How to connect audio to Pc

vbimport

#1

i want to connect my audio system to my computer. This is order to ‘rip’ my old LP’s and copy them to CD’s. Anyone got an idea how?


#2

Gerry picked up from elsewhere

Preliminaries
I am not a digital audio professional. Transferring LPs to CDR is my hobby,
born of the desire to preserve those parts of my LP collection which (i)
are unavailable on CD, or (ii) aren’t essential enough to me to be worth
spending the money replacing them on CD.
My standards are high. I have a stereo system which all but a small
minority of audiophile extremists would regard as “very high end”.
I’m not interested in putting anything onto a CDR unless I can get
fairly close to perfection. The advice contained in these notes is empirical, and results from my own personal experiences.
I work on a PC, and can only offer advice in that arena.
I have no knowledge whatsoever of doing this kind of work on
Macs or Unix machines.
At the end of this document is a list of useful URLs.
Slightly off-topic: why use a computer?:
I got some email from someone who asked me to add a short paragraph
discussing alternative methods of archiving LPs without using a computer,
so I have done so at the end of these notes.

Overview
The task of transferring an LP to CDR comprises 4 basic steps:
Recording the LP to hard disk.
Cleaning up the vinyl damage using a computer based WAV file editor.
Preparing the tracks prior to burning.
Burning the CDR.
Recording the LP to Hard Disk

Clean the LP
Before you start, you should do your best to clean the record as
thoroughly as possible; getting dust and gunge out of the grooves will
eliminate a fair amount of the lower level noise that would otherwise
require a very time-consuming job to remove at a later stage.
Ideally use a vacuum device; even better get them professionally cleaned
by someone who has access to a Keith Monks cleaning machine.

Playing the LP
Use a good quality turntable to play the LP. The pickup cartridge should
be properly aligned and the stylus should be in good condition and clean.
A turntable is a mechanical device which is vulnerable to airborne and
floorborne vibrations. Such vibrations can degrade the playback quality
quite noticably. Even the very best turntables can suffer in this respect.
Therefore, while recording the LP, keep surrounding sound levels as low
as possible. Ideally you should not use any kind of monitoring at all;
don’t worry about knowing when the music starts and ends, just start
recording from before placing the stylus on the lead-in groove and
continue recording right into the run-out groove (trimming off these
extra bits later is easy).
I will assume that you will use a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge
(all high quality cartridges are one of these two types). The signal off
such a cartridge is both low in level (typically <5mV for moving magnet,
<0.5mV for moving coil) so must be boosted to about 100mV needed to drive
line level inputs, and is also RIAA equalised (applied when the LP is
mastered to get around mechanical limitations of the LP system) which
must be reversed so as to provide a flat frequency response for the line
input. Both of these necessary operations are achieved with a suitable preamp. If you have a receiver or stereo amplifier with a “phono” input, that input will perform this task, and the resulting line level output will be available on the receiver/amplifier tape output. Tom Weber informs me that Radio Shack sells an inexpensive amplifier (model number SA-155) for about $65 which is suitable, and I pass on his recommendation here while emphasising that I have no personal experience of this device. I believe that Radio Shack also sell a standalone phono preamp for about $30. If you have higher quality equipment such as a separate preamp and poweramp, you’ll know what I’m talking about and I leave the choice of a quality phono stage up to you.

Recording to Hard Disk
Once you have a line level signal, it needs to be digitised and recorded
onto the computer’s hard disk. Note that for a typical 40 minute LP,
you’ll need about 500Mb of disk space, and depending on what PC editor(s)
you use, you might need another 500Mb for temporary files.
Count on needing about a gigabyte in total.
The standard Sound Recorder utility that comes with Windows is not
suitable for this task because it records to main RAM and only writes
the results to hard disk when recording finishes. This means that recording
time is limited by the amount of RAM in the PC; since 16 bit stereo at 44kHz
uses about 10MB per minute, there’s no way you’ll be able to record an entire
LP side using Sound Recorder. What is needed is a utility that can record
direct to the hard disk. There are a large number of such utilities available
as shareware. My own shareware Wave Repair supports hard disk recording,
has rather better record level metering than most other packages, and if
used as a simple record utility it is freeware. Of the other packages around,
probably the cheapest is CD Wave. Two very good general purpose WAV file
editors, CoolEdit 2000 and GoldWave, also offer direct to hard disk recording.

