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Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

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Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby thermionics » 12 Feb 2012 13:31

I'm a very lucky boy and have just been given a copy of the Kitty Daisy and Lewis album, "Smoking in Heaven" for my Birthday.

Reputedly, it's the first Album to be released on 78rpm in 50 Years. It contains 10 disks in an album package.

What would be the best way to play this? I have two 78 stylii, 2.5 and 3.0 mil. However, if it was cut with a modern cutter head should I use an LP stylus? I've looked at the grooves under a magnifying glass and they seem smaller than my old 78's but bigger than LP grooves. This may be an result of the disks being vinyl not shellac. They've used that crazy eccentric run-out groove that many 78's have, perhaps that is a Clue?

I also wonder what equalisation was used. RIAA or some obscure british standard? I've only got an RIAA preamp but this album may just motivate me to mod a pre-amp for 78 playback.

I've never seen a modern 78 before. Any thought's?
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 12 Feb 2012 19:26

Since the record is new I would guess that you could check with the manifacturer. If you can't do that find someone with a calibrated microscope to measure the groove width. I don't know what they are called but I know they exist. Folks who are more advanced along in this 78 thing than I have them and use them to select the optimimum stylus.

I'm guessing that the EQ is RIAA since the record is new, unless it was made specifically to play on old machines. If the intent was to play it on an acoustic machine I would expect that they would use shellac as one of those machines would very rapidly degrade a vinyl record.

I have a vinyl 12" 78 RPM pressed in the 1950s. It says on the jacket to use a 1 mill stylus. They even mention the EQ which they call modified AES and they specify the bass turn as 300 Hz. Other than being mono this record will rival a Sheffield record.

Let us know what you find and please post pictures of it.

Phil
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 13 Feb 2012 00:05

Hi Thermionics,

I asked for a picture of your 78s so I guess I should post a picture of the microgroove 78 which I mentioned:

[img]19265[/img]

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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby thermionics » 14 Feb 2012 00:31

Hi, Here are some pics of the Album and disk
20427
20428
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 14 Feb 2012 19:25

Hi Thermionics,

Those are amazing. The packaging looks like some 78 RPM albums which I have from the 1940s.

Were you able to find out anything on stylus size or EQ? I checked their website and I could not any thechnical info.

Phil

thermionics wrote:Hi, Here are some pics of the Album and disk
20427
20428
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby thermionics » 17 Feb 2012 12:40

Hi Phil and others,

I've just got my 78 player up and running. I seems this has a microgoove cut after all.

I attempted to play one of the Kitty Daisy and Lewis disks using my Stanton 681 with the D6827 stylus - My current favourite 78 setup. No dice.

The stylus will only track if it is very carefully set down. As soon as some dynamics are encountered, the the stylus jumps out and the tonearm starts sliding across the disk. No harm done, but, these disk will only play with a micro groove stylus.

Not the result I was expecting. Weirdly, they seem to have a 78 eq. i.e. Compared to my gf's copy of the cd, the highs are truncated.
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 17 Feb 2012 18:51

Hi Thermonics,

That seems like dissapointing results. If I understand this correctly you have a 2.5-3 mill stylus which plays legacy 78s properly but won't play this record. The record plays with a microgroove stylus but is somewhat dicy. Something must be wrong. I have several standard groove 78s which are not shellac which play fine with my 2.5 mill stylus. I have always assumed that these "unbreakable" 78s were vinyl but have recently learned that there were other materials used (one of which is similar to wood glue) so I can't say for sure they are vinyl. My red vinyl microgroove 12" 78 plays very well with a microgroove stylus.

I am surprised they don't give playback info with this record as there are many EQs which were used in the 78 era. You might try a treble roll-off of ~3kHz as opposed to the ~2200 Hz of RIAA.

Good luck with this.

Phil
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby thermionics » 18 Feb 2012 00:31

Hi Phil,

The disks play fine with a LP cart, It's just my 2.7 mil 78 stylus that would not track. I know it was setup properly because I had just played a 12" Count Basie 78.

This - http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/ ... igital-age

Made me think they'd definitely cut these 78's with a ~2.7 mil groove so the hipsters could play them on their acoustic gramophones - I guess not.

The sound was great up until the high frequency roll off (of my RIAA section??) I might mess around with a kit phono pre circuit board I've got and remove the 2200Hz roll off all together.

This whole situation is the exact opposite of what I had suspected. I figured it'd be a 2.7 mil cut with a RIAA eq!
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 18 Feb 2012 08:38

Hi Thermionics,

I checked out the link which you provided. It helped me sort my thoughts about our digital age.

Like you my first guess would be that the records would be standard groove and have RIAA EQ.

I guess they have their reasons to do what they did.

Phil

thermionics wrote:Hi Phil,

The disks play fine with a LP cart, It's just my 2.7 mil 78 stylus that would not track. I know it was setup properly because I had just played a 12" Count Basie 78.

This - http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/ ... igital-age

Made me think they'd definitely cut these 78's with a ~2.7 mil groove so the hipsters could play them on their acoustic gramophones - I guess not.

The sound was great up until the high frequency roll off (of my RIAA section??) I might mess around with a kit phono pre circuit board I've got and remove the 2200Hz roll off all together.

This whole situation is the exact opposite of what I had suspected. I figured it'd be a 2.7 mil cut with a RIAA eq!
Coffee Phil
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby thermionics » 11 Mar 2012 03:22

Hi All,

I sent a query to the record company and received this lenghty reply from Lewis:

Basically, these 78rpm records are what I wanted to do because I have a passion for 78s (primarily because the music I love is on them. Blues, jazz, calypso..). It took a lot of work to get this 78 project going and a lot of ball-aching from various people.

Anyway, to answer the technical questions.

Firstly, the records were mastered by me using a mixture of equipment. A Grampian type D head (moving iron design) with Gothom Audio amplifier and a Neumann system (moving coil head). These systems were either mounted on a Scully standard type lathe or a Neumann VMS70. All disks were cut with the standard RIAA curve directly from the 1/4 master tapes reproduced off an Ampex 350.

What is the width of the groove? Well, to be honest, each record is different for a number of reasons. But just to clear one thing up, weather a master is pressed on to vinyl or shellac will make no difference what so ever to the groove geometry. Of course they both sound different tho.

Up until the 1960s, lost of different types of recording styli were available for all sorts of recording-heads for standard groove recording. You could get fine tip, broad tip, long shank, short shank..... Now days there is one stylus made for the grampian and a few for the Neumann but no stylus is made today which as broad tip as the used to make. Essentially, no syli are made for standard groove recording so I had to improvise. For the shorter sides of the 78s, I guess you could use 2mil because I could open up the LPI (Lines Per Inch) and because of that, I had leeway to cut deeper, therefore gaining width in the groove. Some of the sides are over 5 minutes long, something which they would never have done in the old days on 10'', which is why some longer side are put on 12''. So for this, close up the LPI and then the grooves would be touching so I would have to cut a bit shallower. For the longer sides, maybe use a 1-1.5mil.

The locked eccentric groove at the end of the run out was a massive ball ache and defiantly the hardest thing to get right. I wanted to have it for the challenge. This was done by, after the music finished, you start the run out, then just before you reach were the lock groove starts, you lift the head, all manually. Then you place the disk on a different lathe with a turntable that has an off center pin, which I had to work out how much to offset by. Then you cut the final lock groove by landing the stylus exactly in the end of the run off, which is the most outer part of the lock groove. If I got it wrong, I had to re-cut the whole side. Also bear in mind that the labels are 3'' in diameter so the lock groove goes up to that at its most inner point, meaning the lathe needed further modification.

The pressings are also flat. No groove guard and no raised label area. This is the way all records were pressed before the 60s, with exception to 7'' singles. All records have profiles now as it is quicker to press. If you imagine two flat dies in a press, you have to press slower so that there is no non-fill on the disk. Having raised areas distributes the vinyl quicker. Flat is technically better.

In summary, I did try my best to cut as standard groove as posible, but modern styli have their limits. I had great fun and pain making these and they are not 100% technically perfect but I tried my best and hopefully next time will have a wider stylus to cut 2.7mil as long as the song isn't to long. I hope to press shellac one day too, thats not a joke. It all experimenting and trial and error in this day and age as the 78 era is far behind us and not many people care for disk recording anymore, all one can do is try.

