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Folk & Jazz fan, specialising in vinyl restoration. Although I would prefer to only post albums that I have paid for, or those of close friends, I am open to suggestions and offers of rare Folk items that need tender care and restoration, provided the supplier has the right of ownership of the physical item. NOT JUST an MP3 COPY of it. To give you an idea, I am prepared to restore vinyl belonging to another person, IF I receive a decent quality scan of the front, back and any relevant information that comes with the LP, preferably at least 2400 by 2400 quality, (600DPI scans for back) along with the sound files in FLAC format as waves are a bit too large to transfer. Then I will check their suitability for restoration. I try to maintain the requirement for a decent set of scans for each item, where possible, as I feel the music is incomplete without it. Sometimes this is just not possible as a lot of my stock came from broadcasting organisations that had their own heavy card sleeves, with information relevant to their prime function, that of providing the disc-jockies with basic details to pass on to listeners. I do wonder what happened to all the original artwork?

Monday, 5 July 2010

Anyone Remember THIS? Chris Barber 1959 Lansdown Volume 1

I dug this from my collection after 30 years it had not been played until now, in that period it has been stored in various places, and none too suitable for vinyl's either, as you can guess it was in quite a bad state, the cover is the best bit of the album, this seems to have survived the bad treatment very well, such was the advantage of having all my LP's in a heavy outer plastic cover.

I am preparing this album for the British Jazz blog that specialises in music from the 1950's however in the process of restoration of this extremely noisy LP I became aware of how important a good wet cleaning was in the restoration of vinyl's.  you can only do so much in the digital de-noising department, if you have a clean LP, freshly washed, the job becomes very much easier, and the results far superior, especially if you use any of the auto-declickers, these tend to smear the sound, and the harder they have to work, the more likely it is the music will lose vital components.

I am not going to post the album here, far too much jazz already, I want to redress the balance to Folk as soon as I can, but folk or jazz the cleaning process is the same, so these examples of "Before, During and After" taken on one specific track will show what can be achieved.

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Vinyl cleaning demo Chris Barber Band Box (Lansdowne vol 1) 1959

This LP has been played on many different systems, but fortunately it has not been played with a worn stylus and has always been handled carefully when being played. There are a few minor light scratches and a few of the usual foreign bodies stuck fast in the grooves that have so far resisting the wet washing operation and look like requiring local treatment with solvents.

So at this stage to check the improvment after a wet wash, I did the first rip after the use of an ordinary dust-bug to remove years of dust. (Rip 1: Raw)

The second rip was done after a fist stage wet clean, the LP was soaked an a warm detergent solution, the lable protected with two large washers and a bolt (rather like a huge pot mender) Who remembers those? after 5 minutes soaking, the playing surfaces were sponged down with a micro-fibre cloth, wetted in the detergent solution, the sponging followed the grooves a few times round on each side, then the LP was rinsed off with cold water and allowed to dry in a warm room. (Rip 2:)

The third rip was after the application of noise reduction using Adobe Audition, and Sound forge with the glitch finder to locate the unwanted clicks, these were then manually re-drawn to approximate the waveform by comparing with adjacent waveforms. Finally intensive listening to locate any other oddities like noise bursts from detritus in the grooves and thumps caused by click editing, after this fine tuning the track was converted to MP3 with LAME 3.90 (this has the best frequency response) at 320k full stereo. (Rip 3:)

All rips were given a pass over with the rumble filter also a slight reduction of residual hum from the pre-amp to ensure there was no rolling in the waveform level due to low frequency artifacts.

The final release comes after a deep level click/glitch analysis and removal. (Rip 4:)

What Next:

I think a detailed look at the remaining detritus in the grooves that has resisted the wet clean, perhaps some gentle solvents, and a soft artists brush applied to the grooves while the turntable is rotating, angle the brush like a chisel so it's bristles gently dig into the groove tends to get the last bits out and reduce the amount of digital work required for the final copy.

Compare the recordings, specially 1 & 2, you should hear the vast improvment the wet wash makes, compare these with the 3rd & 4th rips and enjoy an almost CD like quality, from this 50 year old LP.

No tweeking, no fiddles, just cleaning, both physical and electronic, and the way the LP was recorded, a Joe Meek special.
  
LP Cleaning DEMO  Download:- Here

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Avoiding CLIPPING (Overload) on Vinyl ripping



 



Recently there has been some discussion on one of the blogs I visit about sound clipping and the distortion it causes to the music. There are many examples of badly done Vinyl rips, leaving aside the obvious problems of old, dirty and worn records, which only allow certain levels of improvement, there is one fundamental that should be firmly understood that of LOUDNESS when encoding from analogue to digital.  Digital recording is just a bucket of bits, once the bucket is filled, any more filling is lost over the side NEVER to be heard of again.  This is a simple analogy as although it would appear that what falls out of the bucket cannot be heard, this is not actually true, the effect of the bits falling out leaves behind unwanted bits, mixed up with the wanted bits... DISTORTION !!

