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Slightly OT: Turntable for Disney Records

Discussion in 'Archive' started by Jeff, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. Jeff

    Jeff Member

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    I'm back to bother you all with another question! ;)

    I'm interested in starting to find old (obviously) Disney LPs to listen to. I have found some of my old ones from my childhood but don't have a record player anymore.

    I started to do a little research on turntables and found that a company called Music Hall seems to make some really good ones (I'm thinking about the MMF-5{http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/productd....asp?sku=MHMMF5}).

    I'm wondering what the group members use to listen to their Disney LPs and if they have any recommendations for someone who is interested in purchasing a new turntable. I'm still new in this arena and would appreciate the help! THANKS in advance!
    -Jeff
     
  2. musicrazy

    musicrazy Member

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    Hey man, start looking for one with 3 speeds - 33, 45, and 78 rpms. No Disney oldies collection is complete without those old 78 rpm recordings. Some of these rarities have never been anything but 78 rpm.
    I thought my older Disney collection albums sound better on a Victrola type player. The first Disney records were in mono; playing with a graphic equalizer on my stereo system (an old '80's cheapie from K-mart) yielded muddled low tones and muffled vocals on the old albums while modern-day sterophonic records sound very good.
    Then I purchased a retro-syle Victrola with 3 speeds and a compact disc player built in. The sound of old records is like it was meant to be.
    The only disadvantage is that there are no audio-outputs. I did use a microphone so I could get these on my computer, and except for a slight bit of hiss, crackles, and thumps, (fortunately no skips), this music is an exciting part of my collection.
    Hey Jeff, [and anyone else out there] if you want to hear or download some oldies on my computer, drop me a note. I'm always happy to share this great music, and I have have loads of mp3's ready. Garry

    "The Happiest Place on Earth"
     
  3. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    Before you buy that Music Hall TT (not that I have anything against them), check out these sites: http://www.kabusa.com and http://www.garage-a-records.com . Several choices there, as well as other accessories you'll need.

    See, 78s are more complicated than just getting the speed right. You'll also need a special stylus (needle) that's made for them. Trying to play 78s with a normal microgroove stylus will sound awful, and do damage to both stylus and record. (Exception: some of the REALLY late Little Gem and Golden 6-inch 78s are microgroove. You won't do significant damage playing these with the 78 stylus . . . it's playing the older ones with the modern stylus that causes trouble.)

    Most phono cartridges do not have a 78 stylus available. One very popular one that does is the Stanton 500, since there's a British company (Expert Stylus) that makes every sort of needle you could possibly need, just for that cartridge. (If you collect pre-1925 records, you occasionally run into "special cases" with weird needle requirements.) For Disney collecting purposes, any cartridge with an available 2.7 or 3 mil "78" stylus should suit you fine.

    You'll need a tone arm that allows you to change the tracking force--78s need more force due to the wider grooves.

    And to really do it up right (not to mention expensive), you'll also want to consider finding some way to correct the non-RIAA equalization used on pre-1950's 78s, and to reduce the surface noise which unfortunately gets even worse after the equalization correction. The sites above sell all sorts of gadgets (of varying utility) to do these things and more. They are not necessary to enjoy your collection, though--I got along OK with just the tone controls on my amp until last year.

    My personal setup is an old Dual CS-5000 Turntable (one major problem: no variable speed for my pre-1925 discs), a Shure V15-VxMR cartridge for the modern records, a Stanton 500 cartridge in a separate headshell for the 78s, and an Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer to handle the equalization issues. As for the surface noise, I just put up with it, at least until the money tree out back sprouts a new crop. 9_9

    A couple more pointers: 78s are very fragile, very heavy, and a pain in the butt (and back) to move--I speak from recent experience.

    They intensely dislike getting wet. If a dry brush simply will not get the gunk off, a wet cloth may be employed, but let the record dry for at least 24 hours before playing. DO NOT use any sort of record cleaner on them unless its manufacturer swears on his ancestors that it's alcohol-free and totally safe for 78s. Alcohol, even in minute amounts, will destroy shellac 78s, and many record cleaners contain alcohol. And even with a proper 78 record cleaning fluid, that's a 24 hour drying time or you'll be sorry.

    Be careful with those bound 78 albums . . . it's VERY easy to snap off a chunk of the record in the crack next to the binding. It's best if you can take the records out from the top rather than risk turning the sleeve "pages."

    Before buying a 78, always check carefully for hairline cracks--they will shorten the life of your stylus. Invisible cracks can often be rooted out by thumping the record gently and listening for any weird rattling noises. Some 78s--especially Columbias--are made in layers (like ogres?) and may be cracked on the surface even though the record itself is intact. These surface cracks are just as bad for the stylus. I'm not saying I never bought a cracked 78. Sometimes you find something so cool that it's worth risking having the tip of your $65 needle go sailing across the room.

    There . . . that ought to get you started. If it sounds like 78s are a pain in the butt, well, they are. Why do you think so few of us still collect them? Good luck.
     
  4. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    BTW, I just looked at that MMF-5 link, and I think you may be overspending . . . that's a SERIOUS turntable, for audiophile guys who would blow $85 to get a sealed limited edition 180-gram LP pressing of "Songs in the Attic", which to average folks wouldn't sound much different than the $12 CD that Target carries.

    If you can afford it, that's fabulous. I'd have a turntable like that too if I was Donald Trump--maybe even a better one! But unless you have a $10,000+ system to hook it up to, it's overkill. Especially if your main purpose is to play used Disneyland albums.

    Disney's pressings were never audiophile quality to start with (except maybe for the WDL-4000 series), and most of the records you'll be dealing with will be in less-than-pristine condition anyhow. Check out some alternatives from the sites I mentioned before shooting $600 on a 2-speed turntable.
     
