Shure M78S

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jgifford25
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Shure M78S

Post by jgifford25 » 15 Jan 2016 02:36

Bought this guy for my new turntable so I could play a stack of 78's my great aunt gave me. It's good to hear them, but I really want to get a good recording of them digitally on the old iMac. So far the recordings I've taken on the 78's are, well, disappointing compared to those from the LP and 45's I've experimented with.

Also picked up one of those Spin Clean Record Washers which did a great job of removing 70+ years worth of who know what from the grooves. After the cleaning, I've now got a few of these guys with some fractures in the shellac which means they're almost done for. Won't be long before they're ready for the trash bin. Already lost a few in the collection as they were broke after a few moves the past few years. In fact I was able to play one a couple times before I picked it up off the turntable, at which point, I had a few pieces instead of one record.

The Shure M78S I bought is working fine and I believe I've got it in good alignment with the protractor I've bought. But the noise is resounding. The audio software won't get rid the snaps and pops. I'm thinking the noise I'm hearing is not static or crud in the grooves, but maybe the needle not being tight in the grooves. I realize I won't get rid of all the noise, but I'd like to at least reduce it. Cause some of the recordings I'm hearing from the links some you all have out on the net sound way better than what I'm getting right now.

The Shure M78S cartridges come with a 2.5 mil stylus. I see LP Gear selling a replacement for the Shure with a 3.0 mil stylus. I see others out there saying a 2.7 mil stylus sometimes produces a better sound.

My question for you 78 record owners trying to get 'good' recordings of a play, what stylus size are you using? Should I get the 3.0 mil from LP Gear for the Shure or find another cartridge that has a 2.7 mil available?

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Coffee Phil » 15 Jan 2016 20:31

Hi Jgifford25,

Welcome to the fast spinning club.

I have never had an M78s in my hand but from what I know it is one of their stereo bodies strapped to mono with a 2.5 mil conical stylus. It doesn't seem to get a lot of love in the fast spining community but I don't know why. My main cartridge for 78s is a Shure M44 body with an N44-3 stylus. That is also a 2.5 mill conical. I would expect that they would sound similar and I like my Shure quite a bit. My Stylus met with an unfortunate event and before I got it straightened I bought a replacement which is supposed to be Shure but it is 3 mill. Sadly Shure does not sell the N44-3 any more. I can't tell much difference between them. It is true that styli size changed through out the history of 78s and if you want to optimize the play pack you will get a calibrated microscope and an arsenal of different styli. Expert stylus makes such a kit and it is quite $pendy. I would say the stylus size thing is second order and I would wait until I was pretty deep into this rabbit hole before worrying about that.

Most 78s are lateral cut mono and that is what the straps on your cartridge force the cartridge to respond to. Did you leave the straps in place? If you ever get into vertical cut records such as Edisons and Pathes the straps will have to go and the summing be done downstream. Playing these records back in mono helps signal to noise and distortion a lot.

The composition of 78s varied through their history from a clay filler to materials which were more quiet. Early 78s especally from the acoustic era can have a lot of record scratch. As the state of the art advanced this got better with some shellac 78s being surprisingly good. In the '40 vinyl started to displace shallac. Vinyl 78s will rival Lps for noise. Loud pops are damage. Some software can mitigate the pops and not hurt the music much.

Other than at the very end of the era 78s are not equalized RIAA so they will sound a bit dull played back with RIAA equalization. This can be improved with tone controls or graphic equalizers but those of us in the rabbit hole have phono stages with a selection of EQs. There are lists of EQs on line for different labels and periods, but I usually just use what I think sounds good.

Cleaning 78s is important and the Spinclean is OK as long as there is no alcohol in it. Most 78s are pressed into a mixture of shellac and some filler (usually clay). Alcohol is a solvent for shellac and therefore death to shellac 78s.

Phil

jgifford25 wrote:Bought this guy for my new turntable so I could play a stack of 78's my great aunt gave me. It's good to hear them, but I really want to get a good recording of them digitally on the old iMac. So far the recordings I've taken on the 78's are, well, disappointing compared to those from the LP and 45's I've experimented with.

Also picked up one of those Spin Clean Record Washers which did a great job of removing 70+ years worth of who know what from the grooves. After the cleaning, I've now got a few of these guys with some fractures in the shellac which means they're almost done for. Won't be long before they're ready for the trash bin. Already lost a few in the collection as they were broke after a few moves the past few years. In fact I was able to play one a couple times before I picked it up off the turntable, at which point, I had a few pieces instead of one record.

The Shure M78S I bought is working fine and I believe I've got it in good alignment with the protractor I've bought. But the noise is resounding. The audio software won't get rid the snaps and pops. I'm thinking the noise I'm hearing is not static or crud in the grooves, but maybe the needle not being tight in the grooves. I realize I won't get rid of all the noise, but I'd like to at least reduce it. Cause some of the recordings I'm hearing from the links some you all have out on the net sound way better than what I'm getting right now.

The Shure M78S cartridges come with a 2.5 mil stylus. I see LP Gear selling a replacement for the Shure with a 3.0 mil stylus. I see others out there saying a 2.7 mil stylus sometimes produces a better sound.

My question for you 78 record owners trying to get 'good' recordings of a play, what stylus size are you using? Should I get the 3.0 mil from LP Gear for the Shure or find another cartridge that has a 2.7 mil available?

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by jgifford25 » 16 Jan 2016 02:29

Yeah, I've left the straps in place on the M78S. The mono levels coming out of it are pretty balanced on the computer. Even though it's coming off the turntable in stereo and I could record it in stereo, it sounds the same regardless whether it is captured in stereo or mono with Audacity software.

The collection of 78's I was given are all mid-WWII era and on. Wish there had been a some older ones, but that is not the case.

A lot of the noise sounds I get sounds like that of a blown speaker with a lot of hiss and crackle. Hence the idea that it might be more distortion of the needle not riding the groove well. I know the head phones I'm using are good because you don't hear that on the non-78's or the CD/Digital copies of stuff stored in iTunes.

I'm using the Spin Clean solution for the records. No alcohol. Yeah, checked that before going down that route, cause I also got over a hundred 45's and fair amount of LP's from my great aunt as well.

I think you may be right, just gotta try different things. My purpose of asking for some advice is determining whether or not to save up for an Ortofon 2M 78 which has the 2.7 mil stylus or get the 3.0 mil aftermarket stylus for the M78S from LP Gear.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Coffee Phil » 16 Jan 2016 19:12

Hi Jgifford,

I believe that if your records are mid WWII vintage any stylus between 2.5 and 3.0 mill should give decent results. Further refinements with stylus size will be kind of second order.

I have heared that some mid WWII records were pretty bad as shellac was hard to get and they were grinding old records to get it. That has not been my experience however. In fact vinyl was starting to replace the precious shellac and they actually rival Lps.

There was a string recently where someone was having issues with a Shure M78S. A replacement stylus solved it as I remember.

You might secure a 78 from somewhere else to compare. There may be something in the past of your records which damaged them. Let's hope not.

Phil
jgifford25 wrote:Yeah, I've left the straps in place on the M78S. The mono levels coming out of it are pretty balanced on the computer. Even though it's coming off the turntable in stereo and I could record it in stereo, it sounds the same regardless whether it is captured in stereo or mono with Audacity software.

The collection of 78's I was given are all mid-WWII era and on. Wish there had been a some older ones, but that is not the case.

A lot of the noise sounds I get sounds like that of a blown speaker with a lot of hiss and crackle. Hence the idea that it might be more distortion of the needle not riding the groove well. I know the head phones I'm using are good because you don't hear that on the non-78's or the CD/Digital copies of stuff stored in iTunes.

I'm using the Spin Clean solution for the records. No alcohol. Yeah, checked that before going down that route, cause I also got over a hundred 45's and fair amount of LP's from my great aunt as well.

