3 A Digital Audio Workstation
Why do we need to convert analog to digital audio?
Analog storage saves information physically. Many of these have sentimentalvalue for past generations and some early millennials. But there are manyproblems associated with them.With repeated usage, the sound on tapes starts getting distorted. The physicalstorage devices are vulnerable to damage or getting lost.Digital audio files are easy to share, edit, and transcribe.Digital is easy to share, edit, and you can even access it remotely with theemergence of cloud storage.It also makes it easy to use the sound. For example, you can use automation togenerate transcripts of digital audio. This would not be possible with analog.Similarly, it is easier to e-mail someone an attachment than sending aphysical copy.
Types of digital audio formats
The introduction of computers made room for new formats of audio. The WAV forMicrosoft and AIFF for Apple computers stored audio without compression. Theseare still in use, though casual listeners prefer compression to save diskspace.Compressed audio can be in lossy formats, mp3 being the most common of these.Lossy means that the file goes through the removal of several parts. These areusually parts that have the least effect on the perception of sound quality.The best way to listen to audio files today is by using lossless compressionformats such as FLAC or ALAC. A sound engineer might prefer uncompressedfiles. But mp3 is clearly not as rich as the other formats. The differencemight not be clear to the casual listener. You will also need a decent pair ofheadphones or speakers to be able to appreciate it.So you must carefully decide the audio format you wish to convert to based onthe purpose.
Can you easily convert analog audio to digital?
Yes, the process of digitizing a cassette tape or vinyl is fairly easy initself. But most tapes and records have worn out over time. To optimize theirquality, you might need professional help.You might prefer doing it at home but might not have the proper devices atyour disposal. In this case, it is more convenient to hire a company for theconversion.If you’re planning to digitize analog media yourself, you can do this byusing:
1. An analog Player
You will need a working turntable or tape deck. You can use an old machine orbuy one from online sellers such as Reverb. Make sure that the player isworking properly. Use a pair of headphones to check the output plug.
3. A Digital Audio Workstation
A DAW is a software that lets you record and edit audio tracks. You can useopen-source software such as Audacity to do so. If you have a large catalog,you may consider investing in software such as Ableton, Avid Pro Tools orLogic Pro for Mac.You can also use dedicated conversion software such as Pure Vinyl, but using aDAW gives you more flexibility while editing.
1. Set up the analog player
* Check if your tape deck is working properly. * Plug one end of the audio cable into the tape deck’s line-out jack and the other end into the computer’s line-in jack. * Download and install the Audacity software. * Open the software and locate the microphone icon on the top menu bar. * Click on the dropdown menu next to the microphone icon and select the audio input. Your connected device should be listed as a line-in device. * Do a test run to check if the sound is being properly captured.TIP: Make sure the recorded audio has optimum gain levels. If the signal istoo weak, it becomes susceptible to noise. If it is too high, the audio willget clipped. Ideally, the signal should peak between -12db and -6db.When adjusting the gain, start from the source and check the output and inputlevels one by one. Change the gain in the DAW last.
2. Record the sound
* Rewind the tape to the beginning (or to the point you wish to begin recording from). * Record the file on your computer by clicking the Record button (the red dot) in the software. * Press the “Play” button on your tape deck. * If you want to convert the entire recording, let both the sides run the full length and split it later. This will ensure consistent volume throughout the recording. * Stop by clicking the square button in Audacity when your required section is recorded. * Press the “Stop” button on your tape deck.TIP: Starting to record first will help you avoid accidental cropping of thesound clip. You can trim the recording later on to remove the gaps.
3. Edit the Audio in the DAW
* Now, you should edit out the gaps and distribute the audio into separate tracks. * Select the track you wish to edit. * Split it by going to the point you want to divide it and clicking split under the Edit tab. * Delete the unnecessary gaps.
4. Export the digital audio files
* Under the File tab and select Export. * Choose the desired format to export the file. * Add meta details such as track name, artist, year, etc.TIP: Remember, saving and exporting are not the same. Saving a file willproduce an editable format for the DAW which is not playable by media players.Use mp3 or AIFF for casual listening. Use WAV for further production and FLACor ALAC for high definition audio. If you’re not sure of the file type, use anuncompressed one such as WAV. You can always convert the file later.
Get Your Analog Recordings Digitized For Transcription
Once you have the audio in a digital format, you may use it in clips of videosfor both formal and informal uses. You may use it by itself or overlay a videowith it using a video editor. Don’t wait for your old tapes to get damaged.Digitization will help you preserve these valuable audios. What’s more, youcan use them in creative ways that weren’t possible before.You might consider getting subtitles if it is the latter. If it is aninterview, commentary, live event, or a speech, you can further get ittranscribed, maybe even compile it in a book. Transcriptions are betterresources for research as they can be easily searched or browsed through. Theyare also easier to quote or refer to blogs and other media. You can use ourtranscription services to get your transcriptions done professionally.How to Assign Sounds and Samples to a MIDI Keyboard
PCM Audio and Home Theater
PCM is used in CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and other digital audio applications. Whenused in surround-sound applications, it’s often referred to as linear pulsecode modulation (LPCM).A CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc player reads a PCM or LPCM signal off a disc andcan transfer it in two ways: * By retaining the signal’s digital form and sending it to a home theater receiver via a digital optical, digital coaxial, or HDMI connection. The home theater receiver then converts the PCM signal to analog so that the receiver can send the signal through the amplifiers and to the speakers. The PCM signal has to be converted to analog because the human ear hears analog audio signals. * By converting the PCM signal back to analog form internally, and then transferring the re-created analog signal to a home theater or stereo receiver via standard analog audio connections. In this case, the stereo or home theater receiver does not have to perform any additional conversion for you to hear the sound.Most CD players provide only analog audio output connections, so the PCMsignal on the disc must be converted to analog by the player internally.However, some CD players (as well as almost all DVD and Blu-ray disc players)can transfer the PCM audio signal directly, using the digital optical ordigital coaxial connection option. In addition, most DVD and Blu-ray discplayers can transfer PCM signals via an HDMI connection. Check your player andstereo or home theater receiver for your connection options.
The analog multiplexing techniques involve signals which are analog in nature.The analog signals are multiplexed according to their frequency (FDM) orwavelength (WDM).Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM)In analog multiplexing, the most used technique is Frequency DivisionMultiplexing FDM. This technique uses various frequencies to combine streamsof data, for sending them on a communication medium, as a single signal.Example: A traditional television transmitter, which sends a number ofchannels through a single cable, uses FDM.Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM)Wavelength Division Multiplexing is an analog technique, in which many datastreams of different wavelengths are transmitted in the light spectrum. If thewavelength increases, the frequency of the signal decreases.Example: Optical fibre Communications use the WDM technique, to mergedifferent wavelengths into a single light for the communication.