2006-11-12

Thermostat Installation

My apartment isn't mine, but I pay for the heat... and heat has been getting expensive! So I decided I needed to do something to reduce my heating bills.

Many claim that the easiest way to save money on heat is to install a "set-back" thermostat. After confering with my landlord, I went on a mission to replace my apartment's thermostat.



The Original Honeywell Thermostat


The original thermostat was a basic round Honeywell unit found in about a zillion households. It worked, but it was completely manual. A timer-type thermostat is promised to save me lots of money on my heating bills. I went to the local hardware store and purchased a Ritetemp 8030c for about $50. It came with a rebate of $25, so in all it only cost me about $25. But installation of a thermostat is pretty pricey, so I decided to save some money and do it myself.  Later, I ended up installing a Lux Programmable thermostat, which was very easy to install and was also inexpensive.

Removing the Original Thermostat

The first order of business was to remove the old thermostat. I turned off the power to the furnace and popped off old thermostat's bezel with my fingers. Under the bezel were three small screws that I backed out with a small screwdriver.



Removing the screws of the thermostat.


With the screws removed, the thermostat easily came off of it's backing plate. The thermostat control wires attach to the plate, and the plate is screwed to the wall. From there, I removed the plate from the wall, leaving the two wires still attached.



The backing plate has the two wires attached.


After detaching the plate from the wall, I tied a long string to the wire bundle to prevent the wires from slipping into the wall. This is pretty important - it stinks to have your wiring slipped into the wall, because it can be very tricky and complicated to get them back out.



The backing plate, with wire, detached from the wall.


The thermostat control wires were attached to two named screw terminals on the backing plate. One wire was attached to a screw terminal labelled "R", the other wire was attached to terminal "W". I detached the wires using my screwdriver, and labelling them with masking tape. Then I slipped the Ritetemp's backing plate over the wires, in preperation for attaching the wires.



Labelled wires passing through the Ritetemp backing plate


I attached the thermostat wires to the correct terminals of the backing plate. I made sure that the wires were firmly attached to their terminal. Finally, I screwed the Ritetemp's backing plate to the wall, and tested it all out. I set the heat up high and watched the thermostat in action.



Installed Thermostat


Next Time

Some time, I'll let you know how much energy, if anything, I've saved by installing this new thermostat.

2006-10-29

Reducing Electric Bills revisited

It's been more than a year since I've posted about techniques for reducing your electricity bill. At that time I promised that I'd let you know how much electricity I've saved.

My monthly average consumption has gone from a peak of 283 KWH/Month in 2003, down to 131 KWH/Month - a reduction of almost 55%!


The techniques I used for cutting my electric consumption by 55% are:
  • Replaced traditional lightbulbs with CFL bulbs.
  • Turn off lights, appliances, and equipment when not in active use.
  • Set my refrigerator to about 38 degrees F, and the freezer to 5 degrees F
  • Turned off the useless "anti-sweat" feature of my refrigerator
  • Run dish washer and wash clothes only when the load is full - and when they don't have to compete with the airconditioner (or can assist in heating)
  • Only run the air conditioner and fans when someone is home.
... and that's it! It was that easy - no pain, lots of gain. I notice that my consumption continues to fall - I'll provide another update at the end of 2007!

2006-03-14

PC Electricity Consumption

With electricity quickly approaching $2 per watt per year, leaving a computer powered is a very expensive proposition. I found that I could power down my PC and save over $100 per year.

Here's how to accurately estimate how much your computers cost to operate.

Calculating Costs

In order to calculate the cost, I first calculated my total cost per watt per year. With my recent electric bill in hand, I used the following formula:

$ per Watt-Year = (bill's $amount) ÷ (bill's KWH) × 8.766

Given the following calculation, my electricity rate is a staggering $1.51 per watt-year:

$30.29 ÷ 176 KWh × 8.766 = $1.51

With this watt-year value, it's easy to accurately estimate how much your computer (or clock radio or refrigerator) costs per year.

Computer Cost per Year of Operation

Mac MiniPowerBookiMac G4iMac G5eMac 700WinPC
On19 [$25]
14 [$18]
38 [$50]
58 [$76]
91 [$120]
108 [$142]
Sleep mode
2
2
6
4
7
55
Off112134
DVD View24225374107115
DVD Rip37326472127128
Brick Only00n/an/an/an/a

Impact on Air Conditioning
The above chart represents only the power that the PCs consume. But in the warmer months, the heat generated by a computer (or any other in-home electrical device) generates heat that needs to be removed by an air conditioner. This is simple thermodynamics.

An optimistic rule of thumb is that it takes 1/3rd of a watt of electricity for your new, very high efficiency air conditioner to cool (remove) the heat generated by a 1 watt device.

Additional AC watts = (watts consumed by device) ÷ 3

So, for example, let's say you're using a PC and a monitor that consume about 200 watts of electricity. Practically, all of those 200 watts are released as heat into the room. How many watts "harder" does your AC have to work to remove the heat released by the computer system?

66 watts = (200 watt PC w/ Monitor) ÷ 3

So that 200 watt computer/monitor combo releases enough heat so that your AC unit needs to consume an additional 66 watts of electricity to keep the room cool. This is starting to add up! Leaving your 200 watt computer on is actually costing you 266 watts in the summer months!

Impact on heating
There is some good news - the heat that your computer generates does help heat your home in the colder months, reducing the amount of heat that your heating system needs to generate. There is only one drawback - a computer is an inefficient heater compared to a typical home heating system - a heat pump or a fueled furnace is a much more cost effective way to produce heat. The savings related to "heating-by-computer" is highly variable, based on the type and efficiency of the heating system you have, plus the cost of the fuel you're using. Here are some estimated adjustments based on high efficiency heating systems of various types:

Natural Gas: adjusted watts = watts consumed × 0.65
Oil Furnace: adjusted watts = watts consumed × 0.54
Heat Pump..: adjusted watts = watts consumed × 0.50

So in those bitter cold months when your home heating system is running, and assuming you're using a high efficiency gas furnace, our example 200 watt computer system is only "costing you in dollars" the equivalent of 130 watts of electricity, because your saving 70 watts in "home heating value". These calculations are highly dependent on commodity energy prices and the efficiency of your home heating system.

[The above adjustment calculations are based on the cost of generating heat in a residential heating system as follows:
  • High efficincy gas furnace (97% efficient, $1.55 per therm)
  • High efficiency oil furnace (89% efficient, $2.50 per gallon)
  • Electric Heat Pump (effective 200% efficient, 15¢ per KWh)
  • Electricity: (100% efficient, 15¢ per KWh)
Your heating system may have different efficiency properties, and fuel rates can fluctuate wildly. Although electricity isn't really 100% efficient considering generation and transmission losses, for the purposes of these cost comparisons, 100% efficiency is correct. Similarly, there is energy expended to move gas and oil from their source, but again, we attempting an apples-to-apples comparison of home heating costs by focusing on the almighty dollar, not source-to-consumer energy efficiency.]

Computer Details for the above chart
MiniAn Intel-based Mac Mini, 1.66 GHz dual core CPU, wireless on, bluetooth on.
PowerBookA 12" G4 PowerBook, 1.5 GHz CPU, wireless on, bluetooth on, screen fully dimmed, fully charged
iMac G4A 17" iMac G4, 1.0 GHz CPU, no wireless or bluetooth, screen at normal brightness
iMac G5A 17" iMac G5, first generation, 1.8 GHz CPU, wireless on, screen at normal brightness
eMac 700A 700 MHz eMac with 640 MB RAM and 802.11b wireless on, including 17" CRT.
WinPCAn AMD Athlon XP home-built, 1.6 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, generic case, Windows XP. Display not measured.

I measured the computers doing a variety of tasks ... from nothing to "heavy usage". I started with just booting the computer, launching a few applications, and watching the meter. I call this the "on" state.

The above chart shows the power consumption numbers I got out of my watt meter. I used the handy and relatively inexpensive "kill-a-watt" power meter for all measurements. This handy device measures Watts, Volt-Amps, KWh, Frequency, and a bunch of other power attributes. Note that not all the numbers are "fair" - the eMac, iMac G4 and iMac G5 have a built in display which was on and measured, and the PowerBook does battery trickle charging, but it's screen was fully dimmed during measurement. (for full screen brightness on the powerbook, add 5 watts). The Mini and WinPC's monitors were not measured.

Operating State Description
OnComputer on, user logged in, apps up, CPU low.
SleepComputer in "sleep" or "standby" mode (windows)
OffComputer powered down, but plugged into wall outlet
DVD viewWatching a video DVD using OS-provided tools
DVD ripRipping a video DVD to MPEG; consumed CPU(s).
Brick OnlyPower brick consumption while detached from its computer (mini, PB only).

Next, I hope to upgrade my Mac Mini to a Core 2 Duo CPU - stay tuned for more details!

2006-01-21

Recommended Windows Software

[Updated for 2008!]

With Windows, the stock OS software is far from having everything I need.

So you may ask me, "LanceJ, what is the best PC software you like to install?" Here's my list.

The following software products are not offered by me; I'm just telling you that I use these products often. I find some of these products very useful. I've published this list mostly for my own personal benefit, so I don't have to go scrounging the web each time I need to install these for someone.

Critical Software Packages for Windows

I like these installed on all Windows computers I have to deal with:
  1. Avast! Anti-Virus (Home Edition). Free anti-virus software.
  2. Spybot Search and Destroy. Detects and removes spyware.
  3. CCleaner. Cleans junk off your PC.
  4. FireFox, an awesome web browser for Windows.
  5. Thunderbird, an awesome email client.
  6. Mozy Home Backup. An Internet backup utility/service. Works with the Mozy Home service, which is free for the first 2 GB of storage.
Other packages people "want"

I find it helpful to install the following products too. People get upset if they aren't installed:

  1. Macromedia Flash Player.
  2. iTunes with Quicktime.
  3. Adobe Acrobat Reader
  4. Java.
  5. Real Player (Basic). Yuk, this is barely on my list.
Other Programs

These are excellent programs that not everyone needs, but which are great if you need them:
  1. Google Picasa2 - a great digital photo manager for Windows
  2. Open Office, if you don't want to pay big $$$ for a Microsoft Office key code license, OpenOffice is a great alternative.
  3. Trillian chat client, for AIM, Yahoo, and other IM services.
For W2K computers

Installing these four simple product puts Windows 2000 back on top:
  1. 7-Zip, an open source zip file manager
  2. TclockEX - a great, simple toolbar clock.
  3. Tardis 2000 - a network clock synchronizer. Shareware.
  4. IntelliAdmin DST Patch - fixes the Windows 2000 clock for DST/Summer Time.
Other Software I often use

I use these quite a bit, and install them on most PCs, but most people won't miss them

  1. DynDNS Updater. Dynamic DNS client software that works with the DynDNS.org service.
  2. TightVNC. Remote desktop software.
  3. Bonjour, for simple network printer configuration.
  4. SSH Secure Shell
  5. Cygwin.
  6. AlternaTiff, a TIFF file reader (honestly, I very rarely install this one)
Your Comments

If you think other software should be included in this list, please let me know!

2006-01-04

Macintosh: Upgrading an eMac

It's been a long time since I wrote this article, but the fact remains: The good old eMac can still be useful if you take the simple steps to keep it as good as it can be.  All can run Tiger, and most can run Leopard - great operating systems for their day with a bit of useful life.  This article describes the procedure I used to upgrade my old eMac, including:
  • Replacing the internal hard disk with a large capacity drive.
  • Increasing the memory for performance
  • Upgrading the operating system
Here I'm upgrading a 700 MHz eMac, but the procedure and tasks for upgrading other eMac models should be almost identical.

Upgrading versus Replacing

Open eMacMy sister's eMac is of the 700 mhz variety, with 256 MB of memory. The machine seemed to be getting "slower", and the original 40 GB disk was becoming jammed packed with photos and iTunes, and within a few months she'd be out of disk space.

There were two options to address the problems: upgrade the eMac, or go out and buy a new Mac.

I decided to keep the eMac. It has been a rock solid machine, and it is only used for typical applications like NeoOffice, email, Safari, iTunes, and kids games. By upgrading the hard drive, the memory, and the OS, I could give it several more years of useful life.

Hard Drive Upgrade: the plan

My strategy to upgrade the hard drive was to
  1. Clone the internal hard disk onto a new drive mounted in a firewire enclosure.
  2. Test the clone by booting from the new drive mounted in the firewire enclosure.
  3. Surgically replace the eMac's internal hard drive
The following sections describe my (successful) strategy in detail.

Buying a new drive & the need for a firewire enclosure

After research, it seems that all eMac models can use just about any large, modern 3.5" ATA (but not SATA) hard drive. I went with a Hitachi 3.5", 160 GB drive from Best Buy ($40 after rebate). A nice, even more impressive alternative is the inexpensive Western Digital 500 GB Caviar Blue.

