Advice on playing 78 records

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  • #29128
    patcherley
    GOLD Member
      • Hampshire

      I have been left some 78 records and would like to be able to play them and possibly digitise them. I already have a Beogram 7000 so I am not looking for an expensive player, not sure it would be worth it anyway!

      Any ideas.

      Paul

      #29129
      Gaea
      BRONZE Member
        • Netherlands

        You need a special needle meant for 78rpm records.

        with a diamond that has a ‘blunt’ shape, and spherical.

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Gaea.
        • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Gaea.
        • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Gaea.
        #29134
        trackbeo
        BRONZE Member

          Surely there’s a B&O solution, likely starting with their old Thorens-mechanism turntable…  But the non-B&O path is so well trod and easy to follow! Start by reading https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/best-stylus-cartridge-for-78rpm-records.1129373/ and its ancillary links.  The non-hobbyist solution, i.e. spending a moderate amount of money to avoid spending lots of  time, seems to be Audio-Technica: LP120XUSB turntable (“USB” thus digitisation included) and their VMN95SP 3-mil stylus & cartridge for 78s (add “-H” w/P-mount headshell).

           

          #29135
          patcherley
          GOLD Member
            • Hampshire

            Thanks to both of you, I will read the supplied link but tend to favour the non-hobbist path.

            Paul

            #29142
            geoffmartin
            BRONZE Member

              Personally, I don’t worry too much about the stylus shape when playing my 78s, but I’m just putting them on for fun, not to digitise them.

              There are some things to consider when playing 78 rpm records on a “modern” turntable (I use the word “modern” to mean anything younger than about 60 years old…)

              The stylus (because it’s much smaller) will sit down in the very bottom of the groove. This means that it is down there with the dust and dirt, so it will have more high frequency noise than, say, using a sharpened Burmese Colour needle in a wind-up gramophone.

              On the other hand, if you’re playing a well-loved disc, then the modern needle is sitting in the groove wall in a different place than all of the steel needles that have been there before. So you might be playing on a “virgin” surface. (The same thing can happen when switching to a stylus of a different lateral grind radius on a new turntable.)

              Another possible issue with the different stylus radius is that you’ve got a (comparatively) tiny needle sitting down in a big trough. (Imagine a marble travelling down a human-sized waterslide for a gross exaggeration for intuition’s sake.) Since there isn’t as much lateral control of the needle from the sidewalls of the groove, you will lose high frequency content. I’ve attached a scale drawing from the Beogram 4000c manual that shows the difference between the grooves on a 78 rpm and a 33 1/3 microgroove LP. A steel needle has a typical tip diameter of about 150 µm, whereas an early spherical tip stylus for an electrical record player would be in the range of something like 20 to 50 µm.

              Screenshot 2024-01-28 at 10.26.10 AM

              However, many / most 78 RPM records were made before the RIAA equalisation curve was standardised. Later 78s would have used some kind of equalisation, but there’s no real way of knowing for sure what the EQ curve should be. Some early electrical phono preamps had two dials for manually selecting the low frequency boost and high frequency roll-off that sounded most appropriate for a given record. Early 78s had no pre-emphasis at all, since it wouldn’t have been possible with a fully mechanical recording system.

              So, given the uncertainties associated with these issues, combined with the level of production quality of the discs themselves, I would suggest an informed level of strategic apathy.

              Of course, one thing you MIGHT choose to worry about in earnest is the wear on your stylus. 78s were usually made of a combination of shellac and clay, which made them tough enough to stand up to a steel needle with a 0.5 – 1 kg tracking force. However, this also makes pretty good “sandpaper” that might be less than friendly to your pickup.

              Cheers
              -geoff

               

              • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by geoffmartin.
              • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by geoffmartin.
              #29152
              Gaea
              BRONZE Member
                • Netherlands

                So, best bet is to use a worn stylus wich was already due to a retip.

                And make shure the grooves are clean.

                Right?

                • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by Gaea.
                #29154
                Millemissen
                GOLD Member
                  • Flensborg/Danmark

                  I would not compromise my BG7000.

                  Why not get at (cheap) turntable, that spins at 78 – og mount the right stylus there?

                  MM

                  #29164
                  Glitch
                  BRONZE Member

                    One could always just listen to the recording on Spotify (or equivalent) while looking at the physical albums. 😉

                    Glitch

                     

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