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Important Considerations

 

What We Can—and Cannot—Do

We can convert your records and tapes to the digital format of your choice—high-resolution, CD-quality, or MP3—and provide you with a playable product.  We can, depending on the service you select, reduce “broadband” noise (pervasive noise that’s often masked during musical passages, including hiss and hum) and “impulse” noise (clicks, ticks, crackle, and pops) to yield a cleaner and more enjoyable result.

 

While we can produce a better rendition of your music, we cannot produce a perfect one.  We can’t remaster a recording or add anything that isn’t already there, so an original in poor shape will sound better, but not as good as an original that was in better shape.

 

As noted elsewhere, there is a trade-off between noise reduction and the quality of the music:  too much noise reduction can make the music sound dull or "metallic" and remove portions of the percussion, while too little leaves the distracting noise in place.  We strive to remove as much noise as possible while preserving as much of the original music as possible, but it’s a balancing act.

 

Noise Reduction software is capable of removing a lot of noise but will fail to detect or appropriately remedy some anomalies, especially those with signal characteristics similar to the music.  Waveform Editing can address most of the impulse noise that the Noise Reduction software misses, but we cannot detect every anomaly with this manual process.  Though rare, we may be unable to find and correct some anomalies in the digital waveform of your media, even though we can hear that they’re there.

Condition of Your Original Records

Most records are playable, but not all.  Records that are mildly warped or have off-center holes can be recorded, though the result may exhibit slight changes in pitch and tempo with each revolution of the record.  Moderately or severely warped records—as well as those with chips, cracks, or severe scratches—pose a risk to our equipment, and we may decline converting such records depending upon the severity.

 

Skipping occurs when there is damage to the record groove.  If a record skips forward to the next groove, we'll try recording that track again, varying the tracking and/or anti-skate settings.  If the skip persists despite our best efforts, it will become part of the recording, and the discontinuity will be noticeable in the music.  If a record skips backwards (repeating the same groove over and over), we'll nudge the tonearm forward as gently as possible and edit out any repetitions.  We’ve had success in doing this, but some skips have defeated all attempts at remediation.  When this happens, the result may sound just like a forward skip.

 

Badly worn grooves are another problem.  Damage can occur if a record has been played with a stylus that’s defective or the wrong size, and the result can be distortion, a weaker signal, poor capture of the vibrations recorded in the sides of the grooves, or even “pre-echo" or "post-echo”—hearing sound recorded in an adjacent groove.  Extensive Waveform Editing may reduce some of the anomalies.

 

We’ll inform you if a record has an off-center hole, is warped, skips, or has damaged grooves.  You can decide whether to pursue the project.

 

A Note on Copyright

Sound recordings are intellectual property, are generally copyrighted, and thus are afforded protection under several statutes.  Recording industry organizations have at times been aggressive in pursuing those who possess unlicensed copies of protected works, with fines that can exceed $1,000 per song!  As we don't particularly want to get caught up in piracy litigation, we will work only with original recordings.  Vinyl and shellac records are obviously originals, since hardly anybody has both a record press and access to masters.  However, recordings on blank cassettes and tapes are another matter, and we must decline such projects except for personally made recordings of live (and uncopyrighted) performances, generally involving family members.

 

The Doctrine of Fair Use permits you to convert recordings from one format to another (e.g., from records to CDs or MP3 files) for your own use as long as you still possess the original licensed versions.  While you can make a copy for back-up purposes, the doctrine does not allow you to make a copy and give it to your friend.  Since your friend would not have an original licensed version, he or she―and you―would be infringing on the copyright.

 

The above is offered to protect you, our customers, as well as us.  We cannot guarantee that it's comprehensive, but it should alert you to pitfalls that are lurking out there.

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