My plan was to copy the entire content of the existing eMac onto the new drive. Such a copy can save a lot of time reinstalling and reconfiguring software. The fastest and easiest way to make the hard drive copy was to temporarily attach the new drive to the eMac with a Firewire enclosure.

A firewire enclosure is a small case built to house a single IDE drive. The case has an IDE-to-Firewire converter on board, as well as a small power supply to spin the drive. Therefore, this enclosure allows a computer to mount an IDE drive over firewire.
A $25 Firewire Enclosure (opened)

I can't say enough about the usefulness of a Firewire enclosure - it is a great tool for both Mac and PC upgrade and backup work, and the enclosures are very inexpensive (you can find them for under $50 from several vendors). I recommend getting an enclosure with the following attributes:
  • 5.25" (large) drive support, so that you can throw anything into the enclosure, from a 2" IDE laptop hard drive to a DVD burner.
  • Dual Firewire & USB2 support, so you have the maximum amount of connectivity flexibility.
In particular, this Macally hard drive enclosure looks great, has excellent features, and is inexpensive too.

Installing an IDE drive into the firewire enclosure was simple: Attach the IDE ribbon cable hanging off of the enclosure to the drive, plug the power connector on the enclosure into the drive, and attach the enclose to the eMac via a Firewire cable.

Disk partitioning
Since the Hitachi drive was new, I needed to create a Mac-compatible partition on the drive. I ran the MacOS utility program "Disk Utility", which clearly listed the new disk on the left pane. I selected the new drive and clicked on the "Partition" tab. I formatted the 160 GB disk as a single partition of type "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". After partitioning, the new disk was visible on my desktop. Yay!

Hard Disk Cloning

I needed to copy everything on the internal eMac hard disk to the external drive. I used the free program "Carbon Copy Cloner" to make the copy. This little gem of a program smartly copies an entire drive's contents to another drive. I told CCC to clone the eMac's internal disk to the new drive over firewire. Without much fanfare, CCC did it's thing and copied the contents.

Now let me warn you - copying 38 GB of data from the eMac to the new drive took over 60 minutes.

Testing the Clone

After CCC was done with the cloning process, I wanted to test the clone. What if the clone didn't really work? Then I'd have to install all that software manually. Yuk!

Happily, I learned that I could coerce an eMac to boot from a firewire device (but not a USB drive).

With the firewire enclosure attached, I restarted the eMac and held down four keys during the startup process: "Command-Option-Shift-Delete". This sequence tells the Mac to boot from a device other than the standard start-up drive. Within 30 seconds the Mac successfully booted from the cloned drive. From there I was able to run the eMac off of the new (but externally-housed) drive, giving me a chance to make sure that the clone was 100% successful. Now I was ready to surgically swap the drives!

Installing the new Hard Disk
The final step - and the big one - was to remove the old 40 GB drive and replace it with my new 160 GB drive. I removed the new drive from the Firewire enclosure, took a deep breath, and commenced eMac disassembly.

Taking the eMac apart isn't difficult. I used Apple's eMac Take Apart manual as a reference.

Here's the order of events, with my additional suggestions in red:
  1. Remove the Airport card if you have it. (I found after I started case disassembly that it is easier if you remove this card first.)
  2. Disconnect the eMac from all cables. Place the eMac on it's "face"
  3. Remove the memory access panel
  4. Unscrew the case back, and lift it up only about an inch.
  5. Unplug the wire from the power switch mounted on the case. This was tricky - I used small needle nosed pliers to disconnect (and reconnect) the wire from the switch.
  6. Lift off the case once the power connector is detached from the power switch
  7. Discharge the CRT. Some claim that this is an optional step, but I did it anyway, because I didn't want to get a shock. I built a discharge tool using a screw driver and a length of wire connected to the eMac's metal frame. Without touching anything other than the insulated screwdriver handle, I gently slid the screwdriver tip under the CRT's "suction cup" until I touched the metal conductor under the cap. Also see a very informative Mac CRT discharge diagram here.
  8. Remove the fan (5 screws, two connectors, one ground wire)
  9. Remove the speaker unit (one connector)
  10. Remove the shielding (five screws)
  11. Remove the logic board subsystem (9 screws, one video connector)
  12. Remove the old drive
  13. Remove the drive insulators/pads/bracket from the old drive. Unlike the photos in the take apart manual, my original drive only had a one pad, which was mounted on the edge of the drive.
  14. Install drive insulator/pads/bracket onto new drive
  15. Connect the ribbon cable and the 4-pin power cable to new drive. Lessons Learned: Make sure the IDE connector is properly seated on the motherboard! Make sure new drive is jumpered for "Cable Select" mode!
  16. Attach the drive onto it's carrier
  17. Install the logic board subsystem.
  18. Lesson Learned: re-install the airport card now (I recommend re-installing it here to ensure that the logic board is properly aligned with the case)
  19. Reinstall remaining components in opposite order of removal.
The first take apart took me about an hour. When I was done, I put it all back together and booted - and the new drive didn't work. Sadness! So I took it all apart again (in about 10 mintues), and realized that the hard drive's ribbon cable on the motherboard wasn't properly seated. A little press and then it was all back together in another 10 minutes or so. Phew!

