Do you have a record collection that needs to be dubbed to CD? This could be the easiest way, writes David Hague
In a different life I was a promotions manager for CBS Records (now part of Sony). It was a relatively short-lived career, highlighted only by being involved in the release of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds – I still have an original pressing – and (a perk of the job) the amassing of a huge record collection.
Over time, many of my records have been dumped as they became scratched, or were released on CD and DVD encoded with DTS surround. However I still have a fairly large collection of LPs that either are not yet available on CD, have terrific artwork (a drawback of CDs) or which I want to keep for sentimental reasons. I have a very selective taste and, for those wondering, I only use a Creative Zen player when actually on a plane, not being a great fan of the MP3 format.
Last week, I received for testing a big green box that contained a tiny metal box; a xitel INport that promised it would solve all my problems regarding transferring my records to CD – digitally and with the highest possible fidelity. A big call.
There are other devices out there I have tried without huge success and just recently a turntable with a built-in CD burner has come onto the market, but at $499 this may be a tad expensive for all but the purist audiophile.
The xitel INport is a simple concept. From an out port from your receiver/amplifier, the signal from a turntable is intercepted, transferred to your PC through a USB port, with the supplied software then converting it to a WAV file that can later be burned to CD using something like Nero or Sony Sound Forge.
Does it work?
There were initial problems that had me baffled for a short time. The outgoing signal was exceptionally loud – much louder than the volume control on the amp said it should be – and the sound was quite distorted as well. After checking cables, replacing cables and even an expensive turntable stylus swap, the problem was solved in ‘light globe above the head’ fashion! The turntable I use, an Optimus Lab 1100 from Tandy, has a built in pre-amp allowing you to feed the signal straight to the INport bypassing the amplifier all together. It appeared the combination of the amp and pre-amp was causing, certainly, the loudness and probably the distortion.
Once this was solved, it was a simple task to fire up the software and start recording. You do need to tweak a few of the recording settings to get the perfect signal, but by no means do you a need a degree in sound engineering. One major common problem with this sort of device is also sorted out by the INport in that it has full ground loop isolation built in, so annoying hum that can be picked up by other devices is eliminated.
For the price, this is a fabulous little device and a must for anyone who wants to easily transfer their collection of long playing records to CD. And of course, as the INport uses an out port from your existing amplifier, there is nothing to stop you transferring cassettes, 8 tracks (remember them?) or even reel-to-reel tapes. In short, anything that is hooked up to your amp can have its signal diverted through the INport for recording and later burning.