The Analog Blog



An Odyssey from Vinyl to Digital

Posted on October 19, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Thank You Emile Berliner!

A name not many recognize, Mr. Berliner invented the phonograph record. No! That was Thomas Edison, you say! Mr. Edison invented the recording cylinder and most people think of him when they think of records, but it was Emile Berliner who created the flat, phonograph disc for recording and playback. Here's the link to his Wikipedia page: ]

Since Mr. Berliner's invention in 1895, many of our recorded media have been on flat discs: 78 rpm records, 45 rpm records, 33 1/3 rpm records, Laserdiscs, CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Blu Rays. His concept survived the transition from the analog era into the digital age.

A few months ago, I decided to copy (transfer? transcode? digitize?) my collection of vinyl LP records to digital.

A year ago, I transferred all of my CDs to a multi-terabyte media server, located in my house and accessible from any TV, computer or audio system in the house, from my phone or from any external computer. That process was pretty straightforward. I used "EAC" (Exact Audio Copy) to rip the music from the CDs and store it on the server. EAC is free-ware, very effective, and had an easy learning curve (for me, anyway -- your mileage may vary.) The beauty of the CD format and EAC was that all of the meta-data such as track names, track lengths, and much more, was all on the CD to begin with and automatically or semi-automatically copied over to the server. (Capturing the CD artwork was a semi-automatic process.) My CD ripper copied at an average of four times normal playback speed, so a typical CD took about 15 minutes to copy, start to finish. I have a few hundred CDs and I worked on the project randomly over the course of a couple of months in my spare time.

The vinyl is an entirely different matter!

Records contain no meta-data and transferring the record is a one-to-one, real-time operation. If a record is 45 minutes long, it will take about an hour to transfer, including preparation and post-production. (More on that later.)

Before beginning, I had some research to do:

  1. Is there software to facilitate transferring vinyl to digital?
  2. If so, is the software expensive?
  3. Are any of my computers up to the task?
  4. Is my turntable up to the task?

These questions and some that aren't even asked will be answered in my coming posts.


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