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Country Blues => Super Electrical Recordings! => Topic started by: Stuart on September 06, 2006, 07:48:40 AM

Title: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on September 06, 2006, 07:48:40 AM
I ran across this site that may be of interest to some. I'm venturing into the world of vinyl to CD transfer via the computer soundcard and need a pre-amp. Their model with the output level control looked like it just might work (famous last words ;)).

http://www.phonopreamps.com/
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Bill Roggensack on September 06, 2006, 11:05:53 PM
Don't we all wish we could rip vinyl as fast as we do CDs? The device you linked (or something very similar) has been available from Radio Shack for several years. I have one, and it works OK, but there is still the hassle of a software interface to adjust line levels, EQ, etc.

A few months ago, Jed sent me a link for a USB device that doesn't cost a whole lot more, and comes with software you can download for free (with varying reviews). The on-line reviews of the package are mostly positive. However, it may be difficult to find one in stock - either the manufacturer is a bit dodgy, or demand has outstripped their ability to supply. The device  is called the "iTTUSB USB turntable" and is manufactured by ion.

Check it our here:
 http://www.ionaudio.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=47/ (http://www.ionaudio.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=47/)

Good luck, and if you decide to try one, let us know where you bought it and how it works. The manufacturer's web site suggests there are problems, but Circuit City lists them as still being available. And if anybody has the time, I'll buy one, then it give you the device if you'll rip about 800 LPs for me. 
 8)
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on September 07, 2006, 08:49:54 AM
Hi FrontPage:

Thanks for the info. The Radio Shack pre-amp lacks an output control, so I went for one that has one. The Ion turntable looks interesting, but I have an AR turntable from the 60s that is perfectly serviceable. From what I can gather, the LP/tape to CD transfer is pretty straightforward, but there are a several ways to go and a few tricks. One way is to pick up a CD recorder that connects to the turntable through a pre-amp (or receiver) and copy to CD-RWs (as opposed to CD-Rs) so that you can go back and re-record tracks from the LP. Then do a mix and match to copy the tracks to a CD-R using the CD recorder. If you want to do any further cleaning up you can then do it on the computer using various available software programs and then save it in the format of choice.

For me it is really about convenience and there's no hurry. I'll probably start with the turntable/pre-amp/computer configuration and see how it goes. If that doesn't cut it, then I might go with the CD recorder. It will be like the old days when I copied my LPs to cassette tapes for convenience and to save on the wear and tear of the LPs. Plus it also meant that I didn't have to get up and turn the LP over on the AR manual turntable. Lazy is as lazy does. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this area.  ;D
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Richard on September 08, 2006, 02:21:51 AM
Get the Phillips CDR796 thingy that I use, it burns the cd as you listen to the lp.. it's all done through the "hi fi" system rather than the computer so you can record any input in real time... LPs, tapes, microphone or whatever.
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: uncle bud on September 08, 2006, 08:15:01 AM
So here's a question for Weenies in the know, since I'm feeling slightly lazy and Internet searches on electronics are known to cause migraines. I have a CD player that's dying (really, not worth fixing). It will need to be replaced. And I have been contemplating a DVD recorder recently. So I've been thinking about trying to integrate the audio/video systems in our living room.

Is there a disc recorder that does both (that is not my computer)? Records audio CDs and DVDs? And ideally plays everything as well (DVD, CD, CDR, CD-RW, mp3 discs)?

Richard, the Philips CD model you mention is a UK model I think, and its North American equivalent is no longer in production it seems. Used units available on eBay.

Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on September 25, 2006, 10:45:15 PM
Need a new needle for your record player? May I recommend:

http://www.needledoctor.com/Clearaudio-Insider-Gold-Cartridge?sc=2&category=270
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on October 12, 2006, 10:07:40 AM
IMHO regardless of what player you use (RealPlayer, Media Player, iTunes, etc.) if you use your computer to play music on a regular basis I strongly recommend that you get an external hard drive and keep both your music (music folders and files such as iTunes Music, etc.) as well as your playing apps on it. Then get another external HD and use it to periodically back up the first one. I increase the strength of this recommendation if you use a laptop as laptop drives are smaller and cooling is a greater problem. Get one with a large case and a cooling fan. The constant accessing that occurs when playing music as well as the heat that is generated will wear the drive out faster than under normal conditions. As I live out here in the Seattle, WA area, I'm fortunate to be close to Fry's which has been running specials on Seagate externals as of late (w/ a five year guarantee). But as a DYI person with some computer experience, I prefer a good case such as ADS Tech's Dual Link Drive Kit (both USB and Firewire?but not at the same time!) and a Hitachi DeskStar drive?but that's just me. Even though it will set you back a couple of hundred bucks, given the time it takes to build up a music library and the time that it will take to replace it when the hard drive craps out, it's cheap insurance. Redundancy Redundancy Redundancy.

