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World mail April 2013 issue
Letters are published first in the magazine, then here in our web archive. We cannot guarantee to answer all mail, but we do manage most!
Or comment in the Comment section at the bottom of each page.
Your experts are -
If you play 78rpm records (shellacs) then you need a 78rpm cartridge.
"I bought the Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge and find it to be excellent"
says George Hulme.
ALL THAT JAZZ
In the review of the Lux L-505U (October 2012 issue), Tony Bolton claims that Chris Barber started the British trad jazz revival in 1948. This is incorrect. George Webb formed his band playing classic/traditional jazz in 1942/43 and recorded as early as December 1943. There were similar bands playing in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham at about the same time. Ken Colyer began his band career in 1948 with the Crane River Jazz Band and he did not join Chris Barber until he returned from New Orleans in 1953. He left the band after a difference of opinion on the style that should be played in 1954.
In the review of the Da Vinci cartridge, Tony Bolton claims that his RCA Victor LP of Fats Waller was taken from 78 transcriptions. This is incorrect as the album was derived from conventional Victor and Bluebird 78 rpm commercial records. At the time of those Waller recordings, transcriptions were 16-inch diameter and played at 33 and 1/3 rpm.
Mr Bolton gives the impression that he is content with his worn and damaged Fats Waller LP. Should he wish to obtain a copy in near mint condition he should be aware that there is a thriving market in second hand jazz records with its own magazine (VJM - Vintage Jazz Music) and there are two major record fairs each year at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon and two more at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham as well as others in various venues. There are also a small number of specialist record dealers who cover jazz as well as other musical forms. The prices, unlike those for pop music, tend to be very reasonable.
Mr Melvyn Dover, whose letter gives very useful advice about cleaning records and their covers suggests the use of “sticky” tape for repairing the covers. I would suggest that ordinary adhesive tape (Scotch, Sellotape) is best avoided as the adhesive soon dries out, leaving an unsightly brown stain and the tape itself peels off. If adhesive tape is used, it should be of the archive quality such as Scotch “Magic” tape or its equivalent from other suppliers as the adhesive on that type of tape is stable.
Finally, I am surprised that none of your contributors mentions the fact that mono microgroove records, both 45 rpm and 33 & 1/3 rpm, use a larger radius groove than that on stereo records. If a mono record is played with a stereo cartridge, the stylus sits well down in the groove and the sound is degraded as a result. Proper size styli are available from specialist suppliers and make a much improved reproduction of mono records.
Finally, as a result of an article in the December issue, I bought the Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge and find it to be excellent. It tracks well at the recommended 1.8 g on conventional 78s and acetates while reducing the surface noise which I think shows that the stylus profile is accurate. I bought it partly because I use the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge for stereo LPs. I noted that Ortofon also list a 2M mono cartridge for mono vinyl. However, although the cartridge body appears to be the same as that for the 2M 78 unit (at £80), the cost of the mono version is £230 with a replacement stylus price of £175. That seems to be unreasonable in comparison.
I am sure that all original mono LPs and 45s need the larger stylus. What the more recent audiophile mono LPs need could be anything.
The new Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge. No need for a wind up gramophone any more!
Thank you George for filling in gaps in my knowledge of the history of jazz. I based my comments on reading various books on jazz over the years, most of which date the start of the British Trad Jazz movement as 1948. You have the distinct advantage of being out and about in the London Jazz scene at the time, I learn from our correspondence. For those of us too young to have experienced this, you recommend a book called “History of Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950” by Jim Goldbolt. Jim was a British jazz writer and historian (and also the agent and manager of sixties group “The Swinging Blue Jeans”). A revised edition of this book was published by Northway Publications of London in 2005. (ISBN-10: 0955788811). My copy is currently on order at Amazon.
Regarding the Fats Waller LP. I do actually have a better condition copy of this record. However, the copy that I used in the review has been played by me on just about every turntable, arm and cartridge combination that I have had in the last 35 years, so I know exactly how good, or bad, it can sound depending upon the choice of equipment being used.
I am sure that I am not alone in having less-than-perfect copies of a record and I feel that it is a valid test of any arm, cartridge, turntable or phono stage to see how well they deal with extraneous noises from wear or damage. Some are considerably more forgiving than others, and their behaviour in these conditions may well be a deciding factor in a potential purchaser’s choice of equipment.
I discussed the pricing of the 2M 78 and 2M Mono cartridges with distributor Henley Designs who advised me that the difference in price is due to the greater cost of the more sophisticated stylus profile used on the 2M Mono, compared to the spherical design used on the 2M 78. I agree with you on the excellent performance of the 2M 78 cartridge as you can see in my review of it in HI-FI World, April 2013. TB
Hi George. Thanks for the corrections and your detailed knowledge of Jazz and where to buy it. I am in discussion with Ortofon and Abbey Road about the forthcoming Beatles Mono LPs, that I believe do not need a larger diameter mono stylus. Such styli were for old mono records. So there is a qualification to be made here I believe. The experts will in due course let us know about all this and we will publish the information. NK