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78's On Your Stereo ... without spending a fortune!

One of the primary problems facing the 78 collector today is simply "how do you play these things?" Using an old acoustic machine is unarguably authentic (especially so for those of our group who are more interested in machines than records) but the heavy arm and poor durability of the steel needles carbine to shorten the life of a favourite disc fairly drastically; additionally, acoustic reproduction on anything short of the Victor "Orthophonic" fails to do auditory justice to an electric record.

On the other hand, the mention of the "78" in your local stereo emporium will, according to the sophistication of the salesman, produce either an incredulous stare or an opportunity to view equipment whose price starts at more money than is possible to comprehend and goes upward therefrom! While it is possible to acquire contemporary equipment which will play 78's, and I have had the opportunity to view some quite impressive installations belonging to advanced collectors, both price and availability make these set-ups impractical to the everyday record collector who simply wants to listen to his collection comfortably while preserving his favourite discs. There is, however, a solution, although I have yet to see it discussed in print.

The method? Well, first acquire an old monophonic or early stereophonic record player with a 78 speed and a working turntable. Make sure that it runs quietly and smoothly, and at the proper speed. One word of caution: in Canada, much electrical equipment was intended for 25 cycle current, and will be so marked on the nameplate. THIS WILL NOT RUN AT THE PROPER SPEED!! (If set to "33", however, it will run at close to 78.) Check it to see if there is any sound, although it is not a problem if there is not. If you are fortunate, the player will take a pitchfork-shaped needle, with the fork end fitting under a small setscrew. If this is the case, and if there is sound from it, you can go directly to Step 4.

Step 1: If there is no sound from the machine, but touching the wires leading from the cartridge down the arm produces a hum or, if the machine takes a different type of needle, remove the old cartridge. Pull the two (or four) leads off the cartridge and remove the two screws holding it in place.

Step 2: Acquire an Astatic 420 or 422 replacement cartridge, otherwise known as a "Standard Mono Turnover Cartridge", or equivalent which takes the fork-shaped needle.

Step 3: Install the new cartridge. It should have instructions with it, but in any case it will come with a bracket, which the same two screws removed previously will attach to the arm. Put the two leads back on; they will usually just push on the pins on the cartridge, although they may require a bit of adjustment. At worst, you will have to solder new ends on the two leads to fit the pins; these come with the cartridge.

Step 4: Cut the two wires from the cartridge, after they leave the arm, probably underneath. Solder a cord having a phono plug (RCA plug) at the other end. These are available at Radio Shack. You now have an output.

Step 5: Plug this cord into the "Aux" socket on your stereo (tuner, receiver, etc.) Set the stereo to "Aux". Turn the treble down. You can now listen to 78's on your stereo! The replacement needle you will need is an Astatic N8-3d, which can be ordered from Astatic through Radio Shack. This is a diamond needle and will last for 100-300 hours of use. PLEASANT LISTENING!