Slack? Please move this over to "Electronics" in "Jam Session" if you deem appropriate.
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Sarah Jane on October 17, 2006, 08:11:43 AM
Amen.

I recently 'lost' the hard drive in my home server, and with it all the music on it, and while I had most things backed up to CD, or on the original audio CDs, the amount of work involved in rebuilding my collection was heartbreaking and some things seem to have been lost altogether.  It's amazing just how many little tweaks to filenames, tags, and categorisation I had made since the CD backups were done ..... I'm just about back to where I was now.  Except that now, yup, I have an external USB hard drive which I regularly sync with the music archive but mainly leave unplugged to prolong its life.
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on October 17, 2006, 09:03:53 AM
Sorry to hear about all the trouble, but glad to hear that you were able to get things restored pretty much to where they once were.

People think I'm crazy (and of course they're correct) re: being overly careful backing everything up. However, I belong to the "The only time you get experience is right after you really need it" club. 'Nuf said.
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on October 17, 2006, 09:34:01 AM
I had such a shabby backup strategy as I spend half my time impressing on people the importance of redundant systems and then not bothering myself at home.

"The shoemaker's children run barefoot" club--another one that I belong to!
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Richard on October 17, 2006, 09:40:26 AM
Yes, well I have been rumoured to have something to do with computers as well and the number of times the web box bites the dust is well... I have just reinstalled it all for the n-th time.

Theres a moral here somewhere, I'm sure  :o
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: uncle bud on November 08, 2006, 10:19:08 AM
IMHO regardless of what player you use (RealPlayer, Media Player, iTunes, etc.) if you use your computer to play music on a regular basis I strongly recommend that you get an external hard drive and keep both your music (music folders and files such as iTunes Music, etc.) as well as your playing apps on it. Then get another external HD and use it to periodically back up the first one. I increase the strength of this recommendation if you use a laptop as laptop drives are smaller and cooling is a greater problem. Get one with a large case and a cooling fan. The constant accessing that occurs when playing music as well as the heat that is generated will wear the drive out faster than under normal conditions. As I live out here in the Seattle, WA area, I'm fortunate to be close to Fry's which has been running specials on Seagate externals as of late (w/ a five year guarantee). But as a DYI person with some computer experience, I prefer a good case such as ADS Tech's Dual Link Drive Kit (both USB and Firewire?but not at the same time!) and a Hitachi DeskStar drive?but that's just me. Even though it will set you back a couple of hundred bucks, given the time it takes to build up a music library and the time that it will take to replace it when the hard drive craps out, it's cheap insurance. Redundancy Redundancy Redundancy.

Thought I'd post my recent experience with information technology.

I had been planning to purchase an external hard drive for backup and storage purposes for a while, but Stuart's post made me move more quickly than I might have. Like many of you, I listen to the Juke, but I also listen to music from the hard drive of my laptop quite a bit and am extremely disinterested in seeing it crap out sooner rather than later. I work on it every day. Running tunes from an external drive sounded like a great idea. There was a sale here recently that had 250 GB USB external drives for the ridiculous price of $99, so I finally grabbed one. Stuart provided me with helpful advice about copying the music library over to the new drive and suggested I post my setup experience for those of you who might be thinking of this. (I'll point out that I run a PC with Windows XP.)

The hardest part of setting up the USB drive involved opening the packaging - then it was just a case of plugging it in to the power bar, plugging the USB cable into a free USB port on my laptop and flipping the On switch. That's it, actual plug and play. I then copied all of my document files over, with the exception of the large amount of music files, as a quick backup.

Next I had to figure out what to do about the music files. I run iTunes version 6 as my player. I thought I'd have to copy the files over to the USB drive and then add each folder (e.g., Blind Blake, then Blind Lemon Jefferson, then Blind Willie McTell and so on) to the iTunes Library again. But astute fellow that I am, I emailed Stuart first and he provided excellent and much quicker step-by-step instructions.

1. I copied my entire My Music folder from the laptop's C drive to the new USB drive by dragging and dropping in My Documents/Windows Explorer. (Went off to deal with dinner while this went on.)