Once you have a package capable of recording direct to hard disk, there are
two basic approaches to digitising the line level signal depending on the
quality you require:
Use a “normal” computer soundcard. You need a soundcard capable of
44.1kHz 16bit stereo. All modern soundcards are able to do this.
The (analogue) line level signal should be fed into the line input of the
soundcard, and the signal can then be recorded straight to the hard disk.
Use an outboard analogue-to-digital convertor, and feed its (digital)
output into a soundcard capable of receiving digital signals.
As with using a “normal” soundcard, the analogue signal must be sampled
at 44.1kHz stereo. If you use an A/D convertor which is capable of more
than 16 bit resolution, you might wish to find a soundcard that can
maintain those bits (although you will of course have to convert
to 16 bit before actually burning a CDR). However, my own experience is
that even the most perfect of LP sources will be hard pressed to deliver
a signal with more than 12 bits resolution, so plain vanilla 16 bit is fine,
and even truncation without redithering won’t harm the LP signal.
Using a “normal” soundcard is certainly a much cheaper option,
but the inside of a PC is a very hostile environment for analogue signals.
Some soundcards are better than others in their rejection of this noise
pollution. Among affordable brands, Turtle Beach have a good reputation.
The old Ensoniq Audio PCI, which was a very popular high quality soundcard,
was taken over by Creative and it appears is now discontinued.
The ultimate in quality for “normal” soundcards probably remains the
Digital Audio Labs CardD+, but this is about $500. Another company
whose soundcards have a very good reputation is Event Electronics;
their Darla, Gina and Layla systems have all been recommended, but you
should keep in mind that these are primarily multitrack recording systems,
so could be considered overkill on the features front if all you’re doing
is recording stereo. In general, Soundblasters perform poorly
(with the possible exception of the Live! and AWE 64 Gold, which
some people say have quite good sound quality; I’ve not used either,
but can report that my experience with an AWE 64 Value was not good).
Most cheap unbranded Soundblaster compatibles have simply dreadful
sound quality.
www.pcavtech.com/soundcards/index.htm and www.rockpark.com/soundcards
have a lot of good information about analogue soundcards.
As for soundcards which can receive a digital signal, there are a host
of options. The cheapest I know to work well is a “digital-only” version
of the DAL CardD at about $300, but this only supports COAX SPDIF.
Two other highly regarded cards are the Zefiro ZA2 and AdB MultiWave Pro,
both of which support COAX and optical SPDIF and professional AES/EBU
standards; these two cards are about $450. Midiman are in the process
of releasing a pair of SPDIF I/O cards: the DiO-2448 supports up to
24bit/48kHz, and the DiO-2496 goes up to 24bit/96kHz; they both include
an analogue output for monitoring purposes. I haven’t heard any reports
of how well they work, but they will be fairly inexpensive and,
being PCI cards, will be future-proof against motherboard upgrades.
A couple of older Turtle Beach cards, the Fiji and Pinnicle,
have daughter board options to provide SPDIF I/O and are known to
work well, but may be getting difficult to acquire now that they are
out of production. Three inexpensive cards have recently come on the
scene which can have an SPDIF daughter board added:
Turtle Beach Montego II, Creative Soundblaster Live, and Hootech ST Digital XG.
However, all three resample the SPDIF input to an onboard clock rate, so
they do not allow for bit-perfect transfer of external digital audio to
the hard disk. Previous versions of this page mentioned a card from a
German company called Scalacs, but I have contacted them and the card is
no longer available. A company called Opcode made a device called the
DATPort which allows SPDIF signals to be transferred via USB ports,
but I have seen many reports that it is very difficult to get working
reliably, and since Opcode were taken over by Gibson it appears that
no support is available. And finally, you may hear stories about $20
soundcards with SPDIF I/O. Various people have tested these cards and
in the vast majority of cases could not make the SPDIF I/O work properly.
Even those few people who did have success needed to build extra bits of
circuitry.
www.digitalexperience.com/cards.html has a lot of good information about
digital soundcards.

The following tip comes courtesy of Richard Melton:
When using an analogue soundcard, it is often a good idea to mute all
inputs and outputs that aren’t actually being used (eg. mic, MIDI, etc).
This will improve the noise performance of many soundcards.
Note that some soundcards have a “calibration” function, which should
be re-run after changing the input configuration.

