How can I archive my old analog music to true hi rez dvd-a?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by livingrigpa, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. livingrigpa macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    I am new to the Mac. I had to buy one recently out of necessity. For the last 3 years I could not keep a Windows machine from being hijacked by a key-logger no matter how much I spent. No problems with the Mac!

    I have a huge collection of classical and jazz open reel tapes which were sold by the record companies dubbed in real time from a master's slave. They are wonderful to listen to and have value on the ebay market. As many of these tqpes are now over 50 years old, they are starting to deteriorate and I wanrt to archive them, first to the computer, then to dvd-audio discs at 24 bit 192kz sample rate. I have a high end audio system and the difference between red book cds and sacds or dvd-audio is not subtle. I do not want mp3 files or cds at 16 bit 44.1. The analog masterpieces deserve far better.

    Is there a combination of software/hardware that will let me accomplish this? As a retired lawyer I know I have an absolute right to make one archival copy of any music I have legitimately purchased. My Windows XP Pro has a X-Fi Soundblaster sound card that was state of the art last year, but it doesn't want to cooperate with the burning of these high rez dvd-as and want to keep me in the inferior world of mp3.

    Incidentally, an SACD or DVD-a, when upsampled to 24/192 and recorded to analog tape via the analog outputs actually sound better than the original source if youu recorders are up to it. I have a Revox half track high speed recorder as well as a Revox 4 track slow speed which do the job. I even get these kind of improved over the original if I record to my Sony 17ES Dolby S cassette deck.

    In ordeer to archive my collection am I going to have to go buy an audiophile quality A-D coverter like the one made gby Benchmark as well as a compatible DAC? Even If I do so will I be able to get the signal out of either computer without the-sound being down-written to 16 bit 48kz. It seems all the equipment makers require this downgrade to keep the Dolby people happy.

    It seems like I should be able to accomplish my archiving task without sacrificing the ultimate quality of the music. But I need any help any of you can provide! Thanks for listening to my diatribe!
  2. WinterMute Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    This seems to have slipped by in the new years festivities...!

    I'd suggest you look at using a AD box from Prism or Apogee, not cheap but it doesn't sound like you want cheap.

    Your recorder choice is more problematic, Logic will record at higher resolutions although I'm not sure it runs to 192Khz, Protools HD does, but costs a small fortune. Check out Logic's spec sheet, if it runs to 192Khz, then thats probably your best bet.

    You could work in Protools LE with the M-box pro and a good AD, the M-box pro has digital inputs and supports word-clock. This would offer 96/24 recording into whatever Mac you own, and would not subject your recordings to any kind of downsampling, but will not give you 192Khz.

    There are some stereo recording systems around that work at high res, but they are not widely used. Sonic Solutions make the best Mastering solutions, but again they are pro systems and are expensive.

    We use Discwelder software to author DVD-a discs, and it seems to work well enough.
  3. bgalizio macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Once you get the files in 24/96, etc. just use DVD-Audiofile to create the DVD-A disc image. It's a free program that is simple to use.
  4. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    many thanks

    I appreciate the help! Many thanks to you both!
  5. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    I have a recorder that can do that. Unfortunately you don't live nearby. Have you thought about renting a really nice one – with nice preamps, as it's far from only a matter of bits/kHz? You can rent a nice recorder with great preamps from a professional audio shop.
    Btw, I'd be more worried about the preamps and noise floor, than the kHz. 48kHz/24bit should be enough, but the preamps/phonostage should be excellent, and so should the ADC.
  6. bgalizio macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Good call - rent a SD 722 and you should be set.
  7. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    LOL, the 722 is one of my recorders and the one I had in mind when I wrote my post. It's nice, and will do him good. It's propably the best sounding preamps I have ever heard in a portable.
  8. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    after further review...

    It looks like I'll need to get more information on the 722. I was lucky enough to find an Alesis Master recorder which will convert my open reel tapes to 24/96 from the analog signal. I picked it up from a guy closing his recording studio in Savannah Georgia who advertised it in a local throw away free paper but it was picked up on page 56 on a Google search. I only had to pay $350 for it--a true bargain--but it will only record 11 minutes of music at that resolution and speed. It only has a 30 gig hard drive.

