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High-Resolution Vinyl Disc Playback, How do you EQ older discs

dlaloum

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Uh, no, you don't, unless the stylus was recently replaced. There's no cartridge ever made where that could be true except perhaps a Decca and that's on account of it having no cantilever. Of course this degradation occurs so slowly that you don't notice if over time. Its only when you get a new cartridge set up properly you realize how degraded the old one got. I've been able to revitalize older cantilevers (if they got stiff rather than collapsing) by using a tiny amount of brake fluid, but that stuff can take paint off so you have to be really careful and patient with it (the cartridge has to lay on its back for a few weeks) to make sure it can't migrate down the cantilever and contaminate the stylus!

IMO this is one of the weaknesses of vinyl; people don't seem to realize that the suspension is ephemeral. I've seen this problem a lot, having put myself through an engineering program by being a service technician- I've worked on literally hundreds of turntables and owned dozens of cartridges.
Oil of Wintergreen is a standard treatment for rejuvenating rubber... (Methyl salicylate)

However - the materials used for the cartridges suspension varied wildly - and so do their response to age

For really good styli, it can absolutely be worth while taking them to a retipper, simply to get the suspension replaced.

I admit, I have not tried to measure the actual compliance of the suspension, to compare to original spec.... something for a future rainy day.
 

restorer-john

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What about a traditional/vintage analogue graphic equalizer? Say a stereo 10 band per channel.

They are perfectly fine for tweaking vinyl playback, especially already technically compromised recordings. The residual noise will be way below the record noise and you'll have quick, easy adjustments you can can make on the fly for each record you play. Much easier than parametric EQ on a 'puter.

I'd grab one of the old Realistic 31-2000 units that must have been sold by the millions back in the day. They have large travel sliders and 'zero gain' controls with indicators to keep the overall level similar.

1669934355767.png
 

atmasphere

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What about a traditional/vintage analogue graphic equalizer? Say a stereo 10 band per channel.

They are perfectly fine for tweaking vinyl playback, especially already technically compromised recordings. The residual noise will be way below the record noise and you'll have quick, easy adjustments you can can make on the fly for each record you play. Much easier than parametric EQ on a 'puter.

I'd grab one of the old Realistic 31-2000 units that must have been sold by the millions back in the day. They have large travel sliders and 'zero gain' controls with indicators to keep the overall level similar.
Based on what I've been reading here this isn't an equalization problem.
 

restorer-john

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Based on what I've been reading here this isn't an equalization problem.

It's exactly what the OP asked "how do you EQ older discs". Each record will be different and need different adjustments- that's where a physical EQ is faster and more intuitive.

Graphic EQs are brilliant for dull/emphasised treble, squawky midrange, dull bass etc. You can take a great performance with ordinary recording and fix it to the point it is listenable.

Just because they are out of fashion with certain audiophiles, doesn't mean they aren't perfect for the job.
 

dlaloum

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In a perfect world, we would have data with regards to the EQ used by the particular recording studio/pressing-mastering house - and could then adjust our EQ to match.

With digital components like the Puffin Phono stage - this is relatively easy to do. Oryou can use your PC as your phono EQ, with a flat/no EQ phono preamp, and any one of hundreds of PC eq options...

But in an imperfect world, you are highly likely to have recordings with completely unknown EQ - especially if they are from before the 60's - when some degree of standardisation became the norm.

In that case, all you can do is EQ by ear... and for that purpose, a traditional Graphic equaliser is as good a tool as any - and often a heck of a lot easier to use, than many software packages / alternatives.

with most record EQ being bass boos treble depress - the old Quad Tilt control as found on Quad 34 or 44 preamps might work very effectively too... and is even easier to use (single knob!)
 

atmasphere

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In a perfect world, we would have data with regards to the EQ used by the particular recording studio/pressing-mastering house - and could then adjust our EQ to match.

With digital components like the Puffin Phono stage - this is relatively easy to do. Oryou can use your PC as your phono EQ, with a flat/no EQ phono preamp, and any one of hundreds of PC eq options...

But in an imperfect world, you are highly likely to have recordings with completely unknown EQ - especially if they are from before the 60's - when some degree of standardisation became the norm.

In that case, all you can do is EQ by ear... and for that purpose, a traditional Graphic equaliser is as good a tool as any - and often a heck of a lot easier to use, than many software packages / alternatives.

with most record EQ being bass boos treble depress - the old Quad Tilt control as found on Quad 34 or 44 preamps might work very effectively too... and is even easier to use (single knob!)
What you are talking about here isn't the LP mastering itself rather the EQ the engineer used when sitting at the mix board.

LP mastering lathes have electronics that are matched to the cutter head. That and the RIAA pre-emphasis are not messed with by the label or anyone else unless the system needs service! So you can count on all stereo LPs being mastered to the RIAA characteristic curve.
 

dlaloum

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What you are talking about here isn't the LP mastering itself rather the EQ the engineer used when sitting at the mix board.

LP mastering lathes have electronics that are matched to the cutter head. That and the RIAA pre-emphasis are not messed with by the label or anyone else unless the system needs service! So you can count on all stereo LPs being mastered to the RIAA characteristic curve.
RIAA only started to be generally used circa 1960's - before that there were different competing EQ's used all the way from Shellac 78's onwards.

And there were a multitude of competing standards. RIAA was first intruduced in 1954 - and took a while to "take hold"

There was/is:
RIAA
RCA Victor Orthophonic
IEC
Teldec
EMI
HMV
Columbia
Decca FFRR
NAB
BBC Transcription
(and many more)

all of which have differing pre and post emphasis (ie: EQ)

There are phono stages (or - re-equalizers) that cater to some of these:

There are lots of vintage recordings that were made with a heap of differing standards.
 

atmasphere

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RIAA only started to be generally used circa 1960's - before that there were different competing EQ's used all the way from Shellac 78's onwards.

And there were a multitude of competing standards. RIAA was first intruduced in 1954 - and took a while to "take hold"

There was/is:
RIAA
RCA Victor Orthophonic
IEC
Teldec
EMI
HMV
Columbia
Decca FFRR
NAB
BBC Transcription
(and many more)

all of which have differing pre and post emphasis (ie: EQ)

There are phono stages (or - re-equalizers) that cater to some of these:

There are lots of vintage recordings that were made with a heap of differing standards.
The RIAA characteristic is based on the RCA Orthophonic curve, and was adopted by the RIAA for all stereo recordings. So the RIAA curve goes back to 1958, when stereo LPs were first introduced. The Decca FFRR isn't an EQ curve- its a trademark, just like RCA's 'Living Stereo'. It means 'Full Frequency Range Recording'.

In fact in the list above you really mention only 5 EQ curves. Two are for tape (NAB and IEC), the other two I mentioned already, plus the Columbia curve, used only for 78s. The remainders on the list are names of companies and organizations. BTW 'HMV' was used by EMI and means 'His Master's Voice'.

Just to put the RIAA thing to bed, it is used for all stereo LP recordings. There are no variants. All mastering electronics are made with RIAA pre-emphasis only.
 

dlaloum

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The RIAA characteristic is based on the RCA Orthophonic curve, and was adopted by the RIAA for all stereo recordings. So the RIAA curve goes back to 1958, when stereo LPs were first introduced. The Decca FFRR isn't an EQ curve- its a trademark, just like RCA's 'Living Stereo'. It means 'Full Frequency Range Recording'.

In fact in the list above you really mention only 5 EQ curves. Two are for tape (NAB and IEC), the other two I mentioned already, plus the Columbia curve, used only for 78s. The remainders on the list are names of companies and organizations. BTW 'HMV' was used by EMI and means 'His Master's Voice'.

Just to put the RIAA thing to bed, it is used for all stereo LP recordings. There are no variants. All mastering electronics are made with RIAA pre-emphasis only.

"The Devil is in the detail that the record companies all chose different turnover frequencies. And all chose different pre-emphasis curves from 0dB at 10kHz, to +16dB at 10kHz; a staggering range. Tone controls on preamplifiers dates from this period; they were necessary not to offer tonal choice, but to make the majority of records listenable at all."
 

atmasphere

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"The Devil is in the detail that the record companies all chose different turnover frequencies. And all chose different pre-emphasis curves from 0dB at 10kHz, to +16dB at 10kHz; a staggering range. Tone controls on preamplifiers dates from this period; they were necessary not to offer tonal choice, but to make the majority of records listenable at all."
:facepalm: This statement is false. Tone controls were not on preamps to correct LPs! There is a reason so many preamps made in the US today don't even bother, and yet those early stereo LPs sound just fine on them. There is good information in the article you linked and misinformation as well.

All stereo LP mastering systems employed RIAA pre-emphasis. I ran an LP mastering operation for about 12 years FWIW; I'm not making this up or blowing smoke. My lathe was a scully equipped with a Westerex 3D cutterhead- which is the cutterhead that ushered in the stereo LP era. Westerex did not offer variable pre-emphasis if you get my drift.

Record labels didn't/don't mess with the RIAA curve. They do add EQ, but not to mess with the curve so much as to satisfy a particular recording engineer or producer, both of whom are quite different from the mastering engineer that actually cuts the LP. There is a documented case where Everest, who had developed a tape machine that used a 35mm tape format, had an error in the EQ curve of the tape machine causing a rolloff of 6dB/octave starting at 100Hz going down, which is why Everests are always bass shy. They sold the machine to Mercury who discovered the problem and fixed it.
 

