Posts Tagged ‘dbPowerAmp’
Such is the speed of technology that the once proud LP cover, 12 inches square, gatefold and legible has undergone miniturisation via illegibly tiny CD covers replicating cherished original artwork, to its current status as a 200 pixel square icon pressed into service as a usability aid in iPlayers, Squeezebox Duet, SqueezeCenter server and just about every mobile phone currently doing double duty as a music player.
Ok that’s a curmudgeonly take on what actually is a pretty decent usability aid and in this post I’m going to recommend some software that will retrieve the album art from the internet and insert it into your music files so that the player can pick it up and display it.
I played around with a number of different applications that would tackle the difficult job of searching the internet for the cover art, retrieve it and insert it into the ripped cd files. since I have well over a thousand CD’s converted to flac, I wanted a program that would give me these options;
- Configurable search – I don’t want the software to download hundreds of random pictures, I want to configure the primary sources and have the option to widen the search if the primary source doesn’t deliver.
- Choose Image – I want to be able to scroll through the images and choose which one to use
- Automate the inserting of the image into the flac (or mp3) file and insert a copy into the folder for the library
Of the standalone products I tried, several were iTunes focused (Tune Up, Widget Foundry Amazon Art) which is no good for me and a couple were modifications on the software used to rip cds – dbPoweramp being the best of the bunch.
Because I don’t use dbPoweramp, (preferring the freeware EAC) I needed a dedicated piece of software that would do just this job and do it well. I ended up with a Windows only application snappily entitled MuvUnder Cover. This delivers on every point, is childishly simple to use and best of all, if not free, cheap. at $14.
After many false starts, blind alleys etc, I think I’ve more or less got this sorted so – this post and several more will attempt to document the exact process, hardware and software used to create high quality digital audio files from vinyl.
- VP1 Record Cleaner
- Technics SL 1210 MkII Turntable
- ART Accessories USB Phono plus
- 1 Nikkai USB A to USB B Cable
- 1 Nikkai Stereo 3.5mm Jack to Twin Phono Lead
- 1 Soundblaster Live! Sound Card
- Dell Dimension PC 256mb Memory
- Altec Lansing Multimedia Speakers
- Vinyl Studio (www.alpinesoft.co.uk)
- dbPowerAmp Music Converter
Most of the hardware I already owned – but I heed the words of a wise old sound engineer from my DJ’ing days – ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’ he would mutter, as I insisted on soundchecking the newest Alien Sex Fiend 12 inch… he had a point, though it took me quite a while to appreciate it.
The VP1 record cleaner is therefore first on the list. You might think £450 is a lot to pay for a record cleaner, but this device is the closest thing to magic I’ve come across – the secret is in the vacuuming, using conventional bristle or cloth cleaners on a recored simply moves the dust around or worse, pushes it deep into the grooves. Unless a record is actually scratched, this device will pretty much restore vinyl to its original condition. As an ex DJ, much of my vinyl is severely manhandled, nightclubs are not the most vinyl friendly environment, so this device is worth it’s considerable weight in gold.
The Technics SL1210 is similarly a souvenir of the DJ’ing days – still the turntable of choice in the DJ’ing trade due to extreme robustness and simplicity – you simply can’t go wrong with a deck of this quality.
Art Accessories USB Phono+ is the pre-amp that the record player requires to amplify the signal enough to make it usable. This handy device is very straightforward to set up – connect the deck to the inputs, the outputs to your sound card using the Nikkai Stereo 3.5mm Jack to Twin Phono Lead, which takes stereo output from the Technics into a single stereo input for your soundcard. The Device can be powered from the USB port of the PC.
The Art Accessories product comes with a music editing package called Audacity. This I found to be effective, but tedious to use. I elected to use Vinyl Studio instead, for the simple reason that Vinyl Studio will estimate the track breaks, edit out the ‘thump’ of the needle dropping and download the track listing from amazon if it’s available. The reason this is important is that recording the vinyl gives you two humongous .wav files – one for each side. These need to be split into individual tracks before converting to the format of your choice. Vinyl Studio outputs to .wav and .mp3 only. This is where dbPowerAmp Music converter earns it’s crust.
That explains the components – next post will start detailing the process.