Wired's Listening Post blog has a great feature on Cliff Bolling, a 78RPM record enthusiast who has digitized and posted nearly 4,000 old vinyl tracks, complete with cartridge hiss and pops.
Like the early US recordings, many of these are fairly noisy. But to clean up the hiss and delete the pops using digital techniques would lessen the impact and appeal of hearing such old recordings played over a global network through tiny, great sounding speakers.
Tn450_rs_stylus As for the equipment he has used for this formidable project, Bolling told us his approach was decidedly old school, in fitting fashion. "I have an old 1950s Gerard turntable that I bought at an estate sale for two and a half bucks, and it's got a GE (General Electric) VR cartridge in it, which is just excellent for playing 78s."
The copyright situation surrounding some of these songs is as murky as their sound quality. But as with the music's political content, Bolling said he has yet to receive a copyright-related complaint about the recordings being online. Everyone who has come across the recordings seems happy that they've reappeared, or at the very least, doesn't care one way or the other — somewhat refreshing, in these times of copyright lawsuits and name calling.