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Archive for June, 2011

True story: I bought 4 old long-playing albums at Goodwill and decided to digitize them. When I tried to find an LP cleaner at Radio Shack the clerk said, “What’s an LP?”

Some months ago I had bought a USB turntable for $50 at Costco. I had previously digitized cassettes, but never LPs. I was glad to find the Chad Mitchell Trio’s “Singin’ Our Mind” album again — most of those tracks are not available as files that I can find, and I have a nostalgic affection for the group. So lacking a cleaner (thanks, Radio Shack), I literally washed the LPs in warm soapy water, patted them dry and finished with a hair dryer.

The turntable setup was ridiculously easy and I downloaded the albums into Amadeus Pro for the Mac without trouble. As you might guess, all these albums had some small pops and clicks, and most of one side of the Mitchell album had a huge scratch. I used Amadeus’ Interpolate routine to go through and try to eliminate as many of the pops as I could. Here’s a screen shot of “Maladyozhenaya” in Amadeus before using Interpolate (click for a larger version):

Every one of those spikes is a major click. To use Interpolate, you have to go and locate each one of them; as you can imagine, a tedious process. Here’s a shot of what it looked like at about 80% complete:

Some were harder to fix than others. I had to fiddle with Amadeus’s display a bit to locate the 2 big clicks on the far left. The results aren’t perfect; there are places where I think I grabbed too wide a swath of audio and as a result Interpolate suppresses things a bit. But to my nostalgia-tinged ears, it’s much more listenable:

Clip of Maladyozhenaya before Interpolation

Clip of Maladyozhenaya after Interpolation

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I realized that after an enjoyable weekend at the Spoleto Festival, I would normally post something on this blog. Instead I worked on material for the WHQR website and for use on air. So here’s a link to that material.

I mentioned in the piece we ran on air that one of the pleasures of a city like Charleston and a Festival like Spoleto is just walking around, absorbing the sights and sounds, and finding interesting places to eat. Here is a highly personal list of places that I enjoyed on this trip. Some of these were familiar to me, others not:

Gaulart & Maliclet, 98 Broad Street — One place I always try to visit in Charleston. I’ve always wondered why we have both fancy and plain-but-good Italian restaurants in this country, and we we have some very fancy French restaurants (many over-rated), but we don’t have many simple places serving bistro-type French food. This is one. At one time they had a sister restaurant in Cary, NC, but now this is the only one. Great for a lunch stop as well as a late-night restorative.

Hominy Grill, 207 Rutledge Avenue — My son Brooks’ favorite breakfast spot when he lived just around the corner. Traditional Southern breakfasts made with flair in a very attractive old building. It must serve the Medical University crowd primarily; unlike the others here, it’s not downtown, and it’s closed on weekends. Get there by 8 am for best results.

Fleet Landing, 186 Concord Street — A great location in a restored Navy building. Spectacular views of the Cooper River, especially from their outside tables, really good seafood, and easy-on-the-wallet happy hour specials at the bar.

Dixie Supply Bakery and Cafe, 62 State Street — Another good breakfast place. Not at all fancy (the tables you see here are in the parking lot of a Li’l Cricket convenience store next door), but very cheery and great food. It’s been written up in a lot of places, so it can be crowded, with few tables.

Toast, 155 Meeting Street — Another good place for breakfast (do you notice kind of a theme here?), though it’s more. It probably greatly benefits from its location on Meeting Street near the Market. Good food, but my sister and I found the service a bit spotty. They were very crowded, as would be expected in Charleston, on Meeting Street, during Spoleto. Best overheard conversation: at lunch on Sunday, the sidewalk was jam-packed with people waiting for a table. I heard a passerby say to his companion, “Man, they must have REALLY good toast.”

East Bay Meeting House, 160 East Bay Street — I didn’t know anything about this place except that it had a vacant table right next to an open window and I really needed to stop for lunch. Very nice ambience and bar, and I had a really fine panini. Unfortunately right after I got there they closed up the windows (to be fair, it was getting hot), but still a nice treat.

Noisy Oyster, East Bay and North Market — Ya know, sometimes you just gotta visit a tacky Tiki bar that plays a lot of Jimmy Buffet and has gallons of fried seafood and cheap happy hour drinks. You could do a lot worse than this one, which to this weary and thirsty traveler was touristy but not tourist-trappy. On a hot day with a lot of walking behind you, this begins to look like an oasis.

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