Sunday, May 2, 2010

NPR - Music Project

Last month a friend of mine asked me to catalog the 700 albums I have. They've been in the rental storage for years now, properly boxed and stored. I transferred some of them to Digital Audio Tapes (DAT's) years ago after buying two Digital Audio Tape (DAT) decks. I later bought a studio CD-RW (Read/Write) to copy the DAT's to CD. A DAT hold 120 minutes compared to a CD's 74-80 minutes.

The project moving the records to DAT then stopped at 75 (2-3 records per DAT), and none were copied to CD's, but I used the CD-RW to make one-off CD's or copy CD's for friends. I have about 850+ CD's, the latter a very easy task to sync the two CD's (player and CD-RW) to make 1:1 copies. This year I finally decided to put the CD's and some of the records into iTunes, to use the Mac for music when working in the office.

I have a pair of bookshelf speakers from the stereo in the office, but using the Mac when working is easier. Except you have to get the CDs into iTunes, which, while simple, is time consuming. So far I have 370 of them in iTunes. I'm not sure I'll put all of them in, but it's a good goal. And if you want to know, they're going in as mp3 files. I can always reimport them as .wav flles, and a computer audio sound system, while good, is only good.

Well, I finally got the catalog done, available here (PDF) if you're interested. Not much really there except 40 or so years of collecting. It was interesting looking back at it to see what I bought out of interest, a song or two, or the artist. Some are really "What was I thinking?" moments.

But now I have a list of about 24 albums to get into iTunes for my friend's project of getting as many of the 1970's and 80's music into iTunes. Daunting for sure, but to date she has nearly 35,000 songs in iTunes, about 10 times more than I have and even will have after getting what records each of us wants and the CD's into iTunes.

And now the real work is ahead, just transferring and copying, or so I thought. I discovered my stereo has aged a bit. It's a great stereo, but the pre-amp has issues with the phono input with the AC hum (pre-amp power supply), interference and cross-channel noise which is inherent in it's design (a Hafler DH-110) not isolating the phono input from other channels and shielding the power supply.

So, researching pre-amplifiers, I found one to replace it. It's ordered so I can completely reconfigure my stereo system, described here", where all the analog imput/outputs including the TV cable box and DVD-RW will go through the new pre-amp and all the digital and optical input/outputs will go between the studio DAT and CD-RW and the consumer DAT and CD player.

And I'm getting a specific phono-amp which isolates the turntable from pre-amp through a standard analog input, or into the computer using the USB output. This will allow recording the records to DAT, CD or into the Mac and then iTunes. But that turned into just the start of things.

I found my Acoustic Research (AR) 12 speakers (new in 1980) had nearly blown the woofers. The outer ring suspension has simply deteriorated where the speaker sounded like they were eating oatmeal. They're fixed with new woofers and sounding great as ever. I probably will have to look at replacing the mid-range and twitter speakers but they're still sounding good.

Someone suggested simply buying new speakers since the AR-12's are 30 years old. Well in 1980 they were $500 a pair (AR-11's were $750 and AR-10 pi's were $1,000 a pair), and in today money and quality the AR-12's would cost $1,500-2,000 to replace, and still only get the same audio quality. Replacing in the individual (6) speakers costs about $500.

Besides I really love the sound of the AR-12's. And so the music project is getting back on track, and I'll be recording the albums in 2-3 weeks. And Murphy's Law is still alive and well, living in my home and life.

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