After Hours

Cracking open the Ion iTTUSB Turntable

Input / Output

Power goes in and sound comes out.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

31 comments
ricki
ricki

I have an old Kenwood "4" channel turntable and several years ago came upon a company called DAK.com where you can buy a "mixer" with both phono and tape inputs and it comes with a great software program called DAK Wave MP3 Editor Pro. It allows you to record the LP or tape to your hard drive and separate the tracks down to a millisecond. I got it with another software program called DePopper which takes the hum and click and such out of the recording also. You have the ability to save the media as MP3, wav and a few other formats also.

yooper
yooper

I've converted dozens of LP's just using a turntable I bought and Audacity. I leave the album as one big MP3, but later on I can always go back in aduacity and edit the files, seperating the tracks, etc. As far as automating the conversion process, there's no meta data on an LP that contains any data about the album or artist, so it all has to be typed in by hand.

TimeChaser3222
TimeChaser3222

Ya I have around 50 LP`s and I wanted to turn them into digital music to burn on CD`s . This turntable comes with Audacity copy software (GNU open source) it turns your LP`s into AUP(Audacity Project Format),SUN AU/NeXT, WAV, OGG, AIFF, or MP3 - with a open source update.(Lame).

Geno'sAtTheDoor
Geno'sAtTheDoor

Why didn't think about adding jacks to hook-up a tape deck up to. Lots of folks like myself have both a turntable and deck and it would be nice to do both with one unit.

gsteele531
gsteele531

If you take the output of a standard turntable and connect it to mic in or audio in on your sound card, the resultant digitization will not sound right. The reason is that turntables are meant to feed a phono input on an preamp or amplifier, which sends the waveform through analog electronics that apply the RIAA curve to reproduce the original waveforms. Without the RIAA curve correction, the music will be off balance. The DAK box, which my cousin also bought, applies the RIAA correction to waveforms fed into the phono input before feeding the corrected output to the digitizing software. Some of these turntables that feed digital out via USB have the RIAA correction built in, so that the pre-digitized waveforms are corrected properly. This correction requirement applies to all 33 and 45 RPM records, and to many of the later 78's. Early 78's all had their own precompensation curves depending on the source of the music and the record manufacturer's opinions about what sounded best, before RIAA got into the act and standardized the curve. An early version of Roxio that I had included a program that separated tracks based on the quiet between songs, but it worked poorly on classical music, which often has quiet spots that trigger the split incorrectly. It also had a program that removed hiss, clicks, and pops, but it was a processing hog in those days (200 MHz cpus) and took 4 times as long to clean up the music as it took to digitize it. I suspect that would no longer be the case today. Audacity has a wave editing function too, as I recall. Be prepared - converting vinyl is a long process, and has to run in real time; speeding up and using digital post-correction doesn't work because of the pickup characteristics and the RIAA curve issue. It took me 4 days to digitize a 13 record classical set, since I had to split the music manually and edit in the names of the tracks. But it was the only way to get the music, since the set was not available on CD. If it had been, I'd have gladly bought it and saved the time.

ddmcp2000
ddmcp2000

I have never used Audacity, I guess it works pretty well, but if you have Nero (and why wouldn't you?) which you'll be using for recording to CD, anyway, use the Nero Wave editor. Works fantasically, for me, anyway. Allows for fade in, fade out, level matching... LOTS of goodies for fixing your recording. I'd probably never use this piece of gear, I can only IMAGINE the wow and flutter, with that cheezy plastic platter, that tiny low powered motor... They probably use a three dollar cartridge with a 50 cent stylus, as well... BLECH! I'm thinking a frequency response SLIGHTLY better than AM, possibly as good as FM, still crappy, overall. With some mods, I think it could be made ok, but I see this as ONLY a convenient way of getting your vinyl into the PC for editing... Just don't expect ANY kind of fidelity. This probably explains why the software doesn't capture in true wav format, either, only compressed formats. You might be able to yank the I/O card, and use it as an interface between a GOOD turntable and your PC, but I bet there's something else out there to do that already. Looking up right quick on the 'net, discovers the m-audio piece: http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/AudiophileUSB-main.html I've used m-audio before, and they have been very good pieces of equipment, I'd rather do it that way, but that's just me...

