Recording 78 rpm records

Hello, newbie here.
Please be gentle with me.
My partner and I are new to Audacity. We are working on a project to record a sequence of 78 rprm records played on wind up machines.
We are having a problem with the sound quality in soft passages and especially with vocals.
There is probably a technical term for the problem but I don’t know what it is, so the best way I can describe it is that the sound comes and goes. Flutters. Has holes in it. Visually, a sound that should be ________ records as _ _ _ _ _.
We have tried using effects such as amplify and limiter to even out the sound but we can’t get rid of this problem.
Could any kind soul explain what is causing the problem and what we could try?
Apologies if this is a very naive question.

Dynamic-range-compression will make quiet louder & loud quieter, but it can’t replace missing sounds.

Thanks will try that.

The puzzle is that no sound is missing when playing the record. What sounds like a simple sustained quiet note when listening to the record, plays back a mess.

Check that Windows Sound “Enhancements” are all disabled (see: Why do my recordings fade out or sound as if they were made in a tunnel?)

So how are you recording (given that you are playing them on wind-up gramophones) what is your recording chain?

Any particular reason why you are not using a modern turntable with a stylus suitable for shellac 78s mounted on the cartridge ?


Thank you @Trebor, we had a play with that this morning, not sure it made a lot of difference but will try again adjusting the settings.

@Steve I think they are off.

@waxcylinder It is very basic, we are simply using a mike plugged into a laptop.
Some of the records are very old and really need a heavier pickup than our modern turntable but ultimately the reason is that eventually I would like to try and put the audio track to a video showing records being played on a range of different machines [my partner collects gramophones and 78s and does (or rather used to do and is hoping to again) talks about the machines and a bit of wind up DJ’ing, and I wanted to put together a kind of audio+video demo sample of a talk to put on his website]. We could try recording them from electric, we do have a 78 stylus but it would be cheating to stick that recording onto a video of the machines :frowning: I don’t think he would go for it.
Noticing your name waxcylinder, in fact we have also recorded a couple of cylinders using a mike, and we had the exactly same problem with the quiet passages flickering in and out on the recording although they don’t when it is playing live.

(He put a few recordings on a blog post yesterday and is awaiting feedback from his followers, I won’t post the link here because a) as a newbie on the forum it might seem pushy and b) we would be embarrassed because I am sure people on here would gasp in horror at the quality. But if anyone does want to listen to see the problem, because I’m not sure I described it very well, I would happily send a link if I can.)

Thanks for the advice anyway, and we will keep at it trying to improve the sound.

Thanks for that backstory 78s - most interesting.

Many years ago when I was a teenager I built up a good 78 collection (I ran the records & books stall at my Scout Troop jumble sales - so got first pickings)- including Elvis Sun records and Caruso recordings - but my parents threw them all out when I left home after a row when I was at college :unamused: :imp: :smiling_imp:

Question for you: do you get the same fluctuations if you speak into the microphone ?


Perhaps worth double checking. The symptoms that you describe sounds very much like a “noise reduction” / “echo cancellation” effect that is frequently enabled by default by Windows.

Also, some sound cards have their own “control panel” which can include effects such as noise reduction and / or echo cancellation. This is particularly common with built-in sound cards (often “Realtek”). Any sound effects / enhancements should be turned off.

Thank you Steve. I will investigate the settings on the computer further tomorrow. And will also try recording from different sources, and speaking into the microphone.

Peter you should have kept those records, they might have fetched a small fortune now. We have a couple of Elvis. And Buddy Holly, and Bil Haley. They always go down well at talks, they take a lot of the audience back down memory lane. But he also has a lot of jazz and blues, and some classical, and some oddities. We have a Dansette for the rock and roll and actually we haven’t tried recording from the Dansette yet, that another thing to try.

@Steve - Just reporting back on this. I found a Disable Enhancements box on Windows that wasn’t ticked so I ticked it and the problem seems solved. We have just re-recorded one of the records that was painful to listen to on the previous attempt, and it recorded beautifully this time.
Thank you so much Steve for your advice, it has made all the difference and we can go ahead with our little project now :slight_smile:

Super, very pleased to hear :smiley: