[78-L] Vertical and Lateral

Ron Roscoe jamesw.henryb at gmail.com.invalid
Tue Oct 22 08:06:29 PDT 2019

Well, Edison started it all with vertically cut tin-foil and wax cylinders.  Certainly vertical is better for longer playing time.  It is inherently unbalanced in that it takes more force to depress the stylus deeper into the recording medium than it takes to release the stylus from the recording medium.  So there is inherently some amplitude distortion there.  I imagine with computerized methods the imbalance could be easily compensated for.

But, could that potential distortion be heard and be distracting?  I've got some wonderful vertical Edison electrical Diamond Discs that I play both acoustically on my Edison A-250 and electrically with a modern stereo cartridge wired for vertical response only, and they sure do sound good!  Vertical modulation was also used a lot in 16" transcription discs.  It may be that the type of amplitude distortion that occurs is not very annoying to the human ear, whereas harmonic and intermodulation distortion is annoying!  And don't forget, Stereo 45/45 recordings use vertical modulation for the difference signal.

Many if not most Pathe discs were dubbed from 5" vertically-cut master cylinders, and that may be one reason they used vertical for the discs.  Also, there may be patent issues here since Pathe's vertical discs used an entirely different groove geometry with their "ball sapphire" playback stylus.  And again, they may have wanted the longer playing time that vertical recording provides.  Look how long a 10" Edison Diamond Disc can play compared to a 10" lateral Victor.

When Victor introduced the "Scroll" Orthophonic electrical recordings, they also had to introduce bass rolloff to the recording head to preserve the playing time of the 10" record.  It was one thing to have tightly spaced lateral grooves when recording by the acoustical method because the process couldn't record much of anything below 250 Hz, which is roughly middle C.  But now you have to deal with the wide lateral stylus swings that electrical recording produces when you can record frequencies as low as 50 Hz!!  Groove spacing gets very wide without pre-equalization!

Ron Roscoe

-----Original Message-----
From: 78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com [mailto:78-l-bounces at klickitat.78online.com] On Behalf Of Rodger J. Holtin
Sent: Monday, October 21, 2019 9:09 AM
To: 78-List
Subject: [78-L] Vertical and Lateral

I was explaining the difference between vertical and lateral record to a youngster. Afterwards I got to thinking about the early disc companies that used vertical. 

Correct me if I’m wrong. It looks to me that Edison was the first vertical disc in the business. Anybody predate him on that??

We know why Edison used it. It was his general belief that vertical was inherently superior. Is that the same rationale used by Pathe, OKeh or anybody else??  Or were they striving for for some measure of compatibility with Edison with their adjustable V/L reproducers?

Rodger Holtin
78-L Member Since MCMXCVIII

For Best Results Use Victor Needles

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