Ripping Vinyl, what do I need for a great sounding rip?

Discussion in 'Digital Integration' started by Alobar, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    The Behringer UCA-222/202 works just fine under Win10.
     
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  2. wgb113

    wgb113 Well-Known Member

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    I found out the same as you and went with a phono preamp featuring USB output and adjustable gain. This allows me to adjust the levels Audacity sees to just below clipping. I use Pro-Ject's PhonoBox V USB but it's been discontinued. There are others as well.
     
  3. lini

    lini just me...

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    wgb113: Some of these don't seem all too well designed in terms of cartridge output level, though. Just a couple of days ago there was a case on one of the German hifi forums I regularly visit: The thread starter used an Ortofon Pro S body with an Arkiv needle (nominally 6 mV @ 5 cm/s) in combination with the NAD PP4 and ran into massive clipping problems with quite a few recent singles with particularly hot cuts.

    Gladly enough the excessive peaks weren't all too high, so a needle 10 with its somewhat lower output turned out to be sufficient for reducing the level by a few dB, so the ADC section wouldn't clip anymore. Nevertheless I'd deem it somewhat disappointing that a modern USB phono stage design isn't dimensioned with a more reasonable headroom or respectively level adjustment range, so that one doesn't already run into troubles with hot cuts and carts/needles with somewhat increased, but not yet particularly high output level - especially when it already features a level control and that just doesn't have a sufficient range. That's so frustratingly almost done right, but not quite... And one would think that an exprienced manufacturer like NAD could do better and design that thingy so that it's compatible with cartridges from roundabout 2.5 to 10 mV (@ 5 cm/s) on its MM input, in order to cover the whole range from comparatively quiet MMs, MIs & high output MCs to pretty loud DJ cart models, and so that it sports sufficient headroom or adjustment range to also cope with rather hot cuts.

    Greetings from Munich!

    Manfred / lini
     
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  4. Budward

    Budward New Member

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    I wanted to get my LPs into my iPod, not to replace them with a top-line digital file. Went with the ART and Audacity. Getting my signal from the tape record out on my receiver. I'm saving as MP3 192 and as FLAC.

    Satisfied with how it all turned out.
     
  5. DesertTwang

    DesertTwang Active Member

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    Reading this and other threads on digitizing vinyl, I have noticed that many use dedicated preamps, and I'm trying to understand the idea behind this. Is a regular stereo amplifier inadequate for this task? In my setup, I simply run an RCA cable from my amplifier's "tape out" jacks into a little RCA-to-USB adapter thingy and from there into my laptop running Garageband. Sometimes I use Audacity, as I still haven't made up my mind which of the two is less of a pain (they both are). Overall, though, this setup seems to work quite well. Am I missing anything by not using a dedicated preamp for ripping vinyl?

    Edit: sorry for resurrecting an old thread. I'm lying in bed as I'm typing this, unable to go back to sleep after a late night/early morning feeding of our new baby, and spaced the fact that we're not in 2017 anymore, LOL
     
  6. baneste

    baneste AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If you're satisfied with your the performance of your receiver/integrated's phono section with your phono cartridge, then there's no reason to go with a different preamp. My guess is that tmany prefer the outboard units is because their analog-to-digital converters generally tend to be quieter and provide a more faithful digital conversion than the typical onboard or internal computer sound card. If anyone is looking for an all-in-one solution, it might be worthwhile to consider the Parasound USB preamp. It has a nice MC/MM phono section, analog-to-digital converter, and very simple line amp, all in one small chassis at a reasonable price. Not edge of the art, but very, very good IMO.
     
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  7. lini

    lini just me...

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    DT: I'd guess that's because quite a few people prefer to run another set-up for digitising instead of using their main system - or to connect a turntable to their already existing computer audio set-up for the purpose, which quite often might not be based on a classic receiver, integrated amp or pre-/power-amp combo (plus passive speakers), but one of those little "class D" amps (plus passive speakers) or powered/active monitors or some DAC/headphone amp combo (plus headphones), which most usually rather wouldn't sport integrated phono stages.

    Greetings from Munich!

    Manfred / lini
     
  8. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    No problem! Since I started this thread I have learned quite a bit and to update a little, I have been using the Behringer UCA 222 and Audacity with good results with at least 25 lp's recorded, however I may soon update the ADC to this one:
    Schiit Jil
    Not that the Behringer doesn't sound good but for under $30 I keep thinking there might be some SQ to pick up,. and considering how much time gets invested in ripping vinyl I want it to be worthwhile sound wise. Also there is an issue of a slight background buzz playing over the speakers while recording (that doesn't seem to be there on playback at all).

