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Old 31st July 2009, 12:41 AM   #1
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Default Vinyl Archiving Project - To DIY or not to DIY

Hi chaps

Ive been perusing the forum for a few weeks now but this is my first post. I am looking for some advice on the way to go with a multi-turntable vinyl to digital archiving project. I'll explain :-

I deal in 2nd hand records of all genres online (, ive been working in vinyl record sales and distribution for nearly twenty years and am presently holed up in a bunker in hackney in London along with two other vinyl-centric companies - a mastering studio complete with Neumann VMS 70 lathe and a manufacturing broker who arrange the pressing of new records, which for both of them is just about still worth doing. Together we like to think we are part of vinyl's last stand, at least in a commercial sense. I have lots of amazing records passing through my hands all the time and want to capture them for my own pleasure to a standard i would describe as 'excellent hi-fi'.

For the last year or so i have been experimenting with recording multiple turntables simultaneously, using a multi-input soundcard and multitracking recording software which speeds up an otherwise tedious and time consuming process. I bought 4 rega planar 2's to mess around with while i was working out how feasible and how much of a head do-er it was. I've actually ironed out all of the practical operational problems now and am ready to start building a workstation.

Ive been looking at all your amazing feats of engineering and am truly wowed by the imagination and enthusiasm you guys have for extracting the utmost information from the format. However as far as my project is concerned i was hoping you could apply your knowledge and experience to get the most out of my limited budget, as i have to have 4 turntables, not just one super duper one.

Putting aside the considerations of pre-amp, cartridge and A/D conversion, which are obviously lengthy discussions on their own - my question is this :-

With a budget of £500 per turntable, bearing in mind i already have 4 x Planar 2's with RB250 arms, is it possible to utilise what i have and build a plinth / platter / motor combination that will exceed their current performance ? Or what about spending £500 each on a new off the shelf branded unit of some kind ? Or should i spend some money on souping up the Planar 2's and pocket the change ?

Things to consider :-

1. It absolutely must have a switchable speed control between 33 and 45. All that belt changing is one repetitive job too many when standing all day with 4 decks spinning and recording a single then an LP then a single etc..

2. There is a lot of moving around going on in the room and it needs to be shock / knock proof. I dont mind if the plinth is one piece which all 4 turntables are set into, not sure if this is a good idea though. I presently have the 4 planars on individual concrete slabs sitting on top of high density foam on top of 38mm mdf on a 2" key clamp frame (the stuff that is used for safety barriers) with rubber gaskets where the metal meets the wall and floor.

3. The turntables will be spinning all day long when in use. While working im monitoring using either headphones or very quietly through speakers. The most productive way i've found of working is to record for an hour, then stop, get the audio off computer A and onto computer B so my friend can get on with editing and then i start another recording session. We take it in turns to use headphones as its quite mindwarping to listen to snippets of records in headphones all day.

4. The way multi-input professional studio soundcards are configured, i guess due to binary code, is in multiples of 8 i.e 4 stereo inputs for my purposes. I may wish to expand my set up in the future to an 8 deck rig so think of this as a 4 unit module which may be repeated. For space saving reasons i may wish to have 2 x 4 deck workstations one above the other, rather than all in a long line which would mean even more pacing up and down. It needs to be not too tall.

These are my main considerations, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for taking the time

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Old 31st July 2009, 11:08 AM   #2
h_a is offline h_a  Europe
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Hi Neil,

amazing project! Will certainly take a while to get all of them into your PC.*

I'm just a bit surprised - as I see it record sales are going up, also more music is currently released on vinyl as well. So you being vinyl's last stand surprises me or is the situation worse as it seems to me?

On your topic, I would suggest thinking about a record cleaning machine as well. Sure, takes a lot of time in addition, but especially 2nd hand records are in poor condition (as you certainly know). Not much reason to go to highly sophisticated gear when the source is not in best shape.

Have fun, Hannes

* and where is it going from there? Hard discs are also not a medium for eternity
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Old 31st July 2009, 01:50 PM   #3
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hi hannes

Despite the numerous positive press articles to the contrary, i can assure you that vinyl record sales are only going one way and that is down. Its true that there are many more releases on vinyl now than there ever were but it is very much a labour of love for pretty much anyone that does it. The average pressing quantity of a vinyl release in the manufacturing brokers next door is 500 copies and 2nd runs are rare. The market has been like this for approximately 2 years now and we dont see it getting any better. My neighbours used to operate a full-on pressing plant which was forced to close because they were located on the site of the forthcoming Olympic village in London. They were actually relieved by having a reason to stop.

Regarding cleaning machine - that was one of the last practical problems that i had to overcome as thorough cleaning is essential prior to recording as you just create more work later on in the de-noising / pop removal process. This problem was nailed by a user on this forum who came up with the modified Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine idea, for which i am unbelievably grateful

Regarding storage, i use a server with RAID5 hardrive array internally and then the whole lot is backd up onto Amazons servers every night using their Amazon Web Services S3 storage facility

Also, one other consideration that i forgot to mention in my first post, i dont have a workshop or any machinery so my budget would have to include paying for someone to produce any necessary components, not just parts.
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Old 31st July 2009, 10:45 PM   #4
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Hi, if you have a budget of 500 each for turntables then I'd definitely suggest the Technics 1210 as a reliable workhorse with the capability of being tweaked to deliver real performance. Set up properly, they will cream the Regas. They are, after all, second cousins to the SL10s that served the BBC for a couple of decades.

I would dump the Technics arms and mount the Rega RB250s on them using a simple adapter kit (from soundsupports, off Ebay) there's a pic of a similar setup on the link below. If your 500 budget doesn't include cartridge and you buy the turntables second hand (around 150) and re-use the RB250s then you've enough to get the arms upgraded (try Johnnie at Audio Origami - ) and talk to Dave Cawley about upgrading the Technics. Both are experts with those components.

Set up like that you will have decks with real hi-fi capability that will also work day in, day out.

Good Luck!
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Old 3rd September 2009, 05:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jeff spall View Post
Hi, if you have a budget of 500 each for turntables then I'd definitely suggest the Technics 1210 as a reliable workhorse with the capability of being tweaked to deliver real performance. Set up properly, they will cream the Regas.
I second that opinion too. I can't find rumble/wow&flutter specifications for the Rega P2 while the Technics' specs are known to be excellent.

Originally Posted by jeff spall View Post
They are, after all, second cousins to the SL10s that served the BBC for a couple of decades.
Wow! I did not know the BBC used tangential tracking turntables... I have a SL-7 and completely love it.

Originally Posted by neilmacey View Post
Putting aside the considerations of pre-amp, cartridge and A/D conversion, which are obviously lengthy discussions on their own (...)
These should worry you much more than the turntable and arm itself!!!
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