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Examples

“Nola” (Don Parker Trio, 78 recorded in 1922)

78s of that era were played on Victrolas and the like, using steel needles in tone arm heads with tracking weight measured in ounces rather than grams.  Fragile to begin with, shellac records became increasingly worn with repeated playing.

 

In the first clip, you’ll hear crackle (“fry noise”) and hiss throughout, all of which cleaned up nicely in the second clip.  There’s a slight loss of music overtones at higher frequencies (around 4K Hz), but as this is where a lot of the hiss resided, the slight muting of the music was an acceptable trade-off for the significant reduction of surface noise.  This particular record was in relatively good shape and required no Waveform Editing

Conversion only:

With Noise Reduction:

“Almost Good” (David Seville, 45 recorded in 1958)

Like LPs, 45s were made of vinyl and would fare as well over time.  However, record players of that era were built to drop records onto the platter from a suspended stack, and tonearms were heavy and not especially well aligned.  Lots of surface noise accrued through “normal” playing, and it’s evident on this record.  Note the pervasive clicks and pops in the first clip.  There's also groove damage that manifests itself periodically as distortion.  It cannot be removed, and you'll hear it in all three clips.

 

Noise Reduction removed a significant amount of clicks, ticks, and crackle, as well as major pops (second clip), but it left several small pops.  More aggressive noise reduction would have affected the percussion and possibly introduced “metallic” artifacts.  Waveform Editing was performed to address the remaining pops.  The third clip is a reasonably clean rendition—except for the distortion mentioned above.

Conversion only:

With Noise Reduction:

With Waveform Editing:

“Jacques, Come Here” (church high school choir, LP recorded in 1967)

This LP was in pretty good shape, and the clips below were taken from the end of one of the tracks.  You’ll hear clicks and a bit of hiss in the first clip, but Noise Reduction removed almost all this unwanted noise (second clip).  The handful of clicks that escaped the noise reduction software were easily addressed in Waveform Editing (third clip).

 

In the first clip, you may have noticed that the recording ends abruptly, about one second after the choir stopped singing but well before room reverberations had decayed naturally.  Unfortunately, this occurred in several of the album’s tracks.  As one choir member recalled, the recording was made using a home tape recorder.  At some point between recording and creating the master for cutting the LP, tracks were truncated prematurely without accounting for reverberation decay.  In the Noise Reduction step, a fade-out was added in that one second of reverberation.  While the song still sounds like it ends abruptly, the fade-out renders it a little less jarring.

Conversion only:

With Noise Reduction:

With Waveform Editing:

Testimonials

Paul, this is terrific!   The sound quality is better than I expected.  I want it to have that “period” sound for authenticity while still being perfectly audible, and it is.  Thank you for such fine work. — David M. 2023

Paul’s Note:  The “’period’ sound” David mentioned refers to a 1947 network news broadcast that had been transcribed onto nitrocellulose lacquer 78s.  For his purposes, he wanted the tonal quality to be consistent with what one would have heard on the radio.  Relevant portions of the audio were included in the customer's documentary film Barbara Stephens in China — The Untold Story, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N88Qg-toP80.  Play It Again, Paul, LLC was credited at the end of the film.

 

 

 

 

I hope you continue to help people like me!  Such a great job. — Tom O., 2023

I had a box of old cassette tapes—old as in the late 70's and early 80's—before we began saving memories with video recordings.  I pulled out this box recently and realized that many of those tapes represented precious memories.  Many were, for instance, interviews with my grandmother about why she came to America and what life was like back in Sicily at the turn of the 20th Century, or with my long-deceased father about growing up as the son of immigrants, and incredible stories of his role in WWII with the US Navy in the Pacific.  I realized that these were going to be lost forever as no one has the ability to play them anymore.  I also realized that many were not in the best shape, that some were recorded almost 50 years ago and not by audio experts.  I decided to see if I can save them by being digitized.  I found Paul through his website, and the rest I can say now is "history."  He digitized all the various tapes and found ways to improve the quality of the recordings in ways I didn't know was possible.  He communicated with me daily on his progress with each cassette, asking pertinent questions and taking great care to ensure each one was being memorialized in a fashion that my children, and their children in the future would be able to listen and connect with ancestors long gone.  I have never had a better experience with a business.  He was pleasant to deal with, totally responsive and timely, and delivered more than I had expected.  I wish more businesses had the same excellent customer service attitude and honesty that Paul does. — Thomas B.’s Yelp review, 2022

