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Vinyl to PC rip, need a cartridge & stylus for a 1210
blueacid
post Jan 17 2010, 16:30
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Hey all, first post so sorry if I'm missing any key info for you.

My father's 1970s Bang & Olufsen hifi turntable needle has worn out. Sadly, due to how B&O made the thing it's required to replace both the cartridge and needle; currently the only ones he can find are over $300. He's taken this as a good reason to perform a final play of his records, transferring them to computer.

Worn needle aside, his hifi's line out (well, the line-out pins on the DIN 5-pin tape 2 connector!) is at a supremely low level, and is mostly a sea of noise. We then looked at some of the ~100 turntable and USB sound card combos, as sold by Maplin etc with the sole purpose of performing a final play, they looked more like toys!


So, we looked at what equipment we did have. I'm able to borrow a Technics 1210 turntable from a DJ friend of mine, however as he's a scratch DJ his cartridge and needles aren't really suitable. I've got an old Yamaha A-520 amplifier, which has an inbuilt phono stage, and an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card with line level phono ins/outs. Once on the computer, there's Cubase SX5.


QUESTION IS: What sort of cartridge and needle would I need to do an alright final rip? The records have been played rather a lot, and some have scratches on them - they've not been that well loved. Cleaned dry on an "oh that looks dusty" basis, rather than regularly. The genre is mostly classical or folk; there's Simon and Garfunkel at the top of the stack of records i'm due to copy, with Fleetwood mac below, giving you some idea of genre.

Any suggestions or advice greatly received. I've never owned a record deck before, so to say I'm a beginner when it comes to actually setting up a record deck is an understatement!

I took a look on the AVForums, and only one poster replied offering the suggestion of the Ortofon Concorde Arkiv Cartridge, at 85 from decks.co.uk.
Would this be what you would recommend? Or can you think of a better plan for this circumstance!
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Axon
post Jan 17 2010, 22:56
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Sound-Smith does sell a B&O compatible cartridge for $150: http://www.sound-smith.com/cartridges/indexBeo.html

Besides that, I usually recommend the AT95E for $50, but the Shure M92E is unspeakably cheap right now on Amazon ($18!), and another elliptical AT isn't far behind.

I'd recommend splurging the $150 for the B&O cartridge, though, since this is highly unlikely to be a project short enough that you'll be able to consistently lean on your friend's Technics on, if something goes wrong in the recording that you don't know about until later, etc. $150 in real value is fairly cheap in the grand scheme of things.
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gd0t
post Jan 17 2010, 23:40
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do not be fooled by numark usb.. if ure gonna do a final play, why would it really matter? the needles will play the data in high quality as theyd be brand new?
the main feature about scratch needles is it loves the vinyl playing back on the needle, without friction and fuss!
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Axon
post Jan 18 2010, 02:19
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Yeah, DJ carts in and of themselves do not mutilate vinyl - although some do. (Anything that tracks at over 3g is likely going to be troublesome.) Spinning with a used DJ needle is playing with fire, but if you buy one new and take good care of it, cleaning it and staying within its recommended VTF range, it ought to last a long time.

The more universal problem with DJ carts is that the spherical tips have considerably more distortion at high frequencies than the elliptical/microline/etc stylus profiles more common on higher fidelity carts, and the difference is typically fairly obvious as far as hi-fi concerns go - untrained listeners ought to be able to ABX the difference without any problems. DJ carts may also be designed to be bass-heavy rather than neutral. It's up to personal preference as to whether the distortions are disliked or not, but it is worth noting that the vast majority of pop/rock during the golden ages of vinyl was probably played back on crappy spherical stylii...

Some hifi carts are known for a particularly "hi-fi" sound - read: treble-heavy - and depending on your listening setup, that might be a particularly bad thing. But some are known for a warmer sound. YMMV.
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johnsonlam
post Jan 18 2010, 04:43
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QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 17 2010, 23:30) *
QUESTION IS: What sort of cartridge and needle would I need to do an alright final rip? The records have been played rather a lot, and some have scratches on them - they've not been that well loved. Cleaned dry on an "oh that looks dusty" basis, rather than regularly. The genre is mostly classical or folk; there's Simon and Garfunkel at the top of the stack of records i'm due to copy, with Fleetwood mac below, giving you some idea of genre.


