Our Most Used File Formats.

Many of us have computers at home or in the workplace. We may type a
document or an email and this for example can be saved for future use. The
file would need to be stored in an appropriate format that is compatible
with the software or program we are using, if using Microsoft Word then it
would most likely be a document file and this would be best saved with the
style of font, layout and any images in full (uncompressed), thus using more
storage space on our device. By contrast we could save the document as a
standared text file in MS Notepad which would strip the font, layout and
remove images so a basic (compressed) level but would save a great amount of
storage space on our device but take away the splendour of our work.

the same applies to audio or sound files we have to choose or use the most
suitable type of format for future use. Most importantly the format should
be compatible with the software or equipment we are playing the audio file
on.

For example the standard CD Player uses either shop bought music CDs and 99%
of these players will also be fine for playing CDr (CD readable only) type
disks such as the ones we create ourselves (providing our computer has a CD
burner). The file format used in this case is .CDA which stands for CD
Audio.

In storage & playing back audio two main categories exist LOSSY or LOSSLESS.

Lossy is audio that has been compressed to save storage space on devices and
in compressing the files sound information is removed at a less significant
level such as high and low frequencies that thousands of listeners would not
detect however it is sometimes possible to compare two tracks on the lossy
and lossless types and hear a difference, it goes without saying you would
have to be playing on high end equipment probably via headphones and an
ideal listening environment (no external background noise) the most common
LOSSY file is MP3 these files also allocate a small amount of space for data
for identity information in showing music titles, artist, genre etc
providing the identity tagging function is incorporated.

LOSSLESS by comparison is an uncompressed audio file with the complete audio
frequency range where possible, nothing is removed and it will be a much
larger digital file and of course the best sound it is essentially the raw
recording and can be 10 times larger than the compressed type file.

.WAV file
Is a raw uncompressed audio format created by Microsoft and IBM. Without a
doubt it is the most popular lossless recording format in the studio and one
that we use here at mkvinyl2cd.co.ukwhen capturing the audio from analogue
media such as LPs, Audio Cassettes and Reel to Reel Tapes.

.MP3
Is a Lossy audio file that uses a compression type algorithm to reduce the
overall file size. You can get slightly better MP3 files if they are saved
in a higher bit rate we use a high 320 kbps which is the amount of bits per
second but again uses more storage than the much used 128 kbps. It is
important to remember though once you have saved a recording from lossless
to lossy there is no going back.

.FLAC
FLAC stands for Free Lossless audio Codec (CODEC simply relates to the
ability to either Compress or Decompress) Flac has probably become one of
the most popular lossless storage formats available since its introduction
in the early 2000s. the clever thing is that FLAC can compress an original
source file like .WAV by up to 60 percent without losing a single bit of
data. With this in mind if you have the facility to play .FLAC files your
listening experience is going to be fantastic providing you have the high
end equipment to make use of this format.

In summary we record the audio in the .wav waveform and it is stored in this
way on our hard drives. From there we edit and compile the files in that
same format. It is only when we come to move that recorded work we would
then alter it to make it compatible with the appropriate storage / playback
equipment and this is where we can tailor the audio to our customers needs.

In our use most popular is the CD compact Disk and this is probably due to
the abundance of CD playing devices. Some choose MP3 as quite possibly if
the captured media is a basic home recording from a reel to Reel Tape and
there is a few hours then MP3 is more than suitable however in comparison
very few customers have the audio supplied in a .FLAC format which can only
at this time relate to the lesser amount of equipment which plays that
format.

There are for those amongst us many very technical articles written on the
subject of file formats but if you are like me a just love to listen to
music person then I hope this short item offers an introduction to the file
formats used and if you want to read more then take a look at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_file_format

Best Wishes For 2021

my first short BLOG for 2021 and it is firstly to wish all customers past
and present all good wishes for the forthcoming year.

although we are still walking through the dark tunnel of COVID19 I think we
can at least see a glimmer of light at the end of this very long tunnel, it
would be fantastic if the positive progress would move on with a pace equal
to the lighter evenings and the change of clocks in March, we can only hope.

I know many customers do not read fully webpages related to businesses they
choose to deal with and like anyone it is more important sometimes to get on
with the job and read only what you need to know.

I thought I would share with you my reflection on 2020 aside from any COVID
related issues started with the retirement of my Guide Dog Zag on 24 January
2020 he was nearly ten years old the average age for retiring a working
Guide Dog, Zag had some arthritis in his right shoulder and right elbow and
I was having to reduce his workload to help him manage the arthritis
discomfort but like many dogs and humans aside from work they do not always
appreciate slowing down and resting a bit more (myself included) so I was
already on the waiting list for a replacement Guide Dog to hopefully pave
the way for a smoother transition in retiring Zag and starting with a new
partnership.

This is where COVID19 comes in as due to the lock down across the UK the
guide Dog Association For The Blind along with thousands of other
organisations had to pretty much close their doors and so on average I would
perhaps had to wait 3 to 6 months for a match for a new dog I am still
waiting nearly one year on and considering my independent mobility relies
solely on a Guide Dog and has been that since my first ever Guide Dog ‘Reo’
back in Leamington Spa May 1992 the common phrase grounded rings true.

In my audio transfer work there has been a definite trend for customers more
than before to have reel to Reel tapes and 78rpm private recorded records
transferred to digital to be passed on to younger generations for the
future.

I have taken some time over the Christmas Break to install a new computer in
my workroom and to do that vital upkeep on existing equipment ready to meet
those audio challenges now we are in the New Year.

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
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Ocean#Early_life_and_stardom

COVID-19

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
living.

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

u

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 
archive.
 
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