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  Xitel INport Stereo-to-USB Recording Device
 
 

The Performance

For testing purposes, both a linear-tracking turntable and a cassette deck were used. For turntables, the output signal is not strong enough to be taken directly into the INPort. Instead, you must use the "Line Out" of your amplifier/receiver. Unfortunately, my receiver doesn't have a line out option. However, I had an old phono pre-amp laying around and used that to boost the turntable's signal strength. Cassette decks and CD players have stronger native signals and can be plugged directly into the INPort.

Once I had the INport connected, recording was a breeze. Recording is done via the LP Recorder application bundled with the INport. With its auto-level feature, it was quite easy to set the recording levels. Before pressing record, I would let the source run for a minute or so to determine the optium recording levels. After that, press Record and walk away. However, a few times LP Recorder inexplicably stopped recording. I would have to start the recording process all over.

LP Recorder

When recording is done, the final product is one large WAV file. Depending on the length of the album, the file could easily be over 400MB. The other application included with the INport is LP Ripper. This app is used to separate the large WAV file into individual tracks. (Unfortunately, the version of the software included with the INport was quite old. I'm not sure why they didn't included the latest version. It's possible the newer versions of this product now included the latest software.)

LP Ripper

Separating the individual tracks is both a blessing and a curse. It's good because you can fine tune the start and end of each track. If there are "pops" and "crackles" between tracks, you can eliminte them in the splitting process. You can also fade tracks as necessary to fit the recording on to your recording media. Unfortunately, this splitting process can be extremely time consuming depending on how much customization you want to do. If you don't want individual tracks, then nothing more is required than to record the album. You will need another application to convert the WAV file into CD audio or MP3. Nero does a good job of converting the WAV file into CD Audio. For converting into MP3 format, I prefer the free program dBpowerAMP.

Another thing that could cause some problems is that you need to know how many tracks are included in the large WAV file. After inputting that value, LP Ripper arbitrarily assigns the start and stop for each track. However, LP Ripper's ability to determine the true breaks in the tracks is relatively poor. You have to manually go into the WAV file and edit those points (see screenshot above). This can add significantly to the time it takes to split the tracks.

The sound quality of the final track is only as good as the input source. Vinyl records, even though they might have been 20 years old, sounded clean and crisp. The INport seemed to even remove some of the background noises. With cassettes, though, it was a mixed bag.

Over time, cassettes lose audio quality. The magnetic particles used to record the music can flake off or be changed by their proximity to other particles. Also, the older the tape, the more the high frequencies tend to drop off. The INport can do nothing to address those issues. In my tests, the better quality tapes (Metal Oxide in particular) fared better in the end.

Final Thoughts

I love this device! It has given me an opportunity to save old cassette albums that were deteriorating rapidly. It also has allowed me to play old records that were sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Make no mistake, though, this can be a time consuming process. In the end, however, if you want to listen to that old music that is long out of print, the Xitel INport is a great way to accomplish it.

PROS
Sound Quality
30' RCA-type Cable
Utilizes USB 2.0
Simple to use
Self-adjusting Recording Levels
 
CONS
Outdated Version of LP Ripper
Flaky Performance of LP Recorder
Time Consuming Track Splitting

Back to the News

Previous Page    
Table of Contents
Page 1: Introduction, System Requirements and Specs
Page 2: Performance and Final Thoughts

 
      Posted by: , December 21, 2003, 6:00 pm  

 
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