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I Need Some Line-In Recording Help
Negative Zero
post May 15 2002, 07:08
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I know that recording an audio file from a line-out jack isn't going to result in perfect digital quality, but I'm going to have to try it out in order to copy some tracks from a copy-protected CD that I just recently got playing in my iRiver SlimX MP3 / CD player. Since I've never done anything like this before, I'd like to ask you guys a few questions about it first.

First off, I should let you know that I've got a Sound Blaster Live! Value sound card installed.

1) Would a standard 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch stereo mini-plug cable be okay for the task? I know that I read something about high quality "Monster Cables" a while back, but I couldn't find a proper-sized stereo mini-plug cable on their web site anywhere.

2) Does the volume level on the output device (SlimX) matter when using the line-out function? If it does, which volume level would be optimal? (It ranges from 0 to 40, by the way.)

3) Taking a look at the volume control properties on my PC, I notice that the settings for "line-in" are configured by default at exactly half volume. Is it okay to leave it like that?

4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?

5) Just how bad will the quality loss be when I go through the line-out >> line-in recording procedure? Is it really noticeable enough to the average listener?

That pretty much covers it for now. Feel free to respond with any suggestions that may help me retain as much of the audio quality as I can. The files will eventually be encoded as --alt-preset standard -Y MP3's...
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Case
post May 15 2002, 07:20
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
First off, I should let you know that I've got a Sound Blaster Live! Value sound card installed.

You need to use 48 kHz sampling frequency. Otherwise card will resample everything and quality will suffer.

QUOTE
1) Would a standard 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch stereo mini-plug cable be okay for the task? I know that I read something about high quality "Monster Cables" a while back, but I couldn't find a proper-sized stereo mini-plug cable on their web site anywhere.

If the cable is not too long it will be fine. Keep the cable away from other cables to minimize interference.

QUOTE
2) Does the volume level on the output device (SlimX) matter when using the line-out function? If it does, which volume level would be optimal? (It ranges from 0 to 40, by the way.)

If the sound is not distorted in high volumes you should use as high as possible. This way you don't need to amplify the signal in Live and SNR should be better.

QUOTE
3) Taking a look at the volume control properties on my PC, I notice that the settings for "line-in" are configured by default at exactly half volume. Is it okay to leave it like that?

I don't know if Live will distord with high levels, you should try recording something and check this. I would tune the volume as high as possible without introducing clippings.

QUOTE
4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?

I think Total Recorder is meant to record sounds play by PC before entering sound card. I would use Cool Edit Pro.

QUOTE
5) Just how bad will the quality loss be when I go through the line-out >> line-in recording procedure? Is it really noticeable enough to the average listener?

Depends a lot on the components. With good system the quality loss should be minimal.
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fewtch
post May 15 2002, 07:21
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
1) Would a standard 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch stereo mini-plug cable be okay for the task? I know that I read something about high quality "Monster Cables" a while back, but I couldn't find a proper-sized stereo mini-plug cable on their web site anywhere.

Yes... not ideal but it will work OK.
QUOTE
2) Does the volume level on the output device (SlimX) matter when using the line-out function? If it does, which volume level would be optimal? (It ranges from 0 to 40, by the way.)

I would recommend experimenting both low and very high. Try a volume of about 15 (adjust soundcard accordingly), then try a volume of about 30 (adjust soundcard accordingly). See which gives you the least hiss.
QUOTE
3) Taking a look at the volume control properties on my PC, I notice that the settings for "line-in" are configured by default at exactly half volume. Is it okay to leave it like that?

Not really. You'll want to adjust it so the input doesn't clip. If you really want to leave it alone, then be sure to adjust the output of the player, and use a program with "VU meters" so you can see if the signal is clipping.
QUOTE
4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?

I would recommend Cool Edit (2000/pro) or if you can afford it, Sound Forge. Total Recorder is really made for intercepting data sent to the soundcard via the Wave output, not via line in, although it may have that function.
QUOTE
5) Just how bad will the quality loss be when I go through the line-out >> line-in recording procedure? Is it really noticeable enough to the average listener?

Try it! My guess is yes, the diff. will be noticeable but not hugely dramatic, provided you get all the levels set right.

Cheers...


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rjamorim
post May 15 2002, 07:27
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?


I really, really like this line-in plugin for Winamp:
http://home.hccnet.nl/th.v.d.gronde/dev/lineinWA2/index.html

It's full of features (but definitely not bloated), and you can use Winamp's output plugins to encode the recording directly to the desired format.

Regards;

Roberto.


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Negative Zero
post May 15 2002, 07:50
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I just installed the latest version of Total Recorder (v3.4) and I can tell you that it *does* have a line-in recording function available. Going back to what Case said, though, I'm puzzled as to why I should set the sampling frequency to 48 KHz when the audio source (the original music CD) is exactly 44.1 KHz.

