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Torrential thunderstorms and close calls with tornadoes rocked Cincinnati this past week. Unfortunately, the skies are once again deep blue with a spattering of fluffy white clouds. As such, I felt it appropriate to upload an album which brings us back to the good old times of flash floods and hydroplaning on Route 50′s blind bend outside of Turkey Bottom. Rainbabies and splishsplashers alike, please enjoy a “Totally New Concept In Sound.”

I also felt that this is a good album to showcase what exactly vinyl ripping programs like Audacity can do to help remove the clicks and pops from well-loved discs. I bought this album at Shake-It Records for $1.99. It’s seen its share of turntables and accrued a king’s ransom of grime and scuffs over the past 36 years. Disc 4′s slutty past makes it a perfect candidate for my celebrity makeover.

The first step I always take with dirty, naughty little discs is to give them a nice bath using a synthetic fiber paint brush,  mild dish or hand soap and lukewarm water. I make a soapy water solution in a small bowl and apply it heartily to the brush. Then, I use said brush to gently scrub the disc in the direction of the grooves. I take as much care not to scrub too hard and add anymore scratches. Next, rinse thoroughly. Finally, I dry it all off with a microfiber hand mitt I bought from Big Lots. Don’t waste your money on magic disc solvents, my friends. It will only lead to heartache.

Next, I pop the bad boy on the SL-10 and record. There’s a whole lot of hulabaloo that happens here but I’m going to keep that private. Some secrets are just too delicious.

Once the slippery, exhausted digital copy gets onto Audacity I take a listen and look-see to see how many of the violent offenders remain. Here’s a visual of what the sound signature of this disc’s second side looks like fresh off the spinner.

What happens next is a bit of voodoo magic. There’s a little de-clicking mechanism on Audacity that takes most of the fuzz out of records. The only catch is that if you set the parameters too aggressively on the de-click it will take some of the fidelity out of your recording. So, you have to balance what you find acceptable with clicks and what sound you’re willing to lose in order to have a clean disc.

I’ve been through a fair amount of de-clicking sessions and think I’ve found a pretty decent balance between cleanliness and bangin’ sound. Here’s a pic of the sound signature Side 2 has after going through the Audacity de-click process.

You’ll notice that there are still a few spikes on the register, especially toward the end. Even using the most ferocious setting on the de-click tool some little blips will always be present from the original record. In most cases they look much worse on the visualization than they sound when listening. It’s really all subjective; some will say you should leave every click because it keeps the soul of the record. Others demand you clean that shit up…it’s gross and you’re going to stain the carpet.

I like to go on a case by case basis on when I should “fix” a disc and how many pops I like to remove. Usually I find that the discs I want to clean up the most benefit the least from using the Audacity software. That’s just how things work sometimes.

There’s a lot I’m leaving out here about the actual conversion process but I just wanted to basically show that it’s somewhat possible to clean up your soiled discs. But don’t get your hopes up about removing the effects of that killer scratch from your Doobie Brothers album. You shouldn’t have gotten drunk and started throwing license plates around in the first place, idiot.

>>>Click here to download Environments Disc 4

Tracklist

A The Psychologically Ultimate Thunderstorm Running Time: 30:54
B Gentle Rain In A Pine Forest (Synthetic Silence) Running Time: 35:28

8 Comments

  1. you beat me to this one! this is the only other environments record I own aside from the one I uploaded a couple months back…do you own more of these psychoacoustic gems?

    • I do not, but when I purchased this one there were others at Shake-It Records. If I remember correctly the others were in worse shape than this one so I limited to just one since I had already picked up a spoken word and a drag racing album. I’ll probably be back at the store this week and will see if there are any left though.

  2. I have an old cassette, the last of my cassettes and it does not play well. I have held on to it since 1989 because it has the most soothing and beautiful recording: Gentle Rain in a Pine Forest. It was put out by Syntonic Research Inc. I would love to download this from my computer onto a CD. Is this possible? I do not have a vinyl player any more.

    • Yep, it sure is. If you click on the download link on this post it will send you to a Mediafire.com page where you can download the entire album, including Gentle Rain In A Pine Forest, in a ZIP file. Once you download the ZIP file just double click on the file and it will place the MP3s on your computer’s hard drive (it should ask you where you want them saved, make sure you save them in a easy to find location). You can then burn the MP3s to a CD using Windows Media Player or iTunes. Let me know if you encounter any problems downloading the ZIP file or extracting the MP3s and I’ll be happy to help. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for this, my husband was looking for Gentle Rain in a Pine Forest and all that’s out there, when you can find it, is the cassette or vinyl. Easy to download and put on a cd, thanks again for your efforts!

    • You’re very welcome. Be sure to check out the other Environments albums on the site!

  4. Eh, the link doesn’t work anymore. Where can I get this now? I had this record years ago but it was damaged in a flood and I would love to have it again. My totally favorite ambient sound recording.

    • I won’t be reuploading any records but am starting an internet radio show on mutinyradio.org soon as Rebuilt Tranny’s Record Exchange. Time slot isn’t set in stone but check it out in about a month. I’ll be playing records featured from this site along with many great new finds.


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] The vinyl record cleaning method described at Rebuilt Tranny’s Rat Rod Record Exchange makes the most sense of all the methods mentioned online that I could dig up. Use a bit of soap on a synthetic fiber brush, scrub gently in the direction of the grooves, then rinse with water. Purists, avoid getting the center label wet or you’ll weep great oceans of tears. Dry with a microfiber cloth and you’re done. [...]

  2. [...] on a beach and hitting record on a reel-to-reel. Or, in the case of the Vol. 4, which is posted here, setting microphones on a windowsill during a rainy day. Don’t get me wrong, the albums [...]

  3. [...] it. Take one of Walter Carlos’ traditional early-electronic Moog pieces and mix it with one or two discs from the Environments series. Make sure they’re smooshed together nicely then [...]

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