our Work Goes On…

since my last post there have been many changes in our lives still coping
with the COVID pandemic and although in many cases we have sort of evolved
in the way we cope, wearing masks in shops, social distancing and making
decisions about where we go and what we do to make us feel safe.

My work in audio transfer has increased probably due to many people taking
time to discover old media found in lofts and cupboards, in particular Reel
to Reel Tapes to have transferred to digital for the future possibly
thinking along the lines of now or never maybe a sort of ‘nesting’ feeling
that we may desire to get things in order while we can for passing on keep
sakes or family treasures, I think it gives a comfort zone in taking control
of what was in the past.

I have been fortunate to be able to keep my work going as it would only stop
if there were no demand and although initially there was a noted downturn in
personal callers again with social distancing customers now bring media to
the door and then collect when done, before customers were invited in and
got a look at the workroom where ‘it all goes on!’

I still thrive on those long unheard gems of audio and often wonder how and
why certain medial comes to my attention just this week I was asked to
transfer from a part full 7 inch ‘Master’ Reel to reel two songs done back
in 1969 by a young Les Charles whilst seeking an opening in the music world
and this reel was two songs recorded at Pye Studios by Les Charles with his
very first manager, it seemed no one was really interested in the songs that
Les had written and performed however that young man later was known as
Billy Ocean a more popular name in music throughout the 1970s and 80s and
still is making music today


Over the past 16 years I have worked on a variety of projects for hundreds of customers
using our audio transfer services and even in these times living under the
early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic our work, (greatly reduced workload),
still goes on, thankfully the Postal & Parcel services are doing a fantastic
job of serving the nation in so many ways delivering not only essential
items but also goods that personal customers need to support themselves and
their loved ones along the way.

It goes without saying that the frontline workers in all aspects of the
health Services are doing an immensely valuable job in a bid to save lives
and this is reflected in the nations response to the Clap for Carers
nationwide applause to thank our NHS and key workers – here’s how to get
involved it is so easy just either open your window, stand outside your
front door or in the back garden at 8.00pm on Thursday evening and offer a
rousing round of applause for a couple of minutes – you won’t be alone!

We must also think of thousands of others supporting the country to keep us
all fed goods delivery drivers, food growers, food suppliers & processors
and undoubtley the shop staff themselves who are in work and in the midst of
thousands of people everyday with much more chance of contracting the virus
than those who can of course stay at home.

If you have like others taken time to commence a project of perhaps sorting
out favourite LP Records or Singles, audio Cassette Tapes, or come across
some reel to Reel Tapes in that box in the back of the cupboard then feel
free to contact us to offer advice in transferring that audio gem to digital
we are only an email, phone call or indeed Post Box away. some of our
customers are using delivery Services like DPD or Parcelforce to have their
packages collected from outside their front door and delivered to us which
means no trip to the post Office.

In closing, I hope that everyone is doing their best to stay safe in these
challenging times and of course at the time of posting this it is still very
early days in the lock down process in our bid to stop the spread of this
dreadful virus and gradually move us all back to a more acceptable way of

