Resurrect your "extinct" vinyl records & tapes as personal CD-R (or MP3) backups!
Written: Jan 15, 2007 (Updated Dec 30, 2008)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Colorful and friendly, this WAV/MP3 recording/editing software is also multifaceted and powerful.
Cons:The (menu-accessible) module for writing from hard-drive to CD-R, while functional, looks rather spartan.
The Bottom Line: Along with WAV/MP3 editing, this software helps create personal CD-R backups of your out-of-print, vinyl records/tapes that sound "very good" (albeit not fully as good as professionally mastered, commercial CDs).
UPDATE INSERTED HERE AS OF 12-30-2008: I wrote this review nearly two years ago (after having bought this software roughly a year earlier than that). Although this software still works fine for me using "Windows XP," I can't personally vouch for whether it's fully compatible with "Windows VISTA." (See the "comment" posted on this review last August! That said, today I checked DAK's web site, and they claim that (their current version of) this software IS fully compatible with Windows Vista--albeit not Macintosh. I presume, then, that this software has relatively recently been updated for Vista compatibility; but, again, I can't can't personally vouch for that, because I myself am still using it only with Windows "XP.")
I very recently reviewed the "DAK PC Interface Preamp Mixer," which, via its $69.90 "bundled" version, already includes this software (not to mention some separate, highly effective, noise-reduction software). But since this "DAK Wave MP3 Editor/Recorder Pro" software can also be purchased separately, I'll go ahead and review it here.
As I write this, the "DAK Wave MP3 Editor/Recorder Pro" software can be purchased for $19.95 via DAK's web site at the following addresses:
To see this software included on DAK's home page, copy and paste the below URL onto your browser line:
OR, to see DAK's product page specifically for this software, copy and paste the below URL onto your browser line:
You can use this friendly, well-documented software in a variety of ways, including: ripping WAV to MP3 files (which, due to the very plain-looking "CD Ripper" module, is frankly not its most appealing feature); recording/editing using a microphone attached to your PC; or recording/editing using a phonograph turntable or tape player (perhaps in conjunction with DAK's separately sold "PC Interface Preamp Mixer," which I mentioned at the outset of this review).
I find this software especially useful for converting some of my ancient, presumably "never-to-be-reissued" vinyl LPs to "CDs" (i.e., CD-R's that generally play perfectly--and sound "very good or better"--on any compact disc player). Of course, such "homemade" LP-backups generally won’t have sound "100%" as pure and dynamic as professionally remastered, retail CD's, which, after all, are typically created via original studio masters. Accordingly, I only use this DAK software as a last resort, i.e., for a relative few of my obscure, vinyl titles that have no likelihood of ever being commercially reissued in digital form. [And, obviously, such backups are strictly for the current vinyl record (or tape) owner's own, personal use.]
If you want to thusly backup your own "extinct" vinyl (or tapes*) and you don't already own the hardware to interface a phono turntable (or tape player*) to your (Windows) computer, I heartily advise you to spring for DAK's $69.90 "package deal" (software-plus-hardware bundle) via the following web page:
*NOTE REGARDING DUBBING FROM MOST TAPE PLAYERS (INSTEAD OF FROM PHONOGRAPH TURNTABLES, WHICH REQUIRE PREAMPLIFICATION HARDWARE): Actually, for dubbing many "not-too-critical" cassette-tape recordings (e.g., audiobooks or even music) from tape to computer (and then, presumably, from computer to a CD-R or MP3 player), all you'll absolutely need in the way of connective "hardware" is an appropriate, cheap cable (visit Radio Shack!) to connect your old portable cassette "Walkman's" headphone jack (or your "non-portable" cassette deck's left/right audio-output jacks) to your computer's "LINE IN" jack. And for many "not-too-critical" recordings you might opt to skip the below-discussed "noise-reduction" step (requiring separate software).
However you buy it, this DAK "Wave/MP3 Editor/Recorder" software is a spiffy, likable, easy-to-use program. Initially, there's a bit of a learning curve involved, but Drew A. Kaplan (proprietor of "DAK") has gone to incredible lengths to provide some of the most detailed online (or e-book) tutorials I've ever beheld for a product of this ilk. You can freely access such a page via the following URL [however, a superior (and more detailed) version of that tutorial is provided as an "e book" to purchasers of this software]:
Once you go to the latter web page and behold Mr. Kaplan's remarkably detailed, step-by-step tutorial (including full-color images), you'll readily perceive why it would be foolish for me to waste my (or your) time with my own purely textual "tutorial" here.
