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I would like to digitize my vinyl collection which consists mainly in electronic music.

My setup is the following:
- 2 Technics 1210 MK2
- Ortofon Concorde DJ E Cartridges (Frequency range at 3dB - 20-22.000 Hz, Frequency response 20-20.000 Hz +/-2 dB)
- Pioneer DJM-500 mixer
- Mac Pro 2010 (2x12core, 32Gb RAM, ...)
- VinylStudio V8.8

I started with some test recordings by simply connecting my mixer to the line in at my Mac Pro and recording WAV at 24bit and 96kHz. In this way I can already adjust db.

I am in doubt about two areas: Cartridges and how to connect my turntable to my Mac Pro.

I was considering in buying a dedicated cartridge for recording my vinyl. I could afford an Ortofon 2M Blue which would give me a wider frequency range (Frequency range at 3dB - 20-25.000 Hz, Frequency response 20-20.000 Hz +2 / -1 dB). This would cost me 250 euro. Is it necessary or does my DJ E already provide a decent audio quality?

Furthermore, can I attach my turntable through my mixer to the line in of my Mac Pro 2010 or should I get an external Audiointerface instead of using the line in? I read on other forums that some people have to buy amps, usb-turntables, etc., but since I already have a very good mixer and turntable I was wondering if I really need a phonopreamp/analog-digital converter (ADC)?

I mean, obviously I will always get more quality if I invest more money, but I thought I might accept to invest 500-600 euro in order to bring my setup to a good standard and not much more. I always considered the internal sound card of my Mac Pro of decent quality (it has line in as well as optical in and out).

I hope someone can give me a hand!

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    You will see a big difference in overall sound quality by using a dedicated audio interface instead of the line in port on your Mac. I would ignore the numerical specifications of the different phono cartridges and choose the one that sounds best to your ears. If you like what you're hearing now then use your current cartridge. If you've heard the other cartridge and you prefer it to your current one, then you know best how much you're willing to spend fo that improvement. Trust your ears, don't trust specifications from manufacturers. – Todd Wilcox Jan 4 '16 at 18:11
  • Thank you for your advice. My setup improved from my last post. It is now T1210MK2 + Shure M97xE cartridge with Jico SAS stylus + Pro-Ject Tube Box S phono pre amp, I also organized Yamaha monitors in order to be able to judge sound more accurately. Now I am left with the A/D convertion. I was considering one of the following solutions: 1) used internal Soundcard such as RME HDSPe AIO, 2) external audio interface such as Roland, focusrite, used RME or 3) portable audio recorder such as TASCAM DR-100 MKII. What would be the best way to proceed? – SEJU Jan 20 '16 at 19:28
  • I want to recommend recording through USB if you can and eliminate the small line contact. I get "good enough" sound from technics 1200 via Pioneer DJ mixer through a Mackie ProFx16 and the usb to PC. It is a big difference when eliminating the small line connection and recording through USB. – Niklas Rosencrantz Sep 20 '16 at 20:06
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After doing a lot of research I came up with a way of digitizing my records, which I am quite happy with. I posted my recommendations already at Discogs, but would like to share my experience here too.

I have to say that I ended up spending much more than I anticipated, but I am fine with that. Recordings sound amazing and let us say I made myself a couple of anticipated birthday presents.

My setting at the beginning was:

1) Ortofon Concorde DJ E 2) Technics 1210 MK2s 3) DJM 500 4) 2010 Mac Pro 5) Denon Receiver UDRA-F07 6) Bose Acoustimass III

I ended up with the following setup:

1) Ortofon 2M Bronze 2) Technics 1210 MK2s 3) Pro-Ject Tube Box S 4) Apogee Duet 5) 2010 Mac Pro 6) Yamaha HS8 (7) Project VC-S

Let us start with the speakers (6). I found it very difficult to judge sound quality with my speakers, even with my Sennheiser HD 25-1. My Bose Acoustimass III are great, but not for this usage. Therefore I "organized" proper monitor speaker (Yamaha HS8). They were essential and improved my ability to judge different settings and their sound. Proper speakers are the first thing someone should get.

(5) I used my Mac Pro with Vinylstudio for recording. Discogs integration in Vinylstudio was really essential for my work.

(4) I bought a used Apogee Duet from "eBay Kleinanzeigen". This is a sort of Craigslist in Germany. The Apogee is an excellent piece of equipment and is working great, although next time I am going to buy such a valuable piece at least on eBay since the buying experience was not that great. Something I learned here.