Nearly March

Here we are 25 February 2020 and I have had a busy start to this decade! I often look back at trends in the audio transfer work that I do and without any question of doubt there is a definite upturn in the amount of Reel To Reel Tapes that I have been transferring going back to around October last year, I had at that time a very interesting audio transfer project for https://hrgb.org.uk/about-hrgb which involved transferring the magnetic tape archives of the Handbell ringers Great Britain, some of the recordings on Reel to Reel Tape were from the late 1960s as well recordings through the 1970s and 80s, this also included some audio cassette tapes, I recorded many hours of handbell sounds into a digital format and supplied the finished audio on a USB memory Stick so now in readiness they have safely stored in digital format their audio history for the new decade. As much of my work is generated by word of mouth, without question the bestform of advertising, I completed the Handbell ringers Of Great britain Project and with a recommendation from them I then undertook an audio transfer project for the Chagford Local History Society based here in Devon, this involved their own over 30 audio cassettes and a few Mini Disks all recorded in the late 1980s & early 1990s of villagers in around Chagford being interviewed about memories of their past in the locality they have their own website https://www.chagfordlocalhistorysociety.org.uk/ and has so many interesting topics relating to the village and I know some of the audio interviews will appear on the website in due course. The amount of reel to Reel Tapes out there must be vast as not a week goes by without customers asking about the audio transfer of tapes that they have. In most cases it is never known the actual running time of the reels as in the day there was a standard speed of 3.75 ips (inches per second) however many tape recorders of the 1960s & 70s did have variable speeds of recording and this is what makes it difficult to estimate until you actually put the tape on the deck, first check is to judge if the tape will run smoothly as many do have issues due to degrading over the time and I have to work out how it was recorded, speed, track selection before I can start the audio capturing. generally once up and running and the audio is playing okay I can then keep a watch on the tape recorder but at the same time do some editing etc on another file as it would not be very viable to just sit and listen to everything in real time, for instance I did recently some Capital Radio broadcasts of the late Kenny Everett and the tape was recorded in mono tracks two per side making a total of 8 hours of audio captured from just one 7 inch spool at 3.75 ips. A fair few customers now opt for a USB memory Stick to store the audio as it offers a great deal of flexibility, firstly you caneasily make a back up of the work on a PC or Laptop, you can produce a CD if you wish (providing you have a CD / DVd burner( and you can share the audio files to other family members electronically using programs like Drop Box or One Drive or send a smaller file by email attachment. Long Play vinyl records commonly known as LPs are still coming in for transfer to digital despite the vast amount of music on download through Apple Music, spotify to name but two there are so many LPs and of course 7 inch singles that have never been released in a digital format and can be transferred into a format that you can use. This has been a small insight into what goes on here at MK vinyl 2 CD based in the small seaside town of Exmouth, East Devon. Take care!

Merry Christmas 2019

Just want to share a brief reflection of why I love my work, I was contacted
by a 93 year old gentleman from Glasgow who had an audio cassette he
recently found, the recording was of his now 86 year old sister playing
piano and singing, this recording was made by this gentlemen 40 years ago.  
His sister  who is now sadly in a nursing home has no means of playing the
cassette and did not know it was still around, I was sent the cassette to
transfer to digital and put on a Cd, the tape was not in great shape so I
needed to bake it to dry it out so it would hopefully run smoothly time was
of the essence as the tape only arrived on Thursday morning I put the tape
into bake for 10 hours, I then recorded the audio to digital, there were no
gaps between the songs so I had to find the end and start of each song and
put in fade in and fade outs with a short gap, there were 18 songs, I then
transferred this to Cd with an extra copy at no charge as a gesture of
goodwill so he could keep a copy for himself.

I posted the package by special Delivery yesterday, I phoned him to let him
know the delivery status at 9.00 this morning, just in case he was going
out, luckily royal Mail has an app that tracks the package and is accessible
on my iphone it told me the package would be delivered before 1.00pm today.

The gentle man phoned me at 12.45 to say the package arrived safely at 10.30
and he had spent a lovely hour listening to his sister singing and he is
taking the CD to her in the nursing home on Christmas Eve her fellow
residents have never heard her sing so it is a surprise to his sister to get
a CD and the other residents will hear her sing, he said it had made his
Christmas and I was a true gentleman for working so hard to get the Cd back
to him and the time taken in tidying up the recording.

To me this was the reward for my work making a very  old man  and his sister
so happy for Christmas as he said to me he and his sister may not be around
next year, very thought provoking and certainly tugged at my heart strings.