My own experience for your reference, wish can help:

1) Try better cartridge if you want better sound, depends on your budget (try not to use DJ cartridge, I'm using Benz-Micro MC Gold)
2) Get a better phono stage, well you can build it yourself
3) A better DAC, I'm using M-Audio Firewire Audiophile, sounds good
4) Find a better way to clean your LP record, I'm using super sonic and special liquid
5) Fine tune the weight of the cartridge

I did digitize the Simon and Garfunkel, sounds good.


Rgds,
Johnson.


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johnsonlam
post Jan 18 2010, 04:47
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jan 18 2010, 09:19) *
Some hifi carts are known for a particularly "hi-fi" sound - read: treble-heavy - and depending on your listening setup, that might be a particularly bad thing. But some are known for a warmer sound. YMMV.


Those hifi cartridge really sounds very hifi (boost the high frequency), but not natural enough.
Just a matter of taste, but IMO not worth the money.

This post has been edited by johnsonlam: Jan 18 2010, 04:47


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cliveb
post Jan 18 2010, 10:29
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QUOTE (johnsonlam @ Jan 18 2010, 03:43) *
4) Find a better way to clean your LP record, I'm using super sonic and special liquid

This should probably be #1 on the list. Playing a dirty LP with even the finest turntable/cartridge will give poor results. And don't fool yourself into thinking that the recording can be cleaned up with software. Getting the best analogue signal off the LP in the first place is the most important step.

I'm not familiar with "super sonic", but as a general rule the best way to clean an LP is with a vacuum device such as a VPI, Nitty-Gritty or Moth. Unfortunately these machines are not cheap. If you have hundreds of LPs to transfer, the investment could be worth it. Otherwise some HiFi dealers who still specialise in vinyl *might* offer a vacuum cleaning service (ideally with a Keith Monks machine - these are the best of the bunch, but cost thousands).
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2Bdecided
post Jan 18 2010, 10:46
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jan 18 2010, 01:19) *
The more universal problem with DJ carts is that the spherical tips have considerably more distortion at high frequencies than the elliptical/microline/etc stylus profiles more common on higher fidelity carts, and the difference is typically fairly obvious as far as hi-fi concerns go - untrained listeners ought to be able to ABX the difference without any problems. DJ carts may also be designed to be bass-heavy rather than neutral. It's up to personal preference as to whether the distortions are disliked or not, but it is worth noting that the vast majority of pop/rock during the golden ages of vinyl was probably played back on crappy spherical stylii...
If you have worn records, a spherical stylus will be far more forgiving than a "higher quality" elliptical one - the latter will make the faults and wear on the record far more obvious.


Anyway, "Simon and Garfunkel", "Fleetwood mac" - did these highly obscure artists not make it onto CD? wink.gif

Seriously, if you can buy this music on CD, do so. It'll save time, money, frustration, and will probably give you far better sound in the end.

(Debatable point - when you're dealing with re-issues, sometimes the CDs are far poorer than the original vinyl due to sloppy remastering and ageing/damaged master tapes - but given that this vinyl is scratched and worn, it probably won't matter).

Cheers,
David.
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DVDdoug
post Jan 18 2010, 20:35
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To me, the most important thing is cleaning-up the "snap", "crackle", and "pop". For this task, Clive has several software recommendations on his LP to CDR page. I use Clive's Wave Repair ($30 USD). In the manual mode, it does an amazing job on most defects, but it can be very time consuming.

And I agree with David, if the CD is available, buy it!
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Jan 20 2010, 01:05
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I've actually done what you propose to do using a Technics 1210.

It took a couple goes to get it right so I was happy with the results and I am grateful for the help and advice I received via this forum.

I tried a number of cartridges. Both Hi Fi and DJ.

Hi Fi gave the best quality results imo.
DJ gives the most forgiving sound but you might get more bass and less treble than you want. That includes not just with the standard Stanton 500AL (30) but also the more expensive Trackmaster (~75).

For everyday listening use I have a MC Denon DL103 (~100). This is a really old design with a spherical tip but I like the warm cashmere and wood sound it has. Like listening to R4. It used to be a broadcast cartridge in the 6Ts so I like to convince myself it's what old vinyl records are supposed to sound like. Doesn't work well for this job though. Not enough detail.

I got best results from Audio Technica 440MLa (~140). Modern special elliptical stylus gives better results for archiving. Much brighter at the top end. However it is maybe above your price range and tends to 'spit' on less than perfect vinyl.

