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Vinyl to digital transfers: dynamic & signal processing
Old 12th December 2017
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
iz_thewiz's Avatar
Vinyl to digital transfers: dynamic & signal processing

Hi guys,

I have a few questions regarding vinyl to digital transfers, and specifically the approach to using dynamic or signal processing i.e downward compression, compression limiting, and equalisation.

My phono system is in no way considered high end, and I am planning to completely upgrade all phono components soon.

My current system includes:
- Technics SL-1200 MK2
- Rane TTM 56 (DJ mixer/phono pre amp)
- Shure M44-7

Recording into Pro Tools 12.6.0 via a RME Fireface 800.
Pro Tools session is 24-bit @ 96 kHz, using the AIFF format.
Recording levels peak at roughly -3 dbFS.

After a recording, I use Izotope RX 5 de-hum to isolate and remove the slightest of phono hum, which Izotope determines is 90 Hz. Surface noise is reduced by using Izotope RX 5 de-click and occasionally Izotope RX 5 Dialogue De-Noise , which are used liberally. The recording is trimmed at start & end, and fades are applied.

At this stage I generally use the Waves L2-Ultramaximizer for limiting purposes and to raise the overall level. Attenuation is -3.0, with an out ceiling of -0.3 dbFS. This approach works well for me, but I am open to suggestion or critique about this stage.

I am interested to know if downward compression should also be applied before limiting, and if this would have any benefit or negative results. I have been experimenting with the Cakewalk CA-2A, with an attenuation of no more than -1 db of gain reduction. To my ears, the CA-2A adds something unique to the overall sound, but my question is it even necessary as the dynamic processing is already achieved through the limiting stage.

I never use equalisation, apart from the 90 Hz notch that the Izotop RX 5 de-hum removes. I could see the benefit of high pass filter around 20-30 Hz, but again I am simply asking for advice on this.

Files are bounced at 24-bit @ 48 kHz, using the AIFF format. The reason I do not use 96 kHz for the export is because I use these files on my smart phone for playback (iPhone 8). Older generation iPhone models do not support 96 kHz in my experience, but if this has changed and my current smartphone supports 96 kHz then I would obviously use it. I just want to add that I am using iTunes for file management and ID3 information.

Anyway, just wanted to outline my methods for conversion. I am hoping to get some feedback on any critique, issues, or suggestions for my approach.

Thanks for the read.
Old 12th December 2017
  #2
I'd suggest to buy a proper hifi pickup (not these specialized forward/backward DJ things).

You also maybe want to consider buying a dedicated phono preamp. They aren't that expensive but make a huge difference imho.

Then, take the time to properly clean your vinyl(edit: s removed ).

If your environment is noisy (heavy traffic or trains), night-time can help.

Calibrate turntable speed properly, beware the old and messy pitch faders!

Then, simply record and listen to the results. It is possible that you don't want to correct anything at all. That's the optimum.

Placing a notch at 90Hz is not a sensible move, as is limiting for fun. If you have structural issues in your chain (like hum), fix it at the source, or find someone with a proper setup.

Last edited by FabienTDR; 12th December 2017 at 11:32 PM..
Old 12th December 2017
  #3
Deleted 691ca21
Guest
Once you have good components and a great setup (very important, research it!), run noise through the system from a test record, and observe the output of the chain on an analyser to see if it's still flat. If not, you might want to "equalise" it back to flat. I do this on my vinyl chain with a Dangerous Music Bax EQ.
Old 12th December 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Greg Reierson's Avatar
Why use compression or limiting? Assuming the vinyl release was mastered well, it's ready to go as is. It really shouldn't need further processing beyond de-noising.
Old 12th December 2017
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
I'd suggest to buy a proper hifi pickup (not these specialized forward/backward DJ things).

You also maybe want to consider buying a dedicated phono preamp. They aren't that expensive but make a huge difference imho.

Then, take the time to properly clean your vinyls.

If your environment is noisy (heavy traffic or trains), night-time can help.

Calibrate turntable speed properly, beware the old and messy pitch faders!

Then, simply record and listen to the results. It is possible that you don't want to correct anything at all. That's the optimum.

Placing a notch at 90Hz is not a sensible move, as is limiting for fun. If you have structural issues in your chain (like hum), fix it at the source, or find someone with a proper setup.
I agree with everything here other than "vinyls".

No compression should be needed (it will likely raise any noise anyway). Getting it right at the source (and from a clean source) is everything.
Old 12th December 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
I agree with everything here other than "vinyls".

No compression should be needed (it will likely raise any noise anyway). Getting it right at the source (and from a clean source) is everything.
Ooops
Old 13th December 2017
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
iz_thewiz's Avatar
Thanks for the advice. As mentioned in the original post I am planning to upgrade all elements in my phono end. Most probably a combination of a Rega Plenar 3 with an Ortofon 2M series cart/stylus. Still doing research on phono pre amp options.

The hum is a fairly new issue that has been happening for a few months now. I suspect it’s the cartridge or Technics tonearm. The de-hum repair works as intended but I am sacrificing a notch at 90 Hz in the process.

Cheers.
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