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vinyl "record" question
Posted by: wurm
Date: January 31, 2010 12:17PM
While rummaging through boxes of the crap mementos my brothers and I retrieved from our dad's attic several years ago, we discovered a few Voice-O-Graph discs that appear to be audio letters to my mom, from his time in the service. My limited google searching shows that these are probably 78rpm. I just tried playing them on a turntable here at work, albeit at 45rpm. However there is no audio...only surface noise.

Here's my dumb question. If it's a vinyl "record" with grooves, and if there's any audio on it, a turntable should play something, even if it's at the wrong speed, shouldn't it. Do you think it's safe to assume that if I'm hearing nothing but surface noise that any audio that might have existed has deteriorated? I figured I'd play it at the wrong speed, digitally record it and then deal with fixing the speed, but there's nothing there.

Any other ideas?
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: January 31, 2010 12:27PM
Quote
wurm
these are probably 78rpm. I just tried playing them on a turntable here at work, albeit at 45rpm. However there is no audio...only surface noise

That may be the result if the record is played at 45 rather than 78 rpm. It's also possible that wear and or material 'creep' has rendered the recording inaudible.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: January 31, 2010 12:28PM
A quick Google search indicates yes, Voice-O-Graph recordings were designed to be playable on any record player

Remember: GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND.



It is what it is.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: freeradical
Date: January 31, 2010 12:31PM
Maybe those recordings didn't make it past the censors.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: JoeH
Date: January 31, 2010 12:41PM
Didn't 78's take a different stylus profile to ride the grooves? A regular needle might not follow them well enough to make any sound come out. I think the material for these was not vinyl, so the mention of material creep will depend on what was used.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: January 31, 2010 01:09PM
remember... you had to flip for 78s.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: January 31, 2010 01:10PM
Try reading the grooves with your bionic laser eye. Encode them to digital and download them
via FW from your positronic brain port.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: artie67
Date: January 31, 2010 01:16PM
Are they labeled? They might be unused. The 78 stylus was larger and the groove were cut vertically. I believe they were conical shaped vs. elliptical as in the stereo era. You should get sound of some sort even slowed down and with a little distortion.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: wurm
Date: January 31, 2010 01:25PM
A couple of them are labeled "to my darling wife", and dated August 1944, which is what led us to believe they are audio letters from dad to mom ;). Only one side of the discs has grooves.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: $tevie
Date: January 31, 2010 01:35PM
My brother used to play 45s at 78 speed when he was a little kid, for the laugh factor. So I don't think the speed is the problem.



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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: mrthuse
Date: January 31, 2010 02:03PM
The surface noise you describe is possibly the stereo stylus trying to plow through 66 years of mung to get at sound that was recorded using a virtual 10-penny nail, I'd guess. I suspect there's "something" in that groove that'll require the correct stylus to reproduce what's almost sure to be pretty noisy given today's technology. Think I'd "write a little letter 'n' mail it to my local DJ" outlining what you have, asking who to call for a digital transfer. That way, you'll know how much voodoo you'll have to do on your own to dig out of the disc whatever's there.

On the other hand, you might record what you have at the fastest speed you can, adjust the playback speed, THEN futz w/ cleaning up the sound. If the original sound's @#$%& to begin w/, listening at a slower speed may well mask what could come through at the right one.

Let us know how you make out. Discoveries like this are cool pursuing.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: decay
Date: January 31, 2010 03:03PM
Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: wurm
Date: January 31, 2010 03:37PM
Jeez, thanks decay. I must not have scrolled through enough pages when I did a google search for Voice-O-Graph the other day. Or more likely I became too frustrated after checking out the first few links I saw then.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: January 31, 2010 03:43PM
he plugged in to the toaster again.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: January 31, 2010 03:49PM
Quote
$tevie
My brother used to play 45s at 78 speed when he was a little kid, for the laugh factor. So I don't think the speed is the problem.

Agreed. Even the "kiddie" turntable I had as a kid played at 33.33, 45 and 78 rpm.



It is what it is.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: A-Polly
Date: January 31, 2010 05:21PM
I was on the phone with my audiophile brother when I read this post, and asked him about Voice-O-Graphs; he said that the disk requires a special stylus (3 mil). Plus, turns out that these things are fairly delicate and weren't made to last very long, so you might want to plan your efforts pretty carefully. But you probably already learned all about this from the links decay sent you.

Perhaps there is an audio hobbyist in your area who has the equipment to transfer the messages onto more modern media.

Good luck--how cool to hear your dad's voice from so many years ago!
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: wurm
Date: January 31, 2010 05:55PM
Thanks (to your brother, too) for all this info. I'm fortunate enough to work somewhere they might be able to help me out. Of course, there's no one here but me on a Sunday, but tomorrow I'll ask a few folks who might have some insight. I'm not holding out much hope, as the discs look like they're in pretty rough shape. Thankfully, we have other old audio of him (and mom) that was on cassette and which I've already transferred. I must admit, though, that it would be interesting to hear what kind of mushy stuff he might have sent back home to keep the fires burning. ;)
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: decay
Date: January 31, 2010 06:23PM
speaking of vinyl, thanks to its resurgence i sold 3 nine inch nails records (one a triple LP) today on ebay for $160.



---
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: freeradical
Date: January 31, 2010 07:05PM
Quote
decay
speaking of vinyl, thanks to its resurgence i sold 3 nine inch nails records (one a triple LP) today on ebay for $160.

Nice score. I have a lot of collectible vinyl such as direct to disc recordings, half speed masters etc.

Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon etc.

All in near mint condition...
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: Joey Cupcakes
Date: February 01, 2010 02:02PM
Quote
A-Polly
I was on the phone with my audiophile brother when I read this post, and asked him about Voice-O-Graphs; he said that the disk requires a special stylus (3 mil).

FWIW, a 3 mil stylus is a standard for 78RPM playback. There were many variations, but most home players used a 3 mil spec. This makes sense because the Voice-O-Gram and other "Record Your Voice!" booth-type services were certainly meant to be played at home.

The original standard for LPs/45s (microgroove) was 1 mil. That's the difference in some older universal players where you would "flip" the stylus for 78s.
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Re: vinyl "record" question
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: February 01, 2010 08:29PM
Yes, the Antique Radios link that Decay posted says they used a 3mm stylus. The best thing to do is find a shop or hobbyist with equipment to play 78 RPM records and see if they can make a transfer. Trying to play it with the wrong equipment won't help preserve it.

Neat find.

/Mr Lynn



"Hillbilly at Harvard"
Honky-tonk Country and Bluegrass
Founded in 1948 by Pappy Ben Minnich
Saturdays 9am - 1pm Eastern
WHRB-FM, Cambridge, MA
Streaming at [www.WHRB.org]
Be there!

The HAH weblog: [hillbillyatharvard.wordpress.com]

Topical weblog: [walkingcreekworld.wordpress.com]

On the river in Saxonville.
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