78's through the system

I am simultaneously considering ways to upgrade my phono setup, and be able to play 78's on the big rig for the first time. I own a mid-80's Technics SL-1200 with a Benz-Micro Glider M2 going though a conrad-johnson PV-8 w/phono. The first thing to address is either modifying the TT to play 78rpm, or preferrably upgrading to a better TT that can do 78rpm. I have seen that Michell can supply a 78-capable pulley for the Gyrodec, but other suggestions would be welcome. Then I need a tonearm with a removable headshell, and I'm thinking SME, again suggestions helpful. I have no idea what 78 cartridge to look for (I'll keep the Glider for 33/45). And lastly, how imortant will it be to only have RIAA EQ available to me, or will I need to do something in the phono preamp area about that? My entire budget for this project is $3,000 max, whether I go new or used.
Hi Z: Appropriate cartridge for 78 is ceramic. A detachable is an idea -- but you'll still need to get the geometry right as different cartridges will have different dimensions...
As far as I know, RIAA eq. will do for post WWII 78's...
However, many 78's are best heard at speeds other than 78!! So, adjustable speed facility (with a display if possible) would be VERY useful!
Rega makes a 78 rpm version of the P3 and possibly the P2. Perhaps one could even economically convert a standard P3 or P2 to 78 rpm by changing one or both of the pulleys. Although the P2/P3 headshell is not removable, Gregm correctly points out that, with a removable headshell, you would still need to change VTA when you change to a different headshell/cartridge, which is not exactly convenient.

For $3K, you could get a used P3 AND a Michell and have a few dollars left!

Hi Zaikesman. How many 78 LPs do you own? How do they compare withh the 331/3 LPs? Are there some great sounding 78s? My parents have quite a few. Thanks for any reply.
Best regards
One of the less-expensive Clearaudio tables would be perfect for this. I think the "Solution" will support up to three tonearm/cartridge combinations at once.

You could probably get a "Solution table", RB250 tonearm to mate with your Glider, and a second RB250 to mate with a 78 rpm cartridge (like maybe a Grado, there may be others available).

As far as phono preamps go, for the sake of convenience you might want to buy two MS Phonomena's, so that there would be no need to swap cables every time you want to switch which format you're going to play. I don't know how the Phonomena will do with 78, but if you contact MS, I'm sure they can tell you.

If you shop carefully, you _might_ be able to do the whole deal for your $3k max budget. Enjoy!

One cool thing about being able to have three arm.cartridge setups is that later down the road you could add a third RB250 to your rig to support a mono cartridge, as well. I don't know what type of phono preamp would be needed for mono, but I betr MS can tell you...
Oh, one other thing, to control motor speed for 33 1/3, 45, and 78, you can pick up a used VPI PLC cheap, and still come in within your budget.
Zaikesman, I own a 1200 too. You can send it to Kevin Barrett of KAB Electroacoustics and have it modified for 78 RPM playback. His website is ( www.kabusa.com ).
The 1200 has dial-in VTA, so you just write down each cartridge's value, release the lock and dial it in. Just that simple.

You do not need to upgrade to a 'better' turntable unless you're willing to spend some serious money (thousands of dollars). Kevin has designed a tonearm fluid damper for the 1200. It is only $149 and it is absolutely outstanding.

My 1200 has Phoenix Gold interconnects, a JA Michell clamp, Sumiko HS-MMT headshell and an Ortofon X5 MC linked to a Monolithic Sound PS-1 phonostage and then to a Melos SHA-1 hybrid linestage. Line conditioner is a Tice A/V Solo. I can tell you the sound is truly high end.

The 1200 is a neutral sounding and very stable deck. Don't be mislead by well intentioned but misinformed/prejudiced persons who think it is a "DJ turntable"...
Estoteric Sound is a 78 rpm specialist and sells their own line of turntables. Suggest you check out their web site

Probably not much help, but I decided against adding 78 playback to the main system as it would be too expensive as well as a hassle. Instead I decided to pick up either a vintage or new "all in one player" with a small footprint so that it can be placed on the coffee table when we feel like spinning 78's. 78's are over quickly and I figure that (though not Hi-fi) this is about the only practical way to listen to them (we would not have to get up to change/flip the discs), plus most of our 78's are pretty grooved out anyway.