Humming Along with the Music
It’s quite possible that when you hook up the line level output from the
LP playback system to the input of your PC’s soundcard, a hum will result.
This is due to problems with the ground connections on various parts of
the whole setup (usually the PC’s ground and the stereo system’s ground
are at different voltages).
Trying to rectify this kind of hum can be problematic, but a few things
to try are:
Check that all the components in your stereo system and the PC are actually
grounded; leaving off a ground can easily cause hum.
Plug all mains electrical items (ie. all stereo components and the PC)
into the same mains outlet, using multiway adapters as necessary.
(The power consumption of all these kind of devices is so low that this
will not overload the outlet). This forces all the components to share
a common ground, which might fix the problem.
If sharing the same outlet doesn’t help, you can try disconnecting the
ground connections from some components. Start with the turntable itself.
If this doesn’t work, check to see if the turntable’s connection to the
preamp/amp/receiver has a separate ground wire and try the effect of
attaching/removing it from the preamp/amp/receiver’s grounding post.
If you still have no luck, try disconnecting the preamp/amp/receiver’s
ground (both with and without the turntable ground re-connected).
However, beware of any dire warnings in the manufacturer’s manual about this:
in many cases it will be safe, but some components might not have insulated
cases.
Rod Smith tells me that cable TV connections can sometimes cause a ground
loop if they are fed into the stereo system. In this case, the simplest
solution is to disconnect the cable TV output from the stereo system
while recording into the computer.
George Koulomzin suggests another experiment. If you have mains plugs
that can be inserted either way round, try the effect of reversing one
or more of them. This alters the relative phase of the mains to the
components, and it may cause the hum to cancel out.
Stores such as Radio Shack sell small transformers known as
“ground loop isolators”. These can cure some types of hum problem when
connected between the stereo system and the computer.
If all this fails, then I’m at a loss as to what you might try,
short of removing all grounds from all components, bundling them
all together and strapping them to a copper pipe buried in the (real) ground!

Setting Record Levels
Whether you choose to go with a “normal” soundcard or external A/D convertor,
it is important to set the input levels accordingly. The aim here is to
get peaks as close to 0dB as possible without exceeding that level.
This is for two reasons:
It uses the maximum resolution available with the 16 bits.
Having said this, since an LP signal manages about 12 bits resolution
at best, you could in theory afford to leave a huge headroom
(eg. peak around -12dB or even less) without losing resolution.
(Less obvious but probably more important) If you record at a low level
and burn a CDR, you will end up with a CD that plays too quietly in
comparison to your other (commercial) CDs. While it is possible to bring
the level up using the “normalisation” feature of many WAV file editors,
such normalisation is never perfect (the arithmetic that is performed
results in rounding errors), and so it is better to avoid this if at
all possible.
As a guide, I tend to pick what I think is the loudest part of the LP,
and set record levels to register about -3dB for that part, which
leaves a little headroom in reserve.
Unlike recording to analogue tape (where pushing the signal level well
past the nominal maximum level can sometimes be a valid approach)
it is absolutely crucial that you never exceed the 0dB level.
If you do, the result is digital clipping; an extremely unpleasant-sounding
type of distortion.

Track Splitting
When recording an LP to hard disk, don’t be tempted to try and split
the tracks at this stage. You will want to retain the correct timing of
inter-track gaps on the final CD, and it is much easier to split the tracks
and retain the correct length gap using a PC editor later.
(Indeed, you may use a CDR burning package that doesn’t need the tracks
to be in separate files anyway).

Cleaning up the Recording
Once the signal is on hard disk, the hard work begins.
Before we start, let me state from the outset that many people hope to
find a single software package that will do everything they need.
This is an unrealistic expectation; in general you will need a toolkit of
various packages. In the notes which follow I will point out the strengths
of those which I have personally used, and in passing will mention other
packages which I have not used but nevertheless have a good reputation.

Mono LPs
Most people will be recording from stereo records. However, if you want
to transfer a mono LP there are a few extra issues to consider which
I’d like to deal with first. A CD cannot be mono; you must record it in
stereo. The ideal situation is that the two channels are identical,
but if you just play a mono LP on a standard stereo turntable,
the chances of getting identical left and right channels is virtually nil.
It way well be that they are close enough that the results sound fine and
you don’t feel the need to change anything.

