How do I listen to 78 RPM records?
Connect the components as shown in the diagram using stereo
to interconnect the turntable to the preamplifier and the preamplifier to
the power amplifier. Physically arrange the components in your choice
of rack or stand [see Note 1], and then buy (or use cables you already
have) that are not overly long. That is, its neater to use a 3 foot
cable when a 3 foot cable is long enough.
Then connect the power amplifier output connectors to the loudspeakers using speaker cables. I agree with others in the industry who believe speaker cables should be at least eight feet long for best sound quality. Technically, this does not make good sense but I agree that it sounds better.
New three-speed turntables (33-1/3, 45 and 78 RPM) are primarily DJ equipment. They have short, straight pickup arms and they work very well for listening to or restoring 78s. These records are all more than 50 years old and are often worn or warped. The straight tone arm is very resistant to "skating" which is the tendency for the pickup stylus to jump out of the groove. We use a three-speed Stanton model STR8-80 for copying and restoring 78 music and it works very well. You also need a pickup cartridge and stylus just for 78s because the grooves are wider than on LPs and 45s. Please see our page on buying audio equipment for some suggestions.
Thorens, among others, does make some fine quality three-speed turntables but I hesitate to recommend them for two reasons: first, as I mentioned above, the standard "S-shaped" tone arm is not very resistant to skating. Second, you have to remember to change the pickup cartridge when you shift from the microgroove LPs and 45s to wide groove 78s. Playing a microgroove record with a much wider 78 stylus quickly and permanently damages it. The interchangeable cartridge heads used on modern turntables makes it easy to make the switch, the problem is remembering to do it. All things considered, I still think it's better to use two turntables if you want to play both microgroove and wide groove records.
With a 78 RPM turntable as the music source, your preamp must boost the signal from the pickup cartridge and provide equalization to compensate for the recording method. There were many equalizations used and they varied by record label and year. We have a rather extensive table of them in our models 407 and 408 User Guides. Please click here to download a copy of the model 408 Guide. I'm also suggesting you take a look at our phono preamps for 78s as they offer excellent performance at reasonable prices.
TDL® Model 407 Battery-powered universal
TDL® Model 408 Mains-powered universal
78s are so old there aren't many new preamps that you can set to the proper equalizations, so you may want to consider our model 407 or 408. If you do use a TDL® preamp, connect the cables to the "Input" connectors. Some turntables provide a separate wire that connects to the 'table frame. Connecting this wire to the blue binding post usually results in better performance by lowering the noise that is picked up.) Reading the Phono section of your preamp User Guide or Owner's Manual is also a good idea! (It may also be helpful to review the information on our Audio restoration page.)
Loudspeaker placement is field of study in itself. Sometimes the room simply dictates where you will have to place the 'speakers but it's better if you can experiment with placement for best sound quality. There is a lot of information on the web and I'm listing some sites that may be useful. Also, if you are technically inclined, CaraCAD is an example of some inexpensive computer software that can help with room analysis for best 'speaker placement.
For information on CaraCAD go to www.cara.de. You can buy it in the US from www.audioXpress.com .
Note 1: Audio Advisor, Inc. has a large variety of audio component racks and stands. You can call 800-942-0220 to request a copy of their printed catalog or you can visit them online at www.audioadvisor.com . Stands that are all-metal should be avoided because they tend to vibrate which adds unpleasant sounds to your music! Wood or wood-composition shelves with wood or metal supports work fine.