So I'd recommend you follow Axon's advice and get a AT 95E (~40). Many commentators say 1210s have a slightly dull or recessed character (designed for high levels) so a bright cartridge is a good match.

But if the vinyl is really not much cop any more and cleaning will cost more than you want to spend then just buy a new stylus for the cartridge already fitted (~20).

Hope that helps. good luck and have fun. tongue.gif
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maggior
post Jan 20 2010, 04:43
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 18 2010, 15:35) *
And I agree with David, if the CD is available, buy it!


Some people (myself included) like the process or archiving vinyl. I've been doing off and on for 11 years now. My equipment setup changed a little bit last year, but has been pretty stable over those 11 years.

Another aspect of transferring vinyl is nostalgia. Albums that I played to death on lp had characteristic clicks and pops that became to me part of the experience of the album.

If your Dad really enjoyed the sound of the B&O turntable, it might be worth shelling out the $$$ for a new cartridge, especially if you can get one for $150 per another poster. Another good turntable setup with a good cartridge/needle would liketly cost you significantly more.

Rather than use the poor line out of the HiFi, get a phono preamp. You can get something like the ARTcessories USB Phono Plus V2 which is a USB sound card and phono preamp in one. They can be had for a very reasonable price (~$70 last I looked) on Amazon.


For my transfers, I use my JVC turntable from back in '88 - mid grade stuff, nothing special. Up until last year, I was using the Stanton cart I bought for it originally with an elliptical needle replaced in '92. Last year I moved to a Grado black cart.


What did I learn over the 11 years of transferring vinyl:
- Starting with a noise free and clean lp is key.
- Be gentle with the pop/click and noise remover; better yet, don't use it at all! I originally batch-processed all of my xfers though the filters with a medium setting. Over the years I've picked up on the various distortions it introduced, espeically on certain instruments. Very annoying once you can pick them out. Now, I don't use the pop/click or noise remover at all. For me, the natural noise of the lp is better than listening to the artifacts introduced by digital processing.
- If you do any processing, archive the clean recording. If you find you don't like how it came out later, you can always "remaster it". By having an archive, you avoid having to perform the transfer all over again.
- A soundcard with positive gain is key and not very common. Using a common soundblaster, I found that even with max input level set, most records would peak between -10 and -6db. My Yamaha would actually boost the signal to the point that you could drive it too hard. The same is true for my ARTcessories device - it is possible to drive it too hard, so there is plenty of gain. For my taste, I like to get the level as hot as possible before clipping for the best sounding result. I perfer to do this at recording time rather than through post processing.

Good luck with your project!
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2Bdecided
post Jan 20 2010, 10:41
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QUOTE (maggior @ Jan 20 2010, 03:43) *
Some people (myself included) like the process or archiving vinyl. I've been doing off and on for 11 years now. My equipment setup changed a little bit last year, but has been pretty stable over those 11 years.

Another aspect of transferring vinyl is nostalgia. Albums that I played to death on lp had characteristic clicks and pops that became to me part of the experience of the album.
So is watching the record go around! wink.gif

If someone wants a new time consuming hobby, transferring vinyl is certainly one possibility.

But assuming they just want to listen to the music(!), then if a decent CD version is available, that's the route to take.

I guess if you want the clicks and pops, and have no intention of trying to remove them, then it makes the transfer+restoration process easier, quicker, and less error-prone - because there's no "restoration" part to worry about.

Cheers,
David.

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blueacid
post Jan 23 2010, 00:46
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Hey everyone - thanks for all the advice received so far!

I think I'll go for the AT95E cart - looks a decent price, and other reviews around the net rate it well. Incidentally, would I need to buy a headshell too? Or would the cart come with one?