Philbo King

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I have a ton of beloved music on 1950s thru 1980s vinyl. Most are original issues, not remastered. The collection includes what were then 'audiophile quality' classical, symphonic, opera, jazz, chamber, and vocal commercial vinyl records by well-known labels like Decca, RCA Victor, DG, Columbia, Capitol, etc.

Here's the trouble: I have heard many of you have the same situation as I; most of these sound pretty bad (in several different ways) when played on up-to-date playback equipment. I know the hardware is good because new vinyl sounds quite good -- about as good as I expect vinyl to ever get. [There's a list of the gear I presently use below for reference.]

The question to you is, if this is your situation, what do you do, commonly, to improve sometimes nasty recording character often found in old recordings? [If it isn't your situation, kindly sit quietly and listen or check a different topic. I don't need amateur therapy.]

In this, I include boosted high treble, distorted tape characteristics, and often unflat response of vintage microphones. (You know, the mics that bring huge prices today for reasons of 'nostalgia.') Do you use multi-filter digital EQ? Amplifier tone controls? I don't expect to get rid of the ticks and pops that a thorough cleaning can't remove -- they are simply a fact of life and past abuse. Mostly, I'm interested in getting rid of raspy strings without killing oboe solos, blatant brass horns, overly sharpened vocals and like that. (I have one Maria Callas solo record that takes her voice and shrills it terribly.)

I know there's no 'cookbook' solution; I wish there were. Tone controls take much of the bandwidth with them. I currently don't have digital EQ, but this could be a reason to hit the piggy bank. Maybe if I just cut everything above 9 kHz? If I had a solution, I wouldn't ask you all.

I promise to read all offerings. I'm happy to hear educated guesses. Kindly spare us troll offerings and vinyl sermons.

.......
Current playback gear for vinyl:
AT-120 TT, Denon high output m/c cartridge w/ elliptical diamond, Emotiva preamp with m/m and m/c inputs, Schiit Loki analog EQ, Emotiva 150/150-watt A/B amp., Elac DBR62 pair, two powered subwoofers.
I never EQ music on playback. I went to great lengths to get a flat playback setup and don't feel any need for continual tweaking.

However, there are quite a few music releases that verge on unlistenable. These range from "90s volume wars mastering" to old vinyl that has clicks hiss and scratches. I digitize these and do some simple remastering if the music itself makes it worth the effort.
 

dlaloum

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:facepalm: This statement is false. Tone controls were not on preamps to correct LPs! There is a reason so many preamps made in the US today don't even bother, and yet those early stereo LPs sound just fine on them. There is good information in the article you linked and misinformation as well.

All stereo LP mastering systems employed RIAA pre-emphasis. I ran an LP mastering operation for about 12 years FWIW; I'm not making this up or blowing smoke. My lathe was a scully equipped with a Westerex 3D cutterhead- which is the cutterhead that ushered in the stereo LP era. Westerex did not offer variable pre-emphasis if you get my drift.

Record labels didn't/don't mess with the RIAA curve. They do add EQ, but not to mess with the curve so much as to satisfy a particular recording engineer or producer, both of whom are quite different from the mastering engineer that actually cuts the LP. There is a documented case where Everest, who had developed a tape machine that used a 35mm tape format, had an error in the EQ curve of the tape machine causing a rolloff of 6dB/octave starting at 100Hz going down, which is why Everests are always bass shy. They sold the machine to Mercury who discovered the problem and fixed it.
Please read the article I posted the link to... the move to universal RIAA was driven primarily by the lathe manufacturers, who built the circuitry into their product.

RIAA became universal with stereo Lathes, which became pretty much universal by the mid 1960's, prior to that, in the world of mono lathes - there were a multitude of standards. - pretty much anything originally cut on mono lathes will be using one of the multitude of pre-RIAA EQ's. (some of which are very close to or the same as RIAA)

YES what you say is true, but only if you limit your perspective to the stereo / LP era.

For anyone with an interest in records issued before the 1960's - multiple EQ's are a necessity

I have some rarities recorded in the 30's and 40's - RIAA is completely irrelevant to these
 

atmasphere

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For anyone with an interest in records issued before the 1960's - multiple EQ's are a necessity
Let's be clear here! Mono LPs produced after 1958 were all on the RIAA curve as well. Most mono LPs produced prior to 1958 were on the RCA Orthophonic curve as well. I of course I looked at the article you linked; like I said it has some good stuff but also has misinformation. I don't care who wrote it; they don't know what they are talking about. As best I can make out they took stuff from various sources and didn't fact check the resulting article.

The main reason for having multiple EQ curves is if you are invested in 78s. For those you also need a different stylus as LPs are microgroove and 78s are not.
 

dlaloum

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I have a bunch of French, North African and East European records 78, 33 and 45... none of which are RIAA... they were cut on pre-RIAA mono lathes 1930's through to late 1940's - actual EQ curves are anyone's guess...
 
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