  5. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    Been meaning to bring this thread up again.....

    Great to hear from you again, narkspud! The Mitsui CD-R's are great so far--on the second batch of 25's--but I guess we'll know more about their staying power maybe 10 years or so down the line......

    I'm also in the 78's camp, in part because of my wife's old Panasonic system from the 70's, which happily still had a 78 speed, and a receiver I can plug my CD recorder into. I can't get fancy with the sound, but at least I can resurrect the music again for my family and me to enjoy!

    Thanks for all the information! Bags Unlimited has their own 78 cleaning fluid, which is alcohol-free, claiming its deep cleaning, anti-static, and residue-free; I still wonder if it's better than just plain old distilled water?

    Also, I wanted to ask you--the old Panasonic system I have has a cartridge that takes a dual stylus--one side had a diamond needle for vinyl, and you then flipped it over to use the other needle for 78's. I didn't really know the status of the stylus when I resurrected the system a few years ago, so I ordered another one from Needle Express, out of Alexandria, VA. The woman on the phone assured me that the black needle on the stylus was the diamond one for vinyl, and that the other needle, which is whiteish in color, was for 78's(sapphire?)--it didn't clearly specify this on the stylus itself. It seems to work fine--sound OK?

    As I mentioned on another thread, some of the 78 albums I've gotten through ebay recently--Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Snow White(Decca recording)--have all been in wonderful condition, and not as pricey as listed in R. Michael Murray's Disney Records book; wonder if I was just lucky, or is the demand for 78's falling with the number of existing turntables? Which reminds me, I still have to transfer those to Mitsui's; I've also got my mother's old 78's--upwards of 100--spanning the 40's and 50's, and possibly the 30's. I'd like to take the Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and other big band ones, and make my own version of the Adventureland radio loop that plays in the Jungle Cruise queue area--thought that would be fun!

    Thanks again for all your wisdom!

    Michael
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff Member

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    I want to thank you all SOOOO MUCH!!! What a tremendous help you all have been!!! Your knowledge and expertise is amazing to me!

    My idea of going into Disney LPs appears to be easier to say than to do. There are so many models and features it is tough for a beginner to get a handle on it all.

    I've been checking out those two links listed above and find there are only about one million options available. Maybe you experts can give me some clues to the brands/models you currently use and the brand/model you want.

    Or, maybe you can give me a model or two that would be good for someone entering the LP world that would include the features that are most useful, and could still be expanded/upgraded (I didn't even know you could change needles for a turntable - I truly AM a beginner!)

    Once again, I want to thank all of you for your time and help... it's very much appreciated!
    -Jeff
     
  7. narkspud

    narkspud Member

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    Yes. Water + 78s = trouble. Shellac compounds can absorb water and the contaminants in it. However, you may want to check and see if the Bags Unlimited stuff can be used by itself, or does it require a record-cleaning system?

    Well, that's a good question. Most manufacturers of those needles switched to putting LP needles on both sides, but that was several years ago when the suckers were still being mass-produced. If the lady on the phone says it's for 78s and it sounds good, I'd say it's for 78s. An LP needle sounds nasty on 78s--twice as much noise with only half-volume on the music.

    I suspect there are several reasons. One is that 78s are a pain in the butt and not many people collect them anymore, but there's also the eBay factor. Many collectors are reluctant to buy records on eBay because it's so hard to tell what you're getting sight unseen. There are so many auctions that say things like "Pinocchio record, plays good" which doesn't tell you anything. Add to that the difficulty of sight-grading 78s in general, and the possibility that they won't survive the trip through the mail system, and you can see why eBay's prices might be a bit lower than expected.

    Of course, it's also possible that Murray was a bit "optimistic" in his valuations. I heard a story that the very first collectibles price guide was for old lunchboxes, and it was published by a guy who happened to have a warehouse full of 'em . . .

    Jeff--I'll have to answer your recommendation question later, as I have no time to research such things right now. You might want to call those sites directly and ask them, though.
     
  8. wondergreg

    wondergreg Guest

    I bought a turntable brand new that plays all speeds from Record Finder. They have a website and a regular magazine that sells old records on consignment. The turntable was a little over $200 and it is very nice. I was getting tired of my old Sears combo unit with the thumpy turntable and all the motor noise!

    http://www.recordfinders.com/
     
  9. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    Thanks, narkspud!

    The Bags Unlimited 78 cleaning fluid "comes in convenient spray top bottles"--so sounds like it doesn't need diluting. A 4 oz. bottle of the stuff sells for $7.10, and they say it cleans 50 records--it still has to be water-based, right, so is it really that much better than a light spray of distilled water and gentle wiping?

    As far as the stylus issue, actually both needles are labelled "LP" on the plastic lever that lets you flip the needles--but only one side has a diamond symbol next to "LP" label; the needle without the diamond symbol is the one she said I should use for 78's. The volume sounds fine when records are played using that needle; there is a noticable background hissing-type sound, but I think that's an inherent 78 noise--right?

    As far as ebay buying of records, I know what you mean--I usually look for sellers who sound like they know what they're selling--and if the write-up has a fairly low number of misspellings(is that one or two s's???). And yep, I received one broken 78--mailed in a slim cardboard slipcase! Some sellers don't even know that what they're selling is a 78!

    Thanks again,
    Mike
     
  10. Grinning Ghost

    Grinning Ghost Member

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    Just go to eBay or a thrift store and get yourself a turntable with a magnetic cartridge and that has at least 3 speeds. Dual made these kinds of turntables in the 1960s and 1970s. You can buy a new cartridge that accepts a both an Lp and 78 r.p.m. stylus if you need to. Several manufacturers still offer them, and sometimes, if you're lucky, a 78 stylus can be purchased for your existing cartridge, averaging around $30 or so.

    GG
     

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