After this process, I'm pretty comfortable working on the inside of an eMac. It isn't as easy as working on a motherboard in an ATX case, but it's much easier than working on the inside of any laptop.

Memory Upgrade

The easiest thing you can do with an eMac is upgrade it's memory. The 700 MHz eMac uses common "PC133" or "PC100" memory modules. I bought a 512 MB memory module for the eMac from MacSales.Com. The module cost about $75. Shop around - memory prices are always changing.

To install the memory, I opened up the eMac's memory access bay on the bottom of the machine by removing the single screw. I then removed the one of the two memory modules in the eMac and replaced it with the new 512 MB module.
eMac memoryI replaced one of these two 128MB modules with a 512 MB module

I wrapped things back up and booted the eMac. I went to "About This Mac", and saw that the Mac was happy with 640 MB (512 MB + 128 MB). [These days, I recommend you get two 512 MB modules, bringing the Mac up to a full 1 GB of memory]

In the past we had problems opening more than two applications at once - but with the new memory I was able to open 5 or 6 applications, all with great performance.

Upgrading to the OS

The eMac was running "Jaguar", OS X v10.2 - a reliable version of Mac OS X. But Tiger (OS X v10.4) is a substantial improvement. Those with a faster eMac (> 867 Mhz) may want to upgrade to Leopard.

It was a no-brainer to upgrade the OS, and upgrading is easy if your eMac has a DVD drive (and if you don't have a DVD drive, read my comments on Firewire enclosures, above).

The upgrade to Tiger was a simple exercise of inserting the Tiger DVD into the DVD drive and clicking through the menus. The upgrade process retained all of the eMac's user accounts, data, and applications, so I experienced no loss of any data or programs.

When the upgrade completed I rebooted the machine and performed a "software update" to patch Tiger from version 10.4 to the latest patch release [10.4.4 as of 12-Jan-06].

The entire Tiger upgrade took about 70 minutes to install, and had no negative consequences.

Leftover Parts

I'm happy to say that I didn't have any leftover screws. However, I did have some parts:
  • One 128 MB memory module. This is now installed in my father's clunker PC. Yep, this old eMac memory is 100% compatible with my Dad's Windows-based PC.
  • One 40 GB IDE drive. I'm going to keep this around for a while until the 160 GB drive has been running for a few months. After that, the 40 GB drive will land in my dad's PC.
Conclusions

In all, the eMac now rocks - although it still only runs at 700 MHz, the addition of 512 MB of memory, an upgraded OS, and a larger hard drive significantly improves performance.

Buying components for the eMac is very easy. Memory, hard drives, and Firewire enclosures are readily available from many vendors at low cost.

2006-01-03

Ripping Vinyl LP Records

Turntable used for ripping vinyl records If you're like me, you have a large collection of vinyl LP records that rarely get played because CDs and MP3 players are so much more convenient. And if you're like me, you want to move all of your audio assets into a more accessible format - your iPod - so that you can finally put that turntable away.

Ripping Vinyl to your iPod

The solution, of course, is to rip your LPs and cassettes. This entails playing each recording, digitizing the music as it plays, and then putting the digitized music into a form that any iPod can use.

My goal during this project was to develop an easy, repeatable, and very high quality process to digitize LPs. This article explains the process.

The Rules of High Quality Vinyl Ripping

Accuracy. On your home hifi system, you look to hear the best sound in your ears. The digitization process is fundamentally different. Digitization is all about capturing the source analog signal as accurately as possible. Do you have a fancy $5000 A/V receiver? Lose it! Such a component will give you no ripping advantage, and very likely will be a quality liability. Digitization is NOT about amplification, it's about accuracy. (after digitization we can put the signal though filters to improve the sound).