In further about groove width, you will find that under a scope, microgroove records wont always be 0.7mil for micro and the same for 78s. Usualy the engineer sets the LPI for the length of the side, sets the depth so that the land and groove width are about the same and rolls the cut. If theres any intercutting, either lower the leven or make the cut shallower, thats pretty much it unless your cutting a 12'' dance single were you can really spread the grooves and cut a lot louder. Or if your cutting with variable pitch then you dont need to worry, but I use constant pitch.
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Re: Kitty Daisy & Lewis: modern album on 78

Postby Coffee Phil » 11 Mar 2012 08:38

This is interesting and somewhat puzzling. I am wondering what he is trying to produce. Are these records expected to be played on modern record players? If so why not just make them standard microgroove? Apparently the cutting styli are much more available. Also playback styli are more common although most folks with the ability play 78s likely have 2.5 - 3 mill styli. It could be that he intends these records to be played on acoustic and other old machines since he is talking about using shellac. About the only advantage I can see for shellac is to tolerate the heavy tracking old machines. For the most part in my experience vinyl 78s are quieter than shellac.

It is going to be interesting to see what sort on 78 RPM "software" comes out.

Phil

thermionics wrote:Hi All,

I sent a query to the record company and received this lenghty reply from Lewis:

Basically, these 78rpm records are what I wanted to do because I have a passion for 78s (primarily because the music I love is on them. Blues, jazz, calypso..). It took a lot of work to get this 78 project going and a lot of ball-aching from various people.

Anyway, to answer the technical questions.

Firstly, the records were mastered by me using a mixture of equipment. A Grampian type D head (moving iron design) with Gothom Audio amplifier and a Neumann system (moving coil head). These systems were either mounted on a Scully standard type lathe or a Neumann VMS70. All disks were cut with the standard RIAA curve directly from the 1/4 master tapes reproduced off an Ampex 350.

What is the width of the groove? Well, to be honest, each record is different for a number of reasons. But just to clear one thing up, weather a master is pressed on to vinyl or shellac will make no difference what so ever to the groove geometry. Of course they both sound different tho.

Up until the 1960s, lost of different types of recording styli were available for all sorts of recording-heads for standard groove recording. You could get fine tip, broad tip, long shank, short shank..... Now days there is one stylus made for the grampian and a few for the Neumann but no stylus is made today which as broad tip as the used to make. Essentially, no syli are made for standard groove recording so I had to improvise. For the shorter sides of the 78s, I guess you could use 2mil because I could open up the LPI (Lines Per Inch) and because of that, I had leeway to cut deeper, therefore gaining width in the groove. Some of the sides are over 5 minutes long, something which they would never have done in the old days on 10'', which is why some longer side are put on 12''. So for this, close up the LPI and then the grooves would be touching so I would have to cut a bit shallower. For the longer sides, maybe use a 1-1.5mil.

The locked eccentric groove at the end of the run out was a massive ball ache and defiantly the hardest thing to get right. I wanted to have it for the challenge. This was done by, after the music finished, you start the run out, then just before you reach were the lock groove starts, you lift the head, all manually. Then you place the disk on a different lathe with a turntable that has an off center pin, which I had to work out how much to offset by. Then you cut the final lock groove by landing the stylus exactly in the end of the run off, which is the most outer part of the lock groove. If I got it wrong, I had to re-cut the whole side. Also bear in mind that the labels are 3'' in diameter so the lock groove goes up to that at its most inner point, meaning the lathe needed further modification.

The pressings are also flat. No groove guard and no raised label area. This is the way all records were pressed before the 60s, with exception to 7'' singles. All records have profiles now as it is quicker to press. If you imagine two flat dies in a press, you have to press slower so that there is no non-fill on the disk. Having raised areas distributes the vinyl quicker. Flat is technically better.

In summary, I did try my best to cut as standard groove as posible, but modern styli have their limits. I had great fun and pain making these and they are not 100% technically perfect but I tried my best and hopefully next time will have a wider stylus to cut 2.7mil as long as the song isn't to long. I hope to press shellac one day too, thats not a joke. It all experimenting and trial and error in this day and age as the 78 era is far behind us and not many people care for disk recording anymore, all one can do is try.

In further about groove width, you will find that under a scope, microgroove records wont always be 0.7mil for micro and the same for 78s. Usualy the engineer sets the LPI for the length of the side, sets the depth so that the land and groove width are about the same and rolls the cut. If theres any intercutting, either lower the leven or make the cut shallower, thats pretty much it unless your cutting a 12'' dance single were you can really spread the grooves and cut a lot louder. Or if your cutting with variable pitch then you dont need to worry, but I use constant pitch.
Coffee Phil
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