Palladin
Palladin

Does the software automatically separate each track and sequentially name them? I have setup my own system but I have to record each track one at a time (a real pain) or it makes one side of the LP into one giant mp3. I am looking for software that automates the process.

tj.itsme
tj.itsme

They haven't done this because you can simply run the output from a tape deck straight into the line-in of the computer. Use something like Audacity to capture it. This can't be done with a normal turntable because the signal is at a much lower level than line-level, which is what the line-in of a computer expects.

dlm
dlm

I got one of these about 6 months ago and quickly noticed that the files resulting from any transfer were MONO. Actually, L = R = L+R. The analog line-level output from the preamp is fine, but the USB feeds only mono-both. Sorry if this comes as news to anyone who has spent a lot of time transferring old vinyl.

pivert
pivert

In Europe you can find these as NUMARK usb-turntable for abt 195 euro. Kinda expensive to just convert your vinyl to mp3 once and considering there's nothing in the box. I guess you can buy them at the factorygate for 5 euro.

ajn465
ajn465

Analog recording is much like life itself. You'll get out of it exactly what you put into it. Here are some things y'all might like (or need) to know... 1) Your recording will be no better than the quality of the source. If the sound of a cheap bargain basemnent plastic 'table and cartridge is good enough for you, there ya go! 2) Recording at higher speeds WILL audibly degrade the sound quality in the end. The cartridge will have to track higher frequencies. 45rpm is about 1.35 times higher than 33 1/3 rpm. Therefore when playing a 33 at 45, a 20khz signal will become a 27khz signal. The effective cutting level of the record will also go up. This will make it harder for the cartridge to track the grooves and distortion will rise to some degree. It'd be great to have a table that tracked at 16 2/3.. you could half speed master your vinyl to digital! (Yes dear readers, it would take twice as long and you'd still need to convert the sample rate and/or playback speed) 3) Using any kind of automatic track splitting is likely to be more trouble than it's worth, especially seeing as it doesn't take all that long to do each side manually. 4) If you have a large vinyl collection and haven't explored modern playback gear I strongly encourage you to do so. Vinyl playback has evolved a great deal in the last 25 years. From (relatively) inexpensive decks to cost no object wonders of mechanical engineering analog playback has a very special ability to connect you to music in ways taht are quickly being forgotten by the masses. Luckily, we audio geeks have managed to keep a surprising number of table AND software providers in business. Here's a link to a fine budget table which would totally smoke the ION. http://www.musicdirect.com/product/73926 If you have an old reciever or preamp with a phono input, you're all set. While you're at the musicdirect site, check out the high end tables to see what's possible, and browse their available vinyl, much of it in new masterings that completely smoke older mass-produced issues (and CD reissues for that matter) Music is fun to listen to. All by itself. It's good for you. Try it sometime! It's not just for use as aural wallpaper for other activities. My name is AJ and I'm a musician. Sue me for caring.

tj.itsme
tj.itsme

That if you own a turntable and a hifi amplifier, all you have to do is run the tape out from the amp into your line-in on the computer. That system will beat this badly-made piece of plastic at any rate.

slsalisbury
slsalisbury

Can the LP to MP-3 conversion be done with i-tunes? If so, what are the pros and cons?

yooper
yooper

I agree, for the most part the sound you get from LP's is somewhat marginal, but I grew up with that sound, and even today I don't mind listening to songs in that format. I have recorded some LP's that had great frequency response and fidelity almost as good as a CD, but most of my standard albums have decent stereo seperation and sound more or less like an album playing on a Hi-fi. I have a couple albums that wouldn't sound right without all the pop's and crackles, the origional Smokey and Miracles for example.

Dr_Bill
Dr_Bill

I have a shareware program called Ripvinyl which separates tracks, sort-of. It was only $7 when I bought it. The problem with this and any program like this is that all it has to go on is silence between tracks. Unfortunately, the space between tracks isn't necessarily silent. You can set the sensitivity, the minimum track length and the silent interval length to start a new file, but I've found that noise will retrigger it. If you set the trigger level too high, it cuts off track ends and may even turn a track with a quiet part into two. It otherwise works well (I use it for live recording where silences can be quiet enough). Fact is that any program that tries to make separate files out of LP tracks will have these problems.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

I wish there was a totally automated way to separate tracks, but there is not as far as I know. The Audacity software does have a feature where you can block off each track in a large MP3 file and it will make separate MP3s based on that. So it is almost automated.

pkscheffler
pkscheffler

Is it mono only for the ION turntable or all usb turntables?

ajn465
ajn465

I'll bet most of them never did notice! Heck, I've met live sound 'engineers' who didn't really understand what stereo was! Example... "Well it's coming out of two speakers, so it must be stereo.." ...sigh.

