Audio Restoration – Working with warped records

I recently did a project to digitize a couple of Voice-O-Graph records dating back to the 1950’s. Voice-O-Graph made recording booths where you could make your own recordings on 78 or 45 RPM disks. These disks were 78 RPM and showed a bit of cracking and warping.

When confronted with poor condition like this, it is best to do as little as possible to the record. While you want to get the recording off the record, you need to prevent inflicting further damage. I don’t want to use any glues or coatings. I’d like to get the record into a flat plane so the stylus can ride in the groove, and that’s all. The cracks will certainly cause some pops, but that can be cleaned up later, in the digital editing.

Both disks were recorded on one side only. The first disk had multiple cracks, and warped up on two sides. This would cause the needle to jump out of the track, like a skier over a mogul.
R1

 

In order to get it to lie flat, I used a 33 RPM record and masking tape. In order to avoid damage to the record, I used a low-tack painters tape. This makes for easy removal without any residue.
R2

 

The second recording likewise had multiple cracks. But this one rose in the middle as well as curling up on one edge.
R3

 

I used a spring clip on the spindle to push the center down, and a little tape on the one edge.
R4

 

In the end, both recordings had minimal popping from the cracks. My customer had requested minimal cleanup, so I trimmed the EQ to cut down the rumble and hiss and to accentuate the recorded voices.