Transferring 78 RPM Records - Buzzing?

Hello All,

I’m a fan of classical 78s and have been transferring numerous 78 RPM records via my Audio Technica 120 player and Audacity, which for the most part works great.

I’ve been having a small problem involving some (but not all) vocal records - at certain frequencies, there’s a buzzing noise clearly set off by the singer. I’m not sure if this is from the original acoustic recording technology, or if it’s something related to my set-up. When I play the same record on my acoustic machine (a Victrola), I don’t get that buzzing sound.

For an example of this, here’s a transfer of a record:

This buzzing occurs throughout the recording when the baritone sings certain pitches. I’ve tried messing with the weight of the tone arm, but this doesn’t have any effect. Most vocal records are totally fine, but everyone once in a while, I’ll hear this buzzing. Any ideas?

Thank you!

You can leave the stylus weight exactly where it’s supposed to be.

Did you have any trouble finding a 78 needle for your cartridge?


I’d be tempted to chop-off just about everything above 3kHz using the equalizer , as beyond 3kHz it’s mostly noise …

78-3K equalization ‘curve’.xml (339 Bytes)

Thanks, all - using that curve is pretty amazing!

Re. the stylus, I use a Shure78 that seems to work pretty well.


When I play the same record on my acoustic machine (a Victrola), I don’t get that buzzing sound…

…Thanks, all - using that curve is pretty amazing!

Ahh!!! The Victrola has limited frequency response, of course. I think there were some “high fidelity” 78s made in the 1950s, and these should sound better on modern equipment (although the RIAA equalization may not be ideal.*)

An older record made to be played on an acoustic phonograph will probably sound better filtered to match the sound characteristics of an acoustic phonograph.

I’ve only heard an acoustic phonograph once. I don’t know if it was a Victrola or a different brand, It was a cabinet type (with the horn hidden in the bottom of the cabinet). I was surprised by the amount of sound without any electronics!


  • I believe the RIAA EQ standard was introduced about the time of the LP. With 78s, different manufacturers were using different EQ curves at different time periods, and even though you can sometimes find the appropriate curve, the curve variations along with quality variations means that it’s usually best to just EQ 78s to taste by ear.

Re. the stylus, I use a Shure78 that seems to work pretty well.

Most of the world is determined to transfer 78s with an LP needle and that can cause physical distortion. Did you put the pressure back to the recommended value? Does that turntable have skating, tracking, etc, controls?

That’s the obvious difference between a physical record player and the turntable. If only the turntable has the distortion, that’s not a bad place to look. Unless there are overload problems, everything from the phono preamp downstream can’t make up their own sound. Only the physical part, needle, cartridge, arm, etc, can do that.


It’s possible to add [generate] harmonics to make it sound less-muffled, ( but then it’s no-longer a faithful recording of the 78)
before-after harmonics added.png

Hi All,

Trebor - thank you for the Harmonics Generator - I’ll give it a whirl. Thanks again for the suggested equalization curve, I was able to clean up a previously near-unlistenable record with it!

Koz - I never even tried the 78s I own with an LP stylus, I was afraid it would damage them. Unfortunately, with 78s, it seems that there’s no real “recommended value” for stylus pressure - for warped records, the stylus has to be heavier in order to avoid the needle bouncing out of the groove, but that weight with a non-warped record results in an ugly sound. It seems like trial and error every time I put a new record on. Re. the original buzzing issue, I still haven’t figured out what part of the set-up isn’t working, but it only happens with male voices at certain pitches (!). I’ll just have to keep tinkering.

DVDoug - I was really floored when I first put an acoustic record on the Victrola and played it - in the past, I listened to CD transfers of records done by guys with magic ears like Ward Marston, nice full-bodied versions that don’t try to kill all the hiss/crackle. Hearing Caruso’s voice come out of the Victrola was a completely different ballgame, however. I’m a classical musician with good ears, so that’s not just an emotional reaction; the sound is much more immediate, the timbre of the voice much more life-like. That isn’t true of all the records I play on there, but it’s true of most of them. That being said, the records sound pretty good when transferred to a digital format too!

At the moment, I transfer the disc, use DeClick, then do the RIAA Inversion, a LowPass filter, Normalize, and now this Equalization. Done in that order, the result is good, though I’m sure it can be improved.


it seems that there’s no real “recommended value” for stylus pressure

I bet there’s a recommended pressure for the cartridge. The stylus and shaft are only in the middle of their range at one pressure. Anywhere else they start snugging up against the tunnel where the sensing happens causing non-symmetrical distortion.

That’s not to say some records don’t demand that. You have to go where the groove goes. But I don’t believe the manufacturer didn’t give you a starting value.


It’s worth checking to see if the buzzing is in both channels, If it’s only in one (left or tight) then you can discard the buzzy one as you 78 I fairly likely to be a mono. recording.

You can use Split stereo to mono to from the Track Control Panel:

Then listen to each track independently by using the mute button in the Track Control Panel to silence the other track.

Then delete the buzzy track.

If the buzzing is sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other then you can get into some more tricky editing which we can discuss later if you need it.