Saturday, April 02, 2005

Black Licorice

I'm playing with fire here. Nature is giving us the shower and blow dryer treatment right now, and the power has flickered off twice. I'll probably get four fifths of the way through this post before losing power for good.

Anyhoo, lovely Lori got me the Numark PT-01 portable turntable as part of my birthday present. It's a "fully manual" record player that works great either stand-alone or hooked up to your stereo.

The unit is almost exactly square as the diameter of a full-size record. The controls on the bottom right include speeds for 33, 45, and 78 RPM, pitch, tone and volume. The volume control also effectively controls the recording volume on the line-out. There is a speaker located under where the cartridge sets at rest. The arm rest has a lock that traps the arm when transporting the unit.

On the right side of the unit lies the various interfaces:

Kind of hard to see there, but there are quarter and eighth inch headphone jacks on the left, stereo line-out, the power cord and a power switch all the way on the right. The cord is unpluggable, the other end going into a power wart.

And here we have the unit with the cover on. The handle is located towards the rear.

So, I've spent part of the day ripping vinyl, as it were, and I'm really digging the player. I basically hook it up to my MiniDisc recorder for recording, and then digitally upload from the MD recorder to the computer. I can monitor the output on the headphone jacks located on either the record player or MD recorder. Unfortunately plugging into any of the output interfaces on the player mutes the audio on the speaker. The "fully manual" operation is also somewhat of a downer, but I'm primarily using it to rip vinyl, so I'm babysitting the recording session anyway. The price to me seems very reasonable.

One of the records I was recording today had some major divots on it. The record was seriously old, and I seem to remember the record skipping badly in long times past. A short hunt on google revealed an article on how to repair skips. It worked suprisingly well. It won't get rid of the massive crackling you hear through the divots, but I got everything to play through.

After fixing the skipping I bought some outer and inner sleeves from Sleeve City (weird that the URL says "sleevetown"). Amazing that there are businesses out there that still cater to older tech.

I've been using SoundForge to edit and sweeten the audio once it's in the computer. Version 7 (I'm a version behind) has a vinyl repair process which works fairly well. It also is great for creating the different tracks and then exporting. Although the software can burn CDs, I couldn't get it to burn the tracks individually (it created one large track), nor could I get it to work correctly with my new burner... it didn't seem to be closing the disc. I'm guessing the older version of SoundForge isn't speaking clearly enough to the newer drive.

So I export the tracks out of SoundForge to seperate wav files. Using the new version of Nero that came with the new drive I burn the wav files out to CD on the new burner. CD-Text has never worked for me in the past, but when I went to rip the newly-burned CD back into SonicStage, voila, SonicStage read the CD-Text. Hallelujah. SoundForge exports the regions using a track number / name scheme, and Nero seems to be able to discern it and use it for CD-Text when burning a CD. Considering most of the vinyl I have isn't going to be located in CDDB, this will be a lifesaver.

The audio CD burn speed of the new burner? Shmokin'.

I have a bunch of old (older than me) vinyl laying around that I promised to digitize for Dad. I'll start popping these to the top of my queue.

[1] Lunch on me if you can guess the record in the first picture.

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