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Wanting To Play Old 78S

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Wanting to play old 78s

Postby ewest77 » 13 May 2009 14:36

Hi. I'm a vinyl newbie and I'm primarily interested in old jazz records. I'm starting to collect old 78s from Vocalion.

I've read that the Goldring Lenco turntables are great for the old 78s as they have variable speed capabilities and can compensate for speed variations of the records.

I'm interested in building a system that is not only good for playing 78s, but is also ideal for early jazz!

I thank you in advance for any advice on ideal equipment, set up, and configuration!
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Postby Brian C. » 13 May 2009 15:40

I think the 'table that best fits the bill is a Lenco L70/Bogen B62/Goldring-Lenco GL70 equipped with a General Electric VRII turn-around cartridge for old microgroove LPs and 78s. If you want to also play stereo-era LPs then use a Stanton 500 or Ortofon OM cartridge with a selection of readily available suitable styli.

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Thanks

Postby ewest77 » 14 May 2009 12:44

Brian C. Thank you for the reply! Now for the hunt!!
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Postby Brian C. » 14 May 2009 15:16

Good luck :wink:

It will be well worth the effort 8)


Brian.

PS If you are thinking of an all-mono system, choose (or modify) a mono preamp with a 100k phono load resistor and use a stereo cartridge with coils connected in series to give mono output. I think you will be delighted :)

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Postby Mark Z. » 14 May 2009 17:36

Another TT you might research is the Broadcast Std. from KAB, which is a modified Technics SL1200. It doesn't cover all the speeds at which "78s" were recorded, but, w/ a range of about 72-84 rpm, it covers the vast majority. I added a number of available mods to mine so that it produces wonderful sound (IMO, of course) regardless of whether I'm listening to 78s, 45s, or LPs.
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Postby Whitneyville » 15 May 2009 08:33

If you really want to get "into" 78's, do some looking at cartidges that have available very large sylii. "3 mil" is always the "spec" for 78's, but if you go older on records, you'll find bigger styii often sound better. A very wide range graphic equalizer will also improve your listening exsperience, as there was no "standard" equalization curves for '78's, although most labels had thier "own" opinion of equalization. PS: expect stylus pressures above 5 grams for good tracking, and double that isn't uncommon.
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Postby Brian C. » 15 May 2009 09:50

I don't have many 78s but the selection I have are enjoyable through RIAA correction even though it may not be the correct correction in some cases :)
I have been collecting Charlie Parker 78s of late and those sound fine.

Also I have played with both 2.7mil and 3mil and have been happy with either on these '50s records.

However, if your interests take you back before WWII then concerns with equalization and stylus style (and shape) become much more relevant.

For the serious collector of older shellac records KAB does seem to provide the most comprehensive "one stop" service for both equalization and stylus profile needs in the US.

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Great Advice

Postby ewest77 » 15 May 2009 12:48

Thank everyone for the great advice. Yeah, I'm in the USA, and a lot of the 78s I want to listen to are pre WWII and I'll probably need to switch out styli from time to time. Sounds like the KAB mod Technic may be the route to go!

Again, thank you for the info. I felt like I may alone in the world as a guy who wants to listen to music that predates his grandfather's birth. My wife thinks I'm insane for wanting to listen to my music off the 78s when most of the tracks have been reproduced digitally. Perhaps she'll get it when I get my system built, but then again perhaps not.

Then the 78s will be the crystals to my Fortress of Solitude!! :twisted:
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additional info

Postby josephazannieri » 15 May 2009 15:16

Yo Ewest 77:

You have gotten some basic info here, from guys I have had discussuins with before. In general. it's good advice, but here are some additional suggestions, for what they are worth.

I have an old Lenco (Goldring-Lenco) L75, which I use to play 78's. It's continuously variable from about 14 RPM to about 85 RPM. If you can find one, a similar unit in good shape will work well for you. Also, there is another outfit which sells 78 RPM stuff, which is Garage-A Records. They sell a very good set of styli for the Stanton 500 that gives you all sorts of shapes that will help get a good result when playing back. The advice to use a 2.7 mil stylus is a good general compromise. Most of the 78's you will find have been played to death on really crappy record players, and they are grossly worn. My experience is that a 2.5 or 2.7 mil stylus rides a little lower in the groove, in a slightly less worn, and therefore quieter area of the groove.