Restoration Hardware had one of these units for approx. $125.00 around the holidays, though I would prefer a vintage single ended, self contained, tube unit (which I see on Ebay now and then) for not a lot of money.

If I ever did decide to go the route you are considering I would use a separate TT for the 78's, like an old Dual, a Fons or something like that. I do however have an extra head shell for the TT that I will install a mono cartridge in (for the main system) as we have quite a few mono LP's. I will use the same cartridge that I am currently using but order the mono version (this way it should sound decent without having to adjust VTA and such).
Thanks for the input folks. One at a time: Greg, yeah, I'll probably just have RIAA if it's close enough. As far as geometry goes, VTA that's close for 78 and correct for 33 will probably be good enough, but you have a point where overhang is concerned if I got an SME, since their headshells are fixed-hole design, with a sliding tonearm base - that would be a problem. Jim, I play a lot of 45's, and have basically ruled out Rega because of the lack of an eletronic speed change control - I don't want to lift off the platter every time I want to change speeds. Brulee, I only own maybe a couple hundred 78's right now - I can't say I really know how they sound, because I've been playing them on a vintage blonde-wood Columbia all-in-one tabletop record player, which is cool but not exactly high fidelity. Gthrush, I had been trying to avoid multiple 'arms, but it may turn out to be the easiest thing - if I can get a 'table I like that'll take more than one and do 78rpm (does the PLC work with a lot of different manufacturer's motors?). As far as phono stages go, I'm unclear on why you imply I would need one per cartridge, though - couldn't I just swap input leads? Psychicanimal, I'll definitely check out what can be done with the 1200 - I already have the Michell clamp for it, as well as a tonearm wrap and a sorbothane mat, and I realize that it's a well-built machine, but the platter does ring and I'm curious to try good belt-drive with full suspension. The damper sounds interesting though, and if I got the 78 conversion done I could keep it as my second 'table if I get something better for 33. I wonder, did you (or can you?) get the tonearm cable upgraded in addition to the lead-out wires? - doing this is something I've been considering too. Zmrs13, cool tip, I'll take a look at the site. Again, thanks for all the responses!
I attempted changing the tonearm wires and ended up buying a new tonearm...it's a very tricky procedure and the service manual is of no help. I took pictures, however, and plan to publish them in an internet audio e-zine.

Do you find improvement w/ the sorbothane mat? I've heard it's not a good thing for the 1200. Ringing? All aluminum rings...perhaps you have trouble with isolation and damping. I don't have (or at least hear) any troubles. I have mine on an IKEA Lack coffee table as Ken Lyon of Neuance shelve's suggested me. It is then placed on a marble cutting board sitting on four adjustable level brass cones.

The addition of the tonearm fluid damper is like having a totally different TT. My Ortofon X5 had a tonearm resonance point of 15 Hz and after the damper it completely disappeared. I have also placed a Bob Regal foot to the left of the tonearm base behind the platter. It cleaned out female voices by lowering the pitch (is this what you call ringing?).

Well, if I were you I'd definitely try the damper. For $149 it's the most sensible upgrade you'll get.
"We are all opinonated".
Although listening to music really is a matter of personal taste, I would like to tell you about my positive experiences with 78s.
You can indeed get many good (used and new) turntables with 78rpm ( DUAL, Thorens, etc.).
I use a cheap Shure M78S cartridge and it sounds better (!) than the Shure V15VXMR, which I also tried with an 78rpm stylus.
I use my normal RIAA phonostage, but with an input (load) impedance of only 500 Ohms (of course you can try 1000 Ohms or more). For me 500 Ohms makes a very natural treble and midrange, but boosts the bass. To compensate for this, you can either simply use the tone controls (if you have them) of your amplifier, or you use the Esoteric Research "Re-Equalizer". Try it with any classical piano solo or violin shellac, and maybe you are as convinced, as I am.
Happy listening!
Alfred from Luebeck (Germany)
I have a Rega 78 for my 78rpm's, and for a second a Garrard 301 with a Grace 747 which has a removable headshell. Both TT's are outfitted with a Goldring G1010 in it's 78rpm version.
Both the Rega and the Goldring are real sleepers as they have served me the better part of 10 years. I play 78 collection every Sunday evening to irritate the kids!