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 Post subject: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:47 am 
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Victor O
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:24 pm
Posts: 78
I can't understand the mindset of not playing acoustic-era records on the machines from that time period.

Now, would I play my Berliners or early single-sided records over and over with steel needles? Obviously, no. But, to view them as "artifacts" that should never be touched by steel needles takes away from the obvious enjoyment one would get of removing the barrier of time, and using the machine for what it was intended: to play records! Is there some division of those who only collect machines and have few records, versus those of us who collect records and have one or a few machines? I'm not sure why both can't exist: collect/rescue the records and play them on period-correct "equipment." Certainly, I've seen my fair share of 1940's records played with steel needles, and isn't that a no-no? Such inconsistencies.

One last thing about this "artifact" idea. Considering how few have an awareness/appreciation for 78's in 2017, do we really think that "saving" them for some random person in 2100 who will supposedly care about them, is realistic? I sincerely doubt that my 4400+ 78rpm records from 1898-1936 are ever listened to again after I'm gone. Having them donated to some archive where they will sit around...yet again...for decades...yeah, that's a great incentive for me to treat them as an "artifact." "Preserving" them for the supposed "future" is not going to prevent me from using steel needles, even on my "better" records. Oh the unborn humanity that will miss out, right? Please, these records are being better cared for than they have in decades, perhaps ever.


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 Post subject: Re: Victor Single-side records
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:06 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 516
Rastus10 wrote:
Although it's probably a topic for a new thread, I can't understand the mindset of not playing acoustic-era records on the machines from that time period.

Now, would I play my Berliners or early single-sided records over and over with steel needles? Obviously, no. But, to view them as "artifacts" that should never be touched by steel needles takes away from the obvious enjoyment one would get of removing the barrier of time, and using the machine for what it was intended: to play records! Is there some division of those who only collect machines and have few records, versus those of us who collect records and have one or a few machines? I'm not sure why both can't exist: collect/rescue the records and play them on period-correct "equipment." Certainly, I've seen my fair share of 1940's records played with steel needles, and isn't that a no-no? Such inconsistencies.

One last thing about this "artifact" idea. Considering how few have an awareness/appreciation for 78's in 2017, do we really think that "saving" them for some random person in 2100 who will supposedly care about them, is realistic? I sincerely doubt that my 4400+ 78rpm records from 1898-1936 are ever listened to again after I'm gone. Having them donated to some archive where they will sit around...yet again...for decades...yeah, that's a great incentive for me to treat them as an "artifact." "Preserving" them for the supposed "future" is not going to prevent me from using steel needles, even on my "better" records. Oh the unborn humanity that will miss out, right? Please, these records are being better cared for than they have in decades, perhaps ever.


Fully agree!


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:11 pm 
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Auxetophone
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Very well put!

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and money on our collections, and to put it all behind glass in order to preserve it for someone 70 years from now seems somewhat pointless to me. I take excellent care of my machines, keeping them in "as new" operating condition. As for the records, each one gets thoroughly cleaned and a brand new paper sleeve. Given the amount of records I have, each one will likely only be played a few times a year, if that. I enjoy my collection by using it often but with care.

If I want a record so badly that I'm willing to pay $100+ for it - I want to listen to it! For this same reason, I enjoy seeing a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost or a Duesenberg Model J with mud on the tires vs on a trailer because that person is enjoying their car as it was originally intended to be enjoyed. When the end inevitably comes, I have no idea whether my records will be sold, get put in a dumpster, made into snack bowls, stuck in a basement to collect mold and dust, or an attic to warp. I'll use a steel needle without regret any day.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:13 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:24 pm
Posts: 78
Thank you for moving this to a new topic. It was initially a comment "inspired" by a posting within the Victor Single-Sided record thread. I apologize that I didn't make it a separate thread in the first place.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:08 pm 
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Victor Monarch
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Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:08 pm
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I believe there's no "right" or "wrong" approach to playing acoustic-era records on period machines. It all depends upon an individual's reasons for collecting and what he/she hopes to accomplish through his/her collecting. The rationale laid out above makes sense for someone who enjoys the experience of playing acoustic records on period machines above all other considerations.

I certainly play 1920s-era discs on a Credenza - - steel needles and all. The music is good and such records are generally in plentiful supply. Ditto with Blue Amberols (and other celluloid records) into the mid 1920s. I'll even play wax 2-minute cylinders when I'm in the mood. All this relates, of course, to enjoyment of the recordings.

Now the following may seem odd to many on this forum - and I cheerfully admit that I'm probably in a small minority of collectors who feel this way - but history is the primary attraction for me. I don't need to play a Class M or a Bell & Tainter machine (or an Edison Home for that matter!) to fully (and I mean fully) appreciate it. They're not mute, lifeless objects in my eyes. They tell a story and they survive from a moment of time well over a century ago. Even after 50 years of collecting, I can just stare at them and go back. Barb calls this behavior "trancing," as in "George is upstairs trancing."