However, what if the two channels are sufficiently different that the
results are not really acceptable mono? To arrive at two identical
channels, there are basically three options:
Merge the two channels together and duplicate the results to both left
and right. You may find that some surface noise cancels slightly this way.
Duplicate the left or right channel to both channels. This would be
appropriate if you decide that one of the two channels is markedly better
than the other. The most likely reason this might be the case is when one
of the groove walls has worse damage than the other, allowing you to select
the channel with less surface noise and/or clicks & pops.
Some intermediate stage between the two above options, whereby the
channels are merged but a weighting is applied so that a greater
proportion of one channel is used than the other.
Either of the first two options can be achieved with creative wiring of
the turntable’s cartridge, but a weighted merge is only really possible
using a mixer. You can of course deal with it all in software once the
signal is on hard disk, and this is the course I’d recommend.
One advantage to recording the two channels to hard disk as stereo is
that if there is a click on one channel only, you can copy over a clean
section from the other channel. Only after this stage would it then be
appropriate to start mixing the channels to mono. CoolEdit 2000 is probably
the best affordable tool for this kind of channel merging operation,
using its channel mixer.

Trimming Out Unwanted Sections and Fading In & Out
These are essential steps, and can be done easily using a wide variety
of WAV file editors. Two affordable shareware editors that I strongly
recommend are GoldWave and CoolEdit 2000. My own shareware Wave Repair
can also trim off unwanted sections. Try to get the start of the WAV
file as close to the beginning of the music as possible, leaving perhaps
a quarter second in reserve. Once you’ve trimmed this excess at the start,
edit the first few samples to make sure they are zero on both channels and
then fade in the next few samples (making sure you get to full volume by
the time the music starts); all this messing about is to get a nice clean
start to the CDR without a click. The same procedure is required at the end
of the LP, although here you should aim for a longer, gradual fade out.
I like to add a little extra silence at the end; this is because some
CD players make quite a bit of mechanical noise at the end of a CD
(eg. relays switching, laser sleds parking, etc), and I prefer this not
to happen the instant the music finishes.

Removing Clicks, Pops and Noise
Even the best LP will have some minor clicks that you’ll want to remove.
Some very old records might have so much tape hiss you’d like to reduce
that, too.
I’ll deal with removing constant noise first, as this is easiest to deal
with. CoolEdit 2000 has a fine broadband noise reduction mechanism:
you select a region that is only noise, and CoolEdit samples it;
you then select the region to be noise-reduced, and CoolEdit subtracts
the noise spectrum from the selected region. This works well, but for
tape hiss can cut out quite a bit of the high frequency programme content.
It should also be used in moderation, since it can impart a sort of
“metallic, robotic” sound to the music if you use it too enthusiastically.
You might instead try playing around with GoldWave’s parametric EQ,
using fairly steep notch filters; this can sometimes work well.
Another package which deserves a mention is DCart. This has a fairly
good dynamic noise limiter, which varies the amount of hiss reduction
based on the amount of high frequency signal that is present.
When there is a lot of high frequency energy, the amount of hiss reduction
is small; this takes advantage of the fact that the high frequencies
that are present mask the hiss. When there is little high frequency content,
the amount of hiss reduction is high, and the loss of what little high
frequencies there are isn’t very noticable.
This approach can work remarkably well, especially on “busy” music,
although it pumps badly on some kinds of signal (eg. solo piano).

Removing clicks and pops without adversely affecting the music is really
difficult. There are a number of packages on the market which claim to do
so automatically, and their number seems to be growing on an almost daily
basis. I have tried the following: DCart, DART Pro, CoolEdit 2000,
CoolEdit Pro (a more expensive version of CoolEdit 2000), Sound Laundry,
Spin Doctor (bundled with Adaptec Easy CD Creator Deluxe), WAVclean,
Wave Corrector, Wave Repair (written by me, so take what I say about
it with a suitable dose of suspicion :-).
They all suffer from the same basic problem: they sometimes work very
well, and other times they actually make things worse. You can try
fiddling with the parameters, but this rarely results in any significant
improvement. Some of them (DART Pro, and especially CoolEdit Pro) have
so many configuration parameters that it’s well-nigh impossible to try
them all out, especially since they perform their processing so slowly.
DCart, Sound Laundry and Wave Repair are better in this respect because
they have a realtime preview mode which allows you to adjust the
parameters while listening to their effect. WAVclean, while not working
in real time, allows you to listen to the results so far while it’s
still processing the remainder of the file.
Wave Corrector is a recent newcomer and my initial impression of it is
very favourable. While it does not work in real time, it does allow
the user to review and adjust the correction of each individual click,
and its detection and repair algorithms seem to be rather more effective
than most. CoolEdit 2000’s audio cleanup plug-in seems to give the best
results of them all. Although its processing is painfully slow, the
factory defaults appear to be well suited to LP cleanup.
(Curiously, the presets in CoolEdit Pro are not nearly so effective,
unless they have been updated since I last evaluated it).

