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Low quality of my cartridge+preamp—can you suggest others? ≤€500
post Feb 15 2012, 00:58
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I currently digitize vinyl working with a technics 1210, an audio-technica at-95e, and the preamps built into my native instruments traktor kontrol s4. presumably, few people here will know what an s4 is. for purposes of this thread, it should be sufficient to note that the s4 is a midi controller (roughly speaking--actually, it uses a different protocol) which includes a 4-in, 4-out audio interface with 2 phono preamps that's geared towards DJs. the audio interface in the s4 might be comparable to standalone 4-in, 4-out USB 2.0 audio interface with 2 phono preamps in the $200 range (again, it would be an audio interface geared towards DJs so it would come with very low-latency asio drivers).

i am unsatisfied with the results i'm currently getting. i record with audacity at default settings (32-bit floating point, 44.1kHz). the gain in windows' volume mixer for the channel to which the 1210 is connected to is at 100%. the peak levels i'm getting during recording are at about -12dB to -15dB. (there's no way in audacity to further boost the volume during recording.) i don't perceive the audio quality as good at all despite the fact that i'm digitizing records in mint condition. (i'm trying to digitize vinyl-only releases so buying digital is not an option. unfortunately, in the genres i listen to--certain areas of house and techno--, vinyl-only release are relatively common.) on some recordings, the kick drum sounds muffled. on most recordings, i feel noise levels are excessive.

now, i certainly don't think the preamps in my audio interface are any good. the at-95e cartridge which i recently bought for EUR 20 is entry-level, too. does anyone have suggestions as to what preamp and cartridge to buy? as for my budget: EUR 500 (~$650) is my absolute max. ideally, i'd like to spend less. so i'd be happier if i can get something reasonable for, say, EUR 300 or so.

This post has been edited by dumdidum: Feb 15 2012, 01:01
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post Feb 15 2012, 22:27
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Dumdidum, I would suggest not normalizing to 0 and simply adjusting your input levels to peak safely below 0 such as -1dB.
A lot of people are afraid of 0dB. But, any decent DAC or soundcard can handle the full 16 or 24 bits (0dB) with no problems, including any "inter-sample overs".

If you do feel you need to process in some way, such as normalize, then I'd suggest keeping a copy of the raw file in case at a later date you change your mind about this approach or decide on a different approach then you won't need to re-rip.
There's generally no harm in normalizing. Increasing the volume by normalization does no damage and is completely reversable (with potentially very small rounding errors). If you reduce the volume (digitally or in analog), you are loosing resolution. If you are doing lots of EQ or noise reduction, you may want to keep an unaltered original archive. I only do that on very-rare occasions when I'm doing lots of processing, and I might change my mind later.

Your peaks, without normalizing, should be around -1dB.
Every record is different... In order to hit that -1dB mark with no danger of clipping, you have to record twice... (Once at a lower level to find/calibrate the peak level.) It's more typical to "shoot for" -3 to -6dB. Then, if you get clipping or your levels are too low, you can try a 2nd time.

Are you sure you are using the right MC or MM setting for your phono preamp or does your turntable have a preamp built into it?
No moving magnets (inexpensive cartridge) and no MM preamp on his DJ controller. And, the Technics 1210 does not have a preamp built-in.

When I record my vinyl it peaks at about -1dB and the average loudness is typically around -20dB.
The difference (ratio*) in dB is constant for each recording. If you reduce the peaks by 10dB, the average will decrease by 10dB too. A peak-to-average ratio of 18 or 20dB is not unusual.

* Since decbels are logarithmic, subtraction gives you a ratio.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Feb 15 2012, 22:52
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Posts in this topic
- dumdidum   Low quality of my cartridge+preamp—can you suggest others? ≤€500   Feb 15 2012, 00:58
- - DVDdoug   I can't recommend a preamp. But for cartridge...   Feb 15 2012, 02:48
- - zaentzpantz   I used to have the Audio Technica cartridge, and i...   Feb 15 2012, 11:21
- - RonaldDumsfeld   I had a similar chain as yourself. Technics 1210,...   Feb 15 2012, 13:02
|- - dumdidum   QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Feb 15 2012, 13:0...   Feb 15 2012, 13:55
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Feb 15 2012, 07:55) QUO...   Feb 15 2012, 14:36
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Feb 15 2012, 02:48) for ...   Feb 15 2012, 13:48
- - 2Bdecided   I'd have no problem digitising the kind of mus...   Feb 15 2012, 15:54
- - RonaldDumsfeld   I did also consider that maybe the loudest parts o...   Feb 15 2012, 16:21
- - derty2   Comments by a friend of mine who is quite good at ...   Feb 15 2012, 16:44
- - dumdidum   Arnold B. Krueger, derty2: This is good stuff, yo...   Feb 15 2012, 18:31
- - Gretschguy   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Feb 15 2012, 00:58) i a...   Feb 15 2012, 20:52
- - RonaldDumsfeld   QUOTE If you are recording at a peak of -12dB then...   Feb 15 2012, 22:02
|- - DonP   QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Feb 15 2012, 17:0...   Mar 5 2012, 21:52
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE Dumdidum, I would suggest not normalizing to...   Feb 15 2012, 22:27
- - kraut   QUOTE I would recommend the Denon turntable and DL...   Feb 17 2012, 14:58
- - pdq   The problem with software equalization is that it ...   Feb 17 2012, 15:27
- - dumdidum   ok, it took me awhile, but i have prepared samples...   Mar 4 2012, 16:19
- - db1989   The point of an ABX test is not to compare two pro...   Mar 4 2012, 22:19
- - 2Bdecided   I'm amazed that two supposedly working RIAA pr...   Mar 7 2012, 12:08
|- - cliveb   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 7 2012, 11:08) May...   Mar 7 2012, 19:35
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 7 2012, 12:08) I...   Mar 7 2012, 13:09
|- - db1989   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Mar 7 2012, 12:09) I...   Mar 8 2012, 15:01
- - pdq   If you think that one channel of the preamp has a ...   Mar 7 2012, 20:23
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (pdq @ Mar 7 2012, 20:23) If you th...   Mar 8 2012, 14:49
- - pdq   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Mar 8 2012, 08:49) QUOT...   Mar 8 2012, 16:09
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (pdq @ Mar 8 2012, 16:09) QUOTE (du...   Mar 8 2012, 17:05

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