TerraTec’s iVinyl is a small box that lets your computer ‘listen’ to and record the music you are playing. It links to your computer (Mac or Windows) using a USB 2.0 port, and doesn’t require a sound card, which is great news for PC users, though not particularly significant for Macs, which ship with built-in sound support. On the back of the iVinyl are two line-in ports that allow you to connect the sound source to the iVinyl box using standard stereo cables.
The device ships with Roxio’s CD Spin Doctor and Algorithmic’s Sound Rescue music capture and edit software for Windows. Spin Doctor has a good reputation now for what it does, offering a host of tools to help you capture music on your Mac from an external sound source. It also offers numerous filters to help get rid of the kind of audio artefacts you encounter when ripping vinyl, including noise reducers; an EQ, and sound enhancement tools. The Windows application offers a similar feature-set. Both solutions are relatively easy to use, with a series of wizards or dialogue boxes to help you get the right results. More advanced features – such as automatic track definition and the capacity to export ripped tracks directly into iTunes – also feature. Tracks are digitised in real-time, but applying filters takes extra time.
Supported sample rates include: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz and 96kHz. You get a faithful reproduction of the sounds from the audio source, though it appears prudent to rip tracks at the highest-quality setting (96kHz) for best results. This setting eats up drive space but once exported into iTunes it was safe to delete the ripped track to save space. The little box contains a pre-amp and has adjustable input levels, which was confusing at first, as the Mac failed to record any sound at the default setting, but was fine at ‘Low’ and ‘High’ settings.
One thing missing from TerraTec’s system is a tag editor. The supplied software does pass through artist and album information when you export to iTunes, but these are the only iTunes track fields you can tag.
There are lots of solutions available that are designed to digitise vinyl. This solution offers more control of input levels and sample rates than most, and is small enough to pop into a draw when not in use, but at £99.99 you’ll have to rip a lot of vinyl to make it worthwhile.