I want to share an amazing resource I discovered for a local business that converts old records and tapes to digital formats.  I found an old microcassette from an answering machine and wanted to save some messages from my parents from so long ago.  While Googling, I found "Play It Again, Paul", based locally.  Paul converts all types of old media to digital files, and he is amazing.  Part of his service is he picks up and delivers the old media, sends an email asking preferences on titles, etc. and emails a link to the digital files.  His rates are very reasonable, and he is very detail oriented and respectful of the original materials. — Adapted from Doreen T.’s post on a community Facebook page, 2022

 

Thanks, Paul.  Excellent work!!! — Daniel L., 2022

 

Overall, I can't appreciate enough what you have done including the pick-up and drop-off, your detailed explanations, patience with the questions etc.  On top of that, the fee you are charging is minuscule compared to the level of your service. — R. G., 2022

Paul's Note:  While I could simply provide customers what they ask for, I believe it's a better practice to offer alternatives.  Sometimes this involves simply mentioning the options; other instances warrant detailed descriptions, pros and cons, and recommendations if appropriate.

I’m afraid professionals like you with this positive attitude who don’t only look for money are becoming extinct! — G. H., 2021

I know that you are sensitive to any shortcomings you hear on a given track, and you are very conscientious about weighing the pros and cons of technical enhancements and always involve me in the decision.  This is excellent. — G. H., 2022

Paul’s Note:  The first commend was made following a particularly challenging project.  Half of G.’s tapes required a special, rare, and expensive adapter to play them (I stumbled upon someone in Canada who graciously sold me one of his), and another tape required special physical treatment before I could risk playing it (I found someone in Maryland who treated the tape for me).  I remarked to G. that I valued these learning experiences, and my remark elicited his comment.  The second commend was made during a subsequent project involving DAT cassettes.

I was very pleased with Paul when he discovered a less expensive way to get my job done.  This help saved me half of my cost.  He is certainly honest and gives good direction and communication to his customers.  I highly recommend him for tape conversions. — Ed W., 2020

Paul’s Note:  After converting the first of Ed’s set of five cassettes, I started searching the Internet for some possible album art.  I discovered that the set of CDs was available for purchase and informed him of what I had found.

You're a miracle worker! — Linda M., 2020

It’s such wonderful news to be on the verge of completing this audio-heirloom for my family!  I’m confident these treasured performances my father recorded will continue to be played & enjoyed by our next generation.  Your technical skills are invaluable and your organization, communication and attention to detail have been superb. — Steven, 2020

Paul did a wonderful job of reviving some old cassette tapes and small reel to reel tapes of family phone calls and talks with relatives to capture parts of my family history.  He utilized several methods of editing which made the files very easy to listen to even though the original tapes had lots of noise and were recorded on cheap battery powered tape machines.  The results far exceeded my expectations.  I am grateful for his help. — Larry H., 2019

Paul's Note:  Larry's satisfaction was evidenced by a follow-on project, again involving family history recordings.

 

Paul did a great job of converting my treasured family memories from cassettes made in the 70's and 80's (by my late parents and their deceased friends) to digital format.  He did noise-reduction and metadata tagging, and separated tracks and merged tracks where appropriate.  He is technical and yet easy to communicate with. — Randy S., 2019

Paul was in regular communication, which led to the best outcome possible with very old tapes. Paul was a master at editing the tapes so that they sound far better now than they did then. He was a pleasure to work with. — Peter K., 2019

Paul's Note:  Many of Peter's tapes were of folk music concerts performed by a friend in the mid-1960s.  While the sound quality reflected the use of consumer-grade recorders in less than ideal conditions, the tracks cleaned up nicely.  Peter was in touch with his friend during the project to identify song titles, which meant sharing "work-in-progress" versions of MP3 files.  I was copied on a couple of the email exchanges, and the friend was delighted with the prospect of listening to his concerts from 55 years ago and with the improvement in sound quality.

