Digitising classical LPs

I’m using Audacity on an iMac running OS 10.9.3 and using a Numark TTUSB turntable which has a USB connection. I’m completely new to this.

There is very little I can find on the internet about digitising classical music. Any advice on quality settings etc for recording? I want to record the best quality I can to start with and edit, though I’ll then be playing the results from an iPod through good speakers and burning CDs. Is it a waste of time and energy to record at higher quality settings than I need for my purpose? Storage space is not a problem.

If it’s only for playback, CD quality is plenty. That’s 16 bits, 44.1 KHz.

I don’t know high the sample rate from the Numark could be (haven’t looked up the specs), but usually, CD quality is the setting out of the box.

You should try out a couple of recordings to assertain the levels. Classical music has a lot of dynamic range.

You need to be high enough in recording level to get the quietest music out of the bottom noise, but not so loud that peaks start clipping. Digital clipping is awful. When a tape recorder clips, it’ll result in 5 to 10% of cubic distortion. That might even sound good to some, especially on rock. But when digital clips, it clips to 100% distortion for the duration of the clipping. And that sounds awful to everyone.

Play a track, set recording level as high as you think you can go. Record, process to mp3 and listen. MP3 wasn’t really developed for classical music, but it works. It just requires a bit more experimenting with the settings. Personally, for classical vinyl recordings, I use 192 Kbit/sec, no joint stereo and no variable bitrate. But even 128 Kbps can sound good if you tune the settings to your taste and equipment.

It just takes a lot of TIME.

And once you have set up the gain in your chain, you can start thinking about removal of ticks and white noise, if needed.

BTW, ipods do play wav and AAC to. Both will be less hassle and better sound if you can spare the disk space.

One thing I need to do before digitizing vinyl, is wash the disc. Some of my vinyl has been played wet, with Lenco Clean fluid and these disks need water…

The Numark USB TTs tend to have very light platters - The ION I bought had good electronics but the platter was so flimsy and light that I got very noticeable wow&flutter - so I junked it and in its stead I resurrected my trusty old Technics TT with its SME 3009 arm and gave it a good home service - and bought it a new cartridge. I also bought an ARTcessories phono preamp and an external USB soundcard (Edirol UA-1EX - no longer manufactured) and both of those have gain controls. If I was buying today I would buy the ART device that combines phono preamp with USB output: http://artproaudio.com/turntable_preamps/product/usb_phono_plus-ps/

So if you are going to stick with the Numark I think that will be your limiting factor as to quality. I would suggest working with Audacity set with its default quality settings 32-bit float 44,000 Hz and when you export the final result export to the default WAV 16-bit PCM stereo 44,000 Hz (CD quality as per Red Book standard) with your dither settting at the default “shaped”.

If you want higher quality there are better USB TTs around - but they do cost a fair bit more than the Numark.

Audacity is excellent for most of the LP transcription process but on extra tool I used when I transcribed mine (including classical) is Brian Davies’ excellent ClickRepair it costs a little but is well worth it if you have more than a few LPs. I had LP recordings of Joshua Rifkin playing Scott Joplin rags that I had given up playing on the TT/hi-fi as it was just too clicky - ClickRepair produced an almost magical result when processing it. See this sticky thread: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/click-pop-removal-clickrepair-software/1933/1


You may find this set of tutorials from the Audacity useful: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_copying_tapes_lps_or_minidiscs_to_cd.html

particularly this one: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/recording_with_usb_turntables.html

and this suggested workflow: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/sample_workflow_for_lp_digitization.html

On and this one may be useful too: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/tutorial_exporting_to_itunes.html
and this workflow: http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/sample_workflow_for_exporting_to_itunes.html


Thank you all very much for your help.