OK, so this is my first real post and it's not about cars. Thinking about it, maybe that's not really what I should be doing, seeing as the whole purpose of this site is dedicated to cars. But what the heck I'm going to do it anyway and maybe some one else might find this interesting.
I must be getting older because I was struck by a wave of nostalgia, that and the fact my wife bought me a USB turntable 12 months ago for ripping my vinyl collection to computer. If you're like me it was a case of the "gonna's" I could no longer put off. You know, one day I'm "gonna" take an advanced training driver course, one day I'm "gonna" take a European vacation, hire a Ferrari and drive the Stelvio Pass in Italy, that sort of thing.
Ripping vinyl was a "gonna" I could realistically do right now and it wasn't going to hurt my pocket too much. Only it wasn't right now it was 12 months later, so there was dust gathering on my new USB turntable as well as 25 odd years worth of dust on my vinyl!
I've never ripped vinyl before but I'm reasonably tech savvie so I thought how hard could it be? Connect the USB turntable to my computer, install the audio software, play record, job done right? Wrong!
Ok, first part the USB turntable. I won't mention brands but it's a pretty common one, not the cheapest, not the dearest but supposed to do the job. Looked pretty cool in a retro kind of way, it connected alright, the software installed ok, it was the playing part that it had difficulty with which is kind of ironic seeing as it is a RECORD PLAYER so it's reasonable to expect it to play RECORDS!
The main problem being the turntable platter, it was about as stable as an unbalanced spin dryer, so every time I attempted to play a record the needle was bouncing around like a mad thing possessed. Three damaged records later and some research on the net showed that it was a fault prone to a lot of USB turntables.
I managed to get it stable enough to play one whole side of an album, ELO's out of the blue. It's old but it's a classic and my kid said it sounded cool. This is when I encountered the next problem, the audio software provided with the turntable was excellent, it's called Audacity and it's freely available on the Internet. It's made just for the sort of thing I was doing, recording vinyl. Thing was what I recorded sounded garbage, seriously, I know vinyl is old technology but I remember as a kid it sounded awesome to me. Surely it can't be my recollection is that out of whack? Like you look at the quality of an old VCR recording and sure compared to today's stuff the quality just isn't there, but audio was different, a good stereo setup with vinyl was like audio nirvana.
So I poked around on the internet some more and found again this is a common problem with USB turntables, the sound quality is questionable at best. Go figure my $150 USB turntable is not going to sound as good as my old school $1500 phonograph from 25 years ago. Trouble is my you beaut, top notch old school player is next to useless because without anything to connect it to I may as well use it as a running track for guinea pigs (that's Australian for hampster).
Turns out not so, with a bit of additional research I found the best way to rip your vinyl to computer is to use your old equipment, all you need is, a compatible amplifier with pre-amp, a $12 RCA stereo cable to 3.5mm stereo jack and plug it into your line in on your PC. I still had my old stereo equipment packed away in storage, my old amp had a "tape out" function so you could record your records to cassette tapes. So that acted as the pre-amp which I plugged in to my line-in on the computer. The old record player being plugged into the old amp. Woo hoo success, it worked and the sound was awesome...
So you'd think by now my troubles were over and I could merrily rip records to my hearts content, not so batman. Now the connections were sorted, the sound was sorted, the software was good to go but my $1500 dollar turntable would only play 3/4 of an album no matter what I did. It would get to three quarters of the way thru and then just skip in an endless loop never going past that point, I wanted to pull my hair out. I eventually figured it out, the anti-skate feature on my turntable was naff. Anti skate stops the tone arm of the record player from skating across the record surface and on high end ones like mine it changes the resistance force the closer it gets to the center of the record. That part had either worn out or gone bad from sitting idle for so long. In my brilliance I thought if I just "bend" the tone arm in problem solved, as the playing part was more than ok, it just didn't go all the way to the end.
You can see where this is going, tone arms don't bend, at least this one didn't. I broke it! My wife thought it was hilarious but I just had to give it a go.
At this point there was no way I was not going to rip vinyl to my computer. I went to my local audio outlet and $400 dollars later had a new turntable.
All's well the ends well. With the new turntable connected and everything else set up right I expectantly placed the Police album, Zenyatta Mondatta on the platter. When the sound finally filtered thru to my pc setup it was a pure audio experience that almost reminded of the joy I felt the first time I played the album as a kid. Don't stand so close to me never sounded so good!
Yours in cars (in this case audio)