I have 2 cartridges that I use for 78's. The high end unit is a Shure V15IV with a VN4G stylus. (1.75 G) The other is a Shure M44 with an N44-3 stylus. (3 G) Both work OK, and hook up well with a stereo system. There is also the Shure M78S, which some people like. You can rig it for a stereo amp by pulling the channel parallel wires off it. The advantage to the later cart's is that you can use them with stereo amps without having to horse around with impedance matching like you do with the old GE's.

Guys talk about the need for equalization for 78's and they are correct. But you can fudge the eqalization a little bit. Just bump the treble up a hair and turn the bass down a little bit. You will restore the HF impact that was originally on the record, but DON'T GO CRAZY. A little is a lot. If you get a lot of noise, you can help that by using a scrach filter set at 5 Khz or a little lower.

Some guys, like BrianC believe that the best way to play all mono records is through a single speaker All-mono system. A lot of aesthetic philosophical discussions of sonic ideals are possible, but maybe these are for later on.

Hope these ideas help. These are all practical suggestions that may not be sonically ideal, but they worked for me.

Good luck from the old compromiser.

Joe Z.
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Postby Brian C. » 15 May 2009 16:55

Another great US resource for serious 78 collectors is :

Esoteric Sound


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Postby cafe latte » 02 Aug 2011 00:25

As many know I am doing up a Commonwealth electric which will play 78s, but the 78 speed is not variable, and to be honest I did not know that it would be an issue. I started buying some 78s a few months back as I want to hear them also, when my TT is plinthed up with an arm :D A few noob questions , well noob to 78s anyway :D How long does the safire tip 78 stylus last?
Do you play through a regular riaa preamp, or is it better to build one for the 78s?
Part of me is wondering if it would be easier to get a gramaphone as a friend of a friend in Leeds I was once introduced to had one with doors with which you controlled the volume and it sounded amazing and the needles were cheap, but apparently they only last a couple of sides.
Regards
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78 Rpm Questions

Postby josephazannieri » 02 Aug 2011 15:07

Yo cafe latte:

I do not think it is worth your while to get a sapphire stylus for a 78 RPM player. Those are pretty much unavailable any more and most 78 styli are diamonds, which are much longer lasting.

It is very rare to find a truly pristine (unplayed) 78. Most of the records you will find are pretty seriously worn and noisy. You can choose a number of styli, going from about 2 mils to 3.5 mils. Stanton 500 has lots of selections, and you can spend lot$ of money on styli. I just bought a generic 3 mil conical diamond 78 RPM stylus for my Shure M44, and it is OK, but not great. It does give more impact than the 2 mil stylus in my V-15 IV. I try both and use the one that gives better reproduction.

DO NOT USE an old gramophone to play 78's. First. they are not good for any electric record made after about 1925, since those were set up to be reproduced electronically. I say use the most modern cartridge you can get, since it will minimize the wear and deterioration that the record will suffer due to excessive tracking forces and low compliance of acoustic reproducers. Wear is the big problem with 78's.

Depending on how much you use it, a diamond 78 stylus will last a couple of years, but if you are using it 3 or 4 hours a day, I'd check it every month. 78's are rough on styli.

You can cheat and use the RIAA curve in conventional preamp, but you will have to turn treble up a little bit to get back sibilants. Sometimes a sharp cutoff filter at 5 kHz will get rid of way HF noise.

I have never had a preamp that had all the 78 RPM equalization characteristics. I do the best I can with a 5 band Heathkit tone control and an old PAS-3x with a homemade outboard equalizer box with RCA, LP, AES and NAB curves in it, fudging with box curves and the tone controls. KAB makes a really excellent multiple EQ box, which really co$t$, but they say it's great. It's my 78 dream to be able to equalize correctly for the records. If you have the buck$ it would be worthwhile, but you really have to play lots of 78's to justify it.