It's not just machines either. Eleven years ago I wrote an article for The Sound Box (now The Antique Phonograph) titled, Spring 1900: The Final Days of Berliner's Gramophone in America. It included photos of a number of disc records that briefly appeared, then vanished during 1900. Sometimes these records had a lifespan of only a few weeks. I remarked that these records tell a story, and it's not necessary to play them - simply look at them. Examining such discs - holding them just right so recording dates can be discerned (sometimes beneath early paper labels) brings me more enjoyment than listening to what's recorded on them.

That's not to say that I don't record some material from early discs; I do. But the last red Vitaphone disc I obtained cost over $1000. I don't play those with steel needles. Ditto with rare/fragile cylinders such as Ernest Shackleton's wax Amberol No.473: My South Polar Expedition. I've owned that cylinder for over 20 years and have played it exactly twice. (Owners of the Second Edition of The Talking Machine Compendium have an audio CD which contains a dub of this record.) If a wax Amberol has, say, 25 playings in it before the sound begins to degrade, why would I needlessly damage that artifact? My belief is less fatalistic than that of Rastus10; I believe someone someday will be thankful I preserved this record.

For similar reasons I don't play brown wax as a rule, although if a guest wants to hear one or a few, I'll gladly accommodate. (I recorded many of these onto cassette tapes back in the 1970s - guess which medium has aged better over the past 40 years?)

None of this is meant to refute the opinions expressed above. I respect divergent views, and ultimately a person's possessions are his to use as he pleases. And isn't it fascinating how we can collect the same things for sometimes entirely different reasons? :)

Best to all,
George P.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:50 pm 
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Victor V
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I agree with all of the comments above in regards to common or easily found records... But to George's point, if I paid $1,000 or more for a record, I would still play it once and then put it away for preservation. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I don't buy extremely expensive records because I get more out of listening to them than looking at them and I can't take them with me when I'm gone.

The exception to that is - IF I could afford $37,000 for a copy of Tommy Johnson's "Alcohol and Jake Blues", I wouldn't enjoy listening to it OR looking at it... that's just me...
Especially, since I can listen to it on YouTube for free....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayltwUwpW04
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife

http://www.CarolinaPhonoSociety.com


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:32 pm 
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Victor II
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Joined: Tue May 12, 2015 12:50 pm
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Looking into the future of our hobby, one only has to look into the past for insight. Like the stock market the value of antique phonographs will rise and fall over time. I think it hit rock bottom when the war scrap drives saw the destruction of a vary large number of machines. How many people now are or have already tossed out their VHS video playback machines once the DVD was adopted? As for the recordings, it's astounding how many are still available. I don't think there is any reason to worry that the inventory will run out any time soon. I play my favorite 78's every day with the confidence that should I wear them out there's more to replace them. This hobby is so much fun, because it brings the past to life like a time machine.
"You can't take the phonographs nor the money with you, but the contentment the phonographs bring may well make your life better, and happier lives make the world a better place."

George Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:59 am 
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Victor IV
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
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Location: UK
I totally agree with Rastus10. For me the charm of the hobby is playing my records on the machines for which they were intended. Those who bemoan the playing of Berliners, early G&T's etc with steel needles by their original owners overlook the fact that the fibre needle did not exist when these records were new.

Some of the records in my collection belonged to my parents and my grandparents. After over 50 years in my ownership they show no appreciable signs of wear. More records are ruined by poor storage and careless handling than by playing.

If I want to listen to Caruso et al on modern equipment I will turn to a good CD transfer from the excellent Nimbus Prima Voce series. Playing an original record on modern equipment would to me be like putting an old master into a plastic frame.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:47 am 
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Victor III
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I do enjoy listening to records on a period machine but for that purpose I prefer to use less significant and lower-priced records.

To my understanding, preserving a record from wear is a courtesy to future generations of collectors to come so that they can also enjoy them. We are only guardians of these artifacts. Yes, I do think there will be future collectors. The disregard of previous users has caused a great loss of interesting records too.

After all, it has been widely accepted to use modern electric light, including newfangled LED light, instead of candles and kerosene lamps when handling antique documents, books, and tintypes. Therefore, using the benefits of a lightweight electric pickup to play and old record is to me equally legit.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing Acoustic-Era Records on Period Machines
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:09 am 
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Victor O
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:49 pm
Posts: 82
WDC wrote:
After all, it has been widely accepted to use modern electric light, including newfangled LED light, instead of candles and kerosene lamps when handling antique documents, books, and tintypes. Therefore, using the benefits of a lightweight electric pickup to play and old record is to me equally legit.


Fundamentally, the phonograph record is still a living technology. The very fact that we can use a turntable from 2017 to play records both made this year and from 120+ years old, and that such a degree of backward compatibility has been retained (even though variable speed and likely different styli are needed) is amazing in its own right.


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