Merry Christmas


Finally the time has come for a price increase

And Now the time Has come and We Face Our first Price Increase For Six years !
Like any business we have for a few years absorbed the costs of running  the business, Postal Costs, Equipment costs and more importantly when 
trying to maintain retro equipment the costs for parts and the use of good engineers has soarred, as an example the overhaul of a tape deck was just 
under £300 recently, the cost for 78rpm stylus are now at £110 each and I need to keep four sizes, the stylus for my main turntable costs £225 and 
now  I have made the decision to increase my prices but on a comparison with other audio transfer businesses I hope to  remain the most favourable 
on price and reliability having been in existence for now 16 years.
12 inch LPs Both Sides £19.00 
12 inch EPs Both Sides £15.00 
7 inch Singles Both Sides £9.00 
7 inch EPs Both Sides £12.00 
78 rpm Discs Both Sides (Shellac & Acetates) £15.00 
Cassette Tapes Up to 60 minutes (per tape) £18.00 
Cassette Tapes 60 to 75 minutes (per tape) £21.00 
Cassette Tapes 75 to 90 minutes (per tape) £24.00 
Reel to Reel Tapes Per Hour Rate £18.00 
Minidisks Per Hour Rate £18.00 
The above prices do not include postage and packing as this varies according to weight and service used.
I still like to think that I go the extra quarter mile to deliver the high standard of service and quality customers expect and customers remain true and 
loyal and have a few tapes or records transferred a couple of times per year to spread the costs when they have large quantities to do.
Our Testimonial page at www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk shows the feelings of our past customers and as always we are pleased to be of help.
Gary Ankin
Professional Audio Transfer – Established 2003
Tel: 01395 274557
Web: www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk
Email: gary@mkvinyl2cd.co.uk
If you are satisfied with our service please take a moment to either Like us, recommend us or write a review about us on Facebook, or email a Testimonial for our webpage.
Follow Us On Twitter: www.twitter.com/mkvinyl2cd
Like Us On Facebook: www.facebook.com/mkvinyl2cd

Thoughts aloud!

Thoughts aloud !
Keeping busy doing the physical work (audio transfer) means I do neglect Facebook and writing bits and pieces on the MK vinyl 2 CD pages, I know it is something we should do but when push comes to shove 
would customers prefer to get their audio transfer projects back in reasonable time and would it be a fair excuse to say ‘sorry I have been so busy updating my Facebook Page, Twitter tweets, Google My Business, Testimonial on the Web Page and blogs for my site as well and sorry but my prices will have to go up as I am having to spend quite a few hours a week writing words for itall.
What a moaning person I am today, well currently I have just transferred a Cassette to Cd and now doing some back ups of my work files which will take a few hours as there are hundreds of audio files to format and 
The Reel to Reel Tapes have been coming through in abundance lately I think sometimes the New Year gets people in the mindset of getting some of those audio projects done rather than sitting in the cupboard 
degrading further until maybe just a few monts down the line the tape will not smoothly run and cannot be transferred and the audio contents becomes lost forever.
I often ponder about the amount of vinyl records  I transfer and there is still so much out there that is untapped, unplayed and never heard I guess some people do not realise the merits of the power of audio 
especially thos treasured family gems, I recently did a couple of 78rpm shellac records from 1933 and they were priceless to the owner as they contained voices of Great Grandparents which had never been heard by 
current members ofthe the family.
I have also completed this week an ongoing project for a family of 22 reel to Reel Tapes being recorded mostly back in Malta in the late 1960s when they were stationed with the forces there.
I have also had a fair few audio cassettes to transfer ranging from family telling stories of WW2, memories of the Somerset and Dorset Railway back in the early 1960s in particular the winter of 63 with snow drifts in the 
area literally covering the train!
Also very memorable was a Reel to Reel tape from 1988 which held 3.5 minutes of audio of the customers late Mother and the only voice recording in existence.
Again all testimony to the power of audio.  So if you have any media to transfer do not delay in getting it transferred as it may be lost forever.  Take a look at www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk you can read a bit about us and what we do.

Through My Eyes

Over the years of running my business I have met some lovely people who have delivered to me in person their media for transfer to digital, a London black cab driver who arrived in his cab of course with 50 LPs for transfer, a lady who arrived on foot with her shopping trolley with a box of audio cassettes a 78rpm collector who arrived by bus carrying his treasured 78rpm records in heavy duty carrier bags and a blind customer who travelled by train and taxi to hand deliver his LPs and singles for transfer to mention just a few.

People are curious creatures by nature and love to know things about other people not only how other live and behave; well we get much of that through reality TV these days gladly something I do not watch, probably as we do not have a TV in the house.

By curious I mean people make conversation by asking how do you manage to do the cleaning of a record or the recording when yu cannot see too much or how do you package up the media for posting out and what about the address labels?