    In a perfect world I'd find someone who could swap in a 500 gig hard drive and replace the 24/96 down-writer which presently limits what comes off the hard drive to 24/96 since it writes to the hard drive at 24/192 if i so desire.

    The analog to digital converter I'm sure would be improved if I bought the Apogee or perhaps the Benchmark unit. If I found a digital recorder that would take the Benchmark's digital signal and record it directly to DVD at 24/192 I would have achieved Voltaire's perfect of all possible worlds.

    I have an Audio Research tubed line stage I bought 9 years ago ($3500 new at the time) and a Denon 3910 DVD/SACD player that plays back the few 24/192 dvd-as that I own in fabulous detail.

    The rest of the system consists of two Carver Amazing Loudspeakers amplified by two Sunfire amps vertically bi-amped and new wiring throughout as well as a second crossover identical to the first--so I effectively have 2400 watts per channel with the ribbons optimized for the Sunfire's "high Current" setting and the woofers optimized for high voltage.

    The Revoz high speed half track should do an adequate job in playing my half tracks and the quarter track Revox won't be as good for my 4 tracks, but still is one of the best machines made for this kind consumer use.

    Will the recorder SD 722 let me record directly from an analog input or will I need to convert the analog to digital first? I suppose I kind find out for myself by doing a little research on the web--but thanks for pointing me in the right direction!
  9. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Yes, the 722 has a good ADC too. You can choose whether the XLR inputs are Line or Mic-inputs. Besides the CF-card slot it also has a 40GB hard disc (well, it comes with that as standard – mine is 160GB), You can even choose 192kHz @ 24bit if you so choose. But that is pure overkill, imo. (Edit: I just realised you have equipment that can play that rate. So it will provide that for you. Still overkill, though).

    Of course there are digital inputs as well, so if you want to use your favourite preamp with your favourite ADC, you can. But you ought to try the inbuilt-one first.

    There are more specs at, but what you don't find there is the great audio. It's an amazing recorder: Great DAC/ADC and most important: Super preamps. Many of the "geeks" on their forum use the bigger brother (the same, only with time code and 4 tracks) for film work and music. I mostly use it for radio work. It is a recorder that seems to have become sort of a standard for portable work. It's great.
  10. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    I've been thinking a little.
    You can connect an external (well, "some" external) (FW) dvd-drive or an external FW-drive directly to the 722. That way you can use a terrabyte drive if you so wish to, to dump the music to. That way you wouldn't first fill the drive up, drag it to another drive or even through your computer. You can do it directly. I wonder if that solution would work for you? Especially if you want to go the route of feeding a digital signal to the 722. In that case, though, the 722 will merely be something that writes to a disc. Not really worth it, then. But if you used the line in, and thereby the ADC and preamps you could take full advantage of the thing.
  11. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    archiving analog to dvd-a

    If the 722 will convert the analog signal to 24/192 and then write to dvd at 24/192 I will be ecstatic! I have a lot of 24/96 dvd-as as well as 24/192s made by Classic Records and if your DAC will play both there is definitely an audible improvement with the higher sampling rate. It's subtle, but audible. At 24/192 I hear no difference between my half track 15 ips dub from a master tape. 24/96 loses a little inner detail and harmonic integrity--although 24/96 dvd-a is marginally better than SACD.

    I do need to get the converted signal to dvd as my DAC's digital interface is limited to 24/96 input and outputs at 24/48 unless it's playing a dvd in which case it will play both formats (24/96 and 24/192).

    If I can avoid the computer altogether I'll be much better off.

    Thanks again for all your help! It looks like my project will be do-able now. Without your help and the others here I'd still be stuck in a state of total frustration!
  12. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    One more question: I checked the specs at Sound Devices and it looks like I'd either have to store music on compact flash once my hard drive was full or buy the external DVD-RAM writer to back up specific albums.

