Ripping and cleaning old vinyl records

fishbicycle, on average how long does it take you to fully process an album? I’ve been crawling through my collection using various free software (Creative WaveStudio for recording/slicing, GoldWave for filtering) and it takes about 30-40 minutes to take a recorded side and turn it into individual mp3 tracks. From your description it sounds like you spend hours on one album. The recordings I’m making are okay enough but far from perfect. If your process is quick enough then I may consider switching things around. For the time being, I’m only interesteed in playing the songs in my home stereo or on my mp3 player.

My current process:
• Record each side and split it up into individual songs (WAV file, 1.5 secs intro space, 2 secs ending)
• Batch process the WAV files in GoldWave using the Remove Hiss and the Pop/Click filter
• Back in WaveStudio, adjust the volume and remove any missed clicks. save as mp3

I could post a sample for anyone who’s curious about the quality.

It all depends on the shape of the record. It takes anywhere from a two or three hours to all day to a week. I don’t really have any albums that are in such horrid shape that I’d spend time trying to fix them up if there was a chance I could get another copy in better shape on the web. I don’t, as a rule, fix up albums that are available on CD, unless there is something different about the album.

If the LP is in really nice shape with fairly minor, random clicks and pops, it usually takes me most of a day. However, I’m real picky about it, and I remove every single noise that isn’t supposed to be there. I also pitch correct every track to A=440, because an appalling number of records are pressed at the wrong speed. In Audition, this takes about a minute and a half per track, the majority of that 90 seconds taken up by matching the pitch to a keyboard. The actual process takes seconds. In other software, it’s a trial-and-error process that adds a bunch of time to the project. When you listen to the finished version of an album I’ve restored, you would not be able to tell it was a record, and you could play an instrument along to every track without having to retune. For many people, this would not be the goal. I’d even go so far as to say that for most people, this would be overkill. But I’m picky. I couldn’t restore something for commercial reissue, or for broadcast, that wasn’t absolutely perfect.

The Younglove Method, as described above, dramatically reduces the amount of time I have to spend on declicking. I have no idea what other software you could use to replicate it, as it was developed on Cool Edit / Audition. I don’t use anything else. I have GoldWave here at home, but it hasn’t been opened in years. I have Steinberg WaveLab ($$$), but it’s going to waste because Cool Edit / Audition is so much better for this purpose. I don’t make mp3s of anything, because I have this aversion to using software that removes actual information from a recording to make the filesize smaller. For others, this may not be a consideration.

I’ve spent most of my time restoring singles, most of which have never been issued on CD. Some of these take an hour, some take a whole evening, but that’s rare. There are times when I’ve gone to all kinds of trouble to remaster a record, only to find it’s just come out on CD. The most recent were “Artificial Paradise” and “Rockin’” by The Guess Who. A month later, they were both issued on CD for the first time, in Canada. :smack:

Syntrillium, makers of Cool Edit 2000 / Pro, no longer exists. They sold out to Adobe last August. Now Adobe makes Cool Edit Pro under the name of Audition. Cool Edit 2000 was discontinued. That’s a shame, because it cost $69, and the NR and filter plugins were each $49. I kid you not, I got better results from it than I’ve heard on commercial CDs of records, where they used thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware and software on restoration, but didn’t fully understand how to use it, and got crappy results.

I’m the wrong guy to ask about freeware audio programs. Usually, you get what you pay for. If you’re serious about wanting to restore your records, I recommend purchasing Audition. You can use the methods I’ve described to make stunning restorations!

I was thinking of doing that for the raw data, my old method and Fishbicycle’s method (with minor mods) but I don’t have anyplace that can host the files.

I still think it’s weird that everyone wants to track the WAV out and then process each file. It seems so damned counter-intuitive. :slight_smile: I find it so much easier to process the WAV file (at most, 10-12 minutes for processing) and then split it into tracks. The processing time for the big honkin’ WAV file is the same or less than the combined total for the individual tracks, since you only have to do those copy/paste steps once…

My old method only took about 40 minutes per album, and it’s fine on very clean vinyl (even adding in those “Filter” steps at the beginning only adds minutes). Fishbicycle’s took me about 4 hours on a side, but for albums with more than the occasional pop or click, it’s vastly superior to my old method.


