A tool for us non-pros

Rather a long time ago, I put together a compilation called Random Reclaimed Vinyl, which involved some painstaking work with old records and the software of its time. The end result was pretty good, sometimes a smidgen better than that, but I’d hate to have to do it again the same way.

And if I wanted the highest possible hi-fi, I’d have to do it again the same way, albeit with some pricey sound tools. But I can come rather a lot closer than I thought with a $34.95 package called Spin It Again from Acoustica. It’s intended as a full-fledged recording package for people who want to convert vinyl and cassettes to digital form, but so far I’ve used it solely as a cleanup tool for existing digital files that weren’t quite clean enough.

That cleanup, you’ll want to know, is absurdly simple: the software comes with several preset filters tuned specifically for the sorts of noises you’ll get from analog sources. They range in severity from fairly light to industrial strength; inevitably, filters like this introduce some artifacts or distortion, but the lighter ones pass almost completely unnoticed. The heaviest is labeled “Clean Everything.” One I was happy to see compensates for what happens when you play a record using a magnetic cartridge but don’t have a preamp to correct for the usual RIAA curve. You can also create custom filters if you know what you’re doing.

The trial version is not crippled, but it permits you to do only three cleanup jobs. I was ready to buy after two, one of which was an obscure Buchanan and Goodman cut-in record that sounded utterly horrid beforehand and downright acceptable afterward. I can recommend Spin It Again to anyone who wants a relatively-painless way to clean up those oldies but goodies — and who has a recent version of Windows, since there’s no Mac or Unix version to be had.

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