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Newport 2016: Sugarcube SweetVinyl

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Newport250x2501I recall being 9 years old, breaking the seal on my dad’s fresh LPs, giving them a clean and accidentally spilling LAST cleaning fluid everywhere with that darn dropper, then copying them to audio cassettes for portability. Even at the young age, I would obsess over setting the recording levels on our Sony cassette deck as part of the recording process.

Why did we do this? It was about portability. It allowed these LPs to be taken along with us, mostly in the car or for use on portable cassette player like my favorite bright yellow Sony Walkman. It wasn’t about archival.

Fast forward to today. I have been fortunate enough to create a wonderful collection of LPs. Many of these albums are rare and not available in other formats. Today we spend less time at home, and more on the go. There are many times on a long flight, or a bad day at the office, that I would love to drop the needle on a few of my favorites.

My friend, Mat Weisfeld of VPI Industries would solve this problem by tossing his trusty VPI Nomad and favorite headphones under his arm and run out the door. I love the pictures of him and his turntable by the pool! But still we need something a little more portable.

The audio cassette is long gone, but portable digital players from Pono and Astell & Kern have come a long way to produce an engaging listening experience.

The challenge for many is that we don’t want to re-purchase these albums that we already own on LPs in modern high resolution digital formats like DSD or hi-rez PCM.

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THE Show Newport coverage brought to you by Underwood HiFi, Exogal and Emerald Physics

Each year, another vendor brings out another solution to digitize your LP collection to DSD, PCM or your choice of any other digital format you like. These solutions are getting better, but to date, they are all still too much work. It’s always a combination of a hardware device + some sub-par software you run on your PC or Mac to digitize.

I think about it for about 2 seconds, and then say, “No thank-you!”.

BUT …. I finally discovered a solution at THE Show that might change my mind on digitizing my LP collection.

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Introducing – SweetVinyl

SweetVinyl is a one box solution that makes digitizing your LPs a single step process, a process that gets close to how  easy it was to copy LPs to tape when I was 9 years old.  But it gets even better…. It also removes pops and ticks.

The process

  1. Connect SweetVinyl box to the Internet (wired or wireless)
  2. Connect SweetVinyl box to your audio system
    1. By placing it in-line between your phono pre-amplifier and pre-amplifier OR
    2. Connecting it to your tape loop on your pre-amplifier
  1. Put a USB Key in the front slot of the SweetVinyl box
  2. Drop the needle on your turntable

And, you’re done….. 

SweetVinyl will:

  1. Discover the artist during the first track (and display it on the LCD screen on the SweetVinyl box)
  2. Discover the album & associated catalog # of the album after hearing two tracks
  3. Do the track separation & add all of the associated meta-data to the files, and store them to the USB key
  4. Perform click / pop removal

So basically, its 100% automatic assuming it can identify the LP. What’s nice is you could digitize your entire collection in the background. Just insert SweetVinyl into your system, and listen to your LPs as usual. As you do you normal listening, you are digitizing all your albums in the background. That’s an attractive proposition.

Other Details  

  • Supports the ability to generate DSD / PCM files up to 192k/24bit
  • On-board headphone amp and volume control
  • Single ended input / outputs
  • Bypass mode to disengage digital processing (useful when this is in-line between your phono & pre-amp)
  • Connects to the internet over wired Ethernet or WiFi
  • Not limited to digitizing LPs. You could play an audio cassette or your favorite reel to reel, and use SweetVinyl to recognize the album and digital it to the format of your chouse

They performed a demo of click / pop removal @ THE Show with some super noisy LPs, and the results were impressive. They also plan to ship a one box solution in the  future at a lower cost that provides just click / pop removal.

SweetVinyl is not for sale yet, but they plan to launch an Indiegogo campaign in the next quarter for pre-orders with various promotions attached to it. Keep an eye out. More available at their site: www.sweetvinyl.com

I may finally be able to take my LP collection with me when I’m not at home….

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1 Comment on Newport 2016: Sugarcube SweetVinyl

  1. Very cool, and just what I’ve been waiting for.

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