Using Cool Edit Pro 2.1 (~20 year old program) to record Vinyl.

GotNoRice

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
11,814
About 15 years ago I made 24-bit 96kHz FLAC recordings of all of my Vinyl records. At the time, I did this using the nice analog inputs on my EMU 0404 PCI Soundcard and used Cool Edit Pro 2.1 on the software side. For a good handful of years afterward, I also made it a point to try to make a digital recording the first time I played any new Vinyl Record that I bought. In more recent years, I got more lazy, and have used Streaming more exclusively instead of buying CDs or Vinyl. The lossless recordings of those Vinyl records that I made years ago turned out great and still get used reasonably often.

Recently, a family member cleared out some storage and came across a bunch of old Vinyl records that have sentimental value to them, etc. They would like for me to essentially repeat what I did 15 years ago. They don't actually have a working record player, and would also like to listen in the car, etc. My record player still works fine. On the hardware side, I would be using the Analog Inputs on my Creative X-Fi Titanium HD, which should be up to the task and at least as good as the analog inputs on the EMU 0404 PCI that I had used before. The question is, what should I use on the software side?

I could simply install Cool Edit Pro 2.1 again, for free; the exact same program that I used 15 years ago, and use it again. Despite it being a nearly 20 year old program, it worked well before, and I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't get the job done again. It supports high resolution audio, lossless codecs, ASIO, etc. Not long after Cool Edit Pro 2.1 was released, it was bought by Adobe and became Adobe Audition. Would it make sense to buy subscribe to the latest version of Adobe Audition? I hate Adobe and their subscription pricing models, but if there are tangible advantages then maybe it's worth it. Is there another program that I should look into?
 
i'd hit the high seas for what you can and then CEP should still work, google says its gtg on win10
 
It probably doesn’t support everything you want but there’s also Audacity. If you install the ffmpeg library it can export more options.
 
No I wouldn't buy Audition it isn't bad software, but you can get much better for no subscription.

For pro quality mastering editors (what I used to and still do call 2-track editors) there are two I like:

1) Sound Forge. This is the economical one. The Audio Studio version, which probably does everything you need, is $60. The Pro version which has more bells and whistles is currently $350 so I wouldn't buy it right now, but often goes on sale. You can check out Magix's site to see the differences. You can always upgrade for the difference in cost if you want Pro. I find Sound Forge very easy to use and understand, it has a good intuitive UI and gets the job done well. Sound Forge Audio Studio is usually my go to recommendation to someone who wants to do basic audio recording/editing because it is fairly cheap and very easy to use.

2) Wavelab. This is what I use and like. It's more expensive, $99 for the basic version $500 for the pro version. I'm a Steinberg fan and I really like the features Wavelab has. While not quite as straight forward to use as Sound Forge, I still find it easy and it's processing works better for large numbers of files. I also like its built-in analysis and effects much better. It also integrates better with their other software, like Nuendo, which I use. It also does a better job of building realtime FX chains and working with them on multiple files. The cost is the big issue, even when it goes on sale it is more than Sound Forge Pro, and I do acknowledge it is a little more of a learning curve.


Either one should do what you want nicely. One advantage that both would have over Cool Edit, aside from just being newer and having a more modern UI and such, is that they work with VST2/VST3 plugins so if you have additional audio processing you want to do, you can get effects to do it. CEP was all built-in effects because the standards were pretty new back in the day. Another advantage is realtime effects. CEP was all disk-based non-realtime because 486 CPUs sucked and you couldn't do, well, almost anything in realtime without a DSP. Now you can do whatever you want. So in both programs, but particularly Wavelab, you can insert an FX rack and tune them and hear the results in realtime, they are all non-destructive and don't apply until you tell it to. So you can have your RIAA EQ, your noise reduction, your personal EQ curve, your compressor, your stereo imager, etc all loaded and running in realtime and you can tweak them until you like the result, then apply them in seconds and save the file.
 
Speaking of Wavelab it is on sale right now. $60 for Elements, $300 for pro so at the moment price competitive with Sound Forge.
 
I doubt it would take you more than a month or two right? At which point, the short sub to Adobe Audition is going to be one of your cheapest paid option.

REAPER would be another to consider. It has a 60 day free evaluation period that is fully featured(nothing is locked out during the evaluation). Which agian, might be all the time you need. Also kinda cool that is made by the person who originally made Winamp :)
 
Last edited:
I doubt it would take you more than a month or two right? At which point, the short sub to Adobe Audition is going to be one of your cheapest paid option.

