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Cleaning up 78 transfers
tinpanalley
post Feb 24 2012, 01:05
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Hi all,
I'm taking a 78 recording (and several others that I'm transferring) and trying to clean it up. I'm capturing the audio with Audacity at 32-bit IEEE float, as a stereo recording from a 78 stylus on my turntable at 45 then changing the speed, finishing it off with inverting the RIAA curve.
My question is about cleaning up from this point forward understanding of course that one method simply won't work in every case.

I have Audacity, Sound Forge, DeNoise and ClickRepair. I've tried following this to a certain degree but I have no way of knowing if there's something I'm missing, if it's out of date, if there's a better way, etc. Mastering, I'm ok with. It's just the cleaning part I want to know with the aim of archiving these transfers.

Any thoughts?
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DVDdoug
post Feb 24 2012, 03:18
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Fortunately, I've never tried cleaning-up a 78. wink.gif I just don't think I'd ever get the sound quality to the point to where I could enjoy the music. And, I don't have access to any 78s anymore.

Here's a web page that might have some useful information. Probably the most important bit of information is, "The second problem with 78 rpm recordings is that they all had different equalizations." You'll probably want to tweek the EQ by ear anyway for the best sound.

cliveb also has a web page with all kinds of information and software recommendations for digitizing an cleaning-up LPs. Most of it should apply to 78s.

I'm sure the tools you already have are adequate. I use Clive's Wave Repair ($30 USD) for cleaning-up LP transfers. It works great in the manual mode, but its very time consuming.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Feb 24 2012, 03:24
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cliveb
post Feb 24 2012, 09:27
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Feb 24 2012, 02:18) *
cliveb also has a web page with all kinds of information and software recommendations for digitizing an cleaning-up LPs. Most of it should apply to 78s.

I've only ever transferred about a dozen 78s (for a neighbour) so I don't have a lot of experience.

Here's a few tips I can share:
1. Don't ever try to clean 78 records with an alcohol based solution. It will attack the shellac.
2. The groove width on 78s is much bigger than LPs. You must use a proper 78 stylus. But don't use a dedicated 78 cartridge, because they are mono devices; this is important because...
3. Record mono records in stereo and do all your cleaning up in stereo. At the very end, mix down to mono in software.
The reason fo doing things in stereo is that some damage may be on only one side of the groove wall, in which case you can copy/paste the undamaged signal from the other channel. (This applies to mono LPs as well as 78s, of course).
4. My view is that the quality that comes off 78s is low enough that worrying too much about getting the right EQ is pointless. Just adjust the tonal balance by ear.
5. A couple of the 78s I transferred had cracks all the way from the centre to the outer edge. Despite this, they were playable (producing a very big click on every revolution, of course). I found that spectral substitution was usually the best method of fixing those big clicks.

That's about the only additional advice I can give over and above the normal stuff that applies to LPs.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 24 2012, 11:33
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 24 2012, 00:05) *
I'm capturing the audio with Audacity at 32-bit IEEE float, as a stereo recording from a 78 stylus on my turntable at 45 then changing the speed, finishing it off with inverting the RIAA curve.
That's the wrong way around. You need to invert the RIAA curve on the original (45rpm) recording, correct the speed (to 78), and then apply whatever you think the correct curve is.

http://www.rfwilmut.clara.net/repro78/repro.html#eq


About a decade ago, I found that the declicker from the Sonic Foundry NR-2 package (a directX plugin), and the decrackle from the Waves restoration bundle, worked really well on 78s if you didn't mind losing some of the higher frequencies (the decrackle part sounds like it uses a median filter in part). There may be far better options now. The good automatic options are expensive. The cheap automatic options introduce artefacts IMO. Manually declicking most UK 78s is hopeless - there are tens of clicks each second (i.e. there's a constant "crackle").

Found this while looking btw...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCgp0-vCK0I
from
http://ade42.blogspot.com/
...kind of appropriate for a user called tinpanalley. I can't make those 78s sound that good. That guy isn't telling how he did it (though sadly isn't making a living out of it either).

Cheers,
David.
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tinpanalley
post Feb 24 2012, 22:32
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Thanks guys,
cliveb, very cool to hear from you directly. I'm definitely careful with washing the records. And I DO have a proper stylus. Ortofon 78 stylus, Ortofon stereo cartridge.
Thanks as well, 2B. Didn't realise I was doing it in the wrong order. And that guy's 78s sound great but I just want to hear them as good as I can. The idea is that I can keep the 78s unharmed and still hear them, making albums out of them digitally.

I'll try it this way and maybe I'll post some comparison files.
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tinpanalley
post Feb 27 2012, 23:46
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Hey guys,
I've got my wires straightened now. I read more and now I realise why I have to do the RIAA inverting first, and THEN change speeds. Once I do that, I think I'm going to use DeNoise and Click Repair because I'm familiar with them and they have given me great sounding transfers in the past, albeit from 33-1/3s, but still.
- Just heard about a program called Wave Corrector. Would you say it's better than DeNoise and ClickRepair?
- Do you think it's crucial that the click and noise removal be done before changing the speed from 45 to 78?

