Recording Albums

Recording Albums

The essential steps to record an album are as follows:

Albums are recorded one complete side at a time and, usually, VinylStudio will stop recording when your record deck lifts the needle at the end of an album side.

For more details, please refer to the following sections within this help page:

    Setting the Record Level
    Recording an LP
    While you are Recording
    Recording Side 2
    Recording from Tape
    Setting the Needle Down Level
    Speed Conversion
    Using Software Recording Equalisation (VinylStudio Pro only)
    Using ASIO
    Loopback Recording (VinylStudio Pro only)
    Recording in DSD Format (VinylStudio Pro only)

Setting the Record Level

Start the record or tape playing and then click on the Check Level button. If all is well, you should see the recording level indicators moving in time with the music (you may need to select the correct input device and (on XP) source line in the dropdown boxes first time through):

While the album is still playing, adjust the recording level using the slider. The recording level indicators should just enter the red zone on the loudest sections of music. If the indicators flash completely red, you definitely need to reduce the recording level.

If you cannot get the recording indicators to move in time with the music, you will need to check that you turntable (or tape deck) is hooked up to your correctly. There are some details on how to do this here.

If you wish to record in DSD format, see also Recording in DSD Format

If you are using Windows Vista or later, the Check Level dialog looks a little different:

in this case, select your input device from the Input Device dropdown and leave Use WASAPI enabled unless you have difficulties, in which case please try unchecking it. WASAPI is a Windows technology that offers a cleaner signal path when recording and is this recommended if you can use it.

If you have a USB device on Windows Vista or later, the Check Level dialog might look like this:

In this case, you should use the 'Set Digital Gain to 1` button to set the recording level. This gives the best dynamic range and minimises the risk of clipping. The important thing to note is that the recording level on your USB audio device is not adjustable. The slider just boosts or cuts the gain after the signal has been digitised, and either of these actions is undesirable. If you need to boost the playback level after recording, you will find the tools to do it in the Graphic Equaliser window.

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Why is The Recording Level Slider Disabled?

Some USB devices, notably the Ion USB Turntable and the NAD PP-3 / 4 phono pre-amp, have no software level adjustment. There is nothing VinylStudio can do about this as any clipping which occurs happens before the signal reaches the computer. Some Ion USB turntables have a manual control on the back of the unit and some USB phono preams have a gain control. The NAD is calibrated for most popular cartridges and implements something called 'soft clipping' which reduces the severity of the distortion that clipping introduces.

If this is a major bugbear for you, you might consider disconnecting the USB cable and running a cable from line out on the USB device (most USB devices have one) to line in on your computer's soundcard instead. VinylStudio's normal level control will then become available. The cable you need is a 3.5mm Jack to Twin Phono Lead as pictured here.

If you need to boost the playback level after recording, you will find the tools to do it in the Graphic Equaliser window.

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Recording an LP

Once everything is connected and working, note the following area of the Record window:

To record an album:

The following dialog is then displayed (shown with some fields filled in):

To start recording:

Recording should then start. If it does not, see setting the needle down level below.


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While you are Recording

To listen to what you are recording, check the Monitor Recording box. The sound might be slightly choppy on low-end machines or if you run other applications while recording, but your recording is not affected. Uncheck this box if you hear an echo (again, your recording is not affected). Use the Monitor Volume button to change the monitor playback level - again this does not affect the recording in any way - and use the Change Playback Device button to select a different playback device if no sound is coming from your speakers.

If your record deck lifts the needle or stops the turntable at the end of the record, recording will stop automatically. Alternatively, you can select a maximum recording time from the dropdown list.

If the 'clipped' counter starts to mount up while your are recording, consider reducing the recording level and re-recording as loud passages of your recording may sound distorted.

You can edit the track listing for the album you are recording it (or you can do this later - it's up to you). To do this, click on the Edit Track Listing button which will take you to the Split Tracks window. To return to the Record window at any time, click on the Record tab at the top of the window.

You can also insert a trackbreak while recording by pressing B, or a marker by pressing M. These will become visible when recording is complete. You can do this from both the Record and Split Tracks windows. Note that the B key works best if you delete any existing trackbreaks before you start recording.

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Recording Side 2

To record side 2 (or 3 or 4) of an album:

You can first select the album you wish to record from the drop-down list if needs be and you might like to use Check Level to set the recording level (although two sides of the same LP don't usually vary that much).

