78 RPM Restorations
We are equipped to handle just about any type of grooved medium, from early Victrola records to home recordings to dictaphone discs. If it's round and has a hole in the middle - we can restore it. Though commonly called "shellacs", commercial 78's are actually made of a materal similar to that used for radio knobs. Though the material itself is quite durable, the steel-needle "record eaters" of the day treated the groove brutally, so there is often little left to restore on many old commercial 78's.
Home recording discs
Popular in the 1940's and 1950's were the so-called "acetate" discs. They look like ordinary 78's, but have names like Recordio, Silvertone, Audiodisc, and so on. Most are aluminum-based, but glass was used during WW II when aluminum was in short supply, and many are even cardboard. They were meant to be cheap and disposable, and 60 years later, these discs present many challenges to the restorationist, such as shrinkage, delamination, alligator surface, and so on. While the results may not always be spectacular, we can usually recover the voices from deteriorated acetates. Especially notorious are the "Voice-o-Graph" records, made in coin-operated recording booths in the 1940's and 1950's. The sound quality is always awful.
We do not try to achieve a dead-silent background with source material that is inherently noisy, such as paper records. While a silent background can be initially impressive, the cost is high in terms of digital artifacts and other unpleasantness. We will always remove as much undesirable noise as is possible with today's technology, but will never push that technology to the point where it will leave a degraded signal. Things like digital artifacts and noise pumping are forever - once introduced into a signal, they can never be removed. We feel that a natural-sounding voice with a small amount of background noise is preferable to a quiet background with a voice that sounds like a bad cell phone.
Click here to hear an example of a truly bad restoration. In his mania for total silence, this "restorationist" has completely destroyed the original recording. Note the swirly digital artifacts, the pumping, the overall "canned" sound, and how his "restoration" has completely obliterated the softly-spoken passage. Those words are gone forever. And all that's left is that garbled mess.
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