If you consider that an album, in 16-bit stereo, takes up approximately 500 MB, the same album in 32-bit takes up approximately a gig. One side in 32-bit takes up 500 MB. If you have 128 or 256 MB of RAM, where do you suppose the computer is going to store the copies you make to work on, plus the undo data? All your RAM will be in use, besides what the CPU uses it for, and it will take a long time to get anything done. On older computers, we had to split the tracks up. On my P1, 266 MHz box, I could start the auto declicking on one side, my wife and I could go out for dinner and come back, and it would not be finished. The CPU would be going flat out, and you couldn’t do anything else with the computer until it was finished. That’s why I suggested splitting up sides and doing the songs one at a time. There’s no way to know what kind of system everyone who reads this has, so I was merely suggesting that one not tie up all of their system resources with one task. If you have a 3 Gig CPU and a gig of RAM, then go for it!

You make it sound like I’m asking you all to do something stupid and illogical. I am not some hack with a record player and a sound card, this is what I have done to earn a living for the last 6 years. The way I work has served me well, and it has served my clients and the listening public well. As for counter-intuitive, who was it that said that the declicking function in Cool Edit sucks?

I made a slight typo in my earlier post. My time runs the same as yours Fenris, 30-40 minutes per album, not per side as I originally posted.

Why split the tracks before processing? Because of the filters. They use an average sampling to decide what to throw out, and on a full album side with different songs you may average all the songs together instead of individually.
I’ve found albums where the scratches are worse near the edge of the vinyl, and a filter that takes those out may be set too high for the better quality songs futher inside the vinyl.

In the end, I’ve had better success processing each song rather than entire sides. Since it takes no extra time or steps (I process all the songs at once under a batch command) I do what works for me. Play around and go with whatever works for you.

I wasn’t trying to criticize! Your methods (which I appreciate you sharing) are far superior to what I was doing! No offense or insult was intended at all. I apologize if it came across as anything other than an amused observation that I’m so used to doing it backwards, compared to what you and others have suggested…

Aargh…a new question-Will the Younglove method work without removing all the big clicks first (will it remove the big clicks?)

I just got a record that was damaged in the mail and now has a hairline crack across it. It doesn’t skip (yay!) but it does have a very regular CLICK every half revolution.

Any suggestions other than the long way of hand cleaning each click followed by Youngloving it?


Nope, I don’t think you have any other option than to take out each click by hand, measuring each one first. The Younglove Method is mainly for decrackling, but it doesn’t work so well for removing large clicks. It’ll be a lot of work, I know, but there isn’t really anything else you can do.

Dang it. That’s what I figured, but I was hoping against hope that there was a secret method ( :wink: ), since the clicks are at such regular intervals.

By the way, I used the method you described above on a normal album that had tracks, and it’s a ton better than the method I was using (plus, you’re right—tracking it out first does make a better final version) that I’m going to have to redo at least some of the ones I’ve already done.

Thanks for all the help Fishbicycle, I really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

Your work sounds absolutely fascinating, and your knowledge is well… amazing on this topic. Who do you mostly do this for? Is it typically some audiophile seeking to preserve a treasured, beat up recording, or do museums hire you to transcribe stuff?

Who’s that bangin’ on the piano?
Ten points if you get that one.

I’m glad that you’re finding it useful. I’ve done the same, gone back and redid some of my earlier jobs, after finding better ways to get the cleaner recordings with less-noticeable noise reduction.

You’re quite welcome. I’m glad to be able to share this bit of arcane knowledge with somebody else. I almost never get asked about it in real life. I can’t discuss politics or sports with you, but I can tell you how to clean up a record!

Sometime, maybe we should go over the settings we have for everything in Cool Edit, so you and I use the same parameters and get the same results. Does that sound OK with you?

Thank you for the kind comments. When I first got a computer, six years ago, my first goal was to learn digital recording on it. I wanted to learn to make home multitrack recordings, playing all the instruments, and learn how to restore my records that were unavailable on CD.

