Ripping 78's to CD

I have a collection of old Hank Williams 78’s that used to belong to my dad. I’d like to record them to CD. Unfortunately my turntable only has 33 and 45 rpm settings. Is there software available that will let me record them at one of those speeds and then digitally speed it up so it sounds like it was recorded at 78 rpm?

Sure, there are all kinds of audio editing programs that can do this. I use something called “Sound Studio” on the Mac.

Before you jump into this, consider that the needle size for 78’s is much larger than microgroove 33’s & 45’s. With the wrong one, not only will reproduction suffer, but you may ruin both needles and records.

Also, some older 78’s, called “Edisons”, don’t have the data on the walls of the groove, but in the bottom. This takes an entirely different kind of needle and pickup.

:smack: That was the other question I wanted to ask. Thanks for the heads-up.

I’m pretty sure 78s also do not use standard RIAA equalization like most 33s and 45s, so you may need to research equalization also. Basically, RIAA equalization diminishes bass frequencies so the grooves can be smaller. I’d be loathe to suggest Googling something like “78 to cd” or “78 rpm equalization,” but I did and got some good hits among the sales pitches.

I had to go to the local stereo shop today to get a replacement phono cartridge. (My grandson, who was visiting last night, saw my turntable sitting near the computer where I had been copying LPs the night before, decided it was a cool toy to play with, and wound up bending the stylus sideways! :eek: ) Anyhoo, two of the guys at the stereo shop, who are old enough to have plenty of first-hand experience with 78’s, said I could probably use a regular needle if I was only going to play the 78’s once to record them, although they recommended lightening the tonearm weight so it didn’t dig into them.

So, one suggestion so far for Mac software. What about Windows? Will Audacity do the conversion-to-78rpm thing?

Can’t you just go out and buy the CD versions?

I transfer 78s to CD professionally. I strongly recommend against using an LP stylus to play 78s. It is too small in diameter, and will sit on the bottom of the grooves. This will cause the sound to be incredibly noisy, and the grit in the groove bottoms may very well break off the stylus.

The sound is better picked up by a 78 stylus, which straddles the middle section of the groove walls. An inexpensive cartridge is a Stanton 500, and they make a 78 stylus for it, sold separately (it may have to be special ordered).

I’ve never used any software to resample from 45 to 78, so I can’t vouch for its efficiency. I don’t think I’d want to try it.

Besides which, the entire Hank Williams catalogue is available on CD for cheap. Save yourself the time and (wasted) effort, and get what the master tapes sounded like, rather than an awful transfer from improper equipment.

They still don’t know what they are talking about. You want to use the proper needle size as the level of “swish swish swish” and general noise level is much lower. 78s don’t sound all that bad, believe it or not, if the proper 78 RPM needle is used. You can buy a dedicated 78 record player for under 40 bucks these days. For all that, why bother - everything available is practically on CD or iTunes these days…

Buy one of these:

I did and it works very well, in fact music copied from LPs sound better on my I-Pod then the actual downloads.

Icerigger’s suggestion would be excellent if it applied to the problem at hand, I’m sure.

Re: Audacity, I use it semi-regularly, and I’m sure if the capability to speed the audio up to an acceptable level isn’t built-in, there’s a plug-in available somewhere that can do it. I still think you’re going to have equalization issues using standard phono equipment, though.

Yes, my error it will not play 78s. Sorry.

Good to know. Assuming that the task is to transfer 78s that are not available in any other format…

When turntables were made with 78/45/33/16 speeds, the audio output was plugged into preamp “phono” inputs, which supplied the RIAA EQ. Since I can’t recall any amps with separate settings for 78s vs. 33s, I can only assume that the EQ was the same. Is this true, or did the the amps just ignore 78s?

If someone wanted to make the best possible transfer (I do) from 78s, and given a 78-speed turntable, cart & needle, would there be some manual-EQ settings that you recommend using in a sound editing program, above and beyond the standard RIAA boost/cut curve?

I would only transfer old records that are not available in a modern digital format. As for RIAA EQ, you don’t need to worry about alternate EQ curves until you go back before it was established. There are phono preamps for 78s and gramophone records that include different EQ curves for acoustic and early electric discs, even for records on specific labels. Pretty much anything from the 1940s up has a standard EQ curve, and the RIAA EQ supplied by your phono preamp will work just fine.

That’s good to know; sorry if I was alarmist.

I have quite a few from pre-1940. What would you recommend as EQ for that (assume they will be playing initially thru standard RIAA EQ into the amp, so it would be applied post-processing)?

Here is a page covering pretty much everything you’d want to know about transferring 78s, and there’s a handy chart for what EQ to use for different types of old recordings.

ETA: for hours of fun and informative reading, Google for “78 RPM EQ curve” (minus quotes.)

Interesting reading, indeed. Thanks for the links.

I sure would like to get one of those Eldberg MD12 EQ preamps with the 8 settings for 78s, but the $1800 price tag is a bit steep for my lab. I would imagine computer processing would be just as good, but the question I have is: which curve to use? I don’t have a pile of records nearby to check, but they don’t tell this on the label, do they?

No, they don’t say on the labels. It’s hard to know what EQ to use unless you know where the record was pressed and by what method. I’m tempted to say “use the EQ that sounds pleasing to your ears” but that may not be the right EQ in all cases. The chart on that first page I linked to should give you some starting points.

The best solution is likely to spring for a proper 78 preamp with the settings built-in, but if it’s too expensive, you will have to experiment to see what you figure sounds the best to you.

Good point. I’ve been transferring some of my old LPs to CD lately, and so naturally that was the first thing I thought of when I found these in mom’s basement – “hey I could put these on CD!” But yeah it sounds like it would be more hassle than it’s worth.