Newest Review: ... want to be able to hold them, read them and remember the times in which they were at the centre of my life. The second answer is the Envi... more
Turning Tables on Time
EnVivo USB Turntable
Member Name: Biskey
EnVivo USB Turntable
Advantages: Cheap. Straightforward to use. Looks good enough to have in the living room.
Disadvantages: None, really. Recording is time-consuming, but that's to be expected.
I'm sure I'm not alone in bowing to the powerful tidal wave of sentiment that prevents us from parting with our now almost obsolete old albums, and singles for that matter.
I think there are three factors. The first is the significant financial investment that they represent. Each of those records, singles and LPs, was bought with hard earned and probably saved up cash. It was carried home with pride, like a prize won or a treasure unearthed.
The second is their physical identity: the art work on the covers; the lyrics and notes on the inside; the sentiments that might have been written by a loved one; the sheer physical "thrill" of sliding the disc out of its sleeve.
And the third factor is the sound. The weakness of vinyl is also its strength. It scratches, and each of those blemishes is a part of our history - whatever it was that made our hand slip at the time. Also, it can have a rawness about it. It leaves us with a tangible feeling for how it was made in the studio. It's a medium through which we feel we can have a connection with our idols.
So how do we make all this available to us in these modern times? The first answer is "a big cupboard". I'm not getting rid of my vinyl. Let that be clear. I still want to be able to hold them, read them and remember the times in which they were at the centre of my life.
The second answer is the Envivo USB Turntable: a machine that will turn those precious old tracks into MP3 files, so that I can listen when I'm in the car, out for a walk - wherever - and so that I can still hear that unique sound.
O O O Features of the Envivo USB Turntable O O O
This looks much like any other turntable, and can be used as such. However, it also has a USB lead that you can connect to your computer and comes with software to help you to convert the analogue track to an MP3 file. A very useful instruction booklet is included.
In addition to 33 rpm records, this will convert 78 rpm and an adaptor is supplied for when you want to play 45rpm discs.
The build isn't tacky, but it's decidedly plastic. Having said that, the turntable itself is reassuring, as is the action of the tone arm and the solid way it sits back on its rest, complete with clip, of course. It looks fine and wouldn't be out of place with an expensive amp and speakers.
O O O The Recording Process O O O
It's actually very simple. Once the software is set up on your computer, you tell it to record and at the same time play the vinyl on the turntable. The sound is fed into the computer, digitized and saved as an MP3 which can then be written to a cd, or to a stick, or to an MP3 player. Actually, you can also save it as a WAV if you like, but the chances are that most people will want to save as MP3s
There are two discs and two programs that come with this device. There is a very basic software called Recordmate, but I can't for the life of me work out why you would want to use this when you also have Audacity supplied (compatible with Windows XP, Vista and & Mac OS). Audacity is a very straightforward piece of sound editing software, as sound editing software goes, but it has more than enough functionality for this purpose. Not only will it allow you to record a digital version of the sound, but then you can convert it to different types of file, cut, splice, repeat etc etc. So basically you can tidy it all up nicely before finalizing it and dropping it onto your cd or whatever.
To record a whole album is quite time-consuming, as the process has to work in real time and you will either have to be very attentive to the process to make sure that you stop and start at the right moments to save discrete tracks, or you will have to spend time afterwards, editing on Audacity.
Controls are straightforward with a one touch start/stop system.
Personally, I think it's worth it. Of course, you can buy a lot of your old albums re-mastered onto cd these days, but it isn't the same, is it? No, it isn't.
And there will always be some of your old treasures that you can never find on a modern, commercially produced cd. For those, this is a priceless piece of equipment.
O O O When I say Priceless...... O O O
As you probably know, Envivo products, originating in Sweden, are almost exclusively distributed through Aldi stores. Mine cost £49.99, but I know that they have been sold for as little as £29.99, an example of what I believe is called a "dynamic pricing strategy".
At either level, this is an amazing price. Other USB turntables go for much more and you have to ask yourself three questions:
Q. Is the recording process any quicker or easier on the more expensive machines?
Q Is the recorded product appreciably better?
A. Probably not.
Q. Will the machine last for longer that the Envivo?
A. Possibly yes, but hold on...why would you want it to? You've only got so much vinyl. You're only ever going to have so much vinyl. Why would you want a USB turntable to last a long time? Obviously you could use it simply to play your records, but either you're not going to do that very often, in which case you still won't be knocking lumps out of your player; or if you want to play your stuff regularly, surely you'd want a much better turntable anyway?
O O O Tech Spec O O O
Minimum Requirements are:
Pentium 2.0GHz CPU or above
1GB RAM or above
VGA card with 32MB memory
One available USB 2.0 port
Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7
The stylus can be replace and there's a three year warranty.
My conclusion is that this is an excellent buy, if you can just happen to be in Aldi when they've got them in.
I'm off to digitize my Woody Guthrie albums. Irreplaceable!
Summary: A cheap way to preserve musical memories.
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