Regarding 78's

Hi folks.

Many audiophiles aren't aware of the sound quality and musicality that can come out of these records because of the lack of proper equipment to play them back with. It seems 78's are the biggest pains in the netherquarters for most because they require specific eq and stylus size requirements for the various era's. I've always found it fascinating. It's like audio archeology. Even as a kid, I was astounded at the difference in sound with the right stylus. The old "flip over" type. Sometimes, when given the choice between the original 45 or 78 to remaster certain things with, the 78 is chosen for it's dynamics despite the increase in surface noise which is now being ameilorated via computers. Sometimes way to much in my opinion but that's another forum post!

1. Do modern record cleaners such as the VPI safely clean them? Who makes the special liquids to use on them?

2. If you have experience with "vintage recording" phono stages and eq's, which do you think is the best in the business? Very interested in the KAB USA units. Their website and services they offer are quite impressive.

Also if any of you live in the Greater MA, RI, NH, CT or NYC areas and have a modern 78 set-up, I'd love to hear it to help me build my own. Contact me if you have a moment.

3. Any of you use your VPI's to play 78's and what's the effect?

All the best.

I'm back into 78s big time, along with R-R tapes (haven't played an SACD in a while). I wouldn't sweat the equalization issue. Here's my "dedicated 78 rpm system": Stanton and Grado 78 carts on a Dual 608 TT into the phono preamp in an old Sansui 7 receiver. Rarely even touch the tone controls. I use my Nitty Gritty to clean them, but often preclean with some Dawn on one of those sponges that has an abrasive side -- no kidding. Tried this first on a trashed 78 that didn't much matter and was astonished at how quiet it became. I don't think you can hurt these things short of using steel wool on them, and maybe not then.

My most successful tweak (read about it on Audio Asylum) was to strap each pair of cartridge pins (one strap on the hot pair and one on the ground pair) with super-thin wire, held on by the cartridge clips. This does away with most surface noise, more so than just using a mono setting on the preamp. Don't know why. I do know that I have a lot of 78s that sound better than the exact same music on CD! It's fun to do this comparison with a room full of CD fans -- they find it really hard to admit to what their ears are telling them.
Sometimes when listening to classic recordings from the 78 age, a little surface noise just adds to the authenticity of the experience. I have Benny Goodman recordings that were made from "Air Checks" of his AM radio broadcasts. These are some of his very best performances, that would have been lost forever if these checks were not done, and the audio quality is OK, AM radio and all.

As Dopogue suggests, the stereo pickup Left and Right signals should be shorted together right at the pickup pins, or at the preamp input. If you wait until the two signals have been amplified and equalized (RIAA) before mixing them, slight inequalities of gains and RIAA equalization will result in some sensitivity to vertical groove modulation, which, of course, is pure noise and/or mistracking.
Be careful with record cleaning solutions! I seem to remember that cleaners for 78's should not contain alcohol, and the mixing proportions with distilled water might be different. CHECK WITH THE CLEANING SOLUTION'S MANUFACTURER!
Ah, yes, keep 78s away from any cleaning solutions that contain alcohol. They'll melt the shellac, I understand. One other thing: you need a tonearm and cartridge that will effectively track warped records, since many or most 78s are not real flat.

I'm with you as far as returning to the 78 and R2R formats instead of SACD.

I have a question for you, I use the Grado 78C mono cartridge for 78 playback. Still, it has the usual four output terminal posts. Do you think that strapping those together will result in less noise, or are they internally strapped?
Kevin Barrett is the 78 specialist. Check out his website and give him a call.
Plato, I'm using a 78 stylus in my (formerly) stereo Grado body, so I don't know the answer to your question. You might try strapping the pins on your cart (one strap connecting the hot pins, one on the ground pins) and see what you think. Good luck.
Record Research Labs fluids are safe to use on 78 RPM records. click onto the RRL logo.