Much of the answers to the above is fairly common across the board in the daily life of a person with severe sight loss it is a sort of ongoing period of learning and trial and error based on other blind persons experiences and for some attaining new skills from professional services such as RNIB (The royal National Institute For The Blind) www.rnib.org.uk and in my case I attended back in 1991 their college in Loughborough to do an I.t. course (Information Technology) which taught word Processing, Database & spreadsheets. fortunately for me I had also previously attended the RNIB Manor House Torquay Rehab centre for a 10 weeks stay where I was first introduced to things like touch typing, braille, long cane mobility and the gadgets and devices that could help with coping with sight loss.

Sadly Manor House Torquay set in a few acres of ground in Devon had to be closed due to the financial state of the RNIB after many years of helping hundreds of newly blind people make some sort of decisions on their future with sight loss.

For willing blind people we have some fantastic technology to get us through the day, I say willing as quite a few blind people will never adjust to using and depending on such technology but I think this is slowly changing as the younger generations of people with sight loss are having to grow up with this tech stuff, although more often than not it is the price tag that denotes whether or not you get it whether that be by private finances or government schemes for supporting people with disabilities in the workplace, primarily through ATW (Access to Work).

If you are disabled and self employed it is a much tougher route as you have to meet some fairly strict rules relating to business turnover and working hours to get approval for ATW. For many thousands of disabled people if it were not for ATW they would not be working so is a lifeline for them.

When it comes to physically getting around I was probably one of the most terrible long cane users out there but did survive this for about 5 years and then in 1992 I attended a talk by guide Dogs For The Blind www.guidedogs.org.uk and excuse the pun, never looked back?

I have had Guide Dogs for just over 26 years and my current dog Zag is part of my life taking me into town safely to either send out or collect packages on almost a daily basis and of course is a fantastic motivator as well in maintaining my personal independance, I have a truly caring wife Julie but would hate to burden her on a daily basis fetching and carrying for me so there fore I value being able to stand alone and if Julie goes to visit our daughter I can look after myself and Zag too!

My main computers have speech software called JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output (if you have a braille keyboard) for the most popular computer applications on your PC. For information on JAWS you can look at https://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS

By researching and some trial and error in my early days of www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk I had to source software that would be compatible to run with JAWS but sometimes call on other screen reader programs such as NVDA https://www.nvaccess.org/about-nvda/ which is an open source screen reader program. also my iPhone has some very useful apps to assist on a daily basis and with the IPhone with its accessability feature Voice Over turned on is a must for blind users as it can scan bar codes, documents have apps that can read LCD or LED screens and if all else fails there apps that by using the camera facility will allow you to summon sighted assistance in reading something, hence the need to embrace technology.

Aside from the technical computer software and programs much of the equipment used is good old fashioned analogue recording and playing gear, Revox B77 tape recorders, TEAC Cassette Decks, Rega Planar turntables and digital convertors from www.cedaraudio.co.uk

As one of my customers once said when you are working it must be like the flight deck of concorde! sitting amidst all that technical power and knowing how to fly it all helps of course.

A Fitbit Off Topic…

Well this post is a bit off topic from the www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk usual but here goes…

The reason for this Blog is as a visually impaired person I love walking with my Guide Dog www.guidedogs.org.uk and using the gym www.ledleisure.co.uk/our-centre/exmouth-leisure-centre and like many of us I am interested enough in my Well being to want to find out my exercise statistics in the form of calories burned, heart rate & distance, all when the action is going on, might seem a bit sad to some but there are thousands of us out there doing it!

Nowadays many pieces of equipment in the gym already feedback our exercise statistics via visual display monitors attached to the various types of exercise equipment such as Treadmill, Cross Trainer, Exercise Bikes and rowing Machines to mention just a few. You can now in many gyms link up to your mobile phone via an app and bluetooth to monitor your fitness levels.

The VDUs (Visual display Units) in the gym are for me a big NO! as I can only see light and dark and some shapes even if they had really large writing I cannot access them so here is my solution, my own portable exercise tracking system which I can use when out walking or at the gym, let me explain.