    I have also been testing a new digitizing software called VinylStudio which seems to automate quite a bit of the tedium found in Audacity. For one it apparently detects needle drop and delays for it. Also it can look up LP's and assign track names so long as the artist and album name is correctly entered. It records in WAV so converting from Audacity's file structure is another step not to have to do. It has pop and click repair built in and if that works I wont need ClickRepair anymore (yet another step removed). Also it really handholds you through the process with help that can later be switched off. I still haven't bought it yet, but think I will soon...

    Oh, yes and Congrats on your new child!! :)
     
  9. EJB14

    EJB14 Member

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    Vinyl Studio is worth every penny. Makes ripping so much easier and faster. I didn't know about the Schitt ADC - that is very interesting. I had been using the Music Hall PA2.2, which does 96k/24bit, and more lately direct to a Mac Pro line in, also does 96k/24bit. One issue I found with the USB ADCs I have tried, and in particular the UCA 222, was that the USB timing signal bleeds into the audio at around -80db or so (a extremely low level 1khz 'tone' - you can see it in audacity when you most easily when you record with the needle up). Granted, you can't hear it (or at least I can't) unless you really crank it, but it is there. More expensive USB converters I suspect shield against this better. The Music Hall has a pretty good RIAA preamp so it is a one stop shop.
     
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  10. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

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    USB 2 data rate is 480Mb, so it seems unlikely something around 1kHz would have anything to do with it. Even USB 1.1 min rate is 1.5Mb. Keep in mind the theoretical maximum SNR for a cartridge is around 70dB, and unless you're running balanced from the cart you're going to have a very difficult time keeping gremlins out below ~50dB or thereabouts.
     
  11. lini

    lini just me...

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    Honestly, I wouldn't buy that, 'cause why pay more for a USB-ADC with only an unbalanced, stereo line-level input, if you can get very nice, little prosumer sound-interfaces for less, which wouldn't only additionally sport a DAC section as well, but would also be more flexible in terms of what you could hook up? And the additional headphone output with adjustable volume and direct-monitoring capability can't harm either...

    I usually primarily suggest the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 (2nd gen.) and the Steinberg UR22II (mainly depending on which currently happens to be cheaper and which software bundle one would prefer...) - but Behringer's UMC202HD isn't bad either, and that's just about twice as much as their cheap UCA202/222. So imo the only really good reason to go for the Jil would be, if someone would absolutely hate to work with two separate input level knobs (one per channel) instead of one combined knob - which of course is a necessity on those prosumer interfaces, if someone wants to hook up two mono sources like for example a guitar and a mic. But otherwise I'd think you'd be better served with one of those prosumer USB sound-interfaces for less.

    Main difference between the Behringer and the other two is that the UMC202HD doesn't sport it's "own" ASIO driver, but relies on ASIO4all instead fo that purpose - but apparently without any negative impact on latency. And iirc the analogue output level is a bit on the lowish side for a prosumer interface - so in case you'd want to connect it to something with very insensitive input, you be better served with the Focusrite or the Steinberg.

    Greetings from Munich!

    Manfred / lini
     
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  12. EJB14

    EJB14 Member

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    Yes, I agree - which is why I thought it must be something/anything else - how could it be the USB - makes no sense. Tried different cables (some very expensive), different computers, different ports in the computers, different operating systems - the noise is always there.

    I probably got the lingo incorrect (its not timing) See this article -
    https://e2e.ti.com/support/data_converters/audio_converters/f/64/t/337350
    "This is likely related to the USB audio 1ms (1kHz) isochronous packet rate"

    and this article:
    USB Audio Gremlins
    http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=148763.0

    I also hear/see this with the Wolfson USB chip/setup in the PA2.2. though it is at a lower db level - which led me to think that proximity of the audio signal to the usb hardware may have something to do with this bleeding into the audio. As I said before, I can't hear it when the needle is in the groove, but it bothered me that it was there, and as the OP said, if I am spending time doing this, I might as well get the best reproduction I can get. All that said, if I was missing something, I will *gladly* try USB audio again.
     
  13. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

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    Interesting. Can you post a file? My chain is flat mm pre -> Benchmark ADC1 -> Tascam DA3000 -> miniDSP openDRC (for RIAA) -> Benchmark DAC2 DX -> monitors. Rips come off pre RIAA which makes finding and dealing with nasties far easier. The last step is to apply RIAA via DSP in the DAW.

    I'll see what I have for unbalanced vs. balanced examples.
     