    I'm not sure my DAC can read a dvd-ram. But then, would I need to use my DAC at all if the 722 outputs the 24/192 signal to analog from the external bus dvd-ram or compact flash to my preamp and/or directly to my amplifiers.

    Also, does Sound Devices provide the upgraded memory you opted for on your recorder?

    Best regards.
  13. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    By reading the material more carefully I think I've answered most of the questions I just posted. Sorry to bother you before actually reading everything at hand carefully.

    Still, it looks like there are no rca jacks to input and my analog recorders do not have balanced outputs. It looks like I'd have to send the open reel to my pre amp and from the pre amp to the recorder via the balanced connection and then send the output directly to the amplifiers via the balanced outputs of the recorder using both the analog to digital and dac functions of the recorder itself.

    Or, if my DAC will read dvd-ram disks I just need to buy the external dvd reader/writer and play the disk on my present DAC and I wouldn't have to constantly switch back and forth. I'd just have to write everything to disk.
  14. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    There are XLR inputs where on top of those are a small switch where you can choose line in – or microphone-in. Of course you don't want the phantom power, but you can deselect that. It will work. Even with non-balanced input. It should work, even going directly/non-balanced. Of course you can go the route you say, but there shouldn't be a need to put in that extra link.

    True that.

    Yes, when running. But there's a 40 GB HDD in that thing as standard (160GB in mine).

    In real life, and when running (and when set to it) when one of the drives is full (be it the HDD, the CF-lot, the external dvd-recorder, external card-writer or external HDD) the recording won't stop, it will continue on the drives with space. But we're talking parallel recording here. Not really something that should be necessary in your case. Don't worry about that.

    When ever the recorder gets filled up, you connect it via FW to your computer, and it will show up as an external drive. You simply transfer from there (mind you, you just have to have it connected – no need to transfer it, if you can burn the stuff from your computer. When burned, you disconnect the recorder, format the HDD and do your next recording, then burn etc.

    Before you format it, however, you can connect a fw drive directly to the recorder (hell, it can even be a Mac in Target mode (yes, really), and then - via the recorder - copy the files to whatever drive (External drives, the mac in target mode, the cf-card or whatever - the DVD-drive for instance).

    Yikes, that's a hard one, frankly. As far as I can see, and if I understand you correctly, you wouldn't need to.
    Another thing you could do, was playing the audio from/through the 722 – and choose whether to output analog or digital.

    Just to be clear here: The CF-slot is just there to use. You don't _have_ to record to that. YOu can record to the internal only, or one of the externals of your choice. Or all of them simultaneously. I wouldn't go CF if doing 192kHz/24bit. If for no other reason than the file size vs. the price of huge cards, and especially the price of huge+fast cards.

    Nope. But a place where you rent the thing might have upgraded the thing.
    Me? I found an external 2.5" drive (in an enclosure) on sale, took the innards from that on plopped it in. The recorder can use both 1.8" drives and 2.5" drives (and is easily exchanged and it doesn't void the warranty).


    That dvdram-thingamagic works directly – with only the fw-connection. I can't recall the chipset used – it's important because some chipseets work, others dont (well, not as well) – but I can find out, if you want me to? The enclosure is in fact just an aftermarket thing the SD-guys found (but it sure matches the recorder, doesn't it?) and the drive inside is a panasonic.

    Remember, you don't need to record directly. You can record to the internal disc, and then copy it to the DVD-ram from that internal disc.
  15. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Ah, hell, I forgot one small, tiny thing:

    About those inputs:

    As I mentioned, the thing can also take unbalanced analog in through those XLR-plugs. And it can take digital AES (both consumer and professional grade – you switch that in the menu) on those BNC-plugs – both in and out.

    With regards to the connectors themselves (RCA/XLR), it's merely a question of adaptors, and if you dislike adaptor (I assume as much, as you seem like quite the "audio buff"), you can solder a cable for that (if you know how to, of course, but it's not difficult).

