Your Vinyl Transfer Workflow (sharing best needledrop practices)*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Vocalpoint, May 11, 2011.

  1. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    You talk as if the clicks and pops on vinyl records were part of the original recording, not a distortion introduced on playback. If you genuinely like the sound of clicks and pops, by all means leave them in. For myself, I do everything possible to minimize those distortions on playback (vacuum cleaning records, proper alignment of cartridge, high quality gear that minimizes surface noise, etc.). If I thought clicks and pops were a positive attribute of vinyl playback, I wouldn't bother with any of that.

    When I first started doing needledrops, I probably thought along the same lines as you: any change you make to the file will make it sound worse. That's the audiophile dogma after all: nothing can sound better to the source, and any change is a kind of "falsification." But the truth is, at least up to a point, these distortions can be removed without otherwise affecting the overall sound of the music. When you fix a click or pop, you only really affect a microsecond of the recording. What came before and after the pop remains the same. Your recording still sounds like "vinyl" only with the stray noise removed. IMO, the benefit to removing clicks and pops is high, and the cost is low, especially with a superior click removal program like Click Repair.

    A distinction needs to be made between click and pop removal, which only effects selected portions of a file, and global noise reduction (reduction of hiss, etc.) which effects the entire file. I am not a fan of NR in that respect, and don't find it particularly necessary as my brain easily filters out noise like tape hiss or the low-level sound of groove noise unless it is really loud.

    Others (notably Grant) feel differently about noise reduction and utilize it. But who am I to tell him he's "wrong"? He's making his recordings for his own personal enjoyment, not mine, so it seems obvious to me he should do whatever he thinks sounds best.

    So, if you find clicks and pops a charming byproduct of vinyl playback, or believe that remaining faithful to your source demands leaving them in, I would say by all means leave them in. I'm not saying that in a snarky way, I mean it. You're making these recordings for yourself, not me, so my preferences should have no sway over how you do them and vice-versa.

    Personally, I enjoy listening to vinyl despite the occasional click or pop, not because of it. Also, I find myself much more tolerant of the occasional click when listening to vinyl directly on my stereo. But when I'm listening to a recording via headphones--as I often do with these recordings--I find clicks and pops much more bothersome. Luckily, there are some very good programs that can remove clicks and pops without otherwise effecting the overall enjoyability of the music.

    Click Repair is free to try, and I recommend at least auditioning it. If you do not like the results it gives, at least you will able to condemn it from a position of personal experience rather than on abstract principles. In order to give it a fair shake, you'll need to play around with various settings to figure out what works best. But again, if you genuinely like clicks and pops, there is no need to bother.
    ThorensSme likes this.
  2. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I'm not sure I'm following you. Most people who do needledrops have a $1K program? That is news to me. That is way more money than I am willing, or able, to invest, so I guess I am a lot poorer than most people who rip vinyl.

    In my view, a program should be judged on its performance, not its cost. Used properly, Click Repair delivers spectacular results, and the price is irrelevant. I've based my opinion of Click Repair on usage and multiple listening tests, not its price tag. But if people who own a program like Izotope RXII are choosing to use Click Repair over the more expensive option, that should tell you something.

    I very much agree with Stefan when he says Click Repair works best on smaller clicks and pops. I find I get the best results by removing larger clicks and pops manually in Soundbooth or Audition first, then run the files through Click Repair at a relatively low setting. Luckily, the big clicks and pops are the ones that are easy to spot on the waveform. If you are letting musical content peak at around -6 dB a big click or pop will stick out on the waveform like a sore thumb.

    Used carefully, the results--to my ears and in my system--are very nearly, if not totally, sonically transparent, except for the removal of noise.

    You mainly listen to classical music, right? That may have something to do with it. I find Click Repair very effective with pop and rock music, but much less so with classical. The average classical recording has so many really fast transients or very quiet passages where low level sounds can easily be confused with noise, but with most pop and rock recordings this is much, much less of an issue. I much prefer to listen to classical music on SACD or CD anyway.
  3. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I would love to try Pure Vinyl, but I'd need to buy a preamp that could output a non-RIAA signal with sufficient gain, etc. I know Fremer has spoken very highly of their approach, and I've heard some of his recordings using it, and they are spectacular. Of course, he's working with pretty decent gear in the first place.
  4. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    I don't know what state your vinyl is in, but the vast majority of my records do not have clicks and pops, it isn't an everyday part of the vinyl listening experience for me, they aren't something I enjoy or tolerate, they are something I rarely encounter. Like yourself I clean my records on a RCM and use the best gear I can afford, I also buy the best copies of records I can find and in my personal experience this avoids clicks and pops in most cases.
  5. Vocalpoint

    Vocalpoint Forum Resident Thread Starter

    This has baffled me as well. Logic suggests that if you are dropping anywhere from 250 (Standard version) to well over a grand (Advanced) on RX2 - why the detour to a 35 dollar tool that doesn't even come close to what's possible in RX?