As a cheap quick tester, I borrowed a Kam KC-1 headshell, cart and stylus from another friend, who assures me it cost "under a tenner in a nearby record store". I played one of the records, and noted a fair amount of sibilance in places - a 320Kbit CBR mp3 of a small section of James Taylor - Handy man shows what I mean: http://blueacid.unospace.net/hydrogenaudio...yman_cutout.mp3 (filesize is just shy of 1mb). Would this be down to the cheap cart? Or would that be something else? I've got the tracking fairly light - if I walk across the room heavily then the record can skip - is that too light? Otherwise, how does that sound to you all? Any constructive (or vicious) criticism? C'mon, I can take it biggrin.gif


As for the rational of actually *doing* this, it's part of a larger project. Things like Beatles albums etc have already been repurchased; far easier! (plus the originals were pretty battered). However, these records are ones which we couldn't find on CD, or which my father didn't want to spend much money on; "Nice to have". He's not fussed about pops and clicks, so those can stay. Far better than possibly losing anything else from the track running it through a declick routine. Once I've got the hang of it, so to speak, on the "trainer" records, we'll move on to records which we can't find anywhere else; things like classical LPs of a specific performance. Sure, we can get a copy of Beethoven's 5th on CD, but it's this particular performance we're after.


SO - question time for you guys:
1: Sibilance. Have I been a numpty setting up the turntable? Is that an easy fix? Would the new cart fix it?
2: On the note of a new cart; would that come with the headshell and mount etc?
3: I'm recording these at 24bit/96kHz, normalising (That's it) and then exporting to WAV@44.1kHz 16bit. Then I'll convert to FLAC for archive. Anyone got any comments on that plan?
4: The biggie. Cleaning these records; all that's ever been used has been a fuzzy 'brush' thing - doubt that's done a tip top job. Consider that this has been considered satisfactory all this time, but - what'd you recommend to use? Stick with this one, or buy something else?


Thanks so much for the advice so far, It's been a great help!
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blueacid
post Jan 23 2010, 00:50
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QUOTE (maggior @ Jan 20 2010, 03:43) *
QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 18 2010, 15:35) *
And I agree with David, if the CD is available, buy it!


Some people (myself included) like the process or archiving vinyl. I've been doing off and on for 11 years now. My equipment setup changed a little bit last year, but has been pretty stable over those 11 years.

Another aspect of transferring vinyl is nostalgia. Albums that I played to death on lp had characteristic clicks and pops that became to me part of the experience of the album.

If your Dad really enjoyed the sound of the B&O turntable, it might be worth shelling out the $$$ for a new cartridge, especially if you can get one for $150 per another poster. Another good turntable setup with a good cartridge/needle would liketly cost you significantly more.

Rather than use the poor line out of the HiFi, get a phono preamp. You can get something like the ARTcessories USB Phono Plus V2 which is a USB sound card and phono preamp in one. They can be had for a very reasonable price (~$70 last I looked) on Amazon.


For my transfers, I use my JVC turntable from back in '88 - mid grade stuff, nothing special. Up until last year, I was using the Stanton cart I bought for it originally with an elliptical needle replaced in '92. Last year I moved to a Grado black cart.


What did I learn over the 11 years of transferring vinyl:
- Starting with a noise free and clean lp is key.
- Be gentle with the pop/click and noise remover; better yet, don't use it at all! I originally batch-processed all of my xfers though the filters with a medium setting. Over the years I've picked up on the various distortions it introduced, espeically on certain instruments. Very annoying once you can pick them out. Now, I don't use the pop/click or noise remover at all. For me, the natural noise of the lp is better than listening to the artifacts introduced by digital processing.
- If you do any processing, archive the clean recording. If you find you don't like how it came out later, you can always "remaster it". By having an archive, you avoid having to perform the transfer all over again.
- A soundcard with positive gain is key and not very common. Using a common soundblaster, I found that even with max input level set, most records would peak between -10 and -6db. My Yamaha would actually boost the signal to the point that you could drive it too hard. The same is true for my ARTcessories device - it is possible to drive it too hard, so there is plenty of gain. For my taste, I like to get the level as hot as possible before clipping for the best sounding result. I perfer to do this at recording time rather than through post processing.

Good luck with your project!


I don't think he had any particular affinity with the sound of the B&O, in his own wording it was more "I brought some records to the hifi shop, listened to them on a few systems and took a nice one home". Hence why switching to this 1210 isn't a problem; it's easier (I hope!) to get a decent signal.

The yamaha amp is doing rather nicely; things peak at -6dB on the sound card, but sound pretty good (IMHO). See the previous post for a sample (albeit in MP3). However yes, I agree with your suggestion not to post process. I guess if I keep the plain normalised originals, I can always go back a few years from now and declick them later. Whereas if I do it now as a matter of course, I'll be stuck with that decision.
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Shaped Dither
post Jan 23 2010, 03:09
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QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 22 2010, 16:46) *
I played one of the records, and noted a fair amount of sibilance in places

I think it's pretty obvious from the sample you uploaded.

QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 22 2010, 16:46) *
Would this be down to the cheap cart? Or would that be something else? I've got the tracking fairly light - if I walk across the room heavily then the record can skip - is that too light?

I'll admit I'm no expert, but I'd definitely suspect the tracking force - it sounds like it's not tracking the sibilant parts of the grooves properly. If the cart is worn, perhaps that could be the problem, but I suspect it would have to be a very cheap cart to sound like that when properly adjusted.

QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 22 2010, 16:46) *
Otherwise, how does that sound to you all? Any constructive (or vicious) criticism? C'mon, I can take it biggrin.gif

I think it's a little on the "bright" side (a little higher around 8-15kHz than I'd prefer, kind of like an FM radio station) but other than that, it sounds great.

QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 22 2010, 16:46) *
3: I'm recording these at 24bit/96kHz, normalising (That's it) and then exporting to WAV@44.1kHz 16bit. Then I'll convert to FLAC for archive. Anyone got any comments on that plan?

I would record at 88.2kHz or 44.1kHz when your final version is 44.1kHz. Just a minor thing, it shouldn't really make a difference.
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cliveb
post Jan 23 2010, 12:39
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QUOTE (blueacid @ Jan 22 2010, 23:46) *
As a cheap quick tester, I borrowed a Kam KC-1 headshell, cart and stylus from another friend, who assures me it cost "under a tenner in a nearby record store". I played one of the records, and noted a fair amount of sibilance in places

Had a cursory listen to your uploaded MP3. The very obvious sibilance (which I would call "severe distortion" rather than just sibilance) sounds very much to me like mistracking, which is enemy number 1 in vinyl replay. Not only does mistracking sound horrible, it can also destroy the LP. It's possible that the distortion could be due to physical damage caused by mistracking on previous plays. You can only hope this is not the case.

Given that the parts which are not mistracking actually sound pretty good, my guess is that your tracking force is too low. Cartridge manufacturers nearly all give a range of recommended tracking force (eg. "1.5g - 2g"), and a lot of people assume that they should use the lowest possible value (1.5g in the example case), thinking that the less pressure placed on the vinyl the better. Lots of other people go for the middle of the range (1.75g in the example). But in fact, it is almost universally the case that you should set the tracking force to the maximum recommended (2g in my example).
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blueacid
post Jan 23 2010, 14:51
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QUOTE (cliveb @ Jan 23 2010, 11:39) *
Had a cursory listen to your uploaded MP3. The very obvious sibilance (which I would call "severe distortion" rather than just sibilance) sounds very much to me like mistracking, which is enemy number 1 in vinyl replay. Not only does mistracking sound horrible, it can also destroy the LP. It's possible that the distortion could be due to physical damage caused by mistracking on previous plays. You can only hope this is not the case.

Given that the parts which are not mistracking actually sound pretty good, my guess is that your tracking force is too low. Cartridge manufacturers nearly all give a range of recommended tracking force (eg. "1.5g - 2g"), and a lot of people assume that they should use the lowest possible value (1.5g in the example case), thinking that the less pressure placed on the vinyl the better. Lots of other people go for the middle of the range (1.75g in the example). But in fact, it is almost universally the case that you should set the tracking force to the maximum recommended (2g in my example).


Yeah, my tracking force is miniscule. I'll try increasing it - although I'm not sure how you measure it! I just know that the needle's barely touching the record.
I'll order that new cart in a second too, so hopefully will improve things too when that arrives!
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blueacid
post Jan 26 2010, 00:47
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Right, the AT-95E has been ordered. Hopefully will arrive for Wednesday. At which point I'll hook you guys up with some more samples smile.gif
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Coldacre
post Mar 29 2010, 05:07
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Jan 20 2010, 11:05) *
I got best results from Audio Technica 440MLa (~140). Modern special elliptical stylus gives better results for archiving. Much brighter at the top end. However it is maybe above your price range and tends to 'spit' on less than perfect vinyl.


correction; it's a MicroLinear stylus, not elliptical. it will track better than pretty much every cartridge this side of $200. it tracks beautifully on worn records at it rides lower in the groove than an elliptical or spherical.

too late for me to recommend this to the OP, oh well, good luck!
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