The bottom line though is that there is as yet no automatic way to
remove all the clicks and pops without also affecting some aspect of
the music. I perform this step manually in most cases, by listening
to the waveform, homing in on the clicks, and redrawing the wave shape
with the mouse or interpolating out the defect.
When doing this, it is best to monitor on headphones as they are far
more revealing of clicks and pops than loudspeakers.
In order to manually redraw a waveform, both GoldWave and CoolEdit 2000
have the ability to zoom in to individual samples and move them.
However, their interfaces for this operation are clumsy, and Wave Repair
is a much better tool for this task.

Another tool that has a good reputation is Sound Forge, but note that
this is an expensive package. I’ve not personally evaluated it so am
unable to give any comments other than to report that some people
consider it to be a cut above the more affordable tools mentioned above.

Another type of vinyl artifact you might want to remove is distortion due
to damage caused by previous mistracking. Manually redrawing waveforms
certainly doesn’t get you very far with this. I have found that this kind
of distortion can sometimes be removed quite well by two of the packages
mentioned above. Sound Laundry’s de-scratcher seems to give the best
results in most cases, with only subtle artifacts (the worst aspect is
that vocal sibilance tend to be emphasised). WAVclean usually removes
even more of the mistracking distortion than Sound Laundry, but its
artifacts are rather more obvious, and I can only describe them as
imparting a “hollow” sort of characteristic. I have also on occasions
been able to reduce mistracking damage using parametric EQ with a very
deep notch filter at a fairly high frequency (eg. around 15kHz).
This dulls the frequency balance, so a compensatory lift somewhere around
4kHz is needed to restore some of the lost “sparkle”; it’s not perfect
but it can be an improvement. My opinion is that GoldWave has the best
parametric EQ at an affordable price.

If you insist on being lazy and using an automatic declicker, then I
would advise that you choose one capable of real-time preview while
adjusting the settings. Working with packages that do not offer this
feature is extremely frustrating, unless by good fortune they have
presets that happen to work well. My own experience with real-time
capable packages is:
Sound Laundry is very good at reducing constant “crackle”, but can
introduce artifacts (hollow-sounding “pops”, and an emphasis of vocal
sibilants).
The latest version of DCart (“Diamond Cut Audio Restoration Tools 32”)
is very good for general vinyl-type “hash”, and has surprisingly low
artifacts. (My experience with earlier versions of DCart was not so
impressive).
Wave Repair is more aimed at individual distinct clicks which, provided
they are detected, are usually repaired with little or no audible artifacts.
Since it attempts to repair without artifacts, it does tend to miss clicks
that other more aggressive packages pick up. It doesn’t tackle hash and crackle.
Two other packages that don’t work in real-time can be recommended:
Wave Corrector is a very effective all-round declicker with minimal
artifacts, and it allows you to manually adjust the correction applied
to individual clicks, so I recommend it even though it does not operate
in realtime.
CoolEdit 2000’s audio cleanup plug-in gives the best results I have yet
come across, so I recommend it despite the fact that it operates perhaps
an order of magnitude slower than other packages. The only noticable
artifact is a roughening of loud “raspy” instruments (eg. sax).
None of the packages successfully repair really big pops, which are
best tackled manually. Note that it is best to do this manual fix up
before running an automatic declicker. This is because big pops can
confuse the declicking algorithms, often resulting in their replacement
with dull thuds and splats which are far more difficult to isolate than
the original pops, thus making them harder to fix in the long run.

Equalisation (EQ), Normalisation and Compression
These are optional steps that may sometimes be appropriate.
Regarding EQ, some LPs do suffer from high frequency dullness, and it’s
worth giving the top end a little boost. I keep on hard disk a short
section of music (extracted digitally from a CD) which I consider to
have ideal tonal balance and dynamics when played back on my stereo system,
and use this as a reference against which to compare work in progress.
The most I’ve ever put on is about +6dB from 5kHz upwards;
this is usually only necessary on reissue LPs that were probably pressed
from “high-mileage” stampers. In general, it’s best not to fiddle too
much with the balance chosen by the people who originally made the LP.