    Seeing that many folks mention and obviously dig Click Repair - either I am totally missing out on a great little tool or folks simply hate the de-click options in RX2?

    To add even more fuel to the fire - I am now trialling the new Adobe Audition 5.5 and for kicks - tried it's new Noise reduction plugin last night on a small sample from what will be my first real restoration project - and I have never heard a plugin do so much "good" to a very noisy passage.

    I actually couldn'y believe it - and I am now wondering if this tool should find it's way into the mix somehow...


  6. bliss53

    bliss53 Forum Resident

    The preamp I am using (TC Electric Impact Twin) is not expensive at $400. I ended up preferring it over my Wavelength Brick USB DAC. The Wavelength sounded very good but i think that the upgrade from the brick 24/96 to 24/192 was the deciding factor.

    As an alternative, you can use the phono stage signal you already have and sent it to Pure Vinyl via an inexpensive interface or sound card. You can move to recording raw files later if you like the software and the interface.

    My gear far from Fremer's, it is restored vintage stuff and I can hear the differences. My recordings are now better than my HDCD source. My direct vinyl play back still sound a bit better than the recorded version but it is nice to have a clean quality version of a new record on the hard drive in case the record gets damaged or worn.
  7. Grant

    Grant Back to the 60s!

    United States
    Well, that was just using that as a quick example. I already have a decent vinyl copy and, yes, the album does exist on CD, but not domestically. I just couldn't think of something quick. OK, a better example is Wild Cherry's "Electrified Funk". It's not on CD at all, so I had to make a needledrop of it.
  8. JonP

    JonP Active Member

    Yes, mainly classical. I have not done double blind comparisons with other genres. It's possibe the clickrepair algorythms are struggling with classical, but for me the nail in the coffin was to take a fully DDD classical CD and apply Clickrepair using very conservative settings, and I could still tell the difference double-blinded between the original CD file and the "repaired" one, even though the original source never had clock / pop or even noise issues to begin with.

    I use the Sony Noise Reduction 2.0 for classical which I find to be at least as effective as effective as Clickrepair but without any audible degradation of the audio material which remains. The only issue I have with the Sony is that it won't do 192 Khz properly, even though there is nothing to stop one actually attempting it. In this case, it seems to not know what to do and strips away some (sometimes a lot) of the music - it is significantly worse than Clickrepair at this sample rate to the point where I would call it completely useless. But at 96 khz and 48 khz it's excellent and the most transparent and effective tool I have auditioned at these particular sample rates.

    This is unfortunate because my Xonar ST soundcard produces it's best analogue to digital conversion results at 192 khz. But in the end, the loss of sonic quality from using Clickrepair at 192 khz without any subsequent resampling is far more than even capturing the raw vinyl at 192 khz, downsampling to 48 khz with iZotope then appling the Sony click and crackle remover at 48 khz.
  9. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    The vast majority of my records are in excellent condition. I do not bother buying records in less than VG+ condition, and in fact clicks and pops are either inaudible or nearly so when listening to most of them on my stereo via speakers. This is the way I enjoy listening to music the most.

    But with headphones--which is how I end up listening to the recordings most of the time--I can hear low level clicks and pops that I do not typically notice when listening via speakers, which I find distracting. Of course, I can hear other things when listening via speakers that I cannot hear via headphones.

    If all of your records play without any surface noise, or with zero clicks and pops, to the point that you cannot even hear any flaws even when listening via headphones, you should consider yourself luckier than the rest of us and ignore the problems of us mortals.
  10. JonP

    JonP Active Member

    Where did you hear his recordings? I would be very interested to hear some examples, even though it would likely be of performances that I am not familar with.
  11. Grant

    Grant Back to the 60s!

    United States
    1) Click Repair is that good!
    2) a lot of is don't have 1k to throw around.
  12. Grant

    Grant Back to the 60s!

    United States
    Excellent post, but i'll address this part: NR tools has improved so much that one can reduce surface noise without consequence. I'm not using the Mickey Mouse crap in Audacity or Nero.

    Sure, the best way to reduce it is to get a clean record, but barring that, NR is the way to fix the problem. Sometimes you get small warps that have a 'whoosh" sound or you have records with a tubby kind of howling sound that distracts from the music.

    Remember, I', usually not working on 180 gram virgin vinyl now. What I usually get are used records that are less than perfect.

