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Playing a 104 year old record - Enrico Caruso


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Getting a huge kick out of playing this very old record.  A 12" shellac 78 - Santa Lucia recorded in 1916 by Enrico Caruso.

 

IMG20200924145338.jpg.1e453b22df2c4a2c214e69e38d4352cb.jpg

 

I was able to make it sound quite good and listenable using my home brew digital phono preamp (link to thread below)

 

 

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Getting a huge kick out of playing this very old record.  A 12" shellac 78 - Santa Lucia recorded in 1916 by Enrico Caruso.     I was able to make it sound quite good and listenab

Congratulations @aussievintage  on your preamp project.   How did you come by the 78rpm disc?   Fascinating that in playing it you are recreating sound waves produced 104 years ago!    

I just played  Danube Waves, and was able to compare what I was hearing to the carefully restored version in the US archives (which they used 4 different sized styluses to create) and I reckon my copy

Congratulations @aussievintage  on your preamp project.

 

How did you come by the 78rpm disc?   Fascinating that in playing it you are recreating sound waves produced 104 years ago!  

 

Of course you'd be getting better sound with your modern stylus and cartridge, than the sound from a purely mechanical 78rpm setup, though such sound can be surprisingly good. For example I don't know whether the recording below on Youtube is truly based on the sound emerging from the gramophone horn rather than from a modern pickup. If it's from a horn, it's remarkably good!  Caruso had an exceptionally fine operatic tenor voice. His interpretation and tone shine through in this recording of Santa Lucia, despite its by current technical standards very low audio quality:-

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

Congratulations @aussievintage  on your preamp project.

Thanks

 

1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

How did you come by the 78rpm disc?

When I became interested in old recordings, I bought some bulk lots from gumtree.  It was in one of them.

 

1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

Fascinating that in playing it you are recreating sound waves produced 104 years ago!  

 

Of course you'd be getting better sound with your modern stylus and cartridge, than the sound from a purely mechanical 78rpm setup, though such sound can be surprisingly good.

For sure.  I do have a couple of windup mechanical gramophones, and the sound is very much as per that youtube video.  They work because of the limited bandwidth.  I have to use software filters to do the same thing to eliminate as much noise as possible from what the more modern system picks up off the old record.  It is surprising that an old record, that's been played by steel needles, still retains that much clear information.

 

 

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I found a couple of Caruso's in my stash, probably some more. Must be over 500 78's to sort out. 

All ineed of a clean, quite a few in bad shape, but many just need a good clean.

Can you still buy pouches for them? 

Silverfish have wrecked a lot of them.

They are ridiculously heavy.

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The replacement 10" sleeves are quite expensive for what you get.  I've spent a lot of time looking for suitably sized envelopes to cut down, with the intention of getting a cutting compass to get the hole to view the label.  Unfortunately, I can't find anything the right size (and I don't want to be getting oversize). 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

The replacement 10" sleeves are quite expensive for what you get. 

 

 

 

I purchased 50 ready made ones.   But I only use them for pristine or rare shellac.   Most old records are well scuffed and I just try to have those with covers interleaved with those that don't.  I have this old stack of Bing Crosby that simply aren't worth the effort or cost of covers :) 

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I put the copy of  al donna i found on the gramophone and cranked her. Pretty impressive, especially on the high notes. Unfortunately the rest I found so far of Caruso were cracked or chipped. 

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If youre looking for old stuff heres a guy I used to work with.  He used to run Vintage Jazz Mart, looks like hes retired from there but still has his own site.  I remember he had an amazing setup to play just any sort of record and electronics built by a mate at the BBC

 

http://www.jazzhound.net/

 

http://www.vjm.biz/about-vjm.html

 

 

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

Just another pic that shows the nice little Luxman amp I am using.  Currently playing 1923 recording of the Coldstream Guards - "The daughter of the regiment"

 

IMG20200928161229.jpg.5d4523f62ea30544bab53fd100b3103d.jpg

That title sounds a bit dodgy.. Couldn't they tell which one was the father?

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On 25/09/2020 at 12:01 PM, audiofeline said:

There is a lot of fantastic music neglected in old grooves. 

Enough of the vinyl resurgence - we need a shellac resurgence!

Yeah, but the lack of modern artists on them would kill it for most..

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Just now, bob_m_54 said:

Yeah, but the lack of modern artists on them would kill it for most..

Maybe, but tracks like "Room for the factotum"  and "Santa Lucia" are timeless.  I bet everyone's heard them before and would enjoy them still. :) 

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On 25/09/2020 at 3:34 PM, surprisetech said:

Joan Baez would agree.

 

 

Speaking of voices though, I think Joan would have to be the most listenable vocalist I can think of. She's definitely my favourite anyway. Such a pure voice, especially in hey younger years.

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Just now, aussievintage said:

Maybe, but tracks like "Room for the factotum"  and "Santa Lucia" are timeless.  I bet everyone's heard them before and would enjoy them still. :) 

Sorry, just my attempt at ironical humour...

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I just played  Danube Waves, and was able to compare what I was hearing to the carefully restored version in the US archives (which they used 4 different sized styluses to create) and I reckon my copy must be better than the one they had, because I preferred mine :) 

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Just now, aussievintage said:

No probs.  👍

It is pretty damn amazing though, that you can do that. And with something you designed and built yourself. No small feat there mate.

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Sorry for the back ground noise and poor filming. Guess the record could do with a better clean aswell. Sounds much better in real life...

