Working with 78’s

Hi. I’m a little new to this. I’m interested in how to transfer audio from 78 rpm records to digital. I’m talking about the thick non bendable records that are read by a thick stylus. I read this thread and it is beyond me:

How do I know what kind of thick stylus and tonearm to use? Is there any one combination of makes and models for turntable, tonearm and stylus that will work for all 78 records?


You get a cartridge specifically for 78s. Ortofon makes one for $20. It can be mounted in any modern arm.

now go to Channel D’s website and look at Pure Vinyl. You will need an Apple Computer.

Try esoteric sound-78 rpm specialists

It depends what era of discs with which you're dealing. Most 40s and 50s 78s were cut with a 2.5 mil groove, but earlier discs are all over the place. 


Archiving 78s is an extremely complex topic, and there are reams of information out there. It's difficult to condense, because everyone has different goals and budgets and definitions of what constitutes a good transfer.

Generally you want a direct drive table with pitch control. Speed wasn't fully standardized until the mid 30s. 

Tonearms don't really matter that much as long as it can take something lower compliance. 

Most 78 engineers order custom truncated elliptical stylii from Expert Stylus in the UK and use cartridges like the Shure V15 VX, M75, M44, Stanton 500, and various others that allow for stylus swapping. Mono cartridges might be nice for live listening but are not used by archivists because you need both groove walls for mixing/phase alignment purposes and to ensure all information on the record is properly preserved.

EQ is another massive can of worms. Most aren't RIAA. Google it and research what might be appropriate to your record. You can transfer flat or with RIAA and adjust EQ in software. If this is just a small project, you probably don't need to spend thousands on fancy hardware. With acousticals and early electricals, "archival" EQ is just a crude approximation of what's actually on the record, anyway. The better engineers make a lot of adjustments in software.

Cleanup is best done in a digital audio workstation like iZotope or Wavelab. CEDAR also sells an essential set of plugins and even full restoration suites for more dedicated engineers.

In sum, though, you can get away with one good direct drive turntable and tonearm that allows for a low compliance cartridge/cantilever, but one stylus will never correctly play all 78s. The off-the-shelf 2.5 or 3 mil stylus will sound OK on most postwar records, but commercial 78s ran from anywhere between 1.6 and 4.5 mil groove width and anywhere from ~65 to 90 RPM. There aren't a lot of experts in this forum. You'll find them congregating more on Facebook. The Association for Recorded Sound Collections also has a lot of good resources. If you dig around you'll find guides for archiving best practices.


@europeansoundtrack , @mke246 is giving very good advice. No 78 I know of uses RIAA EQ. In the late 1950s a number of preamps had several of the more common 78EQ curves built in. One of my favorites was the Harmon Kardon Citation 1. It also had switched tone controls, which were useful dealing with some of the lessor 78 labels that were in between some of the other label's EQ curves.

Once you get the EQ and stylus size right, you might be surprised how quiet they can be.

@atmasphere  @mke246  @europeansoundtrack 

Pure Vinyl has all the EQ options available at the click of a mouse. All he needs is a 78 RPM Cartridge and Pure Vinyl and he can record any 78 made. 

A brand new Ortofon cartridge for shellac 78 RPM records can be had for $20?  
Wow. Cool!

Back in the day ( late mid 80's) when I copied some single side Al Jolson's: 

I used the Sure M3D Cartridge. Big conical tip and better than the records. I had an old Knight tube amplifier that had an appropriate eq setting. Can't remember which one I used. I gather there are new software versions so you can play direct into an IO box.  I used the Lenco "wet" system and it reduced the surface noise quite a bit. Into my computer and used  Groove Mechanic to clean things up.  Then out to my Luxman cassette.  I had to use an old Dual table to get 78 as my Thorens did not.