Thanks!
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cliveb
post Feb 28 2012, 09:58
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 27 2012, 22:46) *
- Just heard about a program called Wave Corrector. Would you say it's better than DeNoise and ClickRepair?

Wave Corrector is a nice program. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than ClickRepair - just different in its balance of compromises. The interface is a little peculiar, but easy to understand once you've got used to it. It has some nice features, like being able to review each proposed repair and accept/reject/modify it. Something else good about Wave Corrector is that really big pops tend to get "repaired" by a very brief mute of the high frequencies, whereas most other declickers tend to replace big pops with "thumps". (My personal view is that you should first do a manual cleanup of big pops, using something like pasting over a similar undamaged section from nearby or perhaps by spectral substitution, BEFORE you let an automatic declicker anywhere near the file).

(Note: Wave Corrector has no connection with Wave Repair, just in case anyone confuses the two names).

I haven't tried DeNoise, so can't comment.

QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 27 2012, 22:46) *
- Do you think it's crucial that the click and noise removal be done before changing the speed from 45 to 78?

I've never transferred a record at the "wrong" speed, so couldn't say for sure. But I suspect that it either doesn't matter, or will be dependent on the specific software package in use. If you're genuinely interested in getting absolutely the best results you can, you'll have to try it both ways with all your cleanup packages to find out.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 28 2012, 11:19
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 27 2012, 22:46) *
- Do you think it's crucial that the click and noise removal be done before changing the speed from 45 to 78?
It doesn't matter much, though any psychoacoustics should work better at the right speed, and it'll be quicker (fewer samples to process).

The EQ/RIAA status when declicking does make an audibl difference, but which is better depends on the software package and the clicks themselves. e.g. by processing without EQ/RIAA ("flat" = sounds like far too much treble) you may detect more moderate clicks, miss more large clicks, leave fewer high frequency artefacts but leave more low frequency bumps.

Cheers,
David.
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tinpanalley
post Feb 28 2012, 19:31
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I sometimes feel like I should have been a sound technician. The idea of the RIAA curve and how it is applied and then the idea of reversing it is fascinating to me. I'd love to really learn more about the science behind that.
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botface
post Feb 28 2012, 20:27
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I cleaned up several hundred 78's a few years ago. I don't have anything of substance to add to what's already been said but my experience was that if your original disc isn't in reasonable condition (I can't really define "reasonable") you run a high risk of simply replacing the odd noises that sometimes emanate from 78's with lots of digital artefacts, which sounds worse as they are "unreal" and you ear is immediately drawn to them. So, it's often difficult to decide when to cut your losses and just put up with a less than ideal result that's still noisier than you'd like but at least doesn't contain lots of odd sounds. If your original discs are in good shape and are later than 1926 (roughly), when electrical recording was introduced, it's quite surprising how good they can sound
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tinpanalley
post Feb 28 2012, 21:45
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What's the general thinking with clean-up of sound? Noise reduction first, click removal second? Or the other way around?
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Glenn Gundlach
post Feb 29 2012, 05:02
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 28 2012, 12:45) *
What's the general thinking with clean-up of sound? Noise reduction first, click removal second? Or the other way around?


Why don't you post a sample and let's have a 'contest' and hear who does the 'best' job? Whoever 'wins' can tell you the processes that were used. It actually sounds like fun.

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tinpanalley
post Feb 29 2012, 09:33
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That could get tricky with copyrights. Wouldn't want to get the forum in any kind of hot water legally.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 29 2012, 10:13
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 28 2012, 20:45) *
What's the general thinking with clean-up of sound? Noise reduction first, click removal second? Or the other way around?
declick first, then noise reduction.

If you denoise first, the clicks punch holes in the noise reduction, which leave little "noise tails" even after you've subsequently removed the clicks.

Cheers,
David.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 29 2012, 10:14
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Feb 29 2012, 08:33) *
That could get tricky with copyrights. Wouldn't want to get the forum in any kind of hot water legally.
Less than 30 seconds is fine.

Pre-1961 records are all out of copyright in Europe. The compositions on them may not be.

Cheers,
David.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 29 2012, 17:33
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I've attached a typical early 1930s UK 78.

Poor raw transfer (at 78rpm, but using an old deck and a lousy RIAA pre-amp).

Restoration = auto declick, auto decrackle, a little auto denoise (I think - long time since I did it!), re-EQ (by ear - not advised!), convert to mono, a little reverb (in the "difference" channel only, so listening in mono removes the added reverb).