(3) I bought the Pro-Ject Tube Box S in order to bypass my mixer and go straight into the Audiointerface.

(1) Cartridge: I always used Ortofon and ended up buying a 2M Bronze I found at a acceptable price on amazon. Ortofon 2M was set with 1,5 gr + 1,5 antiskating. Levels of both channels were equal and sound great, although on a blank test recording the stylus shifted. I had to set it to antiskating 3 to keep it centred, but Ortofon told me to keep antiskating at the same value as downforce. I do not know why the Stylus still shifts on a blank record, but since sound quality was ok I went with 1,5gr + 1,5 antiskating as suggested by Ortofon.

At this point I cleaned my discs before recording. I invested in a Project VC-S, which at the time had just come out and I am really pleased with it!!! I was in doubt between the Project and the Okki Nokki, and went with the Project mainly for it’s velocity! Records spin on it with about 2 seconds per rotation and this speeds things up. On the other hand I prefer the compact size of the Okki Nokki, the Project is quite a bit larger in size. I suppose they clean equally well, at least I am really pleased with the results of my Project! I used cleaning fluid + demineralized water to clean my discs before recording. At start I used a small amount of ProJect vinyl cleaner provided with the washing machine, after that I bought a 50 ml bottle of Okki Nokki and at the end a bottle of l’Art du Son. ProJect and Art du Son were both excellent. Also the Okki Nokki fluid was ok, but at a certain point I ended up with a lot of discs, which after hearing them once, had a lot of static charge. I think I cleaned those discs with the Okki Nokki fluid, but i also changed cleaning routine on the Project VC-S and it was also really hot during this period, so I do not know where the static came from.

My final cleaning routine was: 1st: 1 rotation clockwise for applying cleaning solution (H2O & Cleaning fluid) + 1 rotation clockwise with brush + 1 rotation counterclockwise with brush + 1 rotation to vacuum dry in each direction. 2nd: same routine with mineralized water only to clean everything.

At the beginning I used 2 rotations vacuum drying in each direction, maybe this was the cause for the static. Almost all my records are clean now, and when I am going to buy a new or used record I am going to clean them this way in the future.

I recorded everything this way after cleaning my vinyl: 1st: brush vinyl gently with carbon brush. 2nd: Apogee Duet setting 24bit 96kHz 3rd: VinylStudio for recording, splitting and naming, 24bit 96kHz WAV. I do not use any cleanup plugins, only occasionally do I correct some major scratches in VinylStudio. Before exporting I normalize the recordings with the options: Ignore transients, Normalize left and right channels separately, Normalize album sides separately checked.

In order to get a decent gain level I had to set the Project Tube Box S at 51dB instead of the 41dB you would use for MM cartridges. I also had to set the Apogee’s analog input level to +4dBu instead of -10dBV. With my Ortofon 2M + Project at 41dB and Apogee at -10dBV I ended up with gain levels at around -6 to -10dB, with Project at 51dB I got slight over clipping and with my setting I was at -1 to -2dB. I checked with Apogee and Project and they said my settings would be ok and not impact sound quality.

Recording went pretty straight. After circa 300 discs I ended up with small amounts of dirt and fibers on the stylus, which did not go away with the blow of air I used until then, and I started using the small stylus brush to brush the stylus once before each record side. Around that time I also had two records with a bad or without end groove and the stylus went over the label.

After 500 recordings, while recording some Drum n Bass records, I got some distortions. I also was quite curious about the condition of my 2M stylus so I bought a magnifying lens and checked the stylus and saw something really strange. I saw something like a shark tail + a tiny tip on it. I took some demineralized water with the stylus brush and applied some brushes and to my surprise the shark tail was just grease, dirt and tiny fibers and I ended up with the naillike stylus shape I know. After cleaning my discs I do not know where all this dirt came from, maybe the stylus collected it from the two times it ran on the labels? I will now have to check the Drum n Bass recordings for distortions and see if they came from the dirty stylus.

I have to say that I am really pleased with the audio quality! I spend more than I wanted to (about twice of what I wanted to spend in the first place and I keep the monitor speakers out of the bill, since I use them now for music listening). The fact that a new stylus was broken or badly produced was really unfortunate though and I could still cry today!

But I currently have digitized around 600 records and I am really pleased. All the suggestions which were made in this thread improved my resulting sound quality. Cartridge + bypassing old mixer where probably the most important once, but also record cleaning resulted in a remarkable improvement.

I almost have no cracks on my recordings, only some distortions occasionally. I would advice to clean records before digitizing and not use software!

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