The hardware I use is not specialist to the visually impaired and in fact many thousands of people have them already, the important thing to any visually impaired person is how can they access them independantly, I use the Fitbit Versa www.fitbit.com/uk/versa which is a fitness tracker wrist watch managed by the app on my iPhone www.apple.com/iphone and the phone has a fantastic accessibility function called Voice Over which does a brilliant job in reading the text on the mobile phone screen (most of the time), with a good selection of listenable voices.

I also use an app called ICardio which is developed by www.fitdigits.com and the reason I chose this app was firstly the iPhone voice Over works very well with it and secondly it offers in the iCardio app a voice feedback setting during your exercise workout so you can audibly hear the exercise statistics during the session. Coupled with the iCardio app is the need for some kind of tracking ability so I use a very small Heart Rate Monitor which can be worn on the upper arm which I now find so much better and more comfortable than the chest Strap tracker I previously used.

The Heart Rate Tracker I went for was the Polar OHR 1, from www.polar.com/uk-en/products this is a really neat Optical Heart Rate tracker which connects to the iPhone using bluetooth low energy. It is waterproof and is easily rechargeable and if you want you can have it store dozens of workout statistics seperate to the iPone but of course to download the data from the tracker you will need to sync it with the Polar Flow app which I currently do not use.

My final piece of tech for the gym is my Anker soundsurge bluetooth wireless ear buds www.anker.com/store/soundbuds-surge/A3236011 which means no wires to snag and tangle leaving me to concentrate on my exercise and I get audible feedback while training via the I Cardio app which announces my exercise statistics via the ear buds and also the all important motivational music to keep the exercise rhythm going on a pace or two!

If I am out and about with my guide Dog I will use my After Shokz blues bone conduction headphones www.aftershokz.com these are fantastic as they allow me to hear what is going on around me and through the bone conduction ear pads can have my music as well which is a huge safety factor when you need to be aware of sound around you for safer mobility due to not being able to visually see too much.

I guess the great thing for me is I have all of my favourite songs transferred from analogue to digital by myself over the years running my small business www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk which was established in 2003 and muchof the music is not available in any download or has never been released on CD.

In summary my gym Tech list is:

  1. Fitbit Versa wrist worn tracker, this has no accessible features on the watch for me being visually impaired but its statistics can be monitored via the Fitbit app.
  2. The all important iPhone with voice Over accessibility enabled so the phone gives total voice feedback.
  3. The Fitdigits iCardio app which monitors my gym work and gives audible feedback.
  4. The Sound Surge wireless ear buds so I can hear the voice feedback from iCardio and of course my music.
  5. The Polar OH 1 heart Rate tracker band to pick up my heart rate and use bluetooth to relay it to the iCardio app.
  6. If anyone has any questions about my Gym Tech system please feel free to email me at: gary@mkvinyl2cd.co.uk

    Professional Cassette, Reel-to-Reel and Vinyl to CD Audio Transfer Service

Who Uses Our Service?

Well yes the answer is of course anyone however, it is surprising that potential customers often say ‘I only have one vinyl LP or its only one Audio Cassette I’m afraid’ but whether it is just one item or as in my largest order it was over 400 audio cassettes it does not matter, the most important thing to me is you have wanted to preserve the analogue media for the future or to change it into a format to make it playable or usable because if you do not do that the item may eventually be lost or degrade to a state where the audio is no longer able to be captured and transferred to digital.

The vast majority of our customers are private or individual people with audio cassettes or Reel to Reel tapes with family home recordings on them which have great sentimental value and in a lot of cases the prompt to get them transferred to digital is from the loss of a loved one who perhaps was the original owner of the media and the surviving family want to keep thos memories. It is probably because in my view photographs and pictures are great visual reminders of something but it is the actual sound or audio that really stimulate our memories, so powerful is the media at times.

We do work for some Photo & Video shops or studios who are often asked by there customers if they transfer audio cassettes or Reel to Reel tapes and those businesses either refer the customer to us direct or take in the work and pass it on to us to be done, either way it is all about helping to fulfill a customer demand and service.

Some of our work will come from Police Forces and Solicitors where evidence has been obtained in the form of a tape that cannot be readily used by those parties so we can confidentially transfer that audio and supply the digital format they require such as Cd, USB Memory Stick or a simple download.