However, I'll merely outline that, in order to use this software to convert an old vinyl record (e.g., a music LP) or an analog tape (e.g., a cassette) to a "CD" (i.e., a recordable CD-R disc--containing WAV files--that will play on essentially any compact disc player), you'll basically have to perform the following four, fundamental steps [and any details I don't mention below will be fully explained via DAK's own various tutorials]:
1. Recording. Record your music LP (or tape) onto your computer's hard drive via: a turntable (or tape player); a connected preamp (DAK's own tiny, aforementioned mixer, with its built-in preamp and “electrical-hum elimination,” works especially well); your connected computer; and this DAK software (which easily allows you to control and monitor the simple recording process). The sonic "peaks and valleys" of the recording signal are clearly graphed on your computer screen as your vinyl record plays, and, before you actually begin recording, you can easily adjust the DAK hardware and software controls until the size (amplitude) of the "peaks" is "just right" for optimal sound quality of the dub you'll create on your computer's hard disc.
2. Editing. Edit the recording that's on your hard drive. Specifically, you'll simply need to use your mouse to "separate" (i.e., create brief "gaps" between) the various songs (tracks) that you'll later want to select, program, and play via your compact disc player. This is pretty easy; it generally requires only a wee bit (perhaps two or three minutes) of your visual inspection in order for the songs' audible beginnings and endings to end up perfect on your hard drive and the CD-R that you'll subsequently burn. [Note: You can be impatient (or lazy) and just tell the software to automatically separate all the tracks for you, but I wouldn't expect that option always to work as reliably with certain LP's as the somewhat more time-consuming (but foolproof) "manual" approach.]
3. Add "noise-reduction." Actually, this step is purely optional, but you'd be foolish to overlook it, given that the (separate) noise-reduction software that DAK likewise includes with its $69.90 bundle is so easy to use. You simply need to run that noise-reduction software (separately from this recording/editing/ripping software) that doesn't require you to do anything so (modestly) tedious as the aforementioned track-separation steps. Instead, you'll simply click (or accept the default settings for) a few checkboxes to specify what kind(s) of noise-reduction you want to apply. For example, you can (virtually) eliminate "large ticks" (i.e., those occasional, relatively nasty and noisy nicks or scratches on the surface of a vinyl record); and/or you can essentially eliminate all the "small pops" (i.e., the relatively modest but continual "background noise" that's inherent in vinyl, especially after it's been played many times). The noise-reduction step does require some extra time (e.g., perhaps up to an hour per LP, depending on your computer's processing power); but it's well worth it. You won't believe how effectively that software can virtually eliminate even the worst vinyl "noise"!
4. Transfer the fully processed dub from your computer's hard drive to a recordable CD-R. You can either use this software's rather plain-looking "CD Writer" module (via the "Tools" drop-down menu and the "CD Ripper" option), or you could substitute any comparable CD-writing software you might prefer.
Now you're ready to play the resulting "LP-backup" CD-R in virtually any compact disc player. Its sound quality might not fully match that of a commercial CD, but it should seem "close enough" to delight your ears!
Why didn't I rate this product "five stars"?
Again, about the only thing I don't fully love about this DAK software doesn't involve its primary GUI (i.e., the colorful recording/editing "main panel" itself) but rather an included module (available via the "Tools" dropdown menu's "CD Ripper" option) for copying your fully processed dub from your hard drive onto a blank CD-R disc. That bare-bones "CD Writer" module's on-screen interface (GUI) looks sharply spartan contrasted with the pleasingly colorful, intricately detailed, and very friendly recorder/editor panel itself. Nonetheless, the "CD Writer" does its job all right. Besides (I repeat), you could easily substitute any comparable CD-writing software you might prefer.
This DAK software is user-friendly, multifaceted, and powerful. I heartily recommend it, especially if you use it in conjunction with DAK's aforementioned noise-reduction software and DAK's handy little mixer (with built-in preamp). In this light, then, perhaps the ideal way to acquire this software is to shell out $69.90 for DAK's complete "software-plus-hardware" bundle via the following web page:
P.S.: I also suggest you read the following review titled Supercharge your CD collection! at the following Epinions page: http://www.epinions.com/content_295802670724
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