78 Player?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Jason W, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    I posted a couple of years ago about being on the hunt for a nice sounding 78 player- a portable mode, because I don't have space for an additional designated table. I ended up buying a vintage no-name tube player on eBay, 78 speed only, with mono speaker. In many ways it was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately it had a bad hum and my repair-guy friend couldn't identify where in the chain was causing the trouble. He also said the player was running at too high a voltage and was a fire hazard. That was that.

    So I've resumed my search for a great solution. I loved the sound of that vintage player (despite the hum), but I do need something more reliable, safe to run, and perhaps has specs to facilitate repairs as needed. The only modern portable player I tried sounded quite tinny and thin. Maybe it was a Crosley? Perhaps there have been better players released since then? I used to collect early wind-up models, but I want the lighter tone arm and fuller sound of an electric.

    Has anyone found a great portable solution for 78s? Thanks, Jason
     
  2. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Based on what you said, I'd be taking your 'no name tube' player to someone who knows what they're doing and get
    that guy working properly.
    Your not gonna get anything of quality for a lesser price anyway as far as I can see.
    The hum problem is likely a filter capacitor which is a easy repair, and worse comes to worse, you may be up for
    the cost of a transformer to meet the required voltage.
    I wouldn't be throwing out the old for the new myself.
     
  3. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    I felt the same way and did take it to a really knowledgeable repair guy. He couldn’t fix it unfortunately. He said without specs he would be replacing parts without knowing what was correct for the unit (in fact an earlier repair person spent some months with trial and error putting different parts in). And there is the issue of fire hazard... Disappointing for sure.
     
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  4. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Ok, yeap that's a familiar story. Without a schematic, makes it a more difficult task, and if it's been 'tweaked' before.....
    I see the dilemma. Particularly for a 'no name' brand, but is likely a copy of something similar at the the time.
    All is not lost, it probably needs someone to rebuild the amp/power section with the tube configuration you have.
    Lot's of these older players use similar circuitry, so it's not an impossible task, just finding someone who can do it.

    It's probably a stretch, and I don't know how much you plan to invest in the old unit, there is a guy on YouTube
    that does exactly this kind of work.
    Type 'radiotvphononut' into YouTube, and you'll see that he works on old record players, including 78 players all the time.
    He also rebuilds them if they don't work and takes on projects that get sent to him.
    Just a thought.
    :tiphat:
     
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  5. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    I've not had one myself, but some collectors like the old school model players. Califone was the biggest name in that category, I think, but there were others. Note that if you intend to play acoustic 78s (those from before the introduction of microphones into the recording process in the mid-'20s), you'll need something with more speed flexibility than such units provide.

    If you'd like to read up on the subject, I wrote a series of articles about turntables for 78s starting here: [TNT-Audio Vintage column] On an Overgrown Pathé - [English]

    The focus was on separate component turntables, not all-in-one types, but some of the information may be useful in figuring out what features you need.
     
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  6. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Possibly the closest current thing to those old classroom players (which have very difficult to find cartridges/styli) is the still current Crosley Collegiate. It has the same cheap spinning turntable as cheap Crosleys, but with an odd but better arm with a real AT3600 cart installed.
    If you can find one locally in a store, see if you can audition it in store with a few of your 78s. If it meets (impaired) expectations with the standard LP stylus it comes with, it will be even better with the proper stylus for 78s, which is the 4211-D3 you can find easily at the auction site or the usual stylus sellers. I saw one in a thrift shop, and played it, and it could have a place as a one-piece 78 player.

    @vwestlife posted a video and review about how to adjust and tweak it.
     
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  7. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn New York
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  8. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    Re: the Crosley Collegiate mentioned above:

    I've read that these, though better than other Crosleys, tend to have belt/motor issues and earlier models engaged auto-return before the end of 45s and 78s. I still might check it out, though.

    I wish someone would manufacture a vintage-style tube, mono, standalone dedicated 78 player... in a nice wooden cabinet :) Surely not in high demand, but that would be a dream!
     
