January 27: Audacity

2021 was apparently the first year that LP sales eclipsed CD sales in decades. It was a small surprise to me and more of a comment on the fact that CD sales are so minimal rather than LP sales being so strong. I am not especially enamored with the LP. It’s just that it’s the best playback method I know of, though it is badly flawed, and that’s before we start talking about the inevitable issue of LP wear. Ugh.

Still, today was an important day. I uploaded my first LP to my Mac. Audacity is both relatively good and totally free. That’s impressive in a day that finds every software company looking to maximize profits. I was stunned that on my very first effort I ended up having a playable side of a decently clean demo pressing of Dylan’s Street Legal. I chose that LP because it was in fair shape (I didn’t know how many times I would have to play it) and because I happen to have a CD of the same record right in front of me.

The initial results were hideous. The RIAA equalization on the front end of the A/D I used was (and I shall not slander the company who made it here), how shall I say this, marginal or worse. So, I climbed around behind my vintage Salamander Designs rack and took the analog feed from the record-out of my preamp just to see if my suspicions were correct.

They were.

Once I was taking the data from this line-level source, one side of the LP came in at a shade over 62MB. Not bad, certainly much better than a FLAC file will alter. I judged the resulting AAC file to sound pretty Ok, in fact significantly better than I had hoped. I’ll do some more careful listening tomorrow before considering uploading the LP side using FLAC. If I use AAC all of my LPs would occupy only about 55GB, which would leave me plenty of room for extra storage mischief (read, the acquisition of more music in digital, CD and LP formats).

The Audacity UI looks like it’s from twenty years ago but it is relatively simple in operation and very well executed. The folks who developed it knew (and know) exactly what they’re doing and exactly what they’re up against. I have to remind myself that none of what I’m doing was anticipated by the originators of any of the technology employed during the creation of the source material. This ability to move analog to digital in this way is all a manifestation of software developers adapting to what came long before in an effort to preserve music that was acquired many years before the technology was anticipated to be able to move it around.

How often does that work out in favor if the music lover / consumer?

In other words, the future of music, at least insofar as how we can store it, would seem to be in good programming hands, as of this writing.

More, as ever, later. Thanks for reading.

Tonight’s writing soundtrack is Richard Thompson’s (Guitar, Vocal) 1967-1976. Yup, even the CD is costly today ($25 at Amazon) but you should have it anyway.

Any lover of guitar must…

January 27: Audacity

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