REAPER would be another to consider. It has a 60 day free evaluation period that is fully featured(nothing is locked out during the evaluation). Which agian, might be all the time you need. Also kinda cool that is made by the person who originally made Winamp :)
Two issues with Reaper why I couldn't recommend it for this:

1) It is designed as a DAW not an editor. It'll work, don't get me wrong, you can do anything you need with it. But it is likely to be harder to achieve the desired result of "record track, trim silence, normalize levels, do any post processing." Sound Forge and Wavelab both specialize in that kind of thing and would require less learning.

2) Reaper in particular has a pretty high learning curve. It is very much a "programming nerd makes a DAW" kind of program, not one designed by a sound engineer. While it is extremely flexible, that comes at a cost of ease of use.
 
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I doubt it would take you more than a month or two right? At which point, the short sub to Adobe Audition is going to be one of your cheapest paid option.

REAPER would be another to consider. It has a 60 day free evaluation period that is fully featured(nothing is locked out during the evaluation). Which agian, might be all the time you need. Also kinda cool that is made by the person who originally made Winamp :)

Yeah, I could do it all within a month or two. Ideally, I'd like to be able to make future recordings if I wanted. Vinyl has been making somewhat of a resurgence and is now back to being the most popular physical format for the first time since the 1980's or so. I do appreciate the novelty of the Vinyl format; the one thing that has always bothered me is how the records degrade every time they are played. While the amount of degradation is small in practice, it's still enough to make me think twice about buying new records. Always making a recording of the first play would be a nice way to mitigate this. I would hate to have this option closed to me due to trying to game the subscription costs. I'm not super thrilled about software with a high one-time cost either unless there are tangible advantages beyond "it's newer".

No I wouldn't buy Audition it isn't bad software, but you can get much better for no subscription.

For pro quality mastering editors (what I used to and still do call 2-track editors) there are two I like:

1) Sound Forge. This is the economical one. The Audio Studio version, which probably does everything you need, is $60. The Pro version which has more bells and whistles is currently $350 so I wouldn't buy it right now, but often goes on sale. You can check out Magix's site to see the differences. You can always upgrade for the difference in cost if you want Pro. I find Sound Forge very easy to use and understand, it has a good intuitive UI and gets the job done well. Sound Forge Audio Studio is usually my go to recommendation to someone who wants to do basic audio recording/editing because it is fairly cheap and very easy to use.

2) Wavelab. This is what I use and like. It's more expensive, $99 for the basic version $500 for the pro version. I'm a Steinberg fan and I really like the features Wavelab has. While not quite as straight forward to use as Sound Forge, I still find it easy and it's processing works better for large numbers of files. I also like its built-in analysis and effects much better. It also integrates better with their other software, like Nuendo, which I use. It also does a better job of building realtime FX chains and working with them on multiple files. The cost is the big issue, even when it goes on sale it is more than Sound Forge Pro, and I do acknowledge it is a little more of a learning curve.


Either one should do what you want nicely. One advantage that both would have over Cool Edit, aside from just being newer and having a more modern UI and such, is that they work with VST2/VST3 plugins so if you have additional audio processing you want to do, you can get effects to do it. CEP was all built-in effects because the standards were pretty new back in the day. Another advantage is realtime effects. CEP was all disk-based non-realtime because 486 CPUs sucked and you couldn't do, well, almost anything in realtime without a DSP. Now you can do whatever you want. So in both programs, but particularly Wavelab, you can insert an FX rack and tune them and hear the results in realtime, they are all non-destructive and don't apply until you tell it to. So you can have your RIAA EQ, your noise reduction, your personal EQ curve, your compressor, your stereo imager, etc all loaded and running in realtime and you can tweak them until you like the result, then apply them in seconds and save the file.

The plugins sound interesting but I think most of that is going to be unnecessary for what I'm doing. I have my turntable running into the Phono input of my stereo preamp, and then the Tape output running to the audio input on my soundcard. So the Phono preamp inside my preamp is already taking care of the RIAA EQ. I'm not really looking to make changes to the recording, other than overall audio level, so it's not super quiet compared to my other music files, etc. I'm not sure that I need elaborate plugins for that. I am very interested in if anything I would be doing would be "destructive" vs "non-destructive", as that would definitely quality as a tangible advantage.