And good luck from that well worn, but still highly electric old guy,

Joe Z.
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Postby Coffee Phil » 02 Aug 2011 18:46

Hi Cafe Latte,

If you have absolute pitch and you listen to records made before about the late 1920s the lack of variable speed may bug you. After the advent of electrical recording, lathes were driven with AC synchronous motors so "78s" cut in the US (60 Hz) should be 78.26 RPM and those cut in 50 Hz countries should be 78.95 RPM so your turntable should be fine for any electrically recorded 78 RPM record.

For "modern" (after the late 1930s) 78s RIAA is acceptable as they had some sort of eq. Of course the ability to select the eq is best.

Some folks insist that mono records (Lps as well as 78s) are best played with mono cartridges. I can't say that I'm a member of the converted in that belief yet but what I will say is that summing your cartridge output to a single channel makes a vast difference. It is best to do the summing before the eq to get more accurate summing.

I built a mono preamp which sums the channels, selects the high frequency rolloff, bass turnover, and switches from vertical (Edison, Pathe) to lateral recording. I'll link a photo of it.

I see that you build tube amps so I am sure you can build it for ~ $100.

If you want to build one for youself I do have an electronic copy of the schemo I can send you. If you lay out a board and want to sell them we need to talk.

Be aware that it uses solid state op-amps instead of tubes. I love my tubes, but doing this in tubes was more of a project than I was ready for at the time.

Phil


cafe latte wrote:As many know I am doing up a Commonwealth electric which will play 78s, but the 78 speed is not variable, and to be honest I did not know that it would be an issue. I started buying some 78s a few months back as I want to hear them also, when my TT is plinthed up with an arm :D A few noob questions , well noob to 78s anyway :D How long does the safire tip 78 stylus last?
Do you play through a regular riaa preamp, or is it better to build one for the 78s?
Part of me is wondering if it would be easier to get a gramaphone as a friend of a friend in Leeds I was once introduced to had one with doors with which you controlled the volume and it sounded amazing and the needles were cheap, but apparently they only last a couple of sides.
Regards
CL
http://db.audioasylum.com/mhtml/m.html?forum=vinyl&n=916343&highlight=preamp+coffee-phil&search_url=%2Fdefault.mpl%3Fsearchtext%3Dpreamp%26b%3DAND%26topic%3D%26topics_only%3DN%26author%3Dcoffee-phil%26date1%3D%26date2%3D%26slowmessage%3D%26sort%3Dscore%26sortOrder%3DDESC%26forum%3Dvinyl
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Postby cafe latte » 03 Aug 2011 00:45

Thanks Phil that has answered a few questions :D Do you know how long the stylus for 78 play last?
Congrats on your pre amp it looks really nice and is something to consider if it helps me get the best out of my 78s. I have a few preamp ideas and am not jumping into anything too quickly having got a box of unused projects that are gathering dust, but thanks for your kind offer I may well take you up on it when I make up my mind :D
Regards
CL
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Postby Whitneyville » 03 Aug 2011 06:49

Cafe, my old song on stylus life is only made worse by the groove speed of 78's. Dirt. Getting 78's safely clean isn't so easy, as any "micro-cracks" can get nasty if you leave a 78 wet for long. I've started using (since it's become available again) P&G Pure Castile Soap and a boar's-bristle shaving brush (quite stiff). I'm using my Dual at 33 1/3 with my Pickering XV-15/78 3mil conical, and adjusting the speed with Audacity and EQ in "post". The "half speed mastering" cuts lots of surface noise, and the stylus doesn't ricochet around the groove as badly. I'm using a "hard cut" at 10KHz, on electrical cuts from earlier than WWII, as I can't find anything but noise much above 7Khz on excellent 78's. Major-major speed variations existed until 1935 at least. A half-way decent 12-band equalizer can undo the RIAA and correct for 99% of non-acoustic equalizations. Acoustics, it's every man for himself, just PLEASE don't play them back on acoustic gear. If you're gonna do that, just save time and run a lawnmower over them. Either way will grind them up...the mower is just faster.
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