I've also configured the sound recording options in Total Recorder to the "CD quality" preset, in other words, PCM / 44.100 KHz / 16-Bit / Stereo. It does have an option for 48.000 KHz available, but that isn't standard CD quality, so I'm having doubts as to whether I should change it to the higher sample rate.
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Case
post May 15 2002, 07:57
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Live! will resample everything internally to 48 kHz, and it's not very good at it. Record at 48 kHz and resample to 44.1 kHz with good software resampler and quality will be better.
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Negative Zero
post May 15 2002, 07:59
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Oh, okay. Is Cool Edit Pro 2 good at resampling WAV files? And (just out of curiosity) what would happen if I used the headphone jack of my SlimX instead of its line out jack?
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Case
post May 15 2002, 08:27
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
Oh, okay. Is Cool Edit Pro 2 good at resampling WAV files? And (just out of curiosity) what would happen if I used the headphone jack of my SlimX instead of its line out jack?

Yes, Cool Edit will do the job well.
I don't know how SlimX handles line out and headphone jack, some players' line out is similar to headphone jack with maximum volume. If SlimX is like that, then there is no difference when headphone volume is at maximum.
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spoon
post May 15 2002, 09:38
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Try dBpowerAMP Music Converter and the Auxiliary input add-on - it can Auto-Start/End recording, has VU meters, volume normalize and professionally convert the frequency.


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JonPike
post May 15 2002, 10:07
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero

Sounds like you're getting it covered..  good info.

1) Would a standard 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch stereo mini-plug cable be okay for the task? I know that I read something about high quality "Monster Cables" a while back, but I couldn't find a proper-sized stereo mini-plug cable on their web site anywhere.

I believe the whole "super bitchen quality" cable thing is 80-99% marketing BS..  and for your application where every component isn't a multi thousand dollar piece of audiophile gear,  well, you aren't going to need quite as much. 
Just make sure it's a pretty good quality,  and if you have a few to try,  audition them to see if there's a detectable best one,  and turn the volume way up with no music,  to see if there's any hum or noise from bad shielding.


2) Does the volume level on the output device (SlimX) matter when using the line-out function? If it does, which volume level would be optimal? (It ranges from 0 to 40, by the way.)


Hmmm..  I don't  own one,  but I thought I read somewhere that the line out does get changed with the vol control..  Anyone sure about this?


3) Taking a look at the volume control properties on my PC, I notice that the settings for "line-in" are configured by default at exactly half volume. Is it okay to leave it like that?


Like has been said..  the best way to record is to set the source level (player line out level) to a "good" setting,  (experiment to find best signal to noise,  but at the same time, you want to be as close to clipping, without going into it,  so you have the most dynamic range in your recording.  Juggle the computer record level and the line out, if it's adjustable,  till you meet both requirements..


4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?


I'll throw in for Cool Edit 2000 as well..  great editor,  has good bargraph VU meters,  lots of features..  heck I didn't even know it does resampling, I'm stil discovering what it can do!  And, it's fairly cheap,  as opposed to more pro versions..  If ~ is too much,  perhaps Wave Repair for  might be good,  though it's focused on recording and denoising LP's, it has good level meters,  and is a good basic sound editor. 


5) Just how bad will the quality loss be when I go through the line-out >> line-in recording procedure? Is it really noticeable enough to the average listener?


It will depend on lots of things, but it can be pretty low loss.. The player itself probably isn't as good as a real high end CD player, there will be the conversion to analog, and back to digital... and there even might be some degredation from the copy protection. Haven't listened to any myself.. but there's a lot of talk that some schemes lower the sound quality. You might want to double check with a non-protected disk, if you're not happy with the results, and nothing else seems to fix it.

But I'd think chances are good it'll be barely noticiable, even on a full home system.. Let us know how it goes!
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JonPike
post May 15 2002, 10:25
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
And (just out of curiosity) what would happen if I used the headphone jack of my SlimX instead of its line out jack?


Usually, you will have more noise and hiss with the headphone output.

The way it usually is in these devices, the data read off the disk gets converted to audio, which is at a low level. That goes into another amp which gets it strong enough to drive headphones. The low level output becomes the line out, it's before that amp stage, and as any amp is going to add some level of noise, it should be cleaner.

Amps can be pretty low distortion, but that makes them expensive and hungry on the power consumption. Both aren't good for a battery operated device that you're trying to make as cheap as possible.. so the players usually don't have very good output amps. (the Iriver's seem to be some of the best in recent portables, BTW)

You'll see real high end headphone users pick a player with a line out, then plug their external, hiqual amp into that for real audiophile portable listening.
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dev0
post May 15 2002, 11:07
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Negative Zero
2) Does the volume level on the output device (SlimX) matter when using the line-out function? If it does, which volume level would be optimal? (It ranges from 0 to 40, by the way.)


If you use the Line-Out the volume level will be ignored.

QUOTE
3) Taking a look at the volume control properties on my PC, I notice that the settings for "line-in" are configured by default at exactly half volume. Is it okay to leave it like that?


I would set it to 100%, so you get the exactest copy of the audio as possible. ReplayGain will do the rest, if you want gain adjustments.

QUOTE
4) Which software is best for recording the signal on my PC? I'm thinking Total Recorder; is that the best option?


If you don't want to spend money or look for something X-platform (Linux, Windows, Mac OS 9/X, FreeBSD) and open-source I would suggest Audacity. It's pretty simple but does its job quite well (exspect from some stability problems, at least under Win32)

dev0


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