2. Once everything was copied over, I opened iTunes and from the pull-down menus chose Edit -->  Preferences -->  Advanced --> General. Under this General tab you see a box labelled "iTunes music folder location". I clicked the "Change" button to the right of this box and changed the original location of the iTunes music files to my new location: E:\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music. I clicked OK and the entire iTunes Library updated automatically. The process took about two minutes. After updating, I answered No when it asked me if I wanted to re-organize (because Stuart had said "DO NOT choose yes when it asks you if you want to re-organize.")

3. I closed iTunes (because info was still showing the C: location for the files) then reopened it and all was complete. My music files were now running off my new external E: drive.

Stuart points out I need to remember to turn on the external hard drive before launching iTunes, or I will need to rerun the folder location update in step 2, which would take less time the second time around.

I am still backing up all of my files to DVD discs as well (and keeping a copy of the entire iTunes library on my laptop, for both additional backup and occasional use when away from the external drive). The single-sided DVDs I have on my desk hold 4.7 GB, so you can cram a fair amount on them. One would not want to rely only on an external hard drive, even if you were only using it for backups, since they can crash at any time like any hard drive. But the external drive sure is convenient, has a huge amount of disk space, and I'd rather replace a $99 external drive than a whole laptop or deal with costly and time-consuming repairs. These drives are getting really cheap.

Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Sarah Jane on November 09, 2006, 09:00:49 AM
They are very cheap now, as are hard drives in general.

It's really not an overly demanding job to build your own external usb drive from a nice big hard drive (or a neat little laptop one) and an enclosure ... a couple of clips, a couple of screws, a couple of connectors and then get your OS to create and format a partition.
I can do a little run-through of this if anyone is interested.

Windows users intending to backup to an external (or other internal, or network) drive might also find DSynchronise on this page (http://dimio.altervista.org/eng/) useful - I've just started using it and it's a free tool for synchronising folders, with lots of options, and will even run in the background as a windows service making sure the contents of your music folders and their backup counterparts are kept up to date at all times.  I'm quite impressed with it so far as it took approximately 3 days to copy approx 160Gb music files from my linux server to the external drive on my windows PC across my slooooow wireless link .... and nothing crashed!  :o
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: uncle bud on November 10, 2006, 08:22:39 AM
They are very cheap now, as are hard drives in general.

It's really not an overly demanding job to build your own external usb drive from a nice big hard drive (or a neat little laptop one) and an enclosure ... a couple of clips, a couple of screws, a couple of connectors and then get your OS to create and format a partition.
I can do a little run-through of this if anyone is interested.

Windows users intending to backup to an external (or other internal, or network) drive might also find DSynchronise on this page (http://dimio.altervista.org/eng/) useful - I've just started using it and it's a free tool for synchronising folders, with lots of options, and will even run in the background as a windows service making sure the contents of your music folders and their backup counterparts are kept up to date at all times.  I'm quite impressed with it so far as it took approximately 3 days to copy approx 160Gb music files from my linux server to the external drive on my windows PC across my slooooow wireless link .... and nothing crashed!  :o

Hey, SJ, thanks for the tip on DSynchronize. That's a nifty little program (very little indeed, plus no invasion of the registry). I just synched my iTunes libraries on C: and E: and it worked beautifully. I had actually done a little manual synching a couple days ago, and this program will save me lots of time and headaches. Will work as a nice little backup tool as well. Cool.

Not exactly for the computer newbie but not cryptic either. Before writing anything to the hard drive, I ran it in preview mode, then made sure to check off the "ask before deleting and replacing" boxes, held my breath and clicked Synchronize. Worked like a charm.
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Sarah Jane on November 10, 2006, 12:55:15 PM
Yes, I had planned to use an xcopy batch file, perhaps run as a scheduled task, to sync my server music folder and my backup on external hard drive, because with the right switches (/s /y /d) it should only copy the new additions and avoid all that 'are you REALLY sure?' and 'oh one file's screwed up so I'm going to stop copying the rest of them too' business with using windows GUI copy and paste .... but it seemed not to get on with the occasional drop-outs in my wireless signal (I have a very old, very slow, quite far away access point and lots of things trying to use it ... like most techies I live in an IT junkyard).  DSynchronize seems to cope with this much better, and as you say it is small and unintrusive, seems to actually work and doesn't crap all over your system.

