A fun way to recycle your vinyl records!

Folks often ask me what they should do with their vinyl after it is digitized. Well, you can try to sell it to a local record dealer, or check this custom- made iphone speaker made from a vinyl record!

The sound quality may not be great, but this sure is a great conversation piece!

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Great Idea for Your High School Reunion!

Do you have an audio yearbook on vinyl from your High School?  Many High Schools in the 60’s and 70’s pressed vinyl for many things- band concerts, pep rallys, you name it.  Right now Off The Record is re-creating the Denver East High School’s Class of 1960’s vinyl yearbook onto CD.  This has truly been a fun project and we love our local customers!  Check out the link to see what your High School memories could look like on CD!

http://easthigh60.yolasite.com/a-year-to-remember-cd-for-sale.php

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Do- It Yourself Audio to Digital Part II

Read Part I of our discussion on how to digitize your LP collection here

There are three main ways to transfer your LP’s to CD.  Part II of our discussion defines these ways and gives the pros and cons of each:

1.  Using an LP to CD Recorder:

These machines are popping up everywhere, from catalogs to your local Target store. They promise and, in some cases, deliver the ability to not only transfer your vinyl records but also cassettes to CD. The up- front costs of buying one of these machines is steep (around $350.00), but the set-up and use of the machine is very user-friendly. You truly can transfer your records with a push of a button and a little babysitting (as you must play your record in real time as well as flip it over).

What you lose in a machine such as this is music quality and playing convenience. For many machines, your music on CD sounds exactly as it does when you stream it in. There is really few choices in digitally cleaning the audio to remove the hiss, pops and click inherent on most records. And, although many of these machines have track splitting functions, it may not reliably divide your records into their appropriate tracks. In essence, the trade-off for having the convenience of an all-in-one machine is that you will get an “okay” copy of your record on CD. This is our least favorite method at Off the Record (and one we do not use) as we believe you will be frustrated with the quality of the music you get on CD.

2.  Using a USB Turntable:

There are many ways of hooking up your existing turntable to your computer to digitize your vinyl. However, since most people are not that technically savvy or have a desire to become a regular customer at their neighborhood Radio Shack, this method of do-it-yourself involves purchasing a turntable that connects directly into the usb port on a computer. That way, you get (most) everything you need in the box, including software, to get the job done. And, the cost of one of these turntables is not too bad, around $100 for entry-level.

The quality of an entry- level turntable is very low- probably similar to using an LP to CD recorder.  They are clunky and have plastic components.  There are studio- quality usb turntables that start around $500 and you always have the option with these turntables to upgrade the cartridge and/or stylus –  and you will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of these turntables.  To put it in perspective, the replacement stylus on a studio- quality turntable costs more than the entire cost of buying an entry- level usb turntable.  That should be your first clue that these components are worthless.  For a side- by -side sound samples of an entry- leve vs. studio- quality usb turntable, contact Off The Record. www.offtherecord-online.com

Although you do not need to have a degree in electrical engineering to hook one of these machines up, you also cannot be a novice to a computer. There is an element of frustration in learning how to stream your music in, electronically clean (but not overclean) the music, and divide up the tracks. However, this may be worth it if you want a good quality transfer and enjoy this type of work. Keep in mind, you need a pretty fast computer with a decent CD burner to make this process go smoothly. One typical record, in a .wav format, is around 450 MB of memory. To have a 50 LP collection on your computer, you will need ~23 Gigabytes available. To put it into perspective, an average semi-decent digital picture is around 2 Megabytes, so you would need the ability to save 1,200 digital pictures. These files can be compressed into .mp3 format to reduce your music to 2.3 Gigabytes, but this will require additional software and processing time (and be aware of a LAME converter that degrades quality further). Processing power of your computer is also something that you need to consider. Your computer needs to have sufficient RAM and processing speed available to efficiently work with files of this size. And, of course, you need to have a CD burner.

Once you have your turntable and computer ready to go, you need to install and learn the software that came with your machine. You can also go out and search for various freeware such as Audacity. Once you learn the in’s and out’s, you most likely will find that it has some really neat features. Once your music is streamed in, you should be able to digitally remove the pops, clicks and hisses, manually divide your record into tracks and label them, even fancy features like fading out your music or changing the tempo or pitch. What you need most of all to do it yourself is time, time, time and patience. Here’s an outline of the steps involved in transferring your records yourself with a pretty speedy computer:

  1. Stream your record into your computer in real time (about 45 min for a typical record)
  2. Digitally clean your audio to remove Hisses, Pops, & Clicks (about 5 minutes processing time)
  3. Normalize your music to make sure your music is at the proper sound level. (about 5 minutes processing time)
  4. Manually split your audio into tracks (10 min once you know what you’re looking for)
  5. Export your music into .wav files for proper play a CD Player (about 5 min)
  6. Burn the music onto a CD (5 min)

If this sounds attractive to you, then this is a solid option. But before you proceed with buying the equipment, please ask yourself if you really have the time. This is similar to every Do-It-Yourself project in that you can save money, but has the risk of never being completed. Will your collection be a project that is on your “list” for many years gathering dust?

