there are alternatives, including fully-automated de-clicking programs.

But first, I'd consider upgrading your collection to CD if the CDs are available. (For 1000 Euro, you can replace many of your records with "digitally perfect" copies. And, you can stretch your budget a bit further if you can find used CDs.)


* GoldWave ($50 USD) has a cool automatic channel-balancing feature called Max/Match which makes the left & right average levels equal while maximizing (normalizing) the overall volume. (Of course, you can alternatively make the left & right peaks equal, adjust by ear, etc.)
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2Bdecided
post May 4 2010, 11:22
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My Minidisc deck will happily operate as an ADC if you press record without a disc in.

It's 44.1kHz only (though IIRC it's greater than 16-bits), so doesn't meet your requirements - though IMO mine is sonically transparent. You will find plenty of similar advice here: 44.1kHz / 16-bit is more than enough to preserve the sound of an LP. Whether your systems works the same at 44.1kHz as at 96kHz or higher is a different matter.


If you can find what you want, then great - but I'd be looking to cure any channel level differences elsewhere, not in the ADC.


@DVDdoug - but there are plenty of recordings where the original vinyl release sounds better than the CD re-issue, so there's no guarantee that replacing vinyl with CDs will improve the sound quality, or even get you the same mix or mastering (or sometimes the same edit or even (rarely) the same take!) of the music. It depends how much the OP loves the sound of their LPs (or not).

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: May 4 2010, 11:23
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DVDdoug
post May 4 2010, 20:01
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QUOTE
@DVDdoug - but there are plenty of recordings where the original vinyl release sounds better than the CD re-issue...
True! There are bad re-masters. But, ALL of my 20-30 year-old records sound WORSE (to me) than the CD! wink.gif

The "ticks" & "pops" drive me nuts... Even back in the vinyl days these defects annoyed me. And as I recall, most records had rather mediocre sound and it was a rare treat to bring home a new LP that had really good "clean-clear" sound. So, it's my impression that most LPs weren't produced/mastered with high fidelity in mind.
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2Bdecided
post May 5 2010, 09:54
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IME, for most pop music, decent vinyl is often transparent, or at least more-than-good-enough. I guess it depends what era you're listening too, and where you live. Most 1960s UK pressings are really good, even of pop music. Things were going downhill by the 1980s.

The challenge for older music is finding decent vinyl.

But usually, if the CD is lousy, you won't have to find decent vinyl - someone else will already have done so and made a nice needledrop.

I'm not condoning piracy, but if you've already paid for the LP or CD, then you've already paid for the music, whatever route you use to listen to it at its best.

A bigger challenge is when you know there's been a decent CD re-issue somewhere (e.g. you've heard it on the radio, or it's on Spotify etc but the cover doesn't match the issue the audio came from), but all the CD versions you can find for sale turn out to be far lower quality. If it's just EQ (or lack of it), you can fix it yourself - but if it's excessive DRC, or third generation tapes used when the masters still exist, then you have to track down the decent copy.

(Me? Obsessive? wink.gif If I like the music, I like to find the version that sounds the best. Sometimes it's quite interesting hearing all the different ways one track has been presented over the decades - sometimes it's like a mini history of recording)

Cheers,
David.
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cliveb
post May 5 2010, 18:22
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 5 2010, 09:54) *
Most 1960s UK pressings are really good, even of pop music. Things were going downhill by the 1980s.

Things took a nose-dive during the oil crisis in the early 1970s. I worked in a record shop at the time, and remember seeing loads of LPs coming in that actually had little bits of paper pressed into them. For some reason I recall Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge was especially badly affected by this - we had dozens of bad copies of that.

The explanation I was given was that when vinyl records are returned for any reason, the practice was to cut out the centre section (with the label) and recycle the remainder. But when the price of vinyl went through the roof, they stopped bothering to cut out the labels and just chopped up and recycled the whole record. (Mind you, I never saw a classical record with this problem).
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botface
post May 5 2010, 19:55
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QUOTE (cliveb @ May 5 2010, 18:22) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 5 2010, 09:54) *
Most 1960s UK pressings are really good, even of pop music. Things were going downhill by the 1980s.

Things took a nose-dive during the oil crisis in the early 1970s. I worked in a record shop at the time, and remember seeing loads of LPs coming in that actually had little bits of paper pressed into them. For some reason I recall Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge was especially badly affected by this - we had dozens of bad copies of that.

The explanation I was given was that when vinyl records are returned for any reason, the practice was to cut out the centre section (with the label) and recycle the remainder. But when the price of vinyl went through the roof, they stopped bothering to cut out the labels and just chopped up and recycled the whole record. (Mind you, I never saw a classical record with this problem).

You're right about the oil crisis affecting quality. LPs suddenly became a lot thinner (hence lighter) then too. I'm surprised about the paper contamination though. If memory serves Virgin were being pressed by EMI then and the standard practice among manufacturers was, as you say, to cut out the lable section before grinding up the vinyl for reuse. EMI, being "a major" were usually pretty good at QA. As an aside, the reason you never saw a problem with classical was that no reground material was ever used in classical (or jazz) pressings - at least the company I worked for didn't it and again, I think that was standard among the "majors".

On the whole quality improved again in the late 70's/early 80's as improved cutting lathes and presses came into use. Plus, the oil crisis had largely gone away by then too
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2Bdecided
post May 6 2010, 11:34
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QUOTE (botface @ May 5 2010, 19:55) *
On the whole quality improved again in the late 70's/early 80's as improved cutting lathes and presses came into use. Plus, the oil crisis had largely gone away by then too
Like-for-like that may be true, but by then the vinyl was thinner (slight impact on sound), and the sides were often longer duration, hence thinner grooves, hence often cut at a slightly lower volume (huge impact on sound, not to mention resilience to wear, scratches, bad needles, etc).

Having said that, EPs (4 tunes on one 45rpm 7" single) has similar quiet-cut narrow grooves in the 1960s, and they often sound poor too.

Cheers,
David.
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analog scott
post May 6 2010, 11:57
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ May 5 2010, 09:54) *
IME, for most pop music, decent vinyl is often transparent, or at least more-than-good-enough. I guess it depends what era you're listening too, and where you live. Most 1960s UK pressings are really good, even of pop music. Things were going downhill by the 1980s.

The challenge for older music is finding decent vinyl.

But usually, if the CD is lousy, you won't have to find decent vinyl - someone else will already have done so and made a nice needledrop.

I'm not condoning piracy, but if you've already paid for the LP or CD, then you've already paid for the music, whatever route you use to listen to it at its best.

A bigger challenge is when you know there's been a decent CD re-issue somewhere (e.g. you've heard it on the radio, or it's on Spotify etc but the cover doesn't match the issue the audio came from), but all the CD versions you can find for sale turn out to be far lower quality. If it's just EQ (or lack of it), you can fix it yourself - but if it's excessive DRC, or third generation tapes used when the masters still exist, then you have to track down the decent copy.

(Me? Obsessive? wink.gif If I like the music, I like to find the version that sounds the best. Sometimes it's quite interesting hearing all the different ways one track has been presented over the decades - sometimes it's like a mini history of recording)

Cheers,
David.


Obsessive? Not at all. Audiophilia is about the persuit of better sound. It is only sensible to seek the best sounding versions of the titles you like. You are right about how interesting the history behind the many variations of any given title can be.
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