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 Post subject: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:48 pm 
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Victor III
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Hello All. This is my first deliberate posting to the BritEuro Machine Forum, and I have what might possibly be a complicated question, that I am sure will receive conflicting answers. So, it might be a good question!

My EMG Xb was produced in 1933 from all I gather. By 1933, a lot of American 78rpm recordings were transitioning in composition to a much softer material, and groove depth and modulation grew much stronger. By the time the 40's broke out, records had lead-in grooves, even softer composition, and any additives (clay) in the disc composition may altogether have been done away with, making a disc that is softer, and more plasticine, yet offering SUPERIOR fidelity. By the 40's American 78's were being played with sapphire points on electrically amplified phonographs with a horseshoe magnetic or crystal pickups. I have noticed on some of my late 30's English discs that the composition seems harder, and they take to heavy play much better.

HERE IS MY QUESTION: I see a mighty amount of chaps over the pond on YouTube playing 1940's records on their EMG and Expert machines. There is no question that the diaphragm and horn system can amplify the signal, but >MY< problem with playing a 30's or 40's record with a steel needle is the ridiculously fast greying of the groove walls, and noticible wear after only a few plays. In the USA, playing 40's Decca brand discs on an acoustic steel-needle phonograph is looked down upon by some collectors. It was my stance for years that these discs were 1. too soft, and 2. didn't have the correct friction components to wear down a nickel plated needle to each individual groove shape. Moreover...the friction..... oh my. Some 40's discs have such deep groove modulation that they stop some single and double spring wind-up phonographs in their tracks. I have some 40's discs that were played just a few times with a steel needle, and when you look at them in the sunlight......it just breaks my heart.

So far I have been playing Brunswick, Columbia Viva Tonal, and Victor Orthophonic VE discs on the Xb, and a slew of good acoustic opera!!! They do sound great on 30's and 40's records, but it makes me queasy. Any comment?

Regards, Wyatt

PS: I will be more active in this Forum...adding my reproducer rebuild info on the EMG 4-spring as time permits. :lol:
-Antique Phonograph Reproducer Restorer-
http://www.EdisonDiamondDisc.com
Taming Orthophonics Daily!


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:21 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
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Wyatt, being a record and machine collector, with EMGs, Experts, Victors and HMV machines, my take is that whenever you play US records made after the late 30s on acoustic machines you will wear out the record. As you mention, the surfaces of these records were not designed with the same abrasives as records made up to that period. It is not the same with European records, though. English records were made up to the late 40s with more or less the same composition since the 30s, and are much more compliant to the heavy acoustic soundboxes and steel needles. French and German post war records are much like the US ones, and should not be played with acoustic machines. In my experience, even when I play the 40s US records with thorn needles, the wear is noticeable after a single play - thorns seems even to cause more wear than steel needles (this being the case also with some dime labels from the 20s like Grey Gull).

That said, you will find a lot of people who play Elvis Presley records on their EMGs to show off the high quality of their sound reproduction. Some people will even claim that the records don't show any wear, but in reality, if you play the record on a modern electronic turntable before and after a run on an acoustic machine (even if you were the one who fixed the soundbox!), the increase in background noise will be heard.


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:41 am 
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Victor III
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CarlosV wrote:
English records were made up to the late 40s with more or less the same composition since the 30s, and are much more compliant to the heavy acoustic soundboxes and steel needles. French and German post war records are much like the US ones, and should not be played with acoustic machines. In my experience, even when I play the 40s US records with thorn needles, the wear is noticeable after a single play - thorns seems even to cause more wear than steel needles (this being the case also with some dime labels from the 20s like Grey Gull).


Quite so, in fact nearly all UK 78s up to 1960 are a similar composition (except for a few from 1958 or so which are wholly vinyl).

I believe many US brands from the 1940s on had vinylite or something similar in their composition, and I believe this actually BURNS in some manner under thorn or fibre needles. The same with Grey Gull type records (whatever the incompatible polymer content is in those). In both cases the damage is much worse than "wear" and is often visible.


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:10 am 
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Victor II
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:11 pm
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Location: Spain
I agree completely with Carlos and would add that playing records with bamboo needles (that have not been hardened) on an expert or EMG (mine is an Expert with a 4-spring soundbox) that has a counterweight makes all the difference. I play almost all types of records on the Expert -from acoustic to 40´s - 50´s with no noticeable wear at all. The exception is if they are too worn out to begin with, then the bamboo needle wears out too quickly to play a record to the end.

The EMG´s and Experts - weren´t they specifically made for bamboo needles? I thought that was the idea?


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:37 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
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I fully agree with the comments by Carlos and Orchorsol. Also in Italy, records up to the late '40s had basically the same composition, thickness and weight of those of the '30s. Mechano-acoustical portable gramophones, although obsolete, were still in broad use (and still in production) well into the '50s, and records were produced accordingly.