The picture that saves a thousand words (I hope) ..
  
Click on the picture to magnify it for printing/reading

So, next time you consider turning one of your precious vinyl's into something DIGITAL please take care to do it to the best possible quality with the equipment you have available, most will have a record VOLUME control, please USE IT !! (CAREFULLY)

To assist you in getting the ripping levels right, here are some useful utilities.

Retro Style Analogue meters


These are available from the excellent VU-Player site   HERE


Then the Professional style Broadcast Peak Program Meters (PPMS)


These meters and others can be downloaded from  HERE


Both these meter programs are compatible with Windows 98/XP/Vista
There are enhanced versions that run only with Windows 7.

I have no connection with either of the programmers, I just want to spread the word because I have used them both to great advantage and am grateful to them for their labours.

 Now the words you all wanted to read... They are FREE
However donations are accepted.

Technical Words

These programs use your sound card to monitor the current audio stream, they can be set to monitor recording and playback, by making the correct selections on your audio mixer settings. Most computers have a "What You Hear" option, with this enabled, the meters will show exactly what you are listening to, the RETRO meters can be quite a talking point.


 

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Folk Music albums: Availability (original copies) Old restorations


The Folk music restorations have almost come to a stop  
Why?  Well many have been re-issued, specially the TOPIC label ones.  Most of my collection is from that stable so we face the inevitable confrontation over copyright issues,  such problems have plagued other blogs recently, the question at issue seems to be, who owns the copyright, are they likely to be re-issuing the album in question, if so when?  or are they the copyright holders and can see loss of sales if downloadable copies are made available for free?  Well to my mind if they are going to re-issue a specific album, then it makes sense to make it known, to spike up the interest in advance, this is what all the contemporary folk labels do, so why any different for a 30-40 year old re-issue?

With an album that age it is likely that two whole generations may not have heard the artists in question or even know of them.  In come the blogs, run by enthusiasts, lovers of the older music, prepared to spend time making their original copies available to others,  copies that the label owners just do not see any profit in re-releasing.  Blog owners do it for the sake of the music and making others aware of it's existence, thus increasing the potential demand.

Most major labels now are developing a digital download option, the decreasing demand for the music CD has forced it upon them,  so the mechanism is there for them to release more of the older material, not just the over-hyped and over-compressed popular CRAP, most of which could not really be called music anyway.

If you are a Folk collector,  take a look at what is offered, here are some
on-line catalogues.

Topic Records         
Veteran Records       

The first four links are via http://www.veteran.co.uk/  a site well worth a visit.

And THIS (link is now DEAD) interesting indie site for Topic digital downloads

So, if you wonder why the folk collection seems to have dried up, I can tell you it has NOT, it is just that so many of the tracks seem to be potential re-issues on various compilations, that sorting what to do is not just a question of looking for the particular album name, it goes much deeper, it goes to song and recording level now.  In addition as it is my policy to provide LP scans with a posting where possible, those without original covers (Ex-broadcast org) that have no recording information, no dates and no original copyright notices stand little chance or being sufficiently researched to avoid copyright problems.

There are about 20 such albums in my collection in this category, all need a serious restoration and a lot of time to get to a good listenable condition, so I do not want to post them and have to delete them quickly, I prefer to make them available as a private resource via peer-2-peer networks. That way only the real enthusiasts get them, and share them with real enthusiasts, not the

 
"If it's Free, I'll download it" 
general blog watcher.

Which is the reason that some special albums have passwords only available on email request. 

To be continued:

LP restorations: Best way to upload: opinions Please!

 Word saying time:

I often do not get time to complete an LP restoration in one go, so tend to do them side by side, having advertised that I am preparing a new rip, I usually post what I have completed, so you might get a side A then have to wait for side B.  To me this has advantages, it means I can split my time between Jazz and Folk restorations as too much of either in one session can be a  little wearing.  It also means I can keep my Rapid Share uploads quicker and spread over a period, and I guess it helps those without accounts that are restricted in the total downloads, and gives the chance to assess an album which you may not in the end like, without having to download it all.


So, what do you think?  do you prefer to have the complete album in one go, or as separate files? 

Comments Welcome: 
but please mention this topic because Google Blog hides any comments after moderation so your worthwhile (we hope) words may not get responded to by yours truly.