Palladin
Palladin

I am looking for software that will allow me to transfer an entire side of an album and automatically separate the tracks as individually named files i.e. song_1, song_2 etc. All I can find is software that either creates one gigantic file of the entire side or I have to manually stop/start the transfer for each track. Any suggestions?

ddmcp2000
ddmcp2000

I agree completely. I'm glad I'm not the ONLY guy who realizes that a turntable isn't as uncaring to reproduction as is CD. Turntables require FAR more than a plastic platter, and a little bitty motor... For 150 dollars, (for the Ion) I'd rather save a few extra dollars , and do it RIGHT!

jim.green
jim.green

I just use a RCA jack adapter in the headphone output of my amp and another RCA jack adapter in the line-in of the computer sound card. Run a long cable with RCA jacks on either end and I can use Roxio to capture any sound out of the amp. The sound will be an analog .wav file but it comes out in decent quality. I have recorded many of my old records and tapes this way.

tj.itsme
tj.itsme

iTunes is a media player (and a bad one at that may I add), which means it cannot capture/encode audio from anywhere. Get Audacity - it's free.

ajn465
ajn465

Just for fun, I thought some readers of this discussion would get a kick out of this. Here is a link to one of the 2 most expensive turntables ever made. http://www.unitedhomeproducts.com/id140.htm(Price: $90,000.00, not including cartridge.. may I suggest a Koetsu Jade Platinum for a mere $13,000.00...) MAN! I wish Bill Gates would leave me his fortune... And yes, tables like this tend to sound frighteningly good, unfortunately!

dhope
dhope

Actually, a couple of years back I remember reading about a laser-based non-contact turntable. Capable of speeds up to 78 RPM and extracting the sound data from the space below the wear-damaged ridge left by previous operation with a needle. Problem was the cost of the turntable itself was about $18,000US... I understand that price has since been reduced to around $14,000US and that they now offer several models based on capabilities (33,45,78) and media sizes (7", 12" or oddball formats e.g. "Wax" records at 6", 8" etc.). Just looked around, and you can read more about it at: http://www.elpj.com/main.html Apparently each unit requires intensive calibration that takes into account manufacturing variations in the diode lasers and optics. Effectively each unit has to be "hand-made", so labour and low-yield are the major reason for the huge expense. Cool idea... but w-a-y-y-y outta my price range.... and even if I did have that amount, that intensive labour aspect would make me really nervous about how robust the unit would be to regular use/abuse.

Markfireeye
Markfireeye

why! so you can get even less fidelity in the recording. Beter to playy it at 1/2 speed and get a "better" quality rip (although quality rip and this device are probably not the right terms" I use a 1980's Trio deck (it was reasonably cheep when I bought it and a pre ampinto my sound card- this rips good quality as standard speed

MikeBennett96
MikeBennett96

Musicmatch Jukebox software (now owned by Yahoo) will allow you to tweak the method recording input material. You can tell the software to look for gaps of input duration (silence), at which point the software will open another entry into the recording list. For example; Track 1, Track Two...etc... You will have to fill-in the titling though when using this method. An Internet look-up of the recording is not possible because vinyl was not recorded with track 'tags' that gave track title, artist, length, etc. info. This software works for archiving any recorded material with gaps in it that could be used to catalog differing entries. Even if used to re-record events involving live speaking events, may produce more tracks than you like but it sure helps present chapters in a more hands-free method. I am just not willing to sit there and tend the recording process. By the way, it works great for cassette archiving, too. I will say it can be frustrating trying to find any good technical support. Most information I found had to be gleaned from other users, trying to make up for the lousy absence of support from Yahoo. But for $19.99, I have found a niche for this software as I discover old material that has not made it to digital, yet. Mike in Ohio

TimeChaser3222
TimeChaser3222

Actually you can copy at 45 rpm and then use Audacity to slow it down to 33 rpm after copy. but yes it would be great if you could copy at a real high speed. even at 78 rpm would be better.

pilot210
pilot210

I'd like to see an option that allows playback of the vinyl at say 4x (132 RPM) or as high as is practical without damaging the vinyl (typically used only once per LP) and getting good tracking with a codec to bring it back to 33, so that you can perform higher speed conversion to MP3. Optical scanning of the record groove would probably allow you to do this at very high RPMs, but would likely put the cost out of consumer reach. The market for this would be all of us old fogeys with significant vinyl record collections, many of which are irreplaceable, out of print.

ajn465
ajn465

Sorry I didn't see this post earlier. The bad news is that doing it automaticaly is likely to be unreliable due to the varying noise levels from record to record. The good news is if you have NERO (I'm sure other programs do too)you can add track dividers at the CD burning stage. It's actually pretty easy to spot them by eye and you can listen to the file to check. After burning a disc you could rip the tracks back to your computer. The other solution (the one I use) is expensive. Wavelab from Steinberg (its a beautifully written piece of professional editing and mastering software) lets you set markers where you need and then save the files seperately in just about any format (WAV, AIFF, MP3, and many others). The full blown version of wavelab is $499.00. I think there is a 'lite' version which may do the trick, but I'm not sure... I'll check up on that one.