I think you may be right, just gotta try different things. My purpose of asking for some advice is determining whether or not to save up for an Ortofon 2M 78 which has the 2.7 mil stylus or get the 3.0 mil aftermarket stylus for the M78S from LP Gear.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by josephazannieri » 16 Jan 2016 21:14

Yo jgifford:

What kind of records? If these are popular music records, or jazz or big band swing music, they may have been really played to death, and may be in rough condition, which will make them noisy. The issue is that most of these records were not handled properly, and are often covered with fingerprints. I have a number of classical 78's and these are often in excellent condition, just because they don't get played at parties.

I suggest a couple of alternatives. I use click remover software, using just enough to get rid of the worst noise. I also use a 5 KHz filter to reduce high frequency noise. This is because you won't find very much high frequency content above 5 kHz on 78's, even the "legendary" Decca or London FFRR records. I have played some of these, and records in excellent shape, and they don't sound any different from the RCA and Columbia records of similar vintage. I have used a smaller 2 mil stylus in my Shure V-15 IV, and that reduces the high frequency noise, but it also reduces high frequency music content in the 3-5 kHz area, because stylus does not follow the grooves as well.

Phil is right when he suggests that you should use the M78 with the channels strapped. Be sure that the left and right signal pins are strapped together, and that the same is true of the left and right signal pins. This will make the stereo coils in the cartridge add together, and will reduce both rumble and noise.

It may be that another stylus will help reduce the noise. Take a look at the grooves with a magnifying glass, and see if they are really chewed up. Also, check your recording software. Sony Creative SoundForge has a "Graphic Equalizer" function that might resuce the noise. I just cleaned up a CD for a friend, and the SoundForge 10 Graphic Equalizer function really helped. your software may have a similar function.

Hi, Phil, and good luck from that still dizzy, but equally graphic, old 78 spinner,

Joe Z.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by jgifford25 » 21 Jan 2016 03:23

The 78's are a mix of Big Band, popular, classical for one half. The other half… country #-o Same goes for the LP's I got from my great aunt. 45's… nearly all country. My test's have been on the non-country genre discs as, well, I'm not really a fan of country, irregardless of the era. My great aunt took pretty good care of her records. When I did get them from her, she was insisting I take the record player, which was barely a step up from one of those retro Crosley portables you can buy today. She did tell me that old turntable would NOT play the 78's. So, I'm guessing they had not been play for who knows how long. I'll have to ask her about the turntable they used back in the day to play those 78's at the family farm. But I'm guessing the turntable wasn't one of the steel needles based on the age of the discs as most are post WWII.

I bought the Shure M78S cartridge with sole purpose of mono. I'm not nor ever removing those straps. [-X

Wow, that Sony Soundforge software is very nice and slick. Wish it wasn't so expensive! Going to have to stick with Audacity for now.

But, Izotope did come with the turntable. Like it, but it won't take a number of formats that I'd prefer with my Mac/iTunes. But, I'm still playing with it for cleaning up pops and other things, but I do think Joe Z was right about the frequencies. Here's why…

While visiting the local audiophile guru in the Memphis, TN (http://www.halfordloudspeakers.com) this last weekend, David, the owner, and I got to talking about phono cartridges and I mentioned my 78's and my issue. Understand, I'm sending everything out the USB port in digital format, which means it's going through the builtin pre-amp on the turntable. David points out that the RIAA equalization had been applied by the built-in pre-amp to the output signal before it got to the Mac and that I really should be thinking about some vintage pre-amps to correctly convert the signal.

Sorry, I'm not spending lots of money for vintage audio equipment right now. Wife is already giving me the evil eye with all the visits to the local record shops for the 2nd hand LP's that I wish I had or had on cassettes back in the day.

But that whole conversation with David got me back to what Joe Z was saying. With the RIAA equalization curve, the treble or rather high frequencies get amplified, which is not something you want for a 78. So, checking with the Audacity tool, found the equalization effect and starting also digging into that feature. I found that Audacity has a set of 78 curves available (http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/EQCurvesDownload). All good right? Nope, applying any of those 78 curves didn't make matters better. So what gives right???

Remember, the turntable has a pre-amp that is sending the signal digitally to the iMac. And that pre-amp is applying the RIAA curve. How to fix? So, back to Audacity and the Equalizer effect. Ah, ha!! Invert the RIAA equalization on the recording and then apply one of the 78's curves. Oh yeah! :D Sounds a lot better and now I only need to clean up the pops and crackles with Izotope.

So thanks guys for helping me think through this issue. I can now hopefully save that good recording of The Modernaires with Paula Kelly: Holiday for Strings/To Each His Own that I currently have in which the disk is nearly dead.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Coffee Phil » 21 Jan 2016 18:25

Hi Jgifford25,

I'm happy to see that you are making progress on this.

I seems like you have a nice collection. Please don't dump the country stuff into the bin as someone will love them. I fact you may develop a taste for them. There was a time when I could not stand country. My friend became a DJ at a country station (KEEN in San Jose CA) and he would bring records over to my house and make me listen to them. Eventually something wore off on me as I do like country now. No less than Charlie Parker listened to Country. Miles Davis would harass him asking "why do you listen to that sad a*s hillbilly sh*t?". Bird would reply "listen to the stories".

Don't count on those records never having been played on a machine with a steel needle retained by thumb screw. I had such a machine when I was a kid. If the records in question are shellac and the needles were changed after 1 or 2 plays the damage may be minimum. If the records are vinyl I fear you may have lost a lot.

Phil

jgifford25 wrote:The 78's are a mix of Big Band, popular, classical for one half. The other half… country #-o Same goes for the LP's I got from my great aunt. 45's… nearly all country. My test's have been on the non-country genre discs as, well, I'm not really a fan of country, irregardless of the era. My great aunt took pretty good care of her records. When I did get them from her, she was insisting I take the record player, which was barely a step up from one of those retro Crosley portables you can buy today. She did tell me that old turntable would NOT play the 78's. So, I'm guessing they had not been play for who knows how long. I'll have to ask her about the turntable they used back in the day to play those 78's at the family farm. But I'm guessing the turntable wasn't one of the steel needles based on the age of the discs as most are post WWII.

I bought the Shure M78S cartridge with sole purpose of mono. I'm not nor ever removing those straps. [-X

Wow, that Sony Soundforge software is very nice and slick. Wish it wasn't so expensive! Going to have to stick with Audacity for now.

But, Izotope did come with the turntable. Like it, but it won't take a number of formats that I'd prefer with my Mac/iTunes. But, I'm still playing with it for cleaning up pops and other things, but I do think Joe Z was right about the frequencies. Here's why…

While visiting the local audiophile guru in the Memphis, TN (http://www.halfordloudspeakers.com) this last weekend, David, the owner, and I got to talking about phono cartridges and I mentioned my 78's and my issue. Understand, I'm sending everything out the USB port in digital format, which means it's going through the builtin pre-amp on the turntable. David points out that the RIAA equalization had been applied by the built-in pre-amp to the output signal before it got to the Mac and that I really should be thinking about some vintage pre-amps to correctly convert the signal.

Sorry, I'm not spending lots of money for vintage audio equipment right now. Wife is already giving me the evil eye with all the visits to the local record shops for the 2nd hand LP's that I wish I had or had on cassettes back in the day.

But that whole conversation with David got me back to what Joe Z was saying. With the RIAA equalization curve, the treble or rather high frequencies get amplified, which is not something you want for a 78. So, checking with the Audacity tool, found the equalization effect and starting also digging into that feature. I found that Audacity has a set of 78 curves available (http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/EQCurvesDownload). All good right? Nope, applying any of those 78 curves didn't make matters better. So what gives right???

Remember, the turntable has a pre-amp that is sending the signal digitally to the iMac. And that pre-amp is applying the RIAA curve. How to fix? So, back to Audacity and the Equalizer effect. Ah, ha!! Invert the RIAA equalization on the recording and then apply one of the 78's curves. Oh yeah! :D Sounds a lot better and now I only need to clean up the pops and crackles with Izotope.

So thanks guys for helping me think through this issue. I can now hopefully save that good recording of The Modernaires with Paula Kelly: Holiday for Strings/To Each His Own that I currently have in which the disk is nearly dead.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by antennaguru » 12 Oct 2016 03:59

I use a filter called the Burwen DNF 1201A after my 78 EQ phono stage, and it truly helps reduce the noise. It is an analog domain dynamic noise filter from the 1970s. They sometimes appear on the used market.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by IndigoRock2001 » 04 Jul 2018 23:51

[quote="Coffee Phil"]Hi Jgifford25,


Most 78s are lateral cut mono and that is what the straps on your cartridge force the cartridge to respond to. Did you leave the straps in place?


Errrr Ummm What the heck are "straps" I don't see any such on my cartridge, are they invisible ie inside the cart? Maybe I took mine off without knowing it? Sorry to be such a dummy but I don't know.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Coffee Phil » 05 Jul 2018 01:39

Hi IndigoRock2001,

The straps of which we speak are little wire springs connecting the right + terminal to the left + terminal and the right - to the left - . This is to get rid of the vertical which is just noise and distortion on most 78s. Cartridges made of stereo bodies with a 2.5 to 3 mil stylus for the purpose of playing 78s typically have the straps. The straps will make the cartridge useless for vertical cut records such as Edisons. To play such records folks remove the straps.

Phil

IndigoRock2001 wrote:
Coffee Phil wrote:Hi Jgifford25,


Most 78s are lateral cut mono and that is what the straps on your cartridge force the cartridge to respond to. Did you leave the straps in place?


Errrr Ummm What the heck are "straps" I don't see any such on my cartridge, are they invisible ie inside the cart? Maybe I took mine off without knowing it? Sorry to be such a dummy but I don't know.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by IndigoRock2001 » 06 Jul 2018 03:26

thank you coffee Phill
That is very fascinating, I could read technical discriptions of things all day. I don't understand all of them of course, but I was made to be an electrical engineer, I just never got the education for it. I used to be very good at fixing old tv's and stereos and tape decks and whatever. At one point I had 7 or 8 color tv's I'd picked up in the gutter and fixed, but I couldn't give them away,,, nobody wanted one???! I used to think of electricity as water and the circuits as plumbing. It was easy to see where the water was getting cut off or stuck. The valves were easy to replace by just looking at the number on them and getting another at Radio Shak, I could see that they were where the water was stuck and I'd replace them and bingo the whatever would work. But since the advent of Chips, and electronics that have nothing but a few chips in them I can't fix them anymore.
Indi

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by IndigoRock2001 » 06 Jul 2018 03:45

[quote="Coffee Phil"]Hi Jgifford25,

78s varied through their history from a clay filler to materials which were more quiet. Early 78s especally from the acoustic era can have a lot of record scratch.

Other than at the very end of the era 78s are not equalized RIAA so they will sound a bit dull played back with RIAA equalization.


What time period is "the acoustic era" and what defines that definition?
What is RIAA? Did they have equilizers back then? Just what is it? Did they know it as RIAA or is that a modern redefinition?
Thanks (and what great info in this post about clay filler etc..)
indi

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by josephazannieri » 06 Jul 2018 05:00

Yo IndigoRock2001:

"Acoustic era" is the period of time from about 1895 to about 1920 when records were recorded by a group of performers standing in front of a giant horn which went down to a small diaphragm with a needle on it. The needle was perched above a wax cylinder which spun below the needle and cut a vertical groove into the cylinder. The record was played by another needle that rode in the groove and pushed another diaphragm that was at the base of another horn that gave sound that could be heard. Later on, they used a wax disc that spun under another giant horn that came down to a small diaphragm that cut a groove into a record. These gave a vertical groove that could be played by another needle that moved up and down and actuated a diaphragm at the base of a horn that gave audible sound mirroring what was spoken or played into the original horn. There were no electrical devices used.

By approximately 1920, when Lee DeForest invented the audion tube, records began to be made electronically using tubes, and fidelity improved, and records began to be cut with groves that went from side to side rather than up and down. Electronic amplification permitted standardization of recording characteristics for improved fidelity. "RIAA" is the Recording Industries Association of America, which provided a standard characteristic that was decided upon in 1955 by the record manufacturers as a group so that all records would be made in a uniform way, so that all records would sound the same. Before 1955, each record company used its own recording characteristic.