    I suspect a lot of people do not use NR because to do it right takes a LOT of time and patience to get it right.
  13. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I understand why you did this test, but that is not the purpose Click Repair is intended for, and I would not judge the program as a whole on the results you got. It's a program written to remove clicks from vinyl sourced recordings. I find I get better results using a higher resolution (24/96) source. If you ran a 44.1/16 source through Click Repair, it's not surprising that the differences between the source and processed files would be audible. In general, I wouldn't recommend using Click Repair, or doing any processing in any program, on a 44.1/16 file.

    It could also be the CR is not the best tool for processing classical recordings from vinyl...I really have very little experience with that.

    Anyway, I feel for you. I tried doing some needledrops of my classical records, but gave up in frustration. I found it is a lot more work to get good results, more work in fact than I was inclined to undertake. Fortunately, unlike with popular music, where so many recordings are poorly mastered, there are many great sounding classical CDs and SACDs out there. Getting good needledrops of classical is a problem I may revisit some day, but for now I'm not really bothering. Thanks for sharing your results, they are interesting.
  14. Grant

    Grant Back to the 60s!

    United States
    Oh god! That program is terrible for declicking!
    Brian Vollrath likes this.
  15. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    Obviosuly if I listen using headphones I am more likely to hear surface noise or any other issues, but I use my speakers for listening to vinyl pretty much 100% of the time and probably 90% of the time to listen to needledrops, at the end of the day I guess we all have different tolerances to the drawbacks of vinyl, I never claimed it was perfect, but it's minor faults don't really bother me.
  16. One_L

    One_L Forum Resident

    Lower Left Coast

    Grant, sorry if you sense I'm implying that you need a program that costs over $1k. That's not what I was getting at. I just notice that "Some" of the vinyl transfer guys that do a damn good job at the transfers, have Izotope. I was asking a question about why they run their files through Click Repair THEN run the files again through Izotope.

    Sheesh...tough crowd for a newbie.
  17. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I totally agree. Everybody's needs are different, and will depend on source material as well as the results they want.

    Needledroping a Pallas pressed, "audiophile" record will obviously require a different approach than needledroping an old 78 or 45, and different methods are called for. Personal preference also plays a role.

    Understand, my comment was not intended as a criticism, but only to draw attention to the fact that people come at this from different angles, and declaring one approach the only "right and true" method, and any deviation from it foolish, is counterproductive, not to mention obnoxious.
  18. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I never listen to vinyl via headphones. But with the needledrops, I probably listen to them 70-80% of the time via headphones because I'm listening to them places I can't take my vinyl rig, like the gym.

    I never said that I don't like the sound of vinyl, I doubt I would own several thousand LPs if I didn't enjoying playing and listening to vinyl records. The fact that I believe using a program like Click Repair to process recordings from vinyl can be beneficial should not be misconstrued as an attack on vinyl or the way it sounds. That's not my point, and if my comments have created that impression then I have been very inarticulate.
  19. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    I don't think anyone is meaning to be tough on you. My apologies if my response came off that way. It's a good question, and perhaps someone who has both will weigh in on the subject.

    I don't know how many people here are using the really expensive iZotope programs for needledrops. For example, if you look at my workflow, I use Click Repair, then apply iZotope SRC and dither using a program called Sample Manager. Audofile Engineering license iZotope's propriatary SRC and dither for Sample Manager, but not their noise reduction or click removal programs. But Sample Manager is a relatively affordable program, and a great way to get iZotope SRC and dither on the cheap.

    I don't think most of us are working with iZotope's $1K programs, although it is possible some are. The most expensive program I have is Adobe Audition, but my workplace licenses that, so I don't have to buy it.
  20. jfall

    jfall Forum Resident

    Thanks Jon,

    I'm happy to see that you have found a solution. I am considering the NHT passive volume control as well. But I'd like to find a fix that doesn't require another component (mainly for asthetic reasons - shared computer space). I have read your thread with interest, did you ever try the goldenjacks?
  21. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Nashville, TN, USA
    What about listening in Hi-Rez??? You can't record that way with a CD recorder. I prefer listening to my needledrops on a DVD or DVD-A honestly.
  22. jfall

    jfall Forum Resident

    You're learning :winkgrin:
  23. Ray Blend

    Ray Blend Talk me into horns

    The Midwest
    I might be reading too much into the original post, but I think this topic was specifically intended to address making RedBook CDs.
  24. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I listen to what I have, my records are mostly noise-free, nice pressings. The cd-r needledrops I make are very enjoyable. Also, some folks I share my needledrops with are very impressed, and do notice the "better sound" they have (compared with the commercial cd). High-Res would be better still, but that will have to wait till I "upgrade", some day perhaps.
  25. Grant

    Grant Back to the 60s!

    United States
    Different programs for different problems. You're a newbie? You sounded like you're some sore of professional vet.

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