Despite the 3,598,785 CD titles that have been unleashed into the world (according to Gracenote’s data), a good number of priceless recordings have never been released on CD. I can think of five great records in my LP collection that have never come out in digital form— Blue Velvet Band’s Sweet Moments, Bill Monroe’s The Master of Bluegrass, The Nashville Allstars’ After the Riot at Newport, Gary Burton’s Duster, and Reno and Smiley 1961 on Grasshound Records (seriously). I’m sure that anyone who has more than five hundred LPs in his collection probably also has some gems that aren’t available in digital form. The solution is to make your own digital transfers.
Anyone who has tried to make digital transfers from LPs knows that the process and the workflow can be daunting. Some parts of the transfer process are time-consuming, such as the initial tracking of the LP, which takes at least as long as the playing time for the entire LP. Other parts of the process, such as transferring “metadata,” often involve lots of typing which also gobbles up time.
Channel D Software, who make the Mac-based music playback software, Pure Music, have a software suite, Pure Vinyl, which streamlines, simplifies, and optimizes the LP to digital process. And while Pure Vinyl can be used with a variety of hardware devices including conventional phono preamps and microphone preamps, to see how powerful, flexible, and smooth the LP-to-digital process can be you need to unite Pure Vinyl with Channel D’s new Seta phono preamp and the Lynx Hilo DAC/preamp. This triumvirate of products creates the most efficient LP-to-PCM digital transfer system I’ve used so far.
Pure Vinyl Capabilities
So what does Pure Vinyl bring to the table that freeware programs such as Audacity do not? First, Pure Vinyl is a dedicated LP-ripping application that was designed from the ground up to transfer LPs into the digital domain. Its workflow from analog to digital is as smooth and seamless as possible. Pure Vinyl also is flexible enough so that you can set it up to function with maximum efficiency regardless of how you want to use it.
You can do marathon transfer sessions where you do all the LP real-time transfers and then add all the information and tagging later, or you can rip each LP and add the tagging right after it’s been loaded into Pure Vinyl.
My accompanying article, “LP to Digital Transfer,” gives you a sense of the general workflow involved in transferring LPs into digital files. Pure Vinyl improves and simplifies the process in powerful ways, especially when coupled with Channel D’s Seta phono preamp. I’ve been using the Seta for my LP transfers for the past month, and I can guarantee that going back to a conventional phono preamp and recording software for digital transfers would be a step back in both convenience and sound quality.
In the Seta phonostage sidebar I detail what makes the Seta special, but its most important contribution to the digital transfer process is that it outputs a non-equalized signal. That “flat” output allows you to do all your phono EQ in Pure Vinyl. This opens up almost endless possibilities. Currently Pure Vinyl has 65 EQ choices built-in from standard RIAA through a variety of older and exotic mono EQs. You can also make your own custom EQ curves which can be attached to particular recordings.