[78-L] Acoustic disc playback speed?

DanKj MLK402 at verizon.net
Tue Jan 25 17:11:14 PST 2011

   In instrumentals, I listen for cymbal crashes and wood-blocks;   they should be about the same pitch for all bands & 

  Dubbed Blue Amberols can be any speed, as they frequently fiddled with the disc playback & cylinder recording speeds, 
sometimes to fit extra-long disc masters or to "put more pepper" into the Amberol.

----- Original Message ----- 

> One of my biggest frustrations with playing acoustic discs is trying to determine correct playback speed.  I'm aware of 
> the advice to listen for certain notes, judge whether they're sharp or flat and adjust accordingly.  Which doesn't help as 
> I'm not a trained musician and I don't have a clue.  I think I can get pretty close with recordings that have singing or 
> voices, but instrumentals are a real challenge.
> In doing research on various websites devoted to 78s, I've found advice (which varies) but often cites these guidelines:
> Victor (early acoustics to 1909)          71.29 RPM
> Victor (later acoustics 1909-1925)      76.59 RPM
> Columbia (acoustic)                          80.00 RPM
> The general consensus seems to be that Edison DD are 80 RPM and they do sound correct at that speed.
> I'm just not sure about the Victors and Columbias though, and I don't trust my ears completely.  I'm currently 
> transferring a large number of my 78s to WAV files in preparation for a radio show I'll be doing at a local college 
> station.  So I'm understandably concerned about accuracy.  I also have the occasional customer bring old acoustic discs 
> for transfer to digital, so customer needs are a consideration as well.
> Any tips on arriving at correct speed would be appreciated.  I'm using Technics direct drive turntables for playback, so 
> I've got capability to adjust pitch within a +/- 9.9% range.

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