Normalisation is a procedure that ensures the WAV file peaks at the
maximum possible value. If for some reason you recorded at too low a level,
then normalisation is probably worth doing.

Note that normalisation does not guarantee that all tracks will sound
equally loud; the perceived loudness is equally influenced by the
dynamic range of the music. Compression can be used to squash the
dynamic range which makes the music sound louder. It also tends to
sound more “punchy”. Applying differing levels of compression can be
used to balance the loudness of tracks from a variety of sources,
but be aware that excessive compression, while sounding initially impressive,
can rob the sound of its subtlety.

Some packages I can recommend which provide EQ, Normalisation and Compression
include GoldWave, CoolEdit 2000, Wave Repair, and DCart.

Preparing Tracks for Burning
Splitting Tracks into Separate WAV Files
Depending on your choice of CDR burning software, you may need to split
the individual tracks into separate WAV files. This can be done with a wide
variety of WAV file editors (eg. GoldWave and CoolEdit), but the task is much
simpler using either CD Wave or Wave Repair.
On the other hand, you may have a CDR burning package such as
GoldenHawk’s CDRWin that will place track (and maybe index) marks within
a single WAV file. In this case, you will need to prepare a suitable
definition of where those marks should be. As with track splitting,
CD Wave and Wave Repair make the creation of CDRWin cue sheets simple.
Note that if you wish to set indexes as well as tracks, Wave Repair
supports them but CD Wave doesn’t.

Stripping Out Headers and Trailers, Padding Blocks
I’ve never come across one, but have heard rumours that some CDR
burning software fails to ignore the WAV header, which must be stripped
from WAV files before burning. More likely is that an incorrect WAV header
might not be noticed by the CDR burning package, which thinks it is
audio data and puts it on the CDR. Some WAV file editors place housekeeping
information at the end of the WAV file, and this too may need to be stripped
depending on the burning software you use. Finally, if the music data in a
WAV file is not a multiple of 2352 bytes (the block size on a CD),
then the last block might be left as garbage, resulting in a small click
on playback; other burning software will fill the last block with zeros,
so be sure that the last sample in your WAV file is zero to avoid a click
at the transition. There is a utility called StripWave which can help here,
and can be found on Mike Richter’s Useful Addresses for CDR page.

Burning the CDR
This is pretty straightforward. Just make sure you don’t do anything that
might interrupt the data flow to the burner. Things like screen savers,
auto-answer modems, email servers and the like should be switched off for
the duration of a CDR burn.
The latest hidden menace is FastFind. This is a little applet that comes
with recent versions of Microsoft Office that wakes up now and again and
scurries around your hard disk building info for later use.
Needless to say, FastFind consumes vast amounts of resources while it’s
awake, and naturally it’ll be your luck that it will kick in while you’re
trying to burn a CDR. Kill it, by removing it from your system’s
Startup group.

If you’ve read earlier versions of this page, you’ll know that I used to
burn CDRs from DOS. I took the view that burning a CDR is a realtime
operation, and DOS is the only (vaguely) realtime operating system
available for the PC. Lately, however, I have started burning direct
from Win95 (using CDRWin) and not had a failure yet.

IDE hard disks are perfectly capable of delivering the data rate required
to burn a CDR, even if you burn at 4x speed. Take no notice of those who
say you have to have SCSI disks (not that I have anything against SCSI).
Likewise with so-called “A/V” disks; these are unnecessary for this kind
of work (they are really for heavy-duty multitrack and video work).
Some people will claim you need to defragment your hard disk before burning,
but modern disks have such low seek times that I don’t bother with this any
more, and I’ve not had a coaster yet. You may hear horror stories about
“thermal recalibration” interrupting the data flow.
This is largely a thing of the past (having been superceded by “embedded
servo”) so you probably don’t need to worry about this.
I’m not aware of any current production hard disks that still use thermal
recalibration.

Track-at-once burning can be used, and with the variable gap capabilities
of some hardware and software can be made to approach disc-at-once results,
but frankly all this fiddling about is just skirting around the basic issue,
which is that audio discs are best made in disc-at-once mode, period.
So don’t buy a writer that doesn’t support disc-at-once, ok?