  9. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    Hell Yeah! I'd be in!
    :pineapple:
     
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  10. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    I'm feeling that this technician knows solid-state equipment and has little knowledge and/or experience with tube equipment. I would think someone who specialises in valve equipment would be able to repair this. Dont' give up!
     
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  11. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    No belt or motor issues on mine, other than the speed needing calibration, as shown in the video above. Earlier models did engage the auto-stop too early when playing 45s, but they've added a switch to disable the auto-stop on the newer versions, or you can modify the mechanism to disable the auto-stop, as I also showed in the video.
     
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  12. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Look for a solid state Newcomb classroom record player from the '70s. They are built like tanks, and can really crank out the bass.
     
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  13. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Get a tube Newcomb top of the line model transcription player, with the GE VR II magnetic cartridge, the best 78 machine of that genre. SS Newcombs are decent, better than comparable Califones. VM or The Voice Of Music is between a Califone and a high end Newcomb.
     
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  14. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    A tubed Newcomb with a VRII would definitely be the Cadillac of portable 78 spinners. I only suggested the solid state version because they are more likely to still be in working condition, and are probably cheaper.
     
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  15. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    A friend is offering me a Califone 1010AV with a 3mil synthetic sapphire stylus. Does that seem like a good way to go re: safe to use for my 78s and a decent portable sound? I've recently been considering the Rega dedicated 78 turntable- obviously a much more expensive and space-requiring option. What do folks think? I haven't seen a Newcomb show up yet.
     
  16. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    Califone's are described as "classroom record players", and therefore are unlikely to produce great quality sound. As it is a new model, it is likely to play your 78's OK without damaging them. The 3mil styli is appropriate for 78's. It is sapphire, so will wear faster than a diamond styli (and a worn styli will damage your records).

    As the Rega 78 table is designed with audio quality in mind, it will most likely sound better than the Califone, and have a better quality arm. You may need to invest in a phono preamp that doesn't have RIAA eq (required for modern records) to get the best quality from the 78s.
     
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  17. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    Thanks! I've been torn between wanting the ease of a portable in a small apartment (not to mention the time-capsule like experience) and also wanting the best sound possible if I can somehow afford it.
     
  18. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    I would choose for the best sound option, it's a better and more satisfying long-term investment.
     
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  19. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    I have a 1956 RCA SHF-9 suitcase with a GE cartridge, 78's from the 40's-50's sound very hifi-ish. This model is often mis-identified online, it's the model with burgundy leatherette covering with white piping. It would be more accurate however to have a turntable, with separate phono pre with multiple playback eq's to get the best out of your 78's, but this would not be a simple setup.
     
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  20. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    The 1010AV was Califone's "Economy" model and has either a single 4"x10" oval speaker or dual 4" round speakers. It won't sound as rich as the older, bigger models that have a 6"x9" speaker, but it can still get plenty loud.

    Here are the specs and features:

    [​IMG]
     
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  21. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Budget? Might it be worth considering an upgrade to your main turntable and getting something that plays all three speeds? Or is that out of scope?
     
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  22. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    Thanks for that suggestion. I did consider it, but I don't want to have to do very much re-adjusting between cartridges/speeds.
     
  23. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Makes sense if you want to be able to go among formats seamlessly. Even removable headshells and easy VTA adjustment would take at least a couple of minutes to go back and forth, depending on how quickly you can dial in VTF, as well.
     
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  24. scotto

    scotto Forum Resident

    I have both a dedicated 78/45/mono LP 'table through the stereo and a newish Califone and I have to say the Califone sounds surprisingly good (not better, but very good) and is a helluva lot of fun.
    If you want the full hifi experience, invest in a three-speed turntable, two cartridges, and a dedicated phono pre and you'll be amazed at how good 78s, 45s, and original monos sound on a good system. But if you just want to have fun spinning discs, a Califone (or similar) is hard to beat.
     
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  25. Jason W

    Jason W Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mill Valley, CA
    If I set up a dedicated turntable for 78 and have it going into a box to correct for RIAA, can I then have both my turntables going into a switch and then into one phono input on my Adcom? Noise concern with extra links? I'm want to avoid setting up a second system. A single 3-speed is still a possibility, but I don't know how handy I'd be making readjustments each time.
     

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