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Recording from Tape

To record from tape, the procedure is the same as described above but if the music fades in gradually, VinylStudio might miss the start of it when the Wait for Needle Down box is checked. If this happens to you, uncheck this box. VinylStudio will then start recording as soon as you click on the Record button, but it also prevents VinylStudio from stopping automatically at the end of the tape (so set a maximum recording time instead).

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Setting the Needle Down Level

If you check the Wait for Needle Down box, VinylStudio will wait for you to lower the needle before it starts recording and, as long as your record deck has an automatic tone arm, it will stop recording automatically at the end of the record.

The default Needle down level setting of 5% works in the majority of cases, but you might need to adjust it if:

  1. VinylStudio does nothing when the needle hits the record surface, or:
  2. VinylStudio reports that 'the needle appears to be already down' when you click on the Record button

For case (a), start the record playing and use the Check Level button to ensure that the recording level indicators are moving in time with the music. If they are not, you need to sort the problem out before you can record anything.

For case (b), you can increase the Needle Down Level setting and try again, but the real problem might be that there is a high level of background noise (typically mains hum) and you might look into this first. Also, it is essential that you do not lower the needle until VinylStudio asks you to.

If VinylStudio stops recording between tracks, rather than at the end of the record or tape, try increasing the Needle up timeout setting.

As mentioned above, when recording tapes you may get better results if you uncheck the Wait for Needle Down box and set a maximum recording time instead.

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Speed Conversion

If you wish to record 78's on a turntable with no 78 RPM speed setting, check the Speed Conversion box and set the record and turntable speeds appropriately. We recommend recording 78's at 45 RPM (rather than 33), as this preserves more of the bass notes. You can also record 33's at 45 RPM to save time, but you will lose a little treble by doing so.

If you are using speed conversion when recording records, we recommend enabling recording equalisation in the Check Level dialog. This enables VinylStudio to compensate for the change in turntable speed (which affects the RIAA equalisation built into your phono preamp). See below for more details.

For tapes, type numbers in the boxes as shown in the following table:

Normal playing speed of tape Running speed of tape deck Set 'Tape' box to: Set 'Deck' box to:
1 7/8 ips3 3/4 ips 1020
1 7/8 ips7 1/2 ips 1040
1 7/8 ips15 ips 1080
3 3/4 ips1 7/8 ips 2010
3 3/4 ips7 1/2 ips 1020
3 3/4 ips15 ips 1040
7 1/2 ips1 7/8 ips 4010
7 1/2 ips3 3/4 ips 2010
7 1/2 ips15 ips 1020
15 ips1 7/8 ips 8010
15 ips3 3/4 ips 4010
15 ips7 1/2 ips 2010

For best results, set the deck speed as close as possible to the tape speed. Faster deck speeds will save you time but cost you treble which the graphic equaliser can only partially correct.

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Using Software Recording Equalisation

VinylStudio has a software recording equalisation feature which can either be applied at record time or after recording is complete. When you apply recording equalisation at record time, VinylStudio maximises the dynamic range of your recording by running your recording device at the highest possible bit depth, regardless of the recording format you are using. You can therefore use software equalisation effectively even when recording at 16 bits per sample (which you might want to do to conserve disk space). It also has the advantage that you see the equalised signal in the waveform display.

Recording equalisation is enabled in the Check Level dialog. When you change this setting, the recording level will also change, so make sure this is correct before you start recording. For discs cut from 1954 onwards, the RIAA preset should generally be used. For earlier discs, VinylStudio comes with a large number of preset curves but selecting the right one can be a challenge. Try consulting the sleeve notes or plug in a decent set of headphones and adjust the parameters by ear. Increasing the bass turnover frequency will boost bass notes. Increasing the 10kHz rolloff value will cut treble. You can save your settings as a preset, and you can also enter time constant values if that is the information you have.

When using recording equalisation, use the 'flat' switch on your phono preamp if it has one. If it doesn't, check the 'Apply inverse RIAA first' box. You should use VinylStudio's recording equalisation if speed conversion is enabled, even if your preamp has no flat switch. The change in turntable speed will fool your preamp into applying the wrong curve and VinylStudio corrects this. For older 'acoustic' recordings which require no equalisation at all, just select 'Inverse RIAA' from the dropdown box if your phono preamp has no 'flat' switch.

