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As most of the early John Miles albums and singles were only released in vinyl, there is a need to be able to transfer these to CD. Luckily, CD writers are now available at reasonable prices, and are easily fitted into the majority of modern PCs. They can either replace an existing CD-ROM drive, or, if the space is available, added in a spare drive bay. Virtually all CD writers come with recording software, which allows the creation of both data and audio CDs, and audio extraction from music CDs. However, not all CD-ROM drives allow audio extraction.
The first requirement is a connection from the record deck to the computer. Most sound cards have a 3.5mm line in jack at the rear. This has to be fed from either line out sockets on a music centre, an equalised output from a phono pre-amplifier, connected to the pick up cartridge, or, as a last resort, the loudspeaker terminals of a music centre. Sound cards will be supplied with some form of recording software, which will allow the audio input to be recorded to a wave file onto the hard drive. These will be quite large files, since they require about 10 Mb per minute.
Although the software supplied with the sound card is fine for the actual recording, there is much better available for the manipulation of the resulting wave files. I can recommend a wave file editor called Goldwave The first use that Goldwave can be used for is to inspect a recorded wave file, and see the volume level of the recording. It is most important that this level is not set too high, as the resulting distortion is there for keeps. Unlike the recording level meters on the recording software, Goldwave examines the whole file, and gives a read out of the highest volume level. It is well worth recording a test file, using the loudest 45 single you have, and adjusting the recording level so that this never exceeds the maximum value allowed, which is 1.0
Having determined the correct recording level, one side of an LP can now be recorded in full. The size of the resulting file will be in the order of 250 Mb. It is well worth defragmenting the hard drive before starting, since a contiguous file is better to work with when you start burning the CD.
Vinyl recordings, by their nature, have a number of clicks on them, which can be very annoying to those of us used to CD perfection. Some of these can be manually removed using Goldwave. The trick is to identify the click, and then replace this with silence. So long as the click is short, as most of them are, the result is inaudible. However, I have recently started using a brilliant piece of software called Wave Corrector, which does this automatically. Not only does ot detect the clicks, but it replaces them with a fair guess at what the waveform should have been before the click destroyed it.
An LP will usually consist of several individual tracks, which need to be separated. Using Wave Corrector, it is quite easy to manually split the full file up into its elements, and save each one as an individual file. The are programs available including Wave Corrector, which will do this automatically, but I have found that they tend to be fooled by tracks with a fade out ending, and cut them off too soon. This then has to be corrected by hand, so it is quicker to do the whole job ones self. If the LP is a continuous track, such as a concert, then individual files can still be created, which will reassemble on the CD with no break, but track markers will be present, allowing jumping to the required track.
To give the illusion of a recording better than it actually is, I have found that cutting off the wave file just before the first sound occurs, then adding a couple of seconds of silence in front, coupled with an imposed fade out at the end to silence disguises the fact that the original LP had some surface noise. Goldwave makes both of these tasks easy.
Once each track has been doctored as above, it can be normalised, which is to increase the volume so that the loudest part just reaches the maximum recording level. This can be done either using Goldwave or Wave Corrector. You should now have a set of wave files, ready for transfer to CD.
CDs can be created in two ways. The default way is to record a track, then turn the laser off for two seconds before recording the second track. This gives a two second gap between tracks. Although this is handy, with a concert type recording, you get two seconds of silence in the middle of applause, hardly what is wanted. The second method is to use the "Disk at Once" facility of the burning software. Then the only intertrack silence you get is that which you have deliberately added to the wavefile. Continuous tracks sound just that.
When actually burning the CD, it is important to close down as many running utilities as possible, especially anti virus programs, screen savers and the like, because any interruption to the burning which the CD writer's buffer cannot cope with will ruin the blank. Other than that, after a few minutes, depending on the speed of the writer, you will have a CD copy of your LP, which can be read on most domestic CD players, some in-car CD players, and a few DVD players. It is not guaranteed. DVD players which claim to have a Dual laser will usually work.
There have been many pages written about the benefits of different brands of blanks. I have tried many, and have finalised on Kodak Gold for the masters, and TraxData silver for copies which I actually play. This was determined as much by price as anything else, they seem a reasonable compromise.
The technique above has allowed me to create a complete collection of John Miles recordings on CD, the details of which are contained within this web site.
If anyone would like any individual help on any problems they come across, please feel free to mail me using the link below, although a visit to the Wave Corrector site will take you to several helpful links concerned with recording to CD.
John Webster