Scratchy Brings Digital Clarity To The Vinyl World

If you walk the halls of audiophilia, you may be aware that there has been a huge amount of work put in to software designed to clean up older audio recordings without compromising the quality of the recording itself. Sometimes the results can be amazing, such as when a stereo image is created from parallel mono recordings made before stereo was even a glint in the eye of a 1930s EMI engineer.

Bob Widlar on analogue versus digital. Original: EDN
[Bob Widlar] on analogue versus digital. Original: EDN.
But what if you are at home, without the benefit of a state-of-the-art studio or high-end digital signal processing? How can you then have pop and crackle free sound from your hi-fi when you put on a piece of vinyl? [Paul Wallace] may just have the answer, he’s made a smartphone app called Scratchy which listens to the output of a turntable, identifies the track being played, and plays the appropriate MP3 file for a digital experience from vinyl. It uses the algorithm published by Shazam to recognize tunes. The software also has a learn mode during which it can be taught about new records in the collection. The app itself is written using the Xamarin framework and has its source code in his GitHup repository, so it’s possible it could be produced for other platforms as well as Android.

Now vinyl purists will be speechless with horror at this wanton desecration of their format while audiophiles will be fuming at the smeary-in-the-midrange MP3s, but we can see its appeal if your vinyl is on the grubby side. It’s fair to say though that the stereo here won’t be sporting it, you’ll tear our analogue signal path from our cold dead hands. Take a look for yourselves, he’s put up a video showing it in operation.

If you like the vinyl-via-app experience, of course you don’t even need a turntable. If you are mystified by turntables though, perhaps you should read our handy guide to spotting a good one. And if you don’t have a record collection, why not laser cut one for yourself?

18 thoughts on “Scratchy Brings Digital Clarity To The Vinyl World

  1. +1 for the Widlar quote/image.

    If you’re going to fake it, though, why even require the LP? Just make some 12″ discs out of MDF, and embed an RFID tag in each one. When you put the disc on the table, it reads the tag and starts playing the appropriate mp3 – no need to engage the tone arm, or even have a cartridge/needle. It should even *add* realistic pops and crackles (and occasional skips – always on Led Zeppelin’s “whole lotta love”) for full effect – that’s what I really enjoy when I listen to the old vinyl I still have.

  2. Does this thing play a rickroll when you try to play a Justin Bieber record?
    Hopefully it won’t replace Ed Sheeran with that silly song from 2009 (the one which became popular again a month ago thanks to YouTube’s stupid memes).

  3. Yeah, it’s a bit anachronistic but I play wav files on my Archos AV500 that I modded to 128gb SSD through a Bluetooth dongle to a Bluetooth Cassette that hacked together so I can listen to them on my Sony WM10 Walkman.
    Just because I always loved that WM10, and no more flipping tapes or respooling when the capstan roller gets dirty.

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