Jim's Old Records

Let’s test some playback methods..

June 5th, 2015 by jim

There’s been some debate on facebook forums I follow about what the best playback methods are for 78s. Some people love acoustic machines. Some swear by vintage tube amps and electric turntables. Some want the most modern hi-fi equipment and computer processing. I think all of these ways have some benefits, but I suppose it’s subjective. It depends on what you think sounds good. But in the interest in science, I have recorded the same record with several methods for you to compare. This is not fully comprehensive. I am sure if you are really into this you may have some other players with better tone.. (Victor Credenzas are probably top of the line for acoustic playback for instance. I don’t have one of those) But in any case this may give you a general idea of the difference in sound of different playback methods.

First is a good old acoustic phonograph. This was made probably in the 30s. It’s my RCA Victor suitcase phonograph. I have recorded it with a decent stage microphone (you can see it on the left in the video) pointed directly into the “speaker” (technically there is a sort of horn under there)

Here’s an mp3 of that same acoustic playback:

Next let’s hear a 1950’s Wilcox Gay Recordio tube based analog electric phonograph playing it. This particular record player can actually make records too. But here it is outfitted with a medium tone steel needle for playback:

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Now this is a modern turntable (a Numark TT200):

First with a regular 33rpm stylus:



Then with a Shure M78S stylus:



Then with a special order 3.5 mil stylus (wider than the m78s to pick up less of the surface noise at the bottom of the groove):



Now let’s hear that last version again but with soundsoap cleanup (soundsoap lets you adjust the levels of noise and click removal.. it’s something that you have to fiddle with to get the best results..):

Wilcox-Gay Recordio playback, Steel needle


Lastly, just one little thing. Some people worry about the wear on a 78 when played with a steel needle. I won’t deny that technically there IS wear. But I think one or two playbacks won’t hurt. (The important point is that you use a NEW steel needle with EVERY play. A worn needle WILL damage a record.) Here is a short clip with 2 samples. First is the 3.5 stylus before I played it with teh steel needle on the wilcox-gay machine. and the second is after. I don’t think you can hear a difference:

here is a playlist of all those so it’s easier to compare:


A Royal Blue Sol Ho’opi’i

May 27th, 2015 by jim

Isn’t it pretty.
Sol Hoopii and His Novelty Trio Lepe Ulaula B/W Honolulu Harbor
1928 Royal Blue Columbia 1339-D (145901/145903)

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Sol Ho’opi’i Decca sessions

May 21st, 2015 by jim

Here is a complete set of the Songs Sol Ho’opi’i and His Novelty Five recorded on Decca. These were his last recordings before he started focusing on sacred music, all played on electric lap steel. These are from Australian pressings but they were released in The U.S. on Decca as well.

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Doris’s audio letters from her admirers

May 19th, 2015 by jim

I found these personal records at a junk store. They appear to both be to the same woman named Doris. One is an audio letter from 3 young men to 3 young women (including Doris) expressing gratitude for a lovely past weekend with a bit of humor. This record has 2 sides. The 3rd is a single sided record that seems to have been recorded at a “Voice-o-Graph” booth in Atlantic City, in which Bob proposes to Doris. This one was recorded in 1946, so I’ll guess that the other was slightly earlier.


Louis Armstrong goes Polynesian

May 13th, 2015 by jim

Here’s a couple tropical Louis Armstrong sides from 1936

Louis Armstrong with The Polynesians On A Cocoanut Island b/w To You Sweetheart Aloha Decca 914 a/B (DLA 582/DLA 581) 8/18/36

Decca 914 A (DLA 582) Decca 914 B (DLA 581)

Dorothy Lamour with Dick McIntire’s Harmony Hawaiians

May 3rd, 2015 by jim

It’s Actress Dorothy Lamour Singing with Dick McIntire’s Harmony Hawaiians in a Decca album of 78s recorded on 10/20 and 10/26 of 1943!

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Pérez Prado and Tito Puente

May 3rd, 2015 by jim

A few latin records I picked up at the WFMU record fair this weekend. A bit of Mambo and Cha Cha Cha from Pérez Prado and Tito Puente spinning at 78:

Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra on Blue Wax

April 23rd, 2015 by jim

Here’s a “Royal Blue” 78 record (a novelty Columbia introduced for a while from 1932 to 1935) of Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra. Recorded on 1/25/32

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea b/w Kickin’ the Gong Around Columbia 2600-d (152086/152087)



Sol Ho’opi’i Sacred Music on Eldee Records

April 9th, 2015 by jim

Later in Life Sol Ho’opi’i focused primarily on sacred Music. I found a box from his record label (on ebay) from this time with many of these records. There was a label on the box listing the available records from them and I have managed to find all of the ones listed. One of my records is autographed march of 1950, so I believe these records must have been made in 1949 or maybe a little earlier. So here is, I believe, his complete recorded songs from Eldee. Enjoy.

Here is the box the records came in:


And here is an image I found online (Courtesty of the Collection of Les Cook) of some ephemera from this period:


and a photoshop recreation of the flyer on the box based on Les’s poster and the torn fragment on mine: eldee_records_invoice_reconstructed2

More Hawaiian: Sol Ho’opi’i, Silver Strings Quartet, Linn Milford and His Hawaiian Players

April 7th, 2015 by jim

New arrivals from London! A few Hawaiian 78s. A couple Sol Hoopii tracks (reissues of American records) with a b-side by Linn Milford and His Hawaiian Players, the Hawaiian Silver Strings Quartet on British Columbia (which came in the neat sleeve seen below)
Sol Hoopii and His Novelty Quartet Don’t Stop Loving Me Regal Zonophone MR 3509 LA 41 10/4/1933
Sol Hoopii and His Novelty Quartet Iniki Malie (Song of the Breeze) Regal Zonophone MR 350 LA 352 2/16/1936
Sol Hoopii’s Novelty Trio Breeze (Blow My Baby Back To Me) Regal Mr79 W142796  10/18/26
Linn Milford and His Hawaiian Players Silv’ry Moon Regal Mr 79 (war 37) 3/7/1930
Hawaiian Silver Strings Quartet Kawaihau Waltz /Honolulu March Columbia 5431 146685/146686 5/25/28


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