    Here are some:

    My favourite shop, though for special cables (besides myself) is this:
    (go to interconnects, and on most of those you can choose the plug of your liking on either end), they go from relatively cheap to distortion. [edit: make that EXtortion. I got carried away, lol]

    I found this in the usermanual, just in case I hadn't explained it well enough by myself:

    Yet another edit:

    Here's how I would go:

    Your reel recorder
    RCA->XLR cable
    722 with connected DVD-ram (while simultaneously recording to the internal as back-up, if the recording should go wrong.

    Then, when all the recording stuff are done, either:

    Use the DVD-ram directly in your player (if possible),
    Connect the DVD-ram drive through USB to your DAC, OR
    play the thing, either from attached RAM-drive or int. HDD out through the BNC-digital outs, using a cable going from BNC to whatever is on your dac (not optical, of course, haha).

    Those are the solutions as I see them.

    Sorry about the length of these posts, I tend to get carried away when talking about sound. :-(

    P.S. Each minute of 24bit/192kHz is 65.92MB, and an hour is 3.96GB (approximately). That would give you close to 10 hours on the standard internal 40GB drive.

  16. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502


    Jan 4, 2007
    Mastering old tapes is a bit of an art even with the very expensive gear required to do what you want. If you're not into recording/mastering anyway I'd take them to a studio.
  17. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    Wow! I go away for a few days and come back to find all this great information. You guys are aces! Needless to say, I am very grateful that you'd take all this time to help me with my project and the problems inherent therewith. I'm not used to this kind of human kindness.

    I read the Denon owners manual last night and found out that the unit will not read DVD-RAM discs. It's the only dvd medium it doesn't read. Without being able to write dvds my deck can read, I'm stuck with either going for a huge hard drive or spending a lot for cf cards. Could you hardwire a connection within the unit that would allow say a 750 gig internal hard drive to piggy back with some external hds? I presently have a 500 gig external and 400 gig external I planned to use for audio and raw format photos. Exactly how difficult is it to remove the "innerds" of an external drive and replace the puny 40 gig standard drive that comes stock? I really want to stay out of the computer because the programs I have now downwrite the signal to 24/48 when leaving.

    On the same subject, I'm beginning to think I should just learn to live with 24/96 (which is very good) and try to remove the "innerds" of a 750 gig hardrive and replace the 30 gig drive in the Alexis with same. The Alexis writes to a special cd format which only gives 11 minutes per, but if I'm willing to live with cds coming out of my ears, I can probably live with it, although I'd have to reduce resolution to 24/48 for any cut over 11 minutes. Most of mmy jazz and popular music will be amenable to the 11 minute limitation per cut, and about half the classical collection will as well. I've found that signals written down from 24/96 or 24/192 sound quite good upsampled back to 24/96 or 24/192.

    I'd appreciate knowing just how difficult this upgrade would be to make. I'm not worried about the warranty-I bought it used. And I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron if I have a clear idea what I'm supposed to do with it.

    Thanks again for all your help. At least I feel like I'm moving in a positive direction instead of treading water and cursing the darkness.
  18. livingrigpa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 1, 2008
    Dang! I forgot that I won't need my present dvd player with the DVD-ram discs. If I archive to that format I can most likely play them back through the Sound Devices 722 from the external DVD-ram. Only trouble is, that adds a couple of hundred more to the already fairly steep cost of the unit. This has my juices running now. I particularly like the fact it's battery driven--no problem with the power grunge in the electric lines.

    Anybody know where I can find one used? If I sell the Alesis and some other misc. equipment I can probably get the wife to consider the upgrade if it means getting the 2000 open reels off the shelves and into sealed boxers in the garage.
  19. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Hi again – my initial intention was to respond in-depth to the longer post above during the weekend, but you since your DVD-player doesn't play DVD-rams, and you intend to bypass it entirely, you _could_ completely forego the DVD-burner, and play your huge files directly from the internal HDD, or a firewire-connected hdd.
    THere's just one problem with that set up, and that is usage: The file system on the 722 isn't exactly set up like the iPod Touch. It's nice for a recorder, but that's about it. Of course, you can do folders on it, so that might be a solution.

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