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Someone tried already?

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djmukilteo Sat, 08/24/2013 - 10:36

cupakm, post: 406967 wrote: Someone tried already?

Vinyl home record cutters have been used way back in the 30's before there were tape recorders.
There were portable suitcase recorders like the one I'm currently restoring that people used in small "recording shops" as they called them....the early recording studio if you will.

I've been doing some research on a "recording shop" my Dad ran with a couple friends in Vancouver, B.C. back in the mid 40's during WWII. People would come in there to record and mail small 7" records to they're sons in the war as audio mail. There were people who also came in to record different life events, parties, anniversaries, weddings etc as well as recording band demo's, singers and local big band acts.

The one I have here I'm restoring is a US made Meissner 9-1065, but there were others like Presto and Wilcox-Gay who also made units like this.
This one has 2 mic/line input mixer, PA system amp phono playback as well as a cutter arm and an AM radio. It would cut acetate/lacquer discs at 33-1/3 or 78. You can still buy the blank discs and I've even seen some people cutting blank polycarbonate CD's!
The results of home record cutting are no where near the high quality of today's digital technology but I've noticed many young people are looking for "lo-fi" type sound and all the nostalgia that goes with it....

I'm sure there is more "soul" in that vintage work...more than what you have going on today...nowadays it takes no skill or effort to make a "record". It's just a phone app!
There is also a website forum specifically for vinyl cutting that might be of value for finding something. And of course Ebay has them up for auction from time to time.
Modern quality high end record cutting and pressing versus "home vinyl recorders" are a far cry from one another....professional equipment for that is an extremely expensive endeavor.
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mberry593 Sun, 08/25/2013 - 11:19

While I have never cut discs at home, I used to do it professionally back in the 1960s so I do know a little about it. I found it to be a frustrating, unpleasant experience because the lathe operator needs to make some often heartbreaking decisions about sacrificing quality in order to fit the material on the disc. Admittedly today there are vastly improved lathes that nest the grooves automatically and take some of the pressure off, but the basic restrictions are still there.

First off, you need to adjust the level in order to fit the material on the disc. The S/N ratio is not that great to begin with and if you cut down the level in order to put the grooves closer together (denser leadscrew) you make it even worse. The obvious solution is to peak limit the loudest parts but you know what a compromise that is. For decently dynamic popular music, don't expect any more than 20 minutes/side of a 12" 33 1/3 rpm disc unless you are prepared to cut some quality.

Next, you need to make a decision about how close to get to the center of the record. There is 'inner groove distortion.' That is more than one thing. As you get closer to the center, although the angular velocity stays the same, the linear velocity goes down. This cuts the high end & raises distortion. If your material just fades out, that's good....but if it has a big ending, you want to try to stay away from the center. This further cuts back on the available time. When we did transcriptions for radio re-broadcast, we often cut alternating disks outside-in and inside-out just so there wasn't a big quality change in the middle of a program....and that was for low-quality radio network use! For high quality use, don't expect more than 15 minutes/side with a fixed leadscrew.

These days you hear lots of purist audiophiles praise the sonic superiority of discs. I don't want to completely disagree with them because there is some truth to that. But it is very difficult to obtain it. IMHO this is not something you want to try at home unless you have a large amount of money to throw at a modern computer-controlled nesting lathe & even then you might be disappointed about the limitations.

But, I am an old grouch!!! If you decide to pursue this, good luck and let us know how it works out for you.