Are you a fan of vintage music and have a collection of 78 RPM records?
Do you want to play them on your modern turntable but aren’t sure if it’s possible?
The answer is yes, you can play 78 records on a modern turntable, but there are a few things you need to know first.
In this article, we’ll explore the different options available for playing 78s on modern turntables, including the importance of using a proper stylus and cartridge.
We’ll also discuss some popular turntables that offer 78 RPM speed and how to adapt your current turntable for playing these vintage records.
So, let’s dive in and discover how to enjoy your favorite 78s on your modern turntable!
Can You Play 78 Records On A Modern Turntable
Yes, you can play 78 records on a modern turntable, but it’s important to note that 78s have wider grooves than vinyl records. Therefore, you will need to purchase a stylus specifically designed for playing 78 RPM records. These needles have a wider conical shape that will make better contact with the wide grooves, allowing for much better sound performance when playing a 78.
It’s also important to note that the correct speed is only part of the solution. A proper 78 RPM stylus should also be used when playing 78 RPM records on your turntable. As discussed in our previous posts on cartridges and styli, the stylus is chosen to match the cartridge. So when choosing a cartridge to use, you will want to determine if that cartridge has a compatible 78 RPM stylus.
Some people use a different cartridge and headshell setup entirely when playing 78 RPM records. They select a preferred cartridge for their 33 and 45 RPM records and use a different cartridge with a 78 RPM stylus for their 78 RPM records.
Understanding 78 RPM Records
78 RPM records were the standard for music recordings from the late 1800s to the mid-1950s. These records were made of shellac, a brittle material that was prone to breakage. Due to their age and fragility, 78s are often found in antique stores and flea markets, and can be difficult to play on modern turntables.
The first thing to consider when playing a 78 RPM record is the turntable itself. Not all turntables are capable of playing 78 records. The turntable needs to be able to spin at the proper speed to create 78 revolutions per minute. There are record players specifically designed to play 78s if that is the only type of record in your collection.
Once you have a turntable capable of playing 78s, you need to consider the stylus or needle. Since these records were designed to be played on gramophones, the grooves in the records are much larger and thus need a larger needle to play the music. Using a regular stylus will cause unnecessary wear and tear on the record, and may even damage it over time.
Therefore, it’s important to use a stylus specifically designed for playing 78 RPM records. These needles have a wider conical shape that will make better contact with the wide grooves, allowing for much better sound performance when playing a 78. It’s also important to note that some cartridges may not be compatible with a 78 RPM stylus, so it’s important to do your research before purchasing one.
Importance Of A Proper Stylus And Cartridge
When playing 78 RPM records, it’s crucial to use a proper stylus and cartridge. The wider grooves on 78s require a stylus with a wider conical shape that can make better contact with the grooves. Using a regular stylus designed for vinyl records can cause damage to the record and result in poor sound quality.
In addition to the stylus, it’s important to choose a cartridge that is compatible with a 78 RPM stylus. Some turntables have flippable double-sided styli that can switch between regular and 78 RPM stylus, while others require a separate cartridge for playing 78s.
It’s also worth noting that there are different sizes of stylus available for playing 78s, with some listeners experimenting with different sizes to find the one that tracks best on a particular record. However, it’s important to choose the right size based on the age and degree of wear of the record.
Turntables With 78 RPM Speed
There are several turntables available that have the ability to play 78 RPM records. One popular option is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB and AT-LP1240-USB turntables. These turntables allow the platter to play at the 78 RPM speed, but it’s important to use a proper 78 RPM stylus when playing these records. Audio-Technica manufactures the VM670SP cartridge for shellac 78 RPM records and the VM610MONO for 78 RPM vinyl records.
Another option is the Pro-Ject turntable line, which offers a few different options to get a platter spinning at 78 RPM. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon can be fitted with a 78 adaptor kit, which replaces the standard pulley for the 78 RPM version. Some newer versions of the Debut Carbon, such as the Debut Carbon Esprit SB, the Debut Recordmaster, and the Debut Carbon Recordmaster Hi-Res, can switch to 78s with a simple belt change.
If you’re looking for a turntable with variable speed adjustment, there are several available that cover a range from about 60 to 90 rpm. It’s important to also have a good quality tone arm containing a stereo cartridge and styli that have been retipped for playing 78s. An amplifier capable of selecting mono as well as stereo is preferred, with a facility for reproducing the different equalisations used in the 78 era. High quality loudspeakers are also recommended, as 78 rpm discs require good speakers for optimal sound performance.
Adapting Your Turntable For 78 RPM Playback
To adapt your modern turntable for 78 RPM playback, you will need a turntable with variable speed adjustment, covering a range from about 60 to 90 RPM. Several options are available in the market that can do this. A good quality tonearm is also essential, containing a stereo cartridge and styli that have been retipped for playing 78s. It is important to use a stylus that is the correct size and weight, as a regular stylus will not make proper contact with the wider grooves of 78 RPM records.
An amplifier is also necessary, preferably one capable of selecting mono as well as stereo. Ideally, it should have a facility for reproducing the different equalizations used in the 78 era. This is because there was no single standard for equalization during that time, and reproducing the correct equalization will ensure better sound performance.
High-quality loudspeakers are also important when playing 78 RPM records. It is easy to think that these discs, with their limited acoustic range compared to modern recordings, do not require good loudspeakers. However, the opposite is true. Good quality loudspeakers will ensure that you get the best sound performance when playing 78 RPM records on your modern turntable.
Tips For Playing And Caring For 78 RPM Records
Playing and caring for 78 RPM records requires some special considerations. Here are some tips to help you get the best sound quality and ensure the longevity of your 78s:
1. Use a proper stylus: As mentioned above, using a stylus specifically designed for 78 RPM records is crucial. These needles have a wider conical shape that will make better contact with the wide grooves, allowing for much better sound performance when playing a 78.
2. Adjust the speed: Many modern turntables have the ability to adjust the speed, but it’s important to make sure you set it to 78 RPM before playing your 78s. Playing at the wrong speed can damage the record and affect sound quality.
3. Clean your records: Dust and dirt can accumulate in the grooves of 78 RPM records, affecting sound quality and potentially causing damage over time. Use a soft brush or record cleaning solution to gently clean your records before playing them.
4. Store your records properly: Store your 78s upright in their sleeves to prevent warping and damage. Avoid stacking them horizontally, as this can cause pressure on the records and potentially damage them.
5. Handle with care: Always handle your 78 RPM records with clean hands and avoid touching the grooves. Hold them by the edges or use a record clamp when placing them on the turntable.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your 78 RPM records sound their best and last for years to come.