Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Copying vinyl to CD for (one hundred and) five bucks – Part III
(using Easy Media Creator 7)
by Alan German

Did you notice the slight shift of emphasis in the title? Our costs seem to have jumped by $100. This results from the purchase of Easy Media Creator 7 [or now Creator 7.5 - see the side bar at right] in order that we can make use of Sound Editor and the CD-burning capability included in the package. Of course, you may already own a full version of this package (perhaps you were the winner of one of our raffles in April and May!) in which case your cost remains at $5 for the Y-adapter cable (see Part I of this series in the May 2005 issue of Ottawa PC News).

Indeed, you may wish to refresh your memory on the story so far. In this third part of the series, we will assume that your computer is hooked up to your stereo system so that you can record music from an LP record of your choice (Part I). The techniques we will adopt to record and burn tracks to a CD-ROM are similar to those detailed previously (Part II). However, in this session, we will be using a one-stop solution to recording and burning the music. This should make our lives easier, but let's wait and see.

With Easy Media Creator 7 installed and running, we need to select Sound Editor from the Tools' menu. If you tried Wave Repair, as described in the earlier articles, the main screen of Sound Editor (see Figure 1) will look fairly familiar. Once again, we have a split window with the upper and lower halves ready and waiting to receive the left and right channels of our recording.

Figure 1. Sound Editor's work space


A tool bar at the bottom of the window has a microphone icon. Clicking on this icon lights up the microphone in red, and enables monitoring of the recording. With our LP record playing, a slider allows the sound input level to be adjusted. The levels are monitored as a series of green, yellow and red bars to the left of the waveform windows. Once we have set an appropriate recording level, pressing the big red Record button starts the recording process.

At the end of side one of the record, pressing the red button again (it's now showing two vertical red bars) provides a pause in the action. Flip the record to side two and repeat the recording process to capture the entire LP. Now, press the Stop button and prepare to save the recording to a disk file.

But, you may have to be patient. The help file tells you to save the file immediately; however, the save command may not be immediately available. The program has to save a temporary file to disk. This process is no doubt highly dependent on the speed of one's hardware. In my case, it took a while but there was no indication from the program as to what was going on. The disk activity gave a clue, and a little exploring showed that indeed a temporary file was being created.

Once control is returned, you do wish to select File - Save, choose a file name, probably leave all the options at their default values, and press the Save button to retain the recording in a directory and file name of your choice.

Sound Editor provides a variety of options for cleaning up the recording, including the facility to remove clicks and crackle. (Not that you will need to do this. You took good care of your LP's when you were a teenager - didn't you?) Figure 2 shows a section of music where a single spike results in a distinct click on the soundtrack. To eliminate such noise, we drag the mouse across the click to highlight the section of the music. Then we select Tools - Apply Effect to Selection - Declick. This menu provides sliders for the level of "declicking" and "decrackling". Set the sliders to an appropriate level (100% may well do) and press OK. After the progress bar indicates completion of the task, the selected waveform will show the results of the processing. Note the difference between the before and after waveforms in our example. Other useful options can be found under the Edit menu, including commands to delete a selection of the waveform, and to eliminate leading and trailing silences.

Figure 2. Effect of declick and decrackle


If you are feeling really creative, you can apply other effects to the recording such as giving it the properties of having been recorded in a church with options for reverberation times and echo level. If you feel completely wild, you can give the music a robotic effect and change its character entirely.

Once you have the recording in its final state of clarity, it's time to break out the individual tracks. Sound Editor is very competent at this task. Select - Tools - Auto Locate Tracks, and the program will scan the waveform for the inter-track silences, placing blue markers ahead of each track. You can manually check any given marker by selecting a portion of the waveform that includes the marker and playing the selection. If the marker is not required, right click on it and select Delete Track Break. Alternatively, to add a marker, click on the waveform at the desired location, which will produce a vertical yellow line, and select Tools - Insert Track Break.

With all the tracks properly identified, it should be time to select File - Save All Tracks. But, take note of the titles of the individual tracks. Track 1 has the name of the original WAV file (such as benny_goodman.wav), while the subsequent tracks are titled 2 - Untitled Track, 3 - Untitled Track, etc. If you save the individual tracks at this point, you will have the option of overwriting the entire file with just Track 1, and additionally creating a bunch of files as numbered "untitled tracks".

