From 78 to CD

Monday, February 8, 2010

One of the audiovisual formats we are digitally reformatting is the 78. We no longer have the equipment to play 78 recordings. In order to have the recordings accessible to researchers we needed to replace the 78s with CDs. Staff purchased commercially produced CDs where possible. Titles they couldn’t find were sent to us.

We quickly discovered two things. The jackets that we had made to house the 78s many years ago were too small for the 78s. We had to split open the jacket in order to safely extract the 78. We also discovered that some of the 78s were extremely brittle. We never knew when the next handling would cause the 78 to break.

We sent off a sampling to Safe Sound Archive to find out just how good the sound would be when converted to a CD. We were curious as to how much sound loss there would be for a cracked/broken 78. The results were very interesting.

Most of the records reformatted quite nicely with a few words repeated (just like a stuck record) the only evidence that it was a copy of a cracked record (image on left). One recording had missing sentences (image on right). All in all the results were quite satisfactory so we sent the rest of the collection off to Safe Sound Archive for conversion from 78 to CD.
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Safe Sound Archive was kind enough to share some photos of the work with our 78s. You can see from the photos that the correct size stylus or needle is critical and there are many to choose from. Adjustments for frequency and treble and bass are also made. The hisses, pops, and crackles were left in.
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