Skip to main content
Topic: Vinyl vs. Shellac (Read 10215 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Accidentally I found on the Internet that before vinyl apparition was used the shellac until the '50s on the western countries and until the '70s on the eastern countries.

Which one is better? Which sounds more naturally?

Only the 78 rpm records are made from shellac? All 78 rpm records are made from shellac?

How to clean a shellac record? Is it different?

How can I find out if a disc is made from vinyl or shellac let's say?

A shellac record does use RIAA standard or not?

If playing the shellac record does it suffer a "peeling" by needle which sediments on it?

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #1
Called away before could finish

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #2
Accidentally I found on the Internet that before vinyl apparition was used the shellac until the '50s on the western countries and until the '70s on the eastern countries.

Which one is better? Which sounds more naturally?

Only the 78 rpm records are made from shellac? All 78 rpm records are made from shellac?

How to clean a shellac record? Is it different?

How can I find out if a disc is made from vinyl or shellac let's say?

A shellac record does use RIAA standard or not?

If playing the shellac record does it suffer a "peeling" by needle which sediments on it?

I can't give you all the answers, but shellac discs are stiff where vinyl is flexible.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #3
Wikipedia has some good information.

Quote
Which one is better? Which sounds more naturally?
Polycarbonate.       

Vinyl is generally better than shellac.  But, a lot of that improvement is because technology got better over time.  That is, in the 1970s someone probably could have made a much better sounding shellac than what was made in the 1940s.  And of course, most shellac records are older and more worn-out and damaged than most vinyl records.

Quote
A shellac record does use RIAA standard or not?
No.    Before the RIAA standard, every manufacturer had their own standards.    I found some information here

Many of those older gramophones didn't have any electronics...  Just a horn for acoustic amplification.  So any playback EQ was due to the mechanical characteristics of the pick-up and the acoustical characteristics of the horn.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #4
Some people like to clean LPs with alcohol (generally isopropyl), often mixed with water, sometime with detergent added. Alcohol will destroy (melt) shellac. Also, too long being wet (with water) will soften shellac.

I am pretty sure shellac has a significant higher intrinsic surface noise.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #5
Accidentally I found on the Internet that before vinyl apparition was used the shellac until the '50s on the western countries and until the '70s on the eastern countries.

Which one is better? Which sounds more naturally?


Wood sounds more natural. Google playing tree rings. Obviously wood must sound more natural, because.

(But tree rings are not spiral)

Quote
Only the 78 rpm records are made from shellac? All 78 rpm records are made from shellac?


It is obvious, but I'm telling myself that not everyone is more than a bit old, like some of us, and there are degrees of obvious, based on experience. eg. age.

As far as I can remember, all 78s were made of shellac. All mine were, but perhaps somebody knows of exceptions.

Quote
How to clean a shellac record? Is it different?


The grooves are, relatively, huge. A dustpan and brush might be more appropriate than microfibre! 

I think I'm right in saying that the 33.3rpm records were known, by comparison, as micro-groove. The difference is really visible.

Quote
How can I find out if a disc is made from vinyl or shellac let's say?


Break it? Shellac records were not just stiff, they were very fragile. Do not bend, do not drop. It would be very easy to reduce a shellac record to dust and grit. On the other hand, vinyl records, although easily rendered unplayable, are very tough indeed. Did anybody else take their most hated record from the collection and attempt to destroy it? Sacrilege, I know, but hey, we were young*.

[quote author=DVDdoug link=msg=0 date=]Vinyl is generally better than shellac. But, a lot of that improvement is because technology got better over time.[/quote]

Back in the 1950s, playing mostly stuff my parents had bought years before, although some new records entered the house too, I recall the combination of shellac and Radiogram as being pretty bad. More recently, friends have referred me to shellac rips that are actually quite good.
Quote
Many of those older gramophones didn't have any electronics... Just a horn for acoustic amplification.

Well, once, they all were. We had a wind-up gramophone, but in 1950s it was considered a bit of a toy --- or something to use when the radiogram had blown yet another valve.

There was a big overlap of shellac and vinyl. "Deprived" children like me were still listening to shellac when others were already enjoying stereo LPs. My parents did not see music reproduction as something worth spending [more] money on.

Given the overlap, was there  no RIAA/equivalent standard applied to later 78s?



*It was Leonard Cohen. File under too-much-information.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #6
This site - http://78records.cdbpdx.com/ - has hundreds of 78s digitised to mp3.

Disc conditions vary, so some sound a lot more noisy than others. However, the very first track I downloaded was the Hoagy Carmichael version of 'Darktown Strutters Ball', which must have been a really clean disc. Well worth a listen - great performance, too!

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #7
As far as I can remember, all 78s were made of shellac. All mine were, but perhaps somebody knows of exceptions.
There were some vinylite 78s in the 1950s in the UK, mostly on the Pye/Nixa label. It feels like a hardened version of modern vinyl, to allow it to withstand a steel needle. A steel needle would destroy modern vinyl.

Quote
Given the overlap, was there  no RIAA/equivalent standard applied to later 78s?
There's a British standard from the 1950s. It's not at all the same as RIAA, but it's closer than the earlier standards.

Early LPs were all over the place too. LPs pre-dated RIAA, just. Early high-quality LP pre-amps had more than one setting for LPs (and more than one for 78s too) : http://www.ebay.ph/itm/Original-Vintage-H-...p-/171321917956 and/or even a variable setting to cover all bases: http://www.44bx.com/leak/Varislope_II.html


Even mint condition 78s "made from shellac" (shellac isn't the biggest component of "shellac" discs) are never as quiet as vinyl. They range from slightly more noisy, to dramatically more noisy, depending on the quality of the mixture. It was made rough to grind down steel needles to fit the grooves. Groove sizes and profiles weren't standard either. Using an LP stylus to play a 78 sounds awful - it's far too small and just bounces around on the bottom of the groove.

