Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Big Project

I have something like 500 LPs in boxes down in the storage unit, and haven't played any of them for a very long time. I've been dragging those boxes around entirely too long, actually, and I've contemplated hauling them to the record store many times. A lot of those LPs, though, are either unavailable on CD or grotesquely expensive and available only as imports. My taste through the 70s and 80s tended toward obscure and limited, so mostly it's the former. Almost a year ago, I bought the turntable above, which is specifically designed for digitizing vinyl, using a USB cable to connect to my PC. Yesterday, I took it out of the box and installed the open source recording software. Today I've started finally recording LPs.

Although the software ostensibly can clean up noise on the LPs (pops & crackles), I'm starting with the easy stuff, Europadisk Audiophile Pressings of Richard & Linda Thompson I bought in 1983 when Carthage Records released them. (I bought the records based on a Rolling Stone review that gave all the re-releases five stars except for one four-star release. It was my introduction to Richard Thompson.) I played the LPs once, while copying them to cassette tape and they've never been played since then, so their condition is superb. There are a couple of little pops between tracks in the two LPs I've digitized so far, but otherwise the sound is great.

Once the entire LP is recorded, I can use the software to identify the spaces between tracks and (manually) label each track. Eventually, I'll convert the files to a format that can be imported into iTunes and played on my iPod. Since I'm all twenty-first century and all, I'm not going to bother burning CDs, although that is definitely an option.

There is no way I'm recording 500 LPs. The next part of the project will be sorting through all those boxes and determining which of them is worth copying; it's not a quick process, although in theory I can record at 45 rpm and then convert to 33 rpm. Getting one of these LPs completely recorded, cleaned up and converted for the iPod is likely going to take a full hour. I'm not planning on 500 hours of it.