A phono preamp with equalization selector

Hi all,

what do you think about the record equalization selector? I have several Deutsche Grammophon records from the '70. A friend noticed me they should be played with Teldec equalization plus inverted polarity, features that my phono preamp doesn't have. I know this is typical issue if you have old records (60-70s and before). What do you think? Do you agree? If so, which machine may you suggest me?




You must be a youngster. 60s and 70s were the haydays of vinyl and by then all companies pretty much had settled on RIAA equalization. You have to go back to the 50s and late 40s (the advent of the 33rpm LP) for divergence in equalization. I always played DG LPs with RIAA. Never heard of Teldec equalization. Maybe someone else can help.

You peaked my curiosity as to whether there is some new information pertaining to equalization curves used in the earliest decade or so of 33 rpm vinyl LPs.  (So this has nothing whatever to do with any record that is not in that category.)  You might be interested to read what Michael Fremer had to say on this subject, with documentation of his position:

Note he specifically mentions Deutsche Gramaphone LPs.

It is pretty much established that by the 1960’s everyone used RIAA.  But, nonetheless, there are quite a few records that sound better using some other curve.  I heard a demonstration where 1980s recordings sounded better with the old Columbia curve, for example.  I heard this in a demonstration of a Zanden phono stage.  I heard similar results with other stages with equalization choices, including an FM Acoustics phono stage with infinite equalization choices—it had two knobs, one to choose the crossing frequency and the other to pick the slope of the curve.  

Of course that is possible, but do you think it really has to do with the "1980s"?  More likely that a single particular recording regardless of the time line, might by chance sound "better" using an equalization curve other than RIAA. (And Columbia is not far from RIAA, anyway.)  And besides, what does "better" mean? (It's a subjective judgement.) The point is that nearly all companies (I say "nearly all", because I don't doubt that someone can find an exception or two) used RIAA certainly by late 50s/early 60s.  I think Fremer is claiming RIAA took over even earlier in the history of the LP. In the early or mid-50s, my parents had a Harmon Kardon mono, tube receiver that offered RIAA, Columbia, and one or two other choices for equalization, but note the date.

My Audio Research Reference 6SE has Columbia and Decca. Used in the 40’s and 50’s as well as RIAA.

"A friend noticed me they should be played with Teldec equalization plus inverted polarity,"

Some friend you have there-encouraging unecessary audio nervosa.



My Audio Research Reference 6SE has Columbia and Decca ...

That's your 3SE, George.

GHD, You say "used in the 40s and 50s".  For most of the 1940s, the 33 rpm LP as we know it today did not yet exist.  I think the very first such records were produced in 1948-49.  It was the introduction of this then new technology that necessitated the new equalization curves. 78s and whatever else was in common use through most of the 1940s were certainly not equalized according to any of these algorithms.  From there, I refer you to the article by MF that I referenced above. Whatever one might think of MF in terms of his opinions as an equipment reviewer, I do trust him to do a thorough job of research when he addresses these general subjects that apply to the hobby.  I take Ralph Karsten's (Atmasphere) word as well, that the companies that made the equipment upon which LPs were cut (Westrex, etc) who determined what equalization curve to use, and that all of these companies had adopted RIAA by the mid-50s. (Yes, I suppose there are rare exceptions, but I don't know of any, and maybe they did it differently at first, in the UK.)


Yes, my bad.





Yes, you are correct the LP was introduced in 1948.

Right. I have access to every eq curve ever concocted. I only use RIAA except when playing old 78s. If you do not play old 78's it is totally unnecessary to consider other EQ curves. It is for all intents and modern purposes a marketing feature no one needs or uses.  

I'll Take You Down Memory Lane.

My Uncle's 1958 Fisher President II, EQ had not yet been Standardized


Very Unique 'Stereo Radio' (Live Binaural Broadcasts)



Look up the Harmon Kardon Festival monaural receiver. That’s what my parents had as of the early 50s, even predates the unit shown above. As I mentioned, it provided a choice of EQ curves including RIAA, Columbia, Decca, and maybe one other. I’m guessing that this is because the industry was just settling on RIAA during the period 1948-55(?). I do recall fiddling with the EQ in order to hear the differences. So maybe if you own very early production mono LPs, there might be a marginal benefit; the different EQs did not seem to make much difference to tonal balance, to my pre-teen ears.

Here is the HK Festival monaural tube tuner from early 1950s.  My memory of its built in equalization curves was faulty; the photos show "Eur", "RIAA", and "LP", not Columbia or Decca.  I wonder what were the differences between Eur or LP vs RIAA.


@elliottbnewcombjr Nice piece! Take another look at that front panel.

The EQ curves were very much standard by then. 'NAB' is a tape equalization. RIAA and the 'RCA Orthophonic' curves were pretty much the same thing; RIAA being for stereo. AES and LP were two alternate mono-only curves and the '78' curve was an approximation of the most common 78 curves of which there were quite a few.


"RIAA being for stereo. AES and LP were two alternate mono-only curves and the ’78’ curve was an approximation of the most common 78 curves of which there were quite a few."

That President II was 1958, the year Stereo LP’s came out.

MONO EQ.: all my 40’s and most of the 50’s Mono Jazz LP’s are playing thru my MM RIAA EQ. Close enough to AES and/or LP EQ?

78's. Using a Modern TT with 78 rpm, correct stylus, they would also go thru RIAA. 

@elliottbnewcombjr Use the 78 EQ when playing 78's; that and the right stylus should help with surface noise.

There are not many LPs from the 1940s, but I suspect you would have to check on the back of the jacket to see what EQ was used. By 1956 most had gone to the RCA Orthophonic (RIAA). As pointed out earlier, Columbia was a late comer but was entirely RIAA by the stereo era (stereo mastering systems were only supplied with RIAA equalization).


That Fisher Control Panel is not in use.

I meant: all the old 78's and Mono LPs (I have 30's; 40's; 50's) we are playing, (even when using correct stylus and cartridge) is going thru RIAA EQ in our modern setups 

My integrated lets me select from numerous equalization curves. It's interesting to hear the differences.