All records are made with the low frequencies reduced, so that the grooves don't get too big, and the high frequencies increased so that they don't get lost under the basic noise level in all recording materials. 78 RPM records used to be made of noisier materials than the vinyl that is now used in all LP records.

When a record is played back, the high frequencies are reduced by a certain agreed upon amount, and the low frequencies are increased by a certain agreed upon amount so that when the record is played back the sound you hear mirrors the sound that was recorded. This is what is meant by the term "equalization." The amount of reduction in lows on the record is increased by the standard amount agreed upon by the RIAA, and the increase in highs on the record is reduced by the standard amount agreed upon by the RIAA so that you hear what is called "flat frequency response." This is the real meaning of the term "equalization." It has nothing to do with those tone controls that are mistakenly called "equalizers."

If your playback system is a good one, you won't need to diddle with tone controls. The sound will be in its proper perspective and will sound good. I hope that this helps some.

And good luck from that properly equalized old 78, 45, and LP spinner,

Joe Z.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Bob Dillon » 04 Mar 2019 20:10

The LP Gear stylus for the Shure is worthwhile. The big diff with the stock Shure (apart from tip size) is that the suspension on the LP Gear is far more robust. You can eaily track at, like, 5 grams or more, which can help reduce surface noise and will not damage a shellac 78. The stock Shure stylus has trouble tracking beyond about 3 grams or playing records with warps.

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Re: Shure M78S

Post by Bob Dillon » 04 Mar 2019 22:33

josephazannieri wrote:
06 Jul 2018 05:00
Yo IndigoRock2001:

"Acoustic era" is the period of time from about 1895 to about 1920 when records were recorded by a group of performers standing in front of a giant horn which went down to a small diaphragm with a needle on it. The needle was perched above a wax cylinder which spun below the needle and cut a vertical groove into the cylinder. The record was played by another needle that rode in the groove and pushed another diaphragm that was at the base of another horn that gave sound that could be heard. Later on, they used a wax disc that spun under another giant horn that came down to a small diaphragm that cut a groove into a record. These gave a vertical groove that could be played by another needle that moved up and down and actuated a diaphragm at the base of a horn that gave audible sound mirroring what was spoken or played into the original horn. There were no electrical devices used.

By approximately 1920, when Lee DeForest invented the audion tube, records began to be made electronically using tubes
Weird stuff.

Electrically recorded records start in 1923-24 with Orlando Marsh's experiments on his little Autograph label. In 1925, Victor and Columbia leased the Western Electric system, which is usually regarded as the real start of the electrical era.

The one exception is the Merriman and Guest recording made of the funeral of the Unknown Soldier, Westminster Abbey, in 1920, recorded in some fashion with carbon telephone transmitters, no vacuum amps in the process, I believe. Very crude recording, worse in quality than an acoustical recording, though an acoustical recording setup couldn't have been employed in such circumstances. It was issued on Columbia.

Acoustic recording systems were not as Rube Goldberg as you're making them. Basically either a horn (or even 2-3 horns) was connected to a diapragm and cutting stylus that cut a lateral or vertical groove into a beeswax disc, that was then electroplated, or a cylinder master was the same, except all cylinders are vertical cut.

Exception would be a pantograph system, which sounds a little like what you are trying to describe. Pantograph systems weren't employed that much overall, except for dubbing purposes in the very early cylinder era, before the invention of master molds to mass produce cylinders. And again by Edison in the late cylinder era (post 1914 or so) to dub Blue Amberol cylinders from Diamond Discs, the Diamond Disc by that time being the dominant format produced by Edison. The Pathe company for some years also used the practice of cutting takes to a large master cylinder that was then used to pantograph a disc master and a cylinder master to serve both ends of the market, when discs and cylinder were co-existing, viable formats. They even used a linkage so that the vertically cut master cylinder could be used to cut a lateral disc master. The Pathe records made with that process are beset with strange mechanical noises. I think they stopped doing that by the early 1920's.

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