3. Hire an Audio Conversion Service to do the work for you

  • *Recommended: Off The Record, LLC www.offtherecord-online.com ($9.99 per record)Hiring a company like Off The Record to transfer your records is certainly the easiest method of transferring your records, but it is something that you need to weigh the cost as well as time saved. Not only do you get the better quality recording, with your music digitally cleaned as well as manually split into tracks, you get some additional bells and whistles for your cost (known as our Premium Transfer Package). Off the Record provides a typed- out playlist, as well as reproduction of the front and back jewel album cover, included on a standard jewel case. Your music is also burned on a CD that looks like a 45rpm record, with the album title printed directly onto the CD (meaning no labels that can peel off over time). Your music is also archived, so that if you damage or lose your CD, you can order a replacement, or a copy of your music in another format (such as .mp3) as your music needs change over time.Part III will take a closer looks at the cost and time of each method.
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    Do- It- Yourself Audio to Digital Part 1

    Have you ever considered converting your LP’s to CD?  Do you want to experience your nostalgic music with modern day convenience and portability?   If so, you may be wondering, and perhaps doing your own research, on what your options are and how to find the right balance between investing your money and your free time in a project like this.

    Off The Record would like to help you in this important, and valuable, task in determining what is the best option for you in digitizing your vinyl. We are going to explore this topic in a series of blog posts.  Each blog will focuses on the three most common methods to transfer your vinyl and the pros and cons of each.

    1. Buy a LP to CD Recorder that transfers straight from your record to a CD without a computer.
    2. *Examples are the Hammacher Schlemmer LP to CD Recorder ($349.95) or the Ion LP 2 CD USB Turntable with direct-to-CD Recording ($399.00)or the Crosley Composer Vinyl to CD composer/burner ($398.00)

    3. Buy a USB Turntable that plugs into your computer and transfer your record using software and your computer’s cd burner.
    4. *Examples (which start around $60) are the Audio Technica AT-LP2DA LP-to-Digital Recording System and the Ion TTUSB .  There are higher-end USB turntables, such as the Pro-ject Debut III ($500) which have a much better sound quality.

    5. Finding and Hiring a reputable transfer service to do the work for you
      *Recommended: Off The Record, LLC www.offtherecord-online.com ($9.99 per record)

    One important thing to consider with all three methods, besides the investment of money and time, is the quality of equipment that is used in the transfer process. It does help to know a thing or two about turntables as current technology has produced some very decent turntables at a reasonable price. However, due to the cheaper components (plastic, in most cases) there will be a loss in quality.

    Off the Record uses a Pro-ject Debut III USB turntable, with built-in pre-amplifier to stream your music directly into our computer with superb components and wonderful sound. You will see a night and day difference in the quality of your music with a turnatable, such as the Pro-ject Debut III, when compared the an ion ittusb or Audio technica LPT2DA.  We also uses an upgraded Ortofon 20 stylus to maximize sound quality.

    Our next post will focus on the pros and cons of converting your vinyl to CD yourself using a commercially- available LP to CD Recorder.

    For more information, check out these helpful links:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/business/yourmoney/21novel.html

    http://www.soundadviceblog.com/?p=530

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    Video to DVD Movie Clip!

    Neil Bungy

    Have you watched your old family movies lately? We are creating our own “Off The Record” movie day every Friday. Everything we post represents our video transfer to DVD service, coming from an outdated format of video into the digital age. For most things, we haven’t watched this stuff in years! Our first clip is one of the owners of Off The Record, Neil Geiger, bungy jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand in 1997, transferred from VHS tape to DVD!

    It’s time for you to dig your videotapes out from the attic and basement and start enjoying them again! We have several packages for video transfer to DVD or hard drive to fit your needs and budget. Bring back your own family movie night with your family memories!

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    Why Digitize?

    When was the last time you watched your old videotapes? It has probably been too long! The frustrating thing about these old tapes is that, in most cases, you don’t have a way to play them. Perhaps your VCR got thrown away years ago after “eating” a tape. Maybe you upgraded your camcorder, and then who knows what happened to it? In the end, the tapes got stored away.

    If you are considering digitizing your tapes, are you worried that someday that will be obsolete too? Just when you get to enjoy your movies, technology will leave you in the dust? We don’t think so and here’s why.

    Digitizing vinyl records, video and audio tapes is an involved process. There is no way around playing the media in real time, and then having equipment to convert them to digital files. From there, you can decide to burn the files to CD or DVD, or just keep them as digital files on your computer (what we call “diskless”). Either way, you have made the giant leap from analog to digital.

    We actually believe that CD’s and DVD’s will become obsolete in the future. “Diskless” transfers are becoming more common in our studio. But if you are not ready for that, don’t fret just yet. Taking the video or audio off of a CD or DVD is really easy, and software is getting better all of time to help. Plus, you won’t have to play your media in real time- it should just take a few minutes to “drag and drop” the contents of a CD or DVD to your computer’s harddrive.

    So, making the investment from tape (or vinyl) to digital is a big one, whether you decide to do it yourself or have Off The Record do it for you. Keeping up with technology after that should be easy and painless. Enjoy your memories without having to worry about technology leaving you behind!

    Bring back family movie night……………….with your family memories

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    Welcome to Off The Record’s Blog!

    Have your vinyl records, audio cassette tapes and video tapes been gathering dust for years?  Have you ever wanted to play them again or to share them with your family but just don’t have the right equipment?  As we like to say, it’s like having a fine bottle of wine but no corkscrew to open it!  You know the good stuff is in there, but you just can’t experience it.  But, unlike that bottle of wine, your media does not get better with time.  The quality degrades every year.

    We understand.  We have been there.  Technology keeps on changing.  Meanwhile, it is expensive and time- consuming to keep up with it.  That’s where we can help.  Not only can we digitize your memories into a current format (CD, DVD, .mp3), we also keep the future in mind.  We are developing new ways of  “diskless” transfers so that you can take your memories directly from where they are now to your computer’s hard-drive or a secure, online server.  That way, your memories will always be in a format you can access them.  How cool is that?

    Please check out our website and digitization services.  And, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.  We customize your order to fit your needs and do all transfers in our studio to ensure the best of care and privacy of your memories!

    Bring back family movie night……………. with your family memories!

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