Friday, January 2, 2009

Digitizing Old Record Albums

Today the distraction time all went to the new USB phonograph. It's like a futuristic machine out of the past! Steampunk! It handles so like an old turntable, with it's delicate stylus and trying to gauge the exact place between two tracks. But it's a USB tool, and it digitizes!

How many hours did I spend trying to get the thing to play through my computer speakers while recording? More than I spent figuring out the Cakewalk software for recording! There was a setting deep within my control panel, where the "line in" was turned off. Thanks to the person who posted an answer to someone's question about "USB turntables" and "no sound," and mentioned that the input on a sound card is usually blue. I had openings with blue, black, and yellow; and none worked, because of the setting that was wrong. But it was nice to focus on the blue, so that when I did find the setting and change it, Toto sang out of my speakers immediately.

The first moment I heard the record played directly on the turntable and through the headphones (because I couldn't get the sound to come through the speakers [see above])brought me back to the days of quality hifi. I could hear that advantage that turntables have over CDs. There was a little richness, a little "it's 1975 again." But I am going to digitize and downsize my record collection. It's not large any more.

Digitizing LPs is a realtime process, playing each entire album. Saving the songs means staying by the computer, too; and the sheer magnitude of the job makes it prudent to not do too many other computer things at once. At one point in the afternoon, perhaps the apex of the burden on my computer, the recording software crashed and I lost half the side I had recorded. The wave pattern on the screen looks like something fell on the record player and scratched the record! But it just stopped recording at some point. Or it recorded but couldn't save half the recording. Or something. It happened later in the day, too, when I was recording after having watched La Dolce Vita mostly in fast forward mode. The second time, I rebooted and used the audio software with no other programs running, and it performed immaculately. So, my plan is to get a lot of reading done while recording at the computer, so that I can be there to click as each track needs to be OK'd and so that I don't use too many computer resources and slow up my process by losing tracks I have recorded.

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