Cheers,
David.
Attached File(s)
Attached File  teddy_crackle.flac ( 2.53MB ) Number of downloads: 142
Attached File  teddy_restored.flac ( 2.19MB ) Number of downloads: 141
 
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bandpass
post Feb 29 2012, 18:04
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Used to listen to this 78 (and the B-side) lots when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I must say, you've ruined it—it doesn't sound right without the crackle at all! wink.gif

This post has been edited by bandpass: Feb 29 2012, 18:05
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2Bdecided
post Feb 29 2012, 18:17
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QUOTE (bandpass @ Feb 29 2012, 17:04) *
Used to listen to this 78 (and the B-side) lots when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I must say, you've ruined it—it doesn't sound right without the crackle at all! wink.gif
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CCI_m6wI90
wink.gif

The BBC had special vinyl copies which didn't have many crackles in the first place...
http://rfwilmut.net/podcasts/podcast15.html

Cheers,
David.


This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Feb 29 2012, 18:18
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tinpanalley
post Mar 2 2012, 22:32
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Ugh... I transferred a bunch of 78s the other night using Audacity and I don't know if the files I saved had the RIAA inverted or not. Grrr.... mad.gif
I guess I have to start again cause there's no way to know if I did it or not. I thought I did but now I don't know.
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2Bdecided
post Mar 3 2012, 19:52
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Mar 2 2012, 21:32) *
there's no way to know if I did it or not
?!?! They sound completely and utterly different. There's 20dB less bass and 20dB more treble if you've removed the curve. This isn't subtle.

Cheers,
David.

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markanini
post Mar 3 2012, 21:10
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Definitely not subtle. Check this out though: http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/78rpm_playback_curves Theres a shitload of de-emphasis curves for 78rpm's.

This post has been edited by markanini: Mar 3 2012, 21:12
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tinpanalley
post Mar 5 2012, 01:42
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Am I crazy to think that when I invert the RIAA curve the sound gets worse? The surface noise becomes far more prominent. I would imagine however that underneath that noise, the music itself is also having certain elements amplified and elevated but it's harder to tell under the amplified noise (A bit like trying to bring up the levels on a digital picture and battling with not blowing out the pixels to the point where you can see them?)
In any event, all other editing of the sound will clearly have to be done by my own ear but it IS safe to assume that ANY 78 needs the RIAA curve inverted right?
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Porcus
post Mar 5 2012, 02:57
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QUOTE (tinpanalley @ Mar 5 2012, 01:42) *
Am I crazy to think that when I invert the RIAA curve the sound gets worse? The surface noise becomes far more prominent.
Well the EQ applied to the signal before the master (and which you have to apply to cancel the EQ applied in your phono stage), tilts the frequency response. Less bass, more treble. That's part of the idea; the bass in the vinyl should be down at a level where it wouldn't bounce the needle out of the groove, and treble should be amplified (still in the vinyl) to raise above the surface noise. If your old recordings did not have much treble, then what you are amplifying is main part noise, not much music.


QUOTE
In any event, all other editing of the sound will clearly have to be done by my own ear but it IS safe to assume that ANY 78 needs the RIAA curve inverted right?

They were recorded with other EQ curves -- at least, after electric amplification was introduced. You should apply the inverse RIAA curve to compensate for what your phono stage does, and then you should apply the masterhouse-specific curve to equalize what that record company did before pressing. You might as well implement the difference (correct curve minus RIAA curve) -- one per record. Whether applying the RIAA inversion only, is better or worse than zero -- I have no idea at all!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization#History leads you to
http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/s...restoration.pdf . Not even the “78” was universal!

This post has been edited by Porcus: Mar 5 2012, 03:13


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tinpanalley
post Mar 5 2012, 03:24
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I'm not understanding how to create my own curves, though. The RIAA curve is programmed into Audacity and I see the values other label curves have but I don't get how to turn those values into curves?
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botface
post Mar 5 2012, 10:15
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I'm sure your instinct is to try to recover the original sound of these records as accurately as possible but, as you're finding, that isn't straightforward - especially as different eq curves were used by different companies over the years. Ultimately your ears are the best judge.

In many ways the RIAA eq is doing you some favours. It reduces "treble" and hence noise and gives you a bass lift. If you don't like the result. You have a few of options. Reverse the RIAA eq as you're trying to do and re-eq it to your own taste. Record it flat in the first place - maybe use a mic preamp that won't have RIAA eq built in - then eq to your own requirements. Or just play around with whatever you've captured to try to improve it.

I'm reluctant to give you any specific advice because almost all of my experience was with one label's records from the mid 1920's so it may not be relevant to the ones you're working with. And as I said in an earlier post, the condition of the records has a very big influence on the tools you use and the final result. One thing I found helpful though was to high pass at around 110hZ or so (the actual frequency is best chosen by ear) as anything below that is likely to be noise and in any case it makes the sound a bit less "muddy". Also when eq'ing remember that you can lower some frequencies. You don't always have to be boosting levels. You might also find it helpful to listen to some professionally restored 78's - there's lots of stuff around on CD that are very cheap - and try to produce a similar sound. Or have a look at the frequency distribution in your audio editor and try to reproduce it.
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