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Copying vinyl to CD for less than five bucks – Part II

by Alan German

Last time, we recorded a long-playing vinyl record and created a WAV file. Did you notice it was somewhere around 300-500 MB? Hopefully you didn't since that would mean you have lots of disk space available. You are going to need some of this free space because we are now going to edit the file and split it up into the individual tracks from the record. This means we will more or less double the disk space requirements because effectively we will have two sets of WAV files containing the same music. Still, disk space is cheap these days, isn't it?

So, let's fire up Wave Repair once more. Select: File – Open – and the WAV file you recorded in the last session. That waveform sure looks complex doesn't it? But, help is at hand. Wave Repair has a neat feature that automatically scans the waveform and finds the "gaps" between the music tracks. So, select Cue Points – Find Tracks and let 'er rip.

As the program scans through the file, the break points (cue points) between tracks are marked as coloured vertical lines. At the end of the process, the cue points are labeled with the track number (T2.1, T3.1, etc.) and an information box will pop up with a message along the lines of "12 possible track boundaries detected".

While the program does its best to identify the quiet areas between tracks, it can be fooled if there is a lead-in section of music followed by a quiet bridge to the main theme. So, it's a good idea at this point to check the track boundaries manually. With Wave Repair it's possible to delete extraneous cue points and/or add new ones as necessary.

To accomplish this task, it's useful to expand the scale of the waveform by zooming in (View – Zoom In) until, for popular music, full scale across the screen is around 6-7 minutes of music. Note that some of the menu icons allow easy access to the zoom functions (e.g. the magnifying glass with the plus sign is zoom-in).

Now, using the mouse, click on the waveform a little to the left of the first cue point and drag the mouse a little to the right of the same cue point. Press play to listen to the selected section of music and check that the cue point is indeed marking the boundary between the first and second tracks.

As an example of the need to further refine the track boundaries, take a look at Figure 1. Wave Repair has correctly identified T8.1 as the cue point for the beginning of a new track; however, it has also marked cue points at T9.1 through T13.1, all in rather quick succession. Listening to the marked sound clip, the problem becomes evident, the lead into the piece is a piano solo, with sequences of notes being followed by pianissimo sections and brief pauses. Wave Repair thinks that each period of "quiet" is the start of a new track. In fact, the introduction runs from T8.1 through T12.1 and the vocal solo comes in about half way between T12.1 and T13.1. Consequently, we need to clean up the track by deleting some of the erroneous cue points.


Figure 1.


Once again, drag the mouse across the waveform, this time starting just before T9.1 and ending just after this cue point. Play the sound clip if you wish just to be sure that this truly is part of the current track. If you are satisfied, select Cue Points – Delete Cue Point and T9.1 will magically disappear from the marked section of the waveform. However, note that the subsequent cue points have all been renumbered so that the old T10.1 is now T9.1, etc. Continue deleting cue points until you find the real start of the next music track.

In the event that Wave Repair misses a valid track boundary, you can click the mouse at the desired point along the waveform and select Cue Points – Add Cue Point to set your own selection for the start of a track.

Now that we have cleaned up the entire waveform and have all the desired cue points marked, we are ready to create individual WAV files for the tracks from our record. Select: Cue Points – Split Tracks. In the pop-up box, enter a base filename to produce a series of WAV files with this name and a series of sequential numbers (e.g. a base filename of beatles.wav produces files named beatles01.wav, beatles02.wav, etc.) A second pop-up box may indicate that the "WAV file is not an exact multiple of CD blocks. Do you want the last track padded with zeros?". Say yes to this prompt (what else would you say?) and the program scans through the waveform, providing a running commentary on the individual WAV files that are being created.

At the end of the process, we will have our original 360 MB WAV file and eight individual WAV files, each being 30-60 MB. See why we need lots of disk space?
Actually, it's not all doom and gloom. We are not going to fill the hard drive with WAV files of all our LP's. The next step is to burn the individual music files to a CD-R and, once we have a working CD, we can delete the intermediate WAV files, and free up the space to record and process the music from another LP.

Now, it's crunch time. Can we continue with the process of making our music CD-ROM for less than five bucks? After all, we've already spent the cash on the cable used in Part I to connect the output of our sound system to the input of our computer's sound card, and we don't have much change for burning software. Clive Backham, the author of Wave Repair, recommends using CDRWIN (Golden Hawk Technology), a shareware program to control burning the individual music tracks to a CD. My problem with this software is that it's not very intuitive. One needs to learn how to write a "cuesheet file" that defines all of the files to be recorded and the starting time of each track/index. While this may be a relatively easy process, in my view, life is too short when simpler solutions are readily at hand.

Everyone has CD burning software. It came bundled with your CD drive. So, you don't need to spend another dime. Just make use of the software that you already have available. In my case, I have Roxio's Easy CD Creator and, for the purposes of this article, I will use Version 5.2 which did come as bundled software with a CD burner.

The "trick" to creating a useful CD is to run Easy CD Creator and, from the main menu, select Project – Make a music CD (not a data CD!). In the Explorer-type top window, navigate to the directory containing the individual WAV files, select all these files (e.g. beatles01.wav through beatles08.wav), and press the Add button on the Music CD Project bar. The status bar at the foot of the lower window now indicates the individual tracks selected, the disk space on the CD that will be used, the total recording time, and the disk space and time still available. Note that it is often possible to record all the tracks from two LP's onto a single CD by extending the above-noted process. Alternatively, you can create compilation CD's of your favourite pieces of music recorded from a variety of sources.

The other "trick" is to press the Record button and check the Options, making sure that Disk at Once is selected. This will ensure that Easy CD Creator will write the individual music tracks as CDA files, and will close the CD once the burning process is complete. In turn, this will mean that you will be able to play the CD in a regular audio CD player rather than only from a CD drive in a computer.

So be brave, set things up, press the red Record button, make sure the right options are selected for the burn, press Start Recording, and sit back as Easy CD Creator easily creates your brand new music CD.

You should now find that all your hard work – and your five bucks – have paid off. You should have a shiny CD-ROM containing a copy of your favourite LP record(s). Note that we haven't done anything terribly fancy to get to this point; we took a very basic approach primarily to prove the methodology. In the next and probably final part of this series, we will see what happens if we spend a few more dollars on the system to purchase the "platinum version" of Easy CD Creator. We should find that the extra cost software provides vastly superior processing capabilities and makes our life easier to boot. Now, that's worth exploring…

Bottom Line:

Wave Repair, Version 4.8.2 (Freeware/Shareware - depending on level of use)
(Latest release is Version 4.8.7)

CDRWIN (Shareware)
Golden Hawk Technology, Merrimack, NH

Easy CD Creator (Proprietary - now Easy Media Creator 7)
Roxio, Inc.

Originally published: June, 2005

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