My best guess on this topic (as already written previously on other threads) is that, comparing to the US, incomes were much lower in continental Europe between the two wars, and people were less prone to replace technologies. Moreover, culturally, there has always been less pressure on the consumers to replace something that was still working fine for no other reason than something newer was available.

Although you surely know it, I'll just add that records with a deep modulation have to be played with a soft tone or an ultra-soft tone needle exclusively. Although quite well known in EU, I've seen by reading many threads that it's just not as obvious in the US. For some reason there is less attention to the type of needle that is being used; perhaps the average gramophone enthusiast thinks that switching from a full to a soft tone needle is just pretending (as it is with many other gizmos), but in this case it makes a *huge* difference instead.


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:53 am 
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Victor III
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Thank you to all for your insightful comments! This certainly fills the knowledge gap.
-Antique Phonograph Reproducer Restorer-
http://www.EdisonDiamondDisc.com
Taming Orthophonics Daily!


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:31 pm 
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Victor IV
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snallast wrote:
I agree completely with Carlos and would add that playing records with bamboo needles (that have not been hardened) on an expert or EMG (mine is an Expert with a 4-spring soundbox) that has a counterweight makes all the difference. I play almost all types of records on the Expert -from acoustic to 40´s - 50´s with no noticeable wear at all. The exception is if they are too worn out to begin with, then the bamboo needle wears out too quickly to play a record to the end.

The EMG´s and Experts - weren´t they specifically made for bamboo needles? I thought that was the idea?


EMG and Expert machines were indeed designed with fibre or thorn needles in mind, but if a customer wanted a soundbox "tuned" for steel needles their requirements would be met. These were bespoke machines made to order.

When I play records on my Expert with steel needles I use a Meltrope III soundbox, and Extra Soft Tone needles are almost always loud enough.


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:44 pm 
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Victor II
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:17 am
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I believe one of the most important points being made here is from Marco. The use of different needles and sizes.
When playing 78’s on “modern” equipment the stylus size and shape will determine how much of the sound captured in the grooves will be reproduced. It’s one of the most tangible differences. The quality of the sound reproduced generally depends on the surface noise and the way the record was equalized and recorded. Best results are obtained if the recording and playback filtering is matched. Most audiophiles I know will have an array of different styli for playing different types and makes of 78rpm records as well as an equalizing filter for setting various filters.

With acoustic gramophones, the choices of needles and soundboxes are just as varied. With EMG’s, Experts and the Orthophonic range of gramophones, this difference in sound reproduction is even more challenging because the difference in reproduction is that much more obvious. I believe that is why the Meltrope soundboxes are so popular; they have the ability to make most types of records sound good. A well tuned EMG soundbox will improve on the Meltrope on some records but not on all.
Different makes and labels of 78rpm records, generally, are recorded and manufactures in the same method so once I find a suitable combination of needle type and size with the right soundbox, I jot down the combination and use the same combination for the next similar record. It mostly works out well.

I do believe that your precious records should only be played on modern light weight equipment but then again I rarely follow that adage. There is nothing quite like hearing a great record through a fine acoustic gramophone even when the same record is far better reproduced and preserved through modern equipment. Ambience…call it what you will.
Finally, is there any knowledge available on exactly what various 78rpm records were made of? British 78’s, I find have the most surface noise whereas Australian laminates can sound like vinyl.


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:46 pm 
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Victor Jr
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:10 pm
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Location: United Kingdom
Quote:
Finally, is there any knowledge available on exactly what various 78rpm records were made of? British 78’s, I find have the most surface noise whereas Australian laminates can sound like vinyl.


In the UK, HMV and Zonophone (Gramophone Co.) records are often very noisy. Maybe they have a lot more abrasive filler in them (which would help to profile the needle quickly). On the other hand, pre-EMI merger Columbias and Regals made under the laminated process are usually superbly quiet.....


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 Post subject: Re: correct my EMG record usage.....
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:44 am 
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Victor IV
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bulleid_pacific wrote:
Quote:
Finally, is there any knowledge available on exactly what various 78rpm records were made of? British 78’s, I find have the most surface noise whereas Australian laminates can sound like vinyl.


In the UK, HMV and Zonophone (Gramophone Co.) records are often very noisy. Maybe they have a lot more abrasive filler in them (which would help to profile the needle quickly). On the other hand, pre-EMI merger Columbias and Regals made under the laminated process are usually superbly quiet.....


Producers of the better CD transfers such as Nimbus Prima Voce avoid HMV pressings because of the excessive surface noise. Wherever possible they use Victor pressings. Although the record manufacturers kept their formulas secret, it is widely believed that HMV used a higher percentage of abrasive in their mix to make the records harder wearing.


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