VinylStudio I – recording

VinylStudio recording software is part of the NAD USB phono/preamp package. It was part of the attraction of the unit as it came with a reputation of being easy to use yet fully featured. I thought I’d get a few recordings under my belt before reporting.

VinylStudio comes from the UK software producer AlpineSoft. It is supplied in both Windows and Mac flavours – I bought a license for the latter. The interface is not exactly Apple ‘skinned’ and is very word heavy with layers of genuinely helpful tips and prompts – a Marmite interface in other words.

You are presented with a simple choice when you first load VinylSoft – do you want to record a new album or do you want to work with one you have previously recorded? Hang on. This is exciting. I must say this is the best thing about Vinyl Studio – it works like a digital photography RAW image processor. There is no destructive editing and any filtering, de-clicking, repairs, de-humming and de-hissing is only applied when you write an output file. The original recording is never touched. So if you didn’t cock-up the levels on recording you’ve a capture to return to and create new ‘instances’ that you can burn to CD or write to your music vault. I’ll come back to filtering and de-clicking in a later blog.

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One great feature is the speed conversion, which will be a boon for reel-to-reel recordists who no longer have that 15ips deck, but all the tapes recorded on it. Dance-mix single but no 45rpm on your audiophile deck? Play it at 33rpm and convert. There are quality compromises but what a feature!

Recording: you must enter an Artist and Title to begin and VinylStudio insists you Create an Album to proceed with level checking. This is critical to avoid clipping. A similar window opens with the two peak hold meters plus CLIP indicator. Level setting has been the only bane in what has been an otherwise enjoyable process. The software encourages you to Edit your Track Listing while recording but opens a window on top of the recording window thus obscuring those all-important meters.

Time-after-time I’ve gone back to find the CLIP indicator has gone off. But was it a music peak or a scratch or disc defect? As a perfectionist I’ve now got to go back and discover what caused the clip, waste the recording and start over. If I could watch the meters with one eye while I was entering metadata I’d be in a better placed to judge. I must say I’ve lost the knack of spotting the loudest part of an LP from just looking at the grooves!

Track splitting is easiest if you have the track times from the sleeve or a service like MusicBrainz or Discogs but if you are monitoring you can press the B (for Break) key every time you want a new track – works well even if you are a few seconds adrift as you can fine tune your results in the Split Tracks Tab. More next time…



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