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Don Watkins

A Groovy Kind of Love or How To Transfer Vinyl to Digital.

By Don Watkins



Snap, crackle, pop. The sound of somebody dropping a needle on your new record. The vinyl cut so deep that you get a repeat of the same groove, over and over and over.

Remember those days? If so then read on. If not stick your iPod back in your ear and check out iPod Access for Windows.

Then there's the second story. You got a brother-in-law? If you do you've experienced a version of this story. If you don't have one you're missing out on a great source of humor/shock/horror and general all around fun.

My brother-in-law lives in another part of the country so I don't get to see him often. Last time I visited I noticed a turntable that looked very, very nice. I mentioned it. "Oh" says he "yeah, I got that to play my vinyl. You know vinyl is just so much cooler than digital." "It's a very, very nice turntable" says I. "Yeah" says he "the cartridge ran about $1,500 and the turntable was..." but by that time I was numb and I was beyond hearing. I realized that his complete setup cost more than my house.

So you've got Barry McGuire and the Doctor's "South of the Border" or that Fresh Today album with "Stoned in Saigon" on it or even Jack Bruce "At His Best" on vinyl. Or maybe, if you're really cool like me, that Stanley Turrentine record that never got released on CD.

So you might be able to find the old turntable (if you haven't given it to your brother-in-law), find a receiver with phono inputs (not that easy) and spin it up. Oops, those cereal guys suddenly make their presence known. You know; snap, crackle and pop.

Wouldn't it be great to transfer vinyl or even cassette (if you've got 8-track I don't even wanna hear about it*) to digital without bringing the cereal guys along? I've been trying for years and I've tried everything out there and after holding my mouth just the right never happened the way I wanted it to.

That is before Acoustica released "Spin It Again".

Firstly a bit about Acoustica. I've used a lot of their products because 1) they work and 2) they're so blasted easy to use. I've never had to spend more than a couple of minutes and do much more than punch the mouse a couple of times and I was up and running. I was hopeful that Spin It Again would be the same. Acoustica didn't disappoint.

First you're going to need a turntable or a cassette player to hook up to a sound card. The software comes with a hookup wizard that will help you out but you may end up needing a cable. I did and it ran me a whole $5 at Radio Shack. There are other cases where you may need a pin adapter to change an RCA jack to a mini-plug, but none of this is going to run into big bucks or involve anything approaching building a nuclear reactor or setting up Windows networking.

There are also wizards for setting level adjustments, recording and editing along with a spiffy control panel that puts everything in one place:

Click on image to enlarge

Now the fun part; Acoustica included a Mikey cereal eater that automagically eliminates the snap, crackle and pops. Indeed it will even eliminate snakes. You know; tape hiss.

It'll create audio CDs and/or convert recordings to MP3, OGG, WMA and hi-fi WAV format. Automatic track detection will split your albums into tracks ready for your iPod, MP3 or CD player.

You can even record in hi-fi sampling rates and bit depths and render out to hi-fi DVD audio ready files (take that brother-in-law).

Have something big, perhaps a fourteen tape set of an EST seminar? No problem, Spin It Again will capture them all and then split into as many CDs as required.

All this and 1) it works and 2) it's easy.

I might not have my brother-in-law's zillion dollar turntable but by golly I've got "Stoned in Saigon" on my iPod. And no, he's not getting my vinyl copy.

$34.95 from the publisher here.

Since writing this article my opinion of Spin-It Again hasn't changed except that I think I probably appreciate it more. I've played a number of ripped songs for a good dozen people and they can't detect the difference in source between a digital or analog original. I know, it's hard to believe, I probably wouldn't have believed it unless I'd seen (and heard) it firsthand, but there it is.

* Second addition after the fact: I put the 8-track reference in there trying to be funny and thinking that there probably weren't any around. Sure enough I received an email from NATANNI poking fun back at me because he actually hooked up an 8-track to Spin-It-Again and had had great results ripping some old 8-tracks! Hats off to NATANNI (who actually has 4 8-track players) for showing it CAN be done and taking the time to let me know about it.

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