Hurrah! ;)
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on June 22, 2011, 05:02:41 PM
I've been doing a little scouting around for a friend who wants to transfer his cassette tapes to his PC. I ran across the following:

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UFO202.aspx

The reviews indicate solid products for the price, but anybody here have any first hand experience or know anything about these devices?

Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Rivers on June 27, 2011, 06:44:41 PM
No, unfortunately I don't know about those Stuart, looks interesting though since I recently unearthed a trove of cassettes. I just wanted to interact with the other helical thread within this thread about off-computer storage.

USB drives I don't trust all that much, in fact not at all, since I've had two reputable brands go south on me.  >:( A better solution for taking big media folders and scheduled backups off the main drive might be a NAS, network area storage, if you're prepared to budget a little higher. These have now come down in price into the consumer zone, they were once only in the domain of corporate data centers.

This is basically a 'not entirely dumb' racky-type dedicated storage box into which you can plug multiple SATA hard drives, which you can get at any big box retailer, of the size, speed and $$ of your choice. I recommend keeping the drives smallish (relatively speaking), 1 terabyte would be the max size I'd chose for a single drive at this point in time for various tedious geeky digital- and mechanical reasons but if you have a four-slot NAS that's huge.

So anyway, you plug in the drives and connect the NAS to your computer via your network and it's basically just another computer on your network dedicated to storage. To connect it to more than just your computer you will need need a gigabit switching hub ($50 for a 5-port Dlink, is a good one), and don't skimp on the cables, CAT 5e or CAT 6, and the shorter the better for power reasons. You plug your computer's network cable into one port on the switching hub, and the NAS into another, and your internet connection into another. Plug any other computers, TiVos, Blu-Ray players, TVs, anything with a network connection, into the remaining ports on the switching hub or other connected hubs on your network.

You then run the supplied config software on your computer and at the end of the day the NAS drives come up as one or more mapped drives on your computer, and are available to any other device on your network, should you have them, and have elected to share the NAS during the config stage.

Advantages are speed, huge expandability (if you get a four drive-space NAS), and connectivity to everything on your network. There are further less tangible benefits to do with the box's infrastructure like thermal control (they have built-in fan cooling), greenness (look for one that will sleep when nothing is accessing it, saving the planet and saving you money) and thereby extended TTTF (total time to failure).

Hope this is helpful.

[update, 4 months later: I ended up getting a 5 drive space NAS with 5 x 2 Terrabyte WD drives, formatted into a RAID array. Raid type I elected to go with is SHR which gives 1 disk redundancy and 7.14 Tb available storage. Google Synology NAS DS1511+ for details. It's been flawless so far, and the management software is excellent, highly recommended]
Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on June 27, 2011, 10:47:10 PM
Thanks for the info, Rivers. Coincidentally, I was down at Fry's in Renton tonight and saw that they had several DLink and Netgear boxes on the shelf -- both with and without hard drives. I'd opt for the empty enclosure if I was going that route and select my own HDD. I agree with you about 1 TB being the upper limit. One thing to be aware of is that getting a new SATA 3.0 (6.0 GB/s) drive that will work in a new Network Attached Storage box might not work if installed in an older PC without some configuration and jumpering. The discussion boards point this out, so it's a matter of being aware of what the potential compatibility problems might be if one is thinking of moving it around at some point.

As to non-NAS external hard drives, my advice is to buy the drive and the case or docking station separately and put them together yourself. That way if there's trouble, you can pull the drive to see whether it is the drive or the case that is the problem--and you can choose the drive that's in the case, things that you can't do with the pre-assembled external HDD. Back in February, I took my daughter's laptop in for some warranty work (it had a short in the keyboard). I spent some time talking to the repair people about their experience with hard drives. They told me that the Western Digital Caviar Black or Scorpio Black line of products were generally the best performers (and have a 5 year warranty), with Hitachi coming in second. In other words, their failure rate was lower. A quick glance of reviews at sites such as Newegg bears out that every manufacturer's products have problems, but some brands and product lines seem to be better than others. A while back a couple of the sales people at Fry's said the failure rate of computer related products was about 6% overall within the first 30 days (thus, their return policy). This doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence.

So there's my two cents worth. And with that said, the three rules of data preservation still are redundancy, redundancy, redundancy.

Title: Re: Electronics
Post by: Stuart on October 28, 2011, 04:43:38 PM
More good news:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/28/us-thai-floods-drives-idUSTRE79R66220111028
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