Mint vinyl(ite) 78s can sound very good. There were also historic re-issues, pressed onto modern vinyl in the 1970s from original 1900s-1930s stampers. These were designed for playback on modern turntables (with suitable speed, stylus, and pre-amp of course). You can't play them back on a gramophone. They sound as good as the original stampers allow.

Cheers,
David.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #8
As far as I can remember, all 78s were made of shellac. All mine were, but perhaps somebody knows of exceptions.


All of my 78's in the mid and late 50's were vinyl. My parents had older ones which IIRC were also vinyl. Thus was while I was living in New York City.

I still fondly remember going to a record store, Where they would have listening booths. There one could listen to the whole album before they decided to buy it.
Glass half full!

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #9
As far as I can remember, all 78s were made of shellac. All mine were, but perhaps somebody knows of exceptions.


All of my 78's in the mid and late 50's were vinyl. My parents had older ones which IIRC were also vinyl. Thus was while I was living in New York City.


I wonder if this might have been a USA/UK thing? As far as I know, I have never even seen a 78rpm record made of the same sort of flexible, non-brittle material as all the 33/45s I've seen.

Thinking about it, though, there was could have been a difference between my parents' oldest then-surviving records and the ones bought in the fifties. Perhaps all "shellac" is not equal?

Random memorabilia:

i. Shellac: I had a box of the stuff once, bought, but never used (like the box of pitch) for some jewellery-making project. Redish-brown flakes.

ii. The first non-classical "vinyl" I ever bought was the album pictured in your avatar.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #10
ii. The first non-classical "vinyl" I ever bought was the album pictured in your avatar.


Well, that was a major departure from classical! "Grandchester Meadows" is still is  one of my favorite songs and also has my favorite ending.
Glass half full!

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #11
Accidentally I found on the Internet that before vinyl apparition was used the shellac until the '50s on the western countries and until the '70s on the eastern countries.

Which one is better? Which sounds more naturally?

Only the 78 rpm records are made from shellac? All 78 rpm records are made from shellac?

How to clean a shellac record? Is it different?

How can I find out if a disc is made from vinyl or shellac let's say?


Shellac and vinyl are not the only alternatives.

Kink to Wikipedia Article on old records

"The earliest disc records (1889–1894) were made of various materials including hard rubber. Around 1895, a shellac-based compound was introduced and became standard. Exact formulas for this compound varied by manufacturer and over the course of time, but it was typically composed of about one-third shellac and about two-thirds mineral filler, which meant finely pulverized rock, usually slate and limestone, with an admixture of cotton fibers to add tensile strength, carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a "dirty" gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive), and a very small amount of a lubricant to facilitate mold release during manufacture. Some makers, notably Columbia Records, used a laminated construction with a core disc of coarser material or fiber. The production of shellac records continued until the end of the 78 rpm format (i.e., the late 1950s in most developed countries, but well into the 1960s in some other places), but increasingly less abrasive formulations were used during its declining years and very late examples in truly like-new condition can have as low noise levels as vinyl.
"
78s were commonly played with steel needles and/or on acoustical players until they went out of service in the middle 1950s. The disks were intentionally made abrasive to make the needles self-sharpening.  Thus finely ground minerals were commonly used as fillers. The fillers also reduced materials costs.

Quote
A shellac record does use RIAA standard or not?


Generally not. RIAA is designed for LP  playback.

Quote
If playing the shellac record does it suffer a "peeling" by needle which sediments on it?


Playing any record wears it out.  The old 78s with mineral abrasive built in will hasten the demise of even diamonds.

The best way to obtain the best possible sound quality from a 78 is to have a good parametric equalizer and train your ears how to use it.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #12
carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a "dirty" gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive)

A few LPs have been released in recent years without the black colouring. The record companies were right; they do look rather unattractive. Disc of snot, anyone?

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #13
carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a "dirty" gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive)

A few LPs have been released in recent years without the black colouring. The record companies were right; they do look rather unattractive. Disc of snot, anyone?


I've wondered why there are not more "Limited edition: black vinyl" around :-p

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #14
I've wondered why there are not more "Limited edition: black vinyl" around :-p


 

There are plenty of limited edition black vinyl releases, from just a cursory Google search.

That said, if I do buy a new album on vinyl, I try to get the fancy colored vinyl releases because I think they're really neat to look at. And I think it's sort of fitting with vinyl releases for bands that play 60s/70s-style metal and rock. For second-hand albums, black is king, because colored or otherwise special releases tend to command huge premiums.

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #15
> colored or otherwise special releases tend to command huge premiums.

Is that because a special release ( = $$) is often put on colored vinyl, or is it just a weird ripoff thing where merely colored = $$?

Vinyl vs. Shellac

Reply #16
> colored or otherwise special releases tend to command huge premiums.

Is that because a special release ( = $$) is often put on colored vinyl, or is it just a weird ripoff thing where merely colored = $$?


The first reason. They're usually only limited edition runs, because it's more labor-intensive to produce colored or spattered or otherwise non-standard LPs.

For new albums, the difference is usually $5-10 over the standard version for the albums I have, but for second-hand albums, I've seen them go for 10 times as much as a standard version, sometimes a lot more.

 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2018