Personally, I don't find this to be an appropriate course of action. The default is to lose the complete WAV file, which we might wish to refer to if it transpires that we have made any bad choices in processing the individual tracks. Furthermore, we will also end up with a bunch of files with rather meaningless names. The help file suggests renaming the tracks individually. If you want to have individual tracks named with the title of the tune then this will work just fine. My typical modus operandi is to stick the CD into the drive, press play, and listen to the entire disk. Consequently, for me, giving each track in the series a unique name is overly tedious.

There is also a particular problem with the default naming scheme when it comes time to burn the tracks to the CD. 10-Untitled Track will come before 2-Untitled Track, and so on, in the play list. My work-around was to rename the first track as benny_goodman_01 and then save all the tracks with their default titles. I recalled that ACDSee, in addition to managing digital image files (see
http://opcug/ca/public/Reviews/acdsee7.htm), can also deal with audio files. So, it's a simple matter to line up the ten or so tracks in the directory with benny_goodman_01.wav as the first file, followed by 2 - Untitled Track and the rest of its siblings. ACDSee's Edit - Batch Rename command then makes creating a series of files with relatively meaningful, and ordered, names a snap.

Now it's time to burn our CD. In the Music section of Easy Media Creator's main menu we need to select Create New Audio CD. The resulting screen will be familiar to those who have previously burnt CD's. Navigate through the Select Source window, and highlight the desired tracks. Press the green arrow on the menu bar of the Audio CD Project window to copy the selected tracks into the project.

It's worth noting that, by default, the tracks are ordered alphabetically (hence the desire to name the tracks 01, 02… etc.); however, individual tracks can be dragged up or down the list so that the play list can be tailored to your specific wishes. This is especially handy if you are burning tracks from two LP's to a single CD, but the second LP's title, and hence the filenames of its tracks, come ahead of those of the first LP. To change the order, select all the files for the second LP, at the top of the project list, and drag them as a group below the last track from the first LP.

Once you have all the desired tracks in place, check the status bar at the bottom of the window. This will give you disk size of your blank CD, the total recording time for the project, and the free time available on the disk. A set of numbered boxes represents the individual tracks. These run across the status bar, illustrating how they will span across the CD. A pop-up window indicates if the selected files won't fit onto the CD.

Finally, press the Burn button, followed by the Details button in order to check the options set for the burning process. Make sure that Record Methods is set to Read-only Disc. This will ensure that the resulting CD will be closed so that it can be played on any CD recorder. You can probably leave all the other settings at their default values. At least, that's always my preference - until something doesn't work!

Easy Media Creator 7 offers other options for customizing your music CD's. CD TEXT allows you to store information like the title of the disk, the artist's name, and the titles of the individual tracks on the CD, provided this feature is supported by your burner. The textual information will then be displayed on electronic devices that support CD TEXT. In addition, rather than maintaining the tracks as WAV files, you can convert and burn them as MP3's. And, with Label Creator, you can produce colourful labels, jewel case inserts, and descriptive booklets.

In my view, Creator 7 provides almost one-stop shopping for copying vinyl to CD, except for the somewhat awkward track naming convention. It's certainly a very convenient package for recording music, editing the resulting waveforms, and burning the sound files to CD.

Part 2 of this series can be seen at in last June's issue or at http://opcug/ca/public/Reviews/vinyl_to_CD_part2.htm

For a broader review of Easy Media Creator 7, see last April's article by the same author at http://opcug/ca/public/Reviews/easy_media7.htm

Easy Media Creator 7.5

Roxio is now part of Sonic Solutions and the latter have brought some of their expertise in sound recording to the package. In particular, Creator 7.5 now features an "LP and Tape Assistant", a sort of wizard that leads you through the recording process. The package has an excellent help file, with exceptionally clear graphics, on setting up the connection between a sound system and a computer. The recording process is similar to that described in the main article, with some minor differences in the details. The program will now automatically adjust the sound level prior to making a recording. It also features a mixing board for processing multiple tracks into a single recording. The LP and Tape Assistant wizard effectively integrates the recording and burning procedures to provide a complete solution to copying vinyl to CD.

Bottom Line:

Easy Media Creator 7
$99 (Proprietary)
from Roxio, a division of Sonic Solutions
Web site:
http://www.roxio.com


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Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

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