Digitize LPs with zero loss?

Hi all,

I've been told the Mark of the Unicorn audio interfaces
are good. I am looking to keep my LPs' sonic depth by
sampling them--I've been waiting this long to switch over
to digital, and I hoped that the MOTU 24-bit 192 K sampling
was enough to capture them with no loss. Any thoughts?

Best Regards & thanks for the time,

There's nothing special about the MOTU converters. Metric Halo, Benchmark, Apogee & Mytek all make similarly priced converters that better MOTU's offerings. 192k sampling may or may not be necessary. You'll only know by experimenting. A 192k/24 bit file will be more than 4x the size of a redbook standard audio file. If you are going to digitize a large number of albums you'll need several high capacity hard drives plus back up drives. I've digitize nearly 1,000 albums and while the results are very good, it is an extremely time consuming process. In retrospect, with the time factored in I would have been better off simply purchasing CD versions of the albums.
Excellent; this is just the kind of feedback I was
looking for. Could you rank those better converters?
(What should I look for first, maybe a model number?)
(I don't mind having a terabyte of disk space.)

Also, I am unsatisfied with the sound of CDs and was
hoping to keep the richness of vinyl in the transition.
When you say you would have been better off buying the
CDs are you saying that the digitized LPs sounded like
CDs? Can you distinguish the LP from your best digitized
version? If so, that's not what I'm hoping for. (Maybe
the best converters still don't capture the whole signal?)

Apogee makes the best quality reasonably priced A/D converters.

The digitized albums will sound like digitized albums. They can sound slightly better than equivalent commercial CD's or slightly worse. This mostly depends upon the quality of your vinyl collection. When you digitize an album you've created a very long signal path for the music. Assuming the music was originally analog tape (not necessarily a valid assumption), it's first converted to vinyl, then you convert it to digital and finally when you listen you must convert it back to analog again. There is a effect from the extra digital stages, it's subtle, but it's there. Only you can decide if it's acceptable. It's not really a question of digital being able to capture the vinyl signal, because hi-rez digital can, it has more to do with the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each medium.

Why do you want to digitize and how will you play back the audio files?
"Why do you want to digitize and how will you play back the audio files?"

I'd like to give my favorite LPs a rest and tap into the convenience of digital format music.

I'm a user interface designer specializing in informaiton visualization (see http://didi.com/brad if you like) and it is clear to me that existing audio-shuffling software is in its infancy. I'd like to put together something that has the feel of what I did for MoMA, the sense of TextArc, smarter associative logic than Amazon.com's recommender. The front end of it will take advantage of my Toshiba M200 TabletPC and 50" Pioneer plasma touchscreen; think flick a song or style from the table up to the screen. Student of mine did a decent first step (http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~paley/spring03/assignments/HWFINAL/bgb10) but there's still a mile to go...
Fascinating stuff, best of luck. Definitely post updates of your efforts.

My final thoughts on sound quality issues. Accept digital for what it is, it sounds slightly different than vinyl. In some ways worst and in some ways better. From my perspective, the quick access and sorting capabilities of a hard drive based music collection overwhelms the relatively minor sonic issues. Count on spending at least 2x the playing time to digitize an album.
you might want to look into the Alesis masterlink - Michel Fremer (Stereophile vinyl guy) uses it to make CDs of different cartridge/arm combinations. If it's good enough to really catch that level of subtlety.... It can even make CDRs (playable only on itself, though) of hi-rez stuff - about 20 min. per CDR
Okay; excellent guys; thanks!
And I will surely post ant interface playing I do--thanks
for the kind words.

Now I have this list to look out for:

o Metric Halo ULN-2 or 2882
o Alesis Masterlink 9600

(But the above sample at only 96 kHz--Am I wrong to be
considering this?) And, at 192 kHz:

o Benchmark DAC1 (now) and ADC1 (when it's available)
(They "All sample rates playback with a 52-kHz analog
bandwidth" is that good? Does anything play back with
a full 192 kHz if it's sampled that high?)
o Apogee Rosetta 200 (This one doesn't specify a playback
analog bandwidth--might that imply 192 kHz?)
o Mytek Stereo192ADC and Stereo96DAC (which plays back
192 kHz streams, but the unit's name seems to imply
that it's downsampled--but perhaps I'm just not reading
something on http://www.mytekdigital.com/stereo96.htm
that specifies this, due to my newness at this game...)

Have I left anything out?

Also Id' be especially grateful if anyone has tested any
two or more of these things and can report what they heard.

Or is there some clearinghouse site that keeps comparing
these things, like people do PC video game boards?
If your thinking about an outboard DAC you have to seriously through in Grace Design's, Lunatec V3. In my experience it betters the others, e.g., Benchmarks and Apogee's. And, its ANSR dithering is really nice for red book 44/16.
I only mention this product because you're a computer/software professional. If you seek the highest quality available there are DSD (SACD) encoder/workstations. SADiE is a well respected manufacturer of digital mastering workstations and they have a dedicated DSD recorder/editor that will also encode PCM data at up to 196kHz/32bit word length. It's a pro unit and is probably overkill for what you want to do, but it will allow you to record SACD data files.

At a much lower entry cost, the new Apogee AD/DA with the optional firewire interface would be an excellent choice.