It probably doesn’t support everything you want but there’s also Audacity. If you install the ffmpeg library it can export more options.

Audacity definitely sounds like an interesting option, mostly because it's free.

I think at this point I'm leaning toward just trying to see if Cool Edit Pro can still get the job done. The combination of free and already being familiar with the program is hard to pass up unless I'm actually missing out on something by doing so. I can be like one of those people still holding onto Office 2003.
 
The plugins sound interesting but I think most of that is going to be unnecessary for what I'm doing. I have my turntable running into the Phono input of my stereo preamp, and then the Tape output running to the audio input on my soundcard. So the Phono preamp inside my preamp is already taking care of the RIAA EQ. I'm not really looking to make changes to the recording, other than overall audio level, so it's not super quiet compared to my other music files, etc. I'm not sure that I need elaborate plugins for that.

You certainly don't need to do any more processing to do what you want, but there are some things I can think you might want to do:

1) As I said the RIAA EQ, that would be if you wanted to bypass the phono preamp. Depending on the soundcard you have it might have lower noise amps and thus give a better result. Phono pres usually do 40-50dB of gain, which is well withing the range of what mic pres on soundcards can provide (some of those go up to 75dB) so if I were doing it with my gear, I would probably try with the mic pres and digital EQ and see how I liked that vs a dedicated phono preamp.

2) Noise reduction. No matter how good your setup, you'll have noise, and you can reduce that with processing. Not something you want to get aggressive with as it can harm the sound if you crank it, but you can usually get 10dB of noise reduction without a problem. Likewise if there are any clicks/pops they can often be repaired in software.

3) Additional EQ on some tracks. Some records were mastered pretty light on the bass, among other issues, and perhaps you want to modify that. Perhaps you don't as well, but it is something I might do when digitizing things on a per-track basis. I wouldn't want to apply a global EQ, but perhaps some tracks want for a little tuning to my tastes.

4) Relating to your last point, I might choose to apply some dynamic compression and/or limiting to certain tracks. How loud a track sounds to us is basically its RMS average level (little more complex, but close enough for basic work) however we cannot make its peak level go above 0dB in digital. So if something has a lot of dynamic range it can be normalized to max, and yet still sound soft compared to other things. In that case, the solution is to compress down the dynamic range. Now this isn't always a good thing, far too much modern music is squashed to shit and loses all dynamic range and impact but a bit can sound very good. So if I had tracks, particularly really old ones from the 40s or 50s when compression was basically non-existent, I might want to compress them down a bit both for sonic character (a bit of compression often "glues" a mix together) and to level them out better with other tracks.

Again, none of these are necessary, I'm not trying to make you feel like you should do it, just saying things I personally would look at if I were doing this.

I am very interested in if anything I would be doing would be "destructive" vs "non-destructive", as that would definitely quality as a tangible advantage.

So for destructive vs non-destructive what it means basically is if the change is actually applied to the audio, or if it is just done in real-time. It can mean different things for different contexts but for effects that is what we are talking about. Cool Edit Pro couldn't do realtime effects, do what it would do it you'd pick what you wanted, and it would render out a new file with the effect applied. It was a destructive process, the new file had the effect on it, but it maintained the ability to go back and undo by keeping different file versions. It works, but it is slow. You have to apply an effect, listen to it, if you don't like it revert, do it again, and wait for all the writes.

Modern editors and DAWs don't do that, the effect is applied in realime. No changes are made to the file, nothing is written to disk until you are all done and tell it to apply. Changes happen in realtime, if you change the parameters of an effect you hear the result right away, you can (and do) mess with them as the audio is playing. You can turn them on or off, reorder them, add new ones, etc all as you listen and tweak. Only once you are happy do you render the final output. It's much quicker and easier to work that way.

Audacity definitely sounds like an interesting option, mostly because it's free.

It would do the trick, but the fact that it is free is pretty apparent when you use it, sadly. It is clunky and doesn't function as nice as the commercial ones.

I think at this point I'm leaning toward just trying to see if Cool Edit Pro can still get the job done. The combination of free and already being familiar with the program is hard to pass up unless I'm actually missing out on something by doing so. I can be like one of those people still holding onto Office 2003.

Unless your soundcard doesn't want to talk to a 32-bit program, it should work.
 
Back
Top