As time went on, I got better at it, and sent some examples to someone at a mastering facility, and some of my work was used on a CD compilation. Having been a collector since my single digits, I am in touch with a large network of other collectors. We restore each other’s favorite rare records. Some are better than others, but I have a good reputation among people who are into restored records. I work at a radio/TV conglomerate, which has a classical station. I have restored many of their records of classical works which have never been issued on CD, so they could broadcast them in the cleanest possible way. This includes several performances on virtually unplayed 78 RPM records, which resulted in incredible, pristine remasters. And occasionally, I take on work from the public. I only have one rule, it must not be available on CD anywhere in the world, because you could then go on the web and buy it. This is standard at any of the places on the web that offer vinyl restoration. The rest of the time, I spend fixing up my own records, for my own enjoyment.

You don’t know how I would love to work at a museum, restoring cylinders and gramophone records. I have a number of CDs of these recordings made by a museum, and I did some trial work on them, and made some nice improvements. I sent one to them, but never got a response. But sure, I could do that every day until I’m an old man, no problem!

Who’s that bangin’ on the piano?
Ten points if you get that one.
Umm…you stumped me.

I don’t think it’s worth doing for every album. A bunch of ones I’m ripping aren’t worth the extra effort (I’m ripping them just to get them off vinyl on the assumption that someday I may want them*) but for the ones I really care about, your method is the only way to go!

It sounds great! I’d love to–in a lot of cases, I just use the default settings that came with it–or ones that I’ve modified per that “Mr. Hyde” version I started with. To a large degree, I really don’t know what some of them do (I’ve read the help file, but it assumes knowledge that I don’t have.)

*Yes, I am the sort of person who never labels his video-tapes. :smiley:

Sorry, that came out badly*—It’s not that it’s not worth doing, it’s not tme-effective to do for stuff that I’m ripping simply to get off vinyl simply for back-up purposes. I mean, outside of the occasional reference use, I’m never going to listen to “Carmillina: A Vampire’s Tale” or 'Aaron Slick From Punkin Crick" or “Isabel’s A Jezebel” for pleasure. I just want to be able, should I ever need to reference them, to do so without having to use my record player. Anything I care about is certainly worth doing right! :slight_smile:
*I’m taking pain-killers at the moment so typing is kind of a challenge. :confused:

Oh, and as an aside, just for the hell of it, I ran the entire side of that cracked album through ClickFix on it’s lowest setting just to see what would happen and it removed many of the cyclic clicks! (not all, the crack is apparently greater towards the outer groove, so I’m still going to have to clean a large chunk of it by hand, but even in spectral view, it got rid of more than half completely! :slight_smile: Woo-hoo!

Dammit. It didn’t work on the other side–the clicks are MUCH less pronounced on this side of the album, so I guess they fell below the threshold and if I try to raise the sensitivty, I also lose some sound. Oh well, it worked on at least one side.

Sorry the other side was more trouble for you.
Oh, BTW, “Dang it!” and “Who’s that bangin’ on the piano?” are from the 1964 novelty record, “Leader Of The Laundromat” by The Detergents (a parody of “Leader Of The Pack”). You said “dang it” and I was reminded of that record right away.

I remember the song, but I don’t remember that line–I’ll have to listen to it again. Pretty good parody song, IIRC.

Hey fishbicycle–I have Audition now:

  1. Is this offer still open? (hint!) :smiley:
  2. Where the heck did they put 60 Hz + 120 Hz FFT filter??




I’ve heard dopers publicly & privately comment on the deteriorating quality of the posts and the threads on this message board. It’s a sentiment in which I find my agreement with both ebbs and flows on an almost weekly basis.

I just want to go on record here and now and tell you I’ve found your unsolicited input, advice, hints, tips & assistance in this thread absolutely amazing. Too often, we as individuals focus on the negative. Your contributions here are one of the most positive things I’ve read in quite a while.

That being said, I’d like to unofficially nominate fishbicycle as:

Vinyl Mentor Of The Year