If you are recording via a Graham Slee Accession preamp set to CA/FLAT, the procedure is slightly different. If you are recording a disc that uses standard RIAA equalisation, just select 'Inverse Accession CA/FLAT' from the dropdown. If, on the other hand, you are recording an older disc that requires a different equalisation curve, select that from the dropdown instead and check the 'Apply Inverse Accession CA/FLAT and Inverse RIAA first' box.

The equalisation curves built into VinylStudio were taken from the Audacity wiki, and references therein, with much thanks. You can also enter the parameters yourself for certain curves by looking them up at Vinyl Engine:

The Inverse Accession CA/FLAT curve is supplied courtesy of Graham Slee, see:

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Using ASIO

If you wish to use an ASIO driver, open the Check Level dialog and select ASIO from the first dropdown list. You can then select your ASIO driver (there is normally only one) and mappings for the left and right channels (again, the defaults will normally do).

If you experience 'dropouts', try increasing the buffer size in the ASIO control panel. You may also find level controls in here. The appearance of the ASIO control panel varies from device to device.

You can also use ASIO as your playback device if desired. To do this, select 'Change Playback Device' from the Check Level dialog and select ASIO in the first dropdown list. Please note that if you are using ASIO4ALL, you will probably need to set it as both the recording and playback device.

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Loopback Recording

From Windows Vista onwards, VinylStudio supports loopback recording - i.e. it can record whatever is playing through your computer's speakers. To enable this, just select 'Loopback' in the Input Device dropdown in VinylStudio's Check Level dialog.

Please note the following quirks when using loopback:

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Recording in DSD Format

(VinylStudio Pro only).

If you have an ADC which supports DSD over PCM, VinylStudio can now record DSD files. To configure VinylStudio and your ADC to record DSD, proceed as follows:

  1. Select DSD on the front panel of your ADC.
  2. Open VinylStudio's Check Level dialog.
  3. Select your device in the Input Device or ASIO Device dropdown. On Windows, ASIO is often the best choice.
  4. Select your desired DSD sample rate in the 'DSD Input' dropdown (standard rate strongly recommended).
  5. You may also need to set the recording level slider to maximum. Do this before selecting ASIO.

Ensure also that 'Enable DoP Detection is enabled in the Recording Options dialog (it is, by default).

On Windows Vista and later, if you are unable to use WASAPI for recording for some reason you can get away without it, but you must then set Windows' shared recording format in the Sound section of the Control panel as follows:

WASAPI is usually available (and functional) however.

Please note that DSD can only be recorded to lossless audio files (so not MP3, for example), and that you will need a fast computer (2-3GHz+) to work with them. Also, VinylStudio's editing features do not work with them, including:

You can however use these features (except for the first and last) if you save your tracks as PCM or when burning audio or data CDs or DVDs. However, VinylStudio also supports saving DSD recordings as DSD, which is a bit-transparent operation and ignores any edits you might have made. Sorry about that, but DSD is not an editable format, simple as that.

DFF, DSF, CAF, FLAC and Apple Lossless files have no practical limitations, and recording to DFF or DSF files is to be preferred as the files are 2/3 the size of the corresponding WAV or AIFF files. Note that you can still save your tracks as DoP (DSD over PCM) in WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless or CAF files if that's what your player needs.

Notes for Users of the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter When Recording DSD

There are currently some issues with this device which you need to be aware of to make successful DSD recordings. As a result, you must:

  1. Select the PS Audio 'native' (not ASIO) driver in the 'Input Device' dropdown.
  2. Set the recording level slider to maximum (important!).
  3. Under Windows, then choose ASIO in the Input Device dropdown of the Check Level dialog and select the PS Audio ASIO driver in the 'ASIO Driver' dropdown if necessary.

There are severe issues with the PS Audio recording DSD on Windows XP which cause VinylStudio to misbehave or crash so please don't try it; this situation is unlikely to change.

Set the recording level slider to maximum when recording DSD from this device.

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If you wish to import an existing sound file (e.g. a recording made in another program), you will find details here.

If you are short of disk space, you might want to record to a compressed file format (such as MP3). More information can be found here.

VinylStudio automatically sets the album status to 'Recorded' when recording is complete (even if you have recorded only side 1).