  14. EJB14

    EJB14 Member

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    Sure - I will try and put one together later tonight or tomorrow. That's quite the chain you have there....far far beyond what I have. As an aside, I was thinking of sending Schitt an email asking about this issue to see if they are aware of it, and of so what they did to mitigate it in their new ADC. I noticed the audio in's on that device are physically much further from the USB connection than on my PA2.2.
     
  15. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

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    With the max attainable noise floor of a cartridge, there isn't much need to find gear that can get down past -130dB (or anywhere close, really). Everything I do is typically an exercise of extremes. It entertains me.

    Have you tried isolating? Shorting the inputs to the ADC and seeing if the noise is still there, then adding your ICs and shorting the far end of them, and on down the line?
     
  16. EJB14

    EJB14 Member

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    I can't recall if I tried shorting the inputs - excellent idea. I will give that a go - thanks!
     

     

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  17. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    Well you got me second guessing myself here and have spent a little bit of the morning reading up on exactly what the differences are between, and also reading consumer reviews (Jil seems too new for that).

    What I was finding is that the pro level offerings from the 3 you suggested is that they are very similar in features, with balanced inputs, and bristling with features for musicians of which I am not, nor ever will be. There is a lot of fiddle factor to consider with these pro units, almost too much perhaps for someone just wanting to rip vinyl? Also reading the reviews there were some issues that seemed to be related to the feature richness complexity in all 3 of them. That coupled by what some described as rather poor tech support etc and slow replacement of obviously defective products and placing the return shipping costs on the customer.

    I guess though the biggest question for me would be sound quality. There is where I am out of my league as to what to look for. Reading specs seem to be meaningless, they all look about the same. Jil uses an ADC AKM AK5385 whereas the others I don't know, didn't find that information. Jil's USB output is C-Media CM6631A, the others again I don't know, and wouldn't know the difference even if I could find that info.

    I don't know, is the chipset in these all the same? If not what do I look for? Is it like DAC's where each seem to have a unique SQ blend, or does it work that way for ADC's? Schiit says that building a multibit ADC would be possible but prohibitively expensive. I have found my multibit DAC to sound quite nice..

    Anyway, am not quite ready to upgrade, and I hope to learn a bit more first.. One last thing, while I don't hate Chinese products, or the people that make them, I prefer when possible to spend my money more locally even when it costs a bit more so the Jil wins in that category. I have bought several other Schiit products and all have performed well with no problems.

    I guess right now I am still leaning towards the Schiit as for me, features are nice when needed, but I would rather go with simplicity when they are not.
     
  18. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

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    @Alobar, the Scarlet 2i2 gen 2 is one of the go-to devices serious DIYers use for computer based measurements. Tough to beat.
     
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  19. lini

    lini just me...

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    Alobar: Well, I wouldn't necessarily agree regarding the "bristling with features for musicians". Balanced I/O capability can also come in handy for some hifi equipment - and if one gets into stuff like room optimisation or loudspeaker DIY an input for a prosumer measurement mic with 48 V phantom power also can't harm. But you have to be happy with your choice, so if you feel more confident with the Jil, I can understand that.

    Greetings from Munich!

    Manfred / lini
     
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  20. EJB14

    EJB14 Member

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    Ok - very interesting exercise, and while I found the noise again, I also found a way to significantly reduce it while recording through the Music Hall PA2.2 USB.

    Thanks much to JP for reminding me how to find these gremlins. I didn't think to use shorting plugs when I first tried this so long ago..

    So, with all inputs shorted, things look quite good - the 1khz tone is down at -103db.

    Here's a link to the files:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ND4DwWkOUJ7YCAore8R1p-bySCbSwnwO

    My 'standard' setup is TurnTable to Music Hall PA2.2 moving magnet input, PA2.2 connected to Tape In on Nad 1700, Nad 1700 Tape Out connected to PA2.2 Line-in, PA2.2 connected via standard USB 2.0 cable to Mac Pro 2010 running Audacity.
    I also have a Schitt Modi connected to the CD in on the Nad 1700.

    I unplugged everything and one part at a time, plugged things back together.

    Through experimentation and gradually adding things back into the chain, I found that the 1 Khz tone noise does not move much, if at all when plugging things back in one at a time UNTIL plugged in the Schitt Modi to the Nad preamp. Then the 1Khz tone dropped down to -90db; still not bad, but a significant increase from -100+db.

    If I unplug the USB connection on the Modi (and leave the interconnects connected between the Modi and the Nad), then I get back up to -100.5db.

    If you want to hear the noise of the 1khz tone that leaks into the audio, the file TT_LI_LO_RecMM_ModiToPreOn.wav demonstrates it at -90db.

    -Ed
     

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