Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sound Decisions, Part 2

As I write this, I'm recording an old vinyl Hollies album, Another Night, from 1975, onto my Linux partition.

I connected the model TC-750 pre-amp to my sound card. Using the open source Audacity program, I first recorded five tracks from side one of John Entwistle's 1972 album Whistle Rymes.

From there, I learned about using Audacity's noise reduction filter to get a noise level profile from the dead space between tracks. Using that as a baseline, I apply the filter to the rest of the music, taking out a great deal of what underlying noise was there. From there, I next applied the click removal filter. Results were admirable, and I would challenge you to tell that the resulting file was transcribed from an LP.

My next experiment was with an album with a lot of pops and clicks -- The Phantom's Divine Comedy Part 1 from 1974. This was much more challenging, and I think, beyond the basic abilities of Audacity.

I switched over to Windows XP and tried the commercial Adobe Audition software. It, too, could barely remove the scratches from the surface. I downloaded ClickFix, a shareware plug-in with a 300-second limitation. It took me a while to learn how to use ClickFix, but I was happy with the final result, which was quite clean -- albeit not perfect. And it was noticeably much faster at pop and click removal.

When I started out recording LPs onto my soundcard, I did them one song at a time. Later, I learned that Audacity has an easy way to mark spots between tracks and export them into separate songs. This obviously becomes a real time-saver, because I can do basic noise elimination and pop & click removal on an entire album side at a time, and then I can break the side up into separate song files prior to burning to CD.

Lessons learned so far:

  • If you have a decent quality album to start with, you can get a decent quality music rip without wasting money on a CD of something you already have.
  • If the album is scratchy, then it becomes a judgement call as to how much you really want to invest in time and trouble in restoring it to CD-like quality.

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