by Paul Elliott
Full Disclosure, 100% Transparency, no Redaction. I am a SweetVinyl Sugar Cube beta tester.
I think it was 3 years ago, I walked into their room full of bright-eyed curiosity since I am a vinyl guy, ever in search for more “sweetness in my LP’s”. What I found was a device that removes pops and clicks from LP surfaces, and even more exciting, is also a way to rip an LP to digital rather easily. This was my cup o’ tea. If you’re a vinyl guy, either you live with an occasional pop or click, or go out and buy a clean copy. The Sugar Cube does an admirable job of clean up, and I can take it or leave it. I really cannot detect any detriment to the sound with this feature enabled, so I just leave it on.
What got my interest going was the proposed ripping feature. If you ever tried to convert an LP to a digital file you know what a pain it is. Not quite a simple as ripping a CD. There is no track separation or metadata to fill in titles. You have to do this manually. I have done this and the thing is your digital copy is indistinguishable from the analog original. Now I can hear you guys asking the obvious question, “Why to bother converting ones beautiful LP’s to digital”. There are two reasons for me. One, I have a handful of LP’s that are rare. I want to preserve them in case I do something stupid. Two, I use my digital system as background music either in the living room when I have guests over or when I am working on the computer or in my workshop. Some of the music I have on LP is not available in digital or digital reissues of early LP is usually pretty bad.
So, I was sold and opted-in to the beta program and got an SC-2 at a special price. Then I waited for a long time. Dan Eakins occasionally sent out an email notification to let us beta testers that the software upgrade was just around the corner. Lo and behold, we got finally got a workable (but still beta) software upgrade a few months ago. It works, a bit fiddly, but it works. The Sugar Cube uses the Discogs.org database. It recognizes the album usually in the first few moments after the stylus hits the record. You record the whole side saving to a USB drive installed in the front panel. Upcoming software upgrades you will be able to save to a network drive. The software processes the file and applies the metadata, including the album cover. You do have to go in and adjusts the start and stops of the tracks, but the graphical interface makes this pretty easy. You can save this file in various formats, WAV, Flak, Mp3, etc. @4 bit 192k digital recording platform.
Dan presented new products this year. The SC-1 Mini and the SC-1 Mini/Phono. New form factors and the very smart combo having a MM/MC phono preamp built in. The large form factor chassis will be available for a while. SC-2 is still in beta form.
Founder Leo Hoarty and Co-Founder Dan Eakins have been pushing hard for quite a while to bring these exciting products to market. These are very worthwhile tools in your analog system and will enhance your listening pleasure. They do so for me!