Paul did a great job of converting my treasured family memories from cassettes made in the 70's and 80's (by my late parents and their deceased friends) to digital format.  He did noise-reduction and metadata tagging, and separated tracks and merged tracks where appropriate.  He is technical and yet easy to communicate with.  Randy S., 2019, taken from his review on Nextdoor

I am delighted to give my highest praise to Play It Again Paul.  Over the past few months, Paul digitized and distilled my family’s treasured 30 audio reel to reel tapes and 4 lacquer records from the 1940s to the 1970s into 12 CDs, which were complete with titles and detailed track information.  Paul is organized and cares about doing the best job he possibly can do.  He worked patiently in tweaking the volume, speed, noise reduction or whatever else he needed to do to preserve my family memories so that they sound as clear and accurate as possible.  He promptly got done anything I asked him to do.  He always had an overview of our project and was able to help organize all my materials into compilations that made sense.  He also paid attention to details and tied up all the loose ends.   The resulting CDs are a true treasure.  I hope you will use Paul as he really is a true professional and extremely competent.  I would not hesitate to use him again. — Karen S., 2018

Paul's Note:  This has been my largest, most complex, and most challenging project to date, and I'd take on something similar in a heartbeat. It was clear from the outset that Karen attached significant emotional value to her recordings, as they comprised audio snapshots of the lives of her and her sisters from infancy to young adulthood, as well as of her parents, grandmother, and friends.  The satisfaction I received from successfully solving numerous unusual audio anomalies pales to that which I gained from being able to enhance and organize her recordings into a sustainable format.

Paul, I listened to the recording you created for me.  It was truly magic, well done. — M. K., 2017

 

I couldn't bring myself to write a check for only $2.00 with all the effort you've put into my project....  Thanks so much! — Jo Ann P., 2017

Paul's Note:  This was a follow-on project where I converted the tracks from two of her CDs to MP3 files and forwarded them to her through the Internet cloud.  The total cost was $2.00.  I never mention, let alone suggest, gratuities.  When they come, I welcome them as an indication of customers' appreciation, which means a lot to me.

We have many treasured, well used record albums that we could no longer play and needed them converted to an accessible digital medium so that we could once again enjoy the great music.  We contacted Play It Again Paul based on a friend's recommendation, and received prompt advice on the choices for digital conversion.  As a musician himself, Paul truly has a passion and respect for the quality of the music.  After reviewing the options with Paul, we decided to have the music both made into CD's and uploaded to the cloud, so that we would have multiple options for playback.  He did not try to sell us more than we needed, and we are delighted with the quality of the music he delivered.  Paul was able to largely eliminate the crackles, pops and other extra sounds.  So we are truly enjoying once again our treasured music from years past. — David B., 2017, extracted from his review on Angie’s List

Paul’s Note:  It was a delight working with him as we discussed what would be best for his wife and him regarding choice of CDs and cases, noise reduction, MP3 bit rate, gapless play, and track naming conventions for a classical album.

I was able to download the files and also burn them to CD.  I was so happy to be able to listen to the music while driving.  I am also extremely happy with the quality of recording!!! — M. T., 2017

The CDs are delightful! — A. M., 2017

You did a remarkable job with my recordings, fantastic. — M. K., 2016

Paul’s Note:  M. K.’s vinyl albums were predominantly Middle Eastern music and favored a small drum known as a dumbeg.  In the waveform, the dumbeg’s sounds resembled pops, and that presented special challenges.  Running the noise reduction software with less aggressive parameters removed most of the unwanted noise while leaving the dumbeg’s sound undisturbed, and the “true” pops that remained were manually edited out of the waveforms.

Paul worked a miracle.  I recently rediscovered a nearly 20 year old micro-cassette tape recording of an informal interview with an elderly relative about my father's family history.  The tape was recorded on a small hand-held recorder in the kitchen during a family visit.  The relative has since passed away, and the audio on the tape was very difficult to understand.  Paul converted the contents to a digital format and cleaned up the sounds to the point where it is almost like being in the same room again with the four participants in that conversation.  The contents of that tape are a genealogical "gold mine" for my family.  Thank you, Paul! — Mike S., 2016

Paul’s Note:  Mike’s portable Microcassette voice recorder captured its own transport noise in the recordings.  Besides being distracting, that noise made it more difficult to understand the conversations.  Applying narrow-band notch filter equalization removed the transport noise without interfering with the voices.

Paul is someone I've long known to be able turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.  Imagine what he can do if you provide him with silk.  Nice, nice work on a live concert that was recorded semi-professionally (the silk) and turned into a very nice CD by Paul. — Michael L., 2015

Paul’s Note:  Volume adjustment and waveform editing (attenuating footsteps on the stage, fading applause, removing “dead time,” deleting a cough, and dealing with a digital click in the original recording) were straightforward.  The challenge presented by this project was linking left and right channels that were provided as separate WAV files.

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