The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009
The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Arranging the Music - what to do about the Vinyl (LPs)?

To be quite short - just sell them! For collectors some are quite valueable - and here's a list with some hidden gems just looking for a collector ==> Long list of albums for sale. If anyone looking at this wants to make an offer send me a comment! Or if you have information about maximising the value of this history.

The long story is a bit different. Of course it is possible to digitise the music on a PC. Take a simple twin output connector from an amplifier to the sound input socket on the standard feature that most PC have. And process the signal with Audacity or any one of many other recording programs which can encode the sound in a suitable format - MP3 or WAV or one of many others. Next you need to play through the music and identify the gaps between the tracks and split the album file into a series of files - one for each track. Then name each track. Then store using a music organising program and add the necessary data so that you can retrieve music by artist, album, track name, etc.

Having been through a similar exercise moving my LP music to minidisc I know how much time this takes - even before you consider how to illiminate pops and scratches. And based on my experience this is not a route for me.

There are a couple of companies in the UK who digitalise vinyl records as a service. The cheapest I found charges £14 per album. For several hundred albums this is very expensive, and anyway more expensive than buying CDs where the equivalent exists. is one example, here is another

There's a crossover point between cost and time which varies from person to person. But I'm not prepared to spend the hundreds of hours required to record my LP collection, so the only practical option is replace with CDs where possible and then digitising them on the PC.

Music download is another option - but the second-hand CD route seems the most economic - download prices are often more in line with new CDs.

So the answer to the question posed in this section is:-

    1. Catalogue the vinyl and sell the collection.
    2. Using the catalogue find replacement music on used CDs.

Amazon is a reasonable bet - prices go up and down depending on availability, but much music can be had for less than £4 including delivery. Stores specialising in second-hand records will sell CDs starting at around £3.00. They may also offers to purchase vinyl. My local shop sells most LPs for £1, so I expect the market is rather limited.

My record cabinet is still fully weighed down with my collection. When it is empty I will report back!

Arranging the Music - The Plan

1. As-Is & To-Be

More-or-less shown here in pictures. The turntable will go; the cassette players, probably the minidisk players too. But occasionally visitors come around with a CD in hand so maybe these should remain. And the FM tuners? Probably these also should remain 'just in case'.

2. What to do with the vinyl?

I have been through one iteration of transferring music from vinyl to digital media when I moved a lot of my favorites onto minidisk. It is really time consuming. You have the opportunity to listen to all your music - because the process happens at analogue playing speed. But this is not enough compensation. Then you need to manually insert all the track breaks, scrolling back and forth through the music looking for the gaps. Then you have to create the metadata to identify the album and artist and tracks.

3. The cassettes?

Does anyone use these? Probably just those with an old car and a cassette radio system. Mostly these were copies of other peoples albums. And some of them were transferred happily to minidisk, so these belong on the big music catalogue.

4. The mini-disks?

O Sony! I love to hate Sony! How could they create a digital format and then make it so secret and proprietary that the only way to tranfer music is via an analogue signal.

5. On-line storage

This will be the target system. Or is it just a disk drive?

6. Ripping the CDs

And is there anything better than ITunes for this task? Of course there is! But format is first - obviously it should be 'lossless' - then the software tool comes next.

7. And next ...

   compatibility with car system Ipod for podcasts and music and ITunes used currently

   and video - getting the Iplayer on the main TV

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Saturday Bread

These loaves look great from the top, but actually a bit thin as they failed to rise before bedtime.

A normal-ish brown loaf for hereabouts with a ratio of around 850 grams stoneground whole wheat (strong), 150 gm strong white, and 60 gm of whole rye flour. The usual starter, reinvigourated with about 100gm of mixed flours.

The result I know will be very tastey, but a bit heavy for a sandwich. Should I have waited until morning before baking? Or supplemented the starter with some dried yeast?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Saturday Loaves

All sourdough starter this weekend - no support from dried yeast. As an experiment a few of the loaves incorporated 'cracked wheat'.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Arranging the Music - Conditions .. are Right

There's several strands which unlocked the streaming puzzle for me.

1. I could continue to use my HiFi amplifier and speakers.
2. I can easily store my existing music eletronically.
3. I can play streamed music at the same HiFi quality I am used too.
4. I can select and control the music from where I play it.

The Squeezebox seemed to enable these wishes to become reality.
Beyond this - a new and exciting development was the prospect of using Spotify. If music was available from the Internet as if it was my own, then maybe I will cease buying new CDs each month.

Then in October last year a plug-in was developed which enabled remote control of Spotify from a Squeezebox!

Arranging The Music - The Beginning

Most stories have many beginnings and I'd like to start this one this time with It seemed a great concept those years ago. You name a few favourite tunes and, based on the characteristics of the music 'throbbing bass, female voice, minor key, etc', it selects other music and played it through your 'radio station'. I quickly had my 'Captain Beefheart radio station', and my 'Sandy Denny ' station, and quite a few more!

Unfortunately after a while they restricted access to US listeners only. So if you're reading this in the UK and you follow the link above you'll get a 'restricted' message. To reach it you need a proxy service in the US. Here is their description of themselves ...

About Pandora®
When was the last time you fell in love with a new artist or song?
At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play only music you'll love.
To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the Music Genome Project®.
Since we started back in 2000, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It's the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Together our team of fifty musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.
With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart's content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.
You can create up to 100 unique "stations." And you can even refine them. If it's not quite right you can tell it so and it will get better for you.
The Music Genome Project was founded by musicians and music-lovers. We believe in the value of music and have a profound respect for those who create it. We like all kinds of music, from the most obtuse bebop, to the most tripped-out drum n bass, to the simplest catchy pop tune. Our mission is to help you connect with the music YOU like.
We hope you enjoy the experience! About Our Name

So when Spotify appeared in the UK I was ready to participate. But actually it is not so smart, and those advertisements which seemed louder than the music made it a little-used icon on the desktop.

Last spring I was in Sweden, looking through a friends music collection for some unfamiliar music that I was about to see in concert. He didn't have it on CD or vinyl, but then produced his laptop and found it on Spotify. So far quite unremarkable. But then he streamed this to a device attached to his hifi. And because he had a Spotify subscription the quality was high and there was no advertisements!
Furthermore, music in Itunes on his laptop could be accessed directly, wirelessly from his hifi using this device which has a small touchscreen.

The device is called Sqeeezebox.  ..... the seeds were sown!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Mid week bread

Sourdough starter hurried along for same-evening baking with a bit of yeast!

Sandwich plans safe for the rest of the week.