Decided to get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 exclusively for needle-dropping.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by colby2415, Aug 10, 2017 at 11:15 PM.

  1. colby2415

    colby2415 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    You may recall a few weeks back I asked about the focusrite 2i2 as a interface for doing my needle drops. I had to grab the dual 1/4 inch to dual rca cable for hooking into the rec out of my reeciver. Anyways, that seems like commong sense, and I figure there isn't much use recording the phono input directly (bypassing the phono stage and rec out of my receiver)? I have to consider how I am going to set levels. From what I understand mono lp's are good to set both channels to the same level which seems pretty simple. The problem is, I don't want to have to set the level each time, so I am thinking of finding the loudest mono lp/single I can find and use that to set the levels. According to focusrite themselves, recording as hot as possible doesn't seem to be as important as it was in the tape days. So i figure it must be okay if some of them peak lower than the louder ones? I have a few mono lp's and singles as of right now, but I have heard about people suggesting "real mono" records (like from the 50's, etc). The oldest thing I have is an original 1964 mono single, but the other mono stuff i have is all modern re-issues I bought new. Am I overthinking this? I also would like to hear what people with the same audio interface's workflow is. Thank you
     
  2. Tim S

    Tim S Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Tennessee
    I'd set the levels each time - it's not that time-consuming and I think you'll like the results better. If we could count on vinyl levels being really consistent that would be great, but it's not realistic.
     
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  3. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    It's not a phono preamp. I'm not sure what you would try to do with it.
     
  4. harby

    harby Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    A 12" 45RPM dance single is probably the hottest vinyl source you'll find.

    Some audio interfaces have a mixer inside where it's possible to clip digitally both the input stage and the output stage - you can see clipping when you turn down the master and overdrive the input. On the 2i2 it's probably sufficient just to keep the levels below 0dB, with some safety margin so you don't have to re-record. Record in 24 bit, normalize to -1dB peaks, and downsample to 16 bit with dither when all audio work is done.

    A mono LP might be used to get the fidgety individual knobs for each channel close to the same value, but better is to just play back a test mono signal with the outputs looped back to the input, and never touch the knobs again after they are both set to the same acceptable recording level.
     
  5. harmonica98

    harmonica98 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Sorry but to get the optimum levels you have to set them each time. It really doesn't take long though (I have the 2i4).
     
  6. colby2415

    colby2415 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    You guys are probably right. My only concern is screwing up the stereo balance. How do I know I have set both L and R to the exact same levels? The way I understand it, both channels aren't always going to have the same level of sound. What exactly is your process of doing this?


    as of right now I am trying to keep the peak around -5/-6dB, so I figure I should do the same with the 2i2?
     
  7. colby2415

    colby2415 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    my thoughts were to RIAA equalize using software, but probably more work than it's worth.
     
  8. KOWHeigel

    KOWHeigel Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Manlius, NY
    It's easy to raise the levels, just set the balance with a mono record and go from there. If for some reason the levels are too hot for a particular album you could also reset.

    EDIT: I should have been clearer ... it's easy to raise levels with your program of choice and if you are recording in 24/32 bit you have nothing to worry about quality wise.
     
  9. Tim S

    Tim S Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Tennessee
    this is what works for me, it might not work for anyone else: get the visual levels as close as you can on the meters, then stick a good pair of headphones in the scarlett and fine tune the balance according to what you hear.
     
  10. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I've never needledropped using the 2i2 but I use it for tape transfers a lot. I always have the 2 gain knobs turned all the way to the left as the input often needs to be attenuated even when the 2i2 is already at the lowest input setting. It may have something to do with the higher output level of professional equipment. But anyway, they're always to the left so in that regard they're always set equally.


    Do you get a good (or at least decent) recording level coming from your phono stage if your gain knobs are set similarly? If so it may make sense to just leave it like that and normalize in post, or maybe even not normalize at all.
     
  11. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    Before each LP I temporarily set my pre-amp to mono and eyeball the L/R recording levels to match as best possible. After recording each side, I run it through foobar2000's "DR Meter" tool to get Avg RMS level of both channels. If different, I use Audacity to amplify one channel to the other. I've also run into LPs where one side is much longer than the other and the longer recording needed to be amp'd up a bit to match the other.

    Remember, so long as you leave yourself some headroom digital volume is completely "fungible".
     
  12. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Houston TX
    I would probably work as a DAC for playback of digital music.
     
  13. colby2415

    colby2415 Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Still a bit confused by what you mean. Do you mean to set the gain knobs so its balanced, and then adjust the input coming in with the software? I have not received my interface yet but I will start experimenting as soon as I do.

    I am not sure, but i will start to experiment once i receive the 2i2

    do you mean that it really doesn't matter what the rec levels are at? I always thought recording too low wasn't good, but I could be wrong.
     
  14. harby

    harby Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    When you digitally record, just like when you record on a cassette deck, you would generally want the recording level to be high, set so it is volume is up just before distortion starts to occur.

    This is so extra noise and hiss in the signal is minimized. However, even the most basic digital interface has a signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range far exceeding vinyl and phono preamps. Therefore, there is less requirement for you to dial in each recording to near maximum when doing vinyl.

    Record the first track on a rockin' hot album from the late 80's, see that the peak levels in the audio waveform view still give you at least 6dB of headroom, and you should be set for any future recordings. You also want to leave extra headroom for the clicks and pops that might be larger than any audio signal, as repair software will be able to de-click better if those don't hit 0dB either.
     

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