Remember thereis so much private music out there done years ago that have no back up or past records which of course means if that tape or record is destroyed then it is truly lost forever.

We have done much work in capturing audio from records and tapes for the families of late musicians and composers such as Franz Reizenstein https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Reizenstein and Leonard Salzedo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Salzedo also tapes for the family of the late Matt Monro https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Monro and some of this material has been used for archive purposes and for the writing of biographies.

I have transferred from audio cassette many personal recordings of customers relatives recording their memories of their lives during World War One & Two from the perspective of personal experiences living in the UK during the War and of times serving in one of the Military services, also of Prisoner Of War captivity and one I recall of a Boy Soldier in Africa all of these being truly moving to listen to and one in particular was used for War trial hearings in I think Geneva.

I have also transferred old 78rpm interviews from dubs or ‘acetates’ from The Beatles, Rolf Harris, P J Proby, Kenny Everett and work from the early years of some BBC Journalists and Broadcasters who again had audio on Reel to Reel Tapes and audio Cassettes that they wanted preserving in a digital format.

So you can now perhaps grasp that the audio transfer and eventual archive is a really interesting vocation for me to be doing as it is a bit like metal detecting you never know what you might find, and that goes for what you might have in a nold box in the loft as it is not only old paintings that can be irreplaceable but old audio as well.

The Early Years Part 3

If you have fallen asleep we are now at the creation of MK vinyl 2 CD in 2003 and the digital age is moving on at a fast pace so I decided it was time to down size my music collection by unpacking some of the cardboard storage boxes we had in the loft, both me and my wife Julie had our own vinyl records and audio cassette tapes as well as I had still remaining a couple of old Reel to Reels (they keep cropping up don’t they).

I had a fairly good hi fi set up and read up on how I could link up the hi fi system to my computer to be able to record from the vinyl records and the audio cassettes and transfer them to the digital domain.

The same principles apply when connecting up audio leads know the inputs and outputs and remember the output of a given piece of equipment has to go into an input of the receiving machine and get the left and right channels correct too?

I was easily able to get the RCA phono output from my amplifier to the 3.5mm input jack on my sound card using a simple 2 x RCA Phono male to 1 X 3.5mm stereo male plug this lead was 2 metres long. The audio came through loud and clear and the recording was very good aside from pop and crackle from the playing surface of the vinyl record.

I did a few vinyl records as a test and then began to look at how to lessen the surface noise from the vinyl. There was a few audio editing software packages around at the time so I tried Goldwave it did take a bit of trial and error and the results were pretty good but there seemed to be a dullness to the audio as filtering out pops and clicks really did take the brightness out of the recording leaving a sometimes lifeless piece of music, I did ask a few people to have a listen and some were amazed at how good the audio sounded and others said it was acceptable but not as good as a CD.

Then followed a trial of different audio software packages some offering a bit more than others but like so many packages out there all had good points but the ideal would have been a bit of each so this I did for a while recording on one package, filtering on another and compiling on yet another, I must point out that for me being almost blind I was trying to find software packages that would be compatible with My JAWS speech screen reader from Freedom Scientific made in the USA.

Further searching on the internet I came across www.cedaraudio.co.uk who were based in Cambridge and clearly offered a hardware solution to the pop and click removal but at a price tag of £4,000 wow! That is serious money so I contacted them to get a demo and was amazed at the quality of the products so my plan was to set up my own small business in audio transfer to partly fund the equipment upgrade that was necessary to get professional results.
So I came up with the name of MK Vinyl 2 CD or www.mkvinyl2cd.co.uk the MK relating to my postal code area and the vinyl 2 cd encompassing what I aimed to do, the only reason I went for the number 2 in between the vinyl and CD was the word ‘to’ was already a domain name already in use in the USA.

My next purchase was a professional record cleaning machine and I went for the Moth Pro MK2 a very sturdy not too smart looking machine but would do the business so to speak. I also changed my PC and invested in a custom built beast with on board digital inputs and outputs as the analogue to digital conversion was done by the Cedar Audio hardware before the signal reached the computer.

I have written a short article on how I transfer Vinyl To Digital which gives a bit more in depth information but by no means full of technical jargon so feel free to have a read.