Symmetry. When you listening to music, you might like to tweak a couple of settings to suit the room, your listening preference, or to correct an imperfect recording. Don't do it! While digitizing, you want your analog signal to be completely consistent with the analog recording. While you're digitizing, don't move cables or adjust analog settings. Make sure the turntable is well isolated. And avoid power fluctuations that can noise up an otherwise stable analog signal. Don't cook that microwave pizza until you're done, because that noise will very possibly end up in your digitized signal.

Conversion Quality. You don't need the $100 cables, but the cheap bargain-bin cables won't do either. You don't need and shouldn't use speakers - speakers are for listening - and digitization is not listening. And you need a good sound card for quality analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) is critical.

Digitization Equipment and Tools

I started by placing a commodity home amplifier and turntable into the room where my computer resides. Now don't think I went to crazy rearranging all of my equipment - I didn't need speakers or other equipment.

I connected the turntable and receiver into a UPS unit, which also serves as an excellent power conditioner.

The amplifier's role in this project is not the same as it's role while listening to music. During the digitization process, the amp's role is only to act as a pre-amp, feeding the sound card with the milliwatt-level signal sourced from the turntable. Since there is no delivery of sound to the speakers, there is no benefit to using a high wattage amp. In fact, a larger unit will likely just introduce additional noise into the system.

Admittedly I'm a bit of a sound snob, so I did upgrade a few capacitors in the pre-amp section of the amp I used. But most people will get excellent results without getting funky with the circuitry.

Cables

I used generic cables for this set-up. Normally I'd use high quality cables, but given the rapid setup and tear-down of this setup, there was no chance for any oxidization to form between mating surfaces. I love high quality cables for a system that I configure once. But fancy cables are pointless for a one-shot analog digitization system used over the period of a few months.

The Ripping Process
  1. Remove the disc from its dust jacket and check for physical defects. Avoid ripping a damaged disc that will ruin your cartridge.
  2. Clean the record with a quality cleaning tool to minimize noise from dirt. I like the Stanton Record Cleaner Kit. I use a home-made cleaning solution.
  3. Cue up the disc. Start the recording process in Audacity.
  4. As the disc is played, verify the line-in level in Audacity. You want the level to be as high as possible without peaking at 100%. This is highly dependent on the recording and your equipment. In general, the longer the LP in play time, the higher you'll have to set the line-in level.
  5. At the disc run-out, stop the recording process
  6. Save the captured file as a WAV file
  7. Repeat for Side 2.
The same process can work with all forms of audio tape. I have a lot of DBX tape. Same idea, similar process.

Encoding


After you rip, you should convert the files to a lossless compression format for archival. I find that FLAC reduces file size by about 33%. Once I have about 4 GB of FLAC files (about 18 LPs worth of music), I archive the "master" rips onto DVD-R.

My recording program, Audacity, generates WAV files. I then lossless-compress these files into flac form:

flac -V -8 my_album_side_1.wav

This will losslessly convert the WAV file into FLAC at it's best ("-8") compression rate. Flac will verify ("-V") that the resulting file can be converted back into the same exact WAV file. Cool! From there I burn the resulting FLAC files to DVD-R for archival purposes. I find I can put about 18 LPs worth of music on a DVD-R.

I usually don't listen to the FLAC files - they're my "master digitized copy" in case some new music encoding technology comes around the bend.

iPods and other MP3 players

I convert the FLAC files to MP3 format when I want to put them on my iPod. This saves even more space than FLAC, at the expense of sound quality. Since I do most of my iPod listening on the train or in the car, sound quality just isn't that import (too much ambient noise).

Converting the lossless files into MP3 is is also an easy process:
flac -sdc my_album_side_1.flac | lame - my_album_side_2.mp3

Conclusions and Further Thoughts

The digitization process is simple, and can be successfully accomplished using common hardware and freely available software. The important part is to have a consistant, quality digitization so that filters will work appropriately across an entire LP.

In conclusion, converting Vinyl (and other analog recordings) into MP3s should be performed in distinct steps. The distinct steps allow you to have a master lossless copy of the recording in digitized form. After the creation of the master digitized copy, you may apply countless filters and transformations to clean, break apart, or otherwise manipulate the sound. If you need to re-apply transformations, you won't have a need to re-digitize - you'll already have a lossless digital master on hand.

If you'd like more information on the particular hardware and software I use, please drop me a note.

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