Regarding CDR burning software: for audio CD creation, I very strongly
recommend CDRWin (and its DOS version, called DAO). CDRWin does one
thing very well: it writes CDRs in disc-at-once mode, and allows you to
lay out the tracks and indexes exactly how you want. Unlike other packages,
it doesn’t make any decisions for you. I like to stay in control.
A word of warning is in order, though. Some people have found that they
are unable to get CDRWin working on their particular systems.
This is usually a SCSI configuration problem, but the real issue is that
Goldenhawk’s support can sometimes be rather unsympathetic.
Because of this, my advice is that you should download the demo version
of CDRWin and check that it works in your system before actually buying it.
(This is the rule for any shareware: don’t pay for anything you’ve not been
able to evaluate and verify works as you require).

Adaptec’s Easy CD Creator is bundled with many CDR drives, and its basic
disc writing engine is very solid. Although it is somewhat lacking in
flexibility, it is fine for creation of straightforward audio CDRs.
Two other packages which have good reputations are Nero and Feurio, but
I have no experience with them.

Useful URLs
Other Sites with Relevant Advice www.gramophone.co.uk/sosaudio1.html Gramophone Magazine’s Audio-on-Computer Survey

WAV File Editors www.goldwave.com GoldWave www.syntrillium.com CoolEdit 2000 & Pro www.sonicfoundry.com Sound Forge www.crosswinds.net/~cdwave CD Wave
homepages.nildram.co.uk/~abcomp/wavrep.htm Wave Repair
resource.simplenet.com/urls.htm StripWave + other goodies

Soundcards www.tbeach.com Turtle Beach soundcards www.digitalaudio.com CardD analogue and digital soundcards www.event1.com Event analogue and digital recording systems www.zefiro.com Zefiro digital soundcards www.adbdigital.com AdB digital soundcards www.midiman.net Midiman digital soundcards www.opcode.com Opcode SPDIF/USB interfaces www.pcavtech.com Reviews of Various Soundcards www.rockpark.com/soundcards Reviews of Various Soundcards www.digitalexperience.com/cards.html Extensive Info on Digital Soundcards

Music Restoration Software www.diamondcut.com DCart www.algorithmix.com Sound Laundry www.sonicfoundry.com Sound Forge www.adaptec.com Spin Doctor www.ganymede.hemscott.net/wavecor.htm Wave Corrector
homepages.nildram.co.uk/~abcomp/wavrep.htm Wave Repair www.excla.com WAVclean www.syntrillium.com CoolEdit 2000 & Pro www.tracertek.com DART Pro

Miscellaneous www.goldenhawk.com CDRWin and DAO CD writing software www.adaptec.com Easy CD Creator CD writing software www.feurio.de Feurio CD writing software www.ahead.de Nero CD writing software www.fadden.com/cdrfaq CDR FAQ
resource.simplenet.com Mike Richter’s CDR site

Alternatives to Using a Computer
It only makes sense to use a computer if you’re planning to try and
clean up the signals on your LPs. If you’re happy with the way they sound,
and you just want to transfer them to a more convenient medium or to preserve
them, then involving a computer in the process is fairly pointless.
If you do want to clean up your LPs (ie. remove noise, clicks and pops)
then a computer is really the only affordable way.
(There are mega-expensive professional hardware units,
such as the CEDAR range, that will do the job but these are totally outside
a hobbyist’s budget).

If you don’t want to use a computer, the choice of archival medium is quite
wide:

Analogue Cassette.
Despite its antique status, good old cassette tape can
make surprisingly faithful recordings provided you use a good quality deck
and tape. This is still a very cheap medium.
HiFi VHS. Many good quality video recorders can be used as audio decks.
If your video is a HiFi model and has manually adjustable recording levels,
it will probably give quite good quality; about on a par with good analogue
cassette. Cost of tapes is even cheaper than cassette.

DAT.
Although DAT will give you stunning quality, the tapes are not
particularly cheap, and the medium is delicate. DAT tape is not a good
long-term archival format.
Minidisc.
It is now clear that Minidisc is beginning to make headway, and looks
like being here to stay. The latest Minidisc players I’ve heard have given
very good quality indeed; certainly better than any cassette deck.
Minidisc is of course a very convenient format, and the price of blank
discs has been falling rapidly.

CDR.
Audio-only CDR recorders are now coming onto the market at affordable prices,
and give virtually the same quality as DAT tape. CDR is also a much more
stable archival medium. It’s a pity that the recorders insist on using
royalty-paid consumer-grade blanks. Semi-pro machines able to use the
considerably cheaper computer-grade blanks will probably become more
affordable.

DCC. Dead.