 

 

 

Edited by awty
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11 minutes ago, awty said:

Sorry for the back ground noise and poor filming. Guess the record could do with a better clean aswell. Sounds much better in real life...

 

 

 

 

I bet it does.  Who is that?  Sounds a bit different to the Caruso I have heard.  Judging by the orange small label, it is something a bit later - although it may be a re-pressing of an older recording.

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6 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I bet it does.  Who is that?  Sounds a bit different to the Caruso I have heard.  Judging by the orange small label, it is something a bit later - although it may be a re-pressing of an older recording.

I thought they were hand carved back then.. 😉

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1 minute ago, bob_m_54 said:

I thought they were hand carved back then.. 😉

Although you joke,  they even dubbed older 78s onto a new master, repressed,  and sold them.  The quality, if the source was an acoustic recording, was probably as good as the original though.

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1 minute ago, aussievintage said:

Although you joke,  they even dubbed older 78s onto a new master, repressed,  and sold them.  The quality, if the source was an acoustic recording, was probably as good as the original though.

Yeah don't get me wrong though. I'm not taking the p1ss. It still amazes me the things they could do back in those days.. Not only audio recording, but I still have 2 or 3 of, hundred year or plus photographs, on a metal backing. To look at them in real life it's difficult to see a lot of detail, but with a bit of digital manipulation, you can improve the picture heaps..

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2 minutes ago, bob_m_54 said:

Yeah don't get me wrong though. I'm not taking the p1ss. It still amazes me the things they could do back in those days.. Not only audio recording, but I still have 2 or 3 of, hundred year or plus photographs, on a metal backing. To look at them in real life it's difficult to see a lot of detail, but with a bit of digital manipulation, you can improve the picture heaps..

Good parallel to what is happening when I take an acoustic recording, or other early recording, process the audio and play it back on a modern system.

 

Something unusual I just played.  Sort of historically interesting

 

IMG20200928184422.jpg.740b836e7aaed4ab4c75d5c6f137c4a0.jpg

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1 minute ago, awty said:

was recorded live at the Chatswood hotel. In the beer garden.

Yep..  toldya.. LOL

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35 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I bet it does.  Who is that?  Sounds a bit different to the Caruso I have heard.  Judging by the orange small label, it is something a bit later - although it may be a re-pressing of an older recording.

Is pretty bad way, other side has worse surface cracks.

20200928_190505.jpg

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On 24/09/2020 at 3:03 PM, aussievintage said:

 

Getting a huge kick out of playing this very old record.  A 12" shellac 78 - Santa Lucia recorded in 1916 by Enrico Caruso.

 

 

In the late 70s, EMI released a double LP containing tracks they had recorded over 75 years from 1898 ("A Voice to Remember ").  Obviously, most of these recordings were originally released on shellac 78s - but the compendium:

  • starts with a recording from 1898 - which I think was from a wax cylinder
  • and ends with a couple of recordings from 1973 - which, presumably, were stereo.

One of the tracks is Caruso singing "Studenti, udite " - recorded in 1902.

 

But the reason I have kept this box set is the recording of the last castrato - Alessandro Moreschi, singing "Ave Maria " (recorded in 1904).  The voice can be likened to a cat caterwauling ... I guess he must've been quite old in 1904.  :huh:

 

On 24/09/2020 at 3:03 PM, aussievintage said:

 

I was able to make it sound quite good and listenable using my home brew digital phono preamp (link to thread below)

 

 

I'm sure your software-based phono stage did a great job.  :thumb: Maybe you need to build up your collection of 78s?  :)

 

Andy

 

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1 minute ago, andyr said:

I'm sure your software-based phono stage did a great job.  :thumb: Maybe you need to build up your collection of 78s?  :)

Sssh, don't let my wife hear you.  I do have several hundred of the heavy buggers.     Ever tried to lift a craft box - i.e. a solid cube of 12" 78s?     I keep them all on the lowest shelves of my record library, to prevent sagging...

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2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Sssh, don't let my wife hear you.  I do have several hundred of the heavy buggers.     Ever tried to lift a craft box - i.e. a solid cube of 12" 78s?     I keep them all on the lowest shelves of my record library, to prevent sagging...

Sagging should be restricted to Hiphop, not for Opera

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7 minutes ago, andyr said:

In the late 70s, EMI released a double LP containing tracks they had recorded over 75 years from 1898 ("A Voice to Remember ").  Obviously, most of these recordings were originally released on shellac 78s - but the compendium:

  • starts with a recording from 1898 - which I think was from a wax cylinder
  • and ends with a couple of recordings from 1973 - which, presumably, were stereo.

One of the tracks is Caruso singing "Studenti, udite " - recorded in 1902.

 

But the reason I have kept this box set is the recording of the last castrato - Alessandro Moreschi, singing "Ave Maria " (recorded in 1904).  The voice can be likened to a cat caterwauling ... I guess he must've been quite old in 1904.  :huh:

You see, I would have kept the box set just because of the historical interest.   What a great opportunity for everyone to listen to the technology as it developed!

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10 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

I'm sure your software-based phono stage did a great job.  :thumb: 

Appreciate that.   and,  guess what the commonest setting is for rumble and scratch.  Sharp cutoff,    100 - 4000 Hz.

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4 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Zoom, right over my head lol :) 

Sagging

 

Edit: As luck would have it, I'm currently listening to four cued up albums of Hip Hop.. Not my usual listening fair, but variety and all that..

Edited by bob_m_54
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