sblive add-on

Optical conection between PC and MD recorders

Wouldn't it be great, if you could tranfer your MD recordings into your PC to edit them and save them back to MD without any loss?

Alas, 100% lossless copies are not possible.
At least not with the MD gear you can buy in the stores. But a digital connection can prevent all those annoying noises a PC can produce on an analog connection, and that's not a bad thing after all...

If you want to have the best quality possible, you should buy a digital audio transfer card [like the ISA-card Midia ProDif, from EUR 125]. A card like this can only transfer the digital signal. The good thing about this is that the audio remains unchanged. On the other hand, you still need a seperate good sound card.

If you can live with some minor changes of the audio signal, you could try to use the digital in- and outputs that many current sound card already have onboard. You only have to find a way to connect these to your MD recorder.

Owners of the Soundblaster Live Value card can buy an adaptor called POAB made by the German student Robert Bastubbe. This card gives you both optical input and output. It costs ~EUR 40. [See his Homepage for infos about add-ons for other sound cards as well.] This add-on doesn't need drivers. It only converts the signal already present on the Soundblaster card. So as soon as the PC is turned on, there's a 48 kHz signal with everything you hear. The digital input can be activeted using the sound cards Windows driver. Once activated it works without dropouts.

If you compare recordings made from CD->MD directly to those made via the PC (CD->PC->MD) you'll first notice that the recordings from the PC have a lower volume level, as the Soundblaster almost never reaches digital "0". You'll also see that all settings from the Soundblaster mixer affect the recording. But if you keep your fingers of the treble and bass settings of the card, this should be not problem.

Finally keep in mind that the card works at 48 kHz internally. Most audio cards do this, even the Terratec, that offers 44 and 48 kHz output! So the audio signal is upsampled to 48 kHz and downsampled back to 44 kHz at least once. So if you want to use the PC just to beat the SCMS copy protection, you could just as well make an analog copy, in this case you'd at least get track marks!

The sound quality of the MD recordings made with this setup is IMO good enough for home uses. Especially at high playback volume you won't have the typical PC problems any longer.

BTW, Creative Labs, the makers of the Soundblaster Live Value card have a optical digital adaptor of their own, but for some strange reason they currently don't offer it for the cheap Value version of their card.

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