I know the sound is possible. What I don't have as yet is the ability to repeat and perfect it. Today I got the two reproducers back from Steven with the new needles. I was at first happy in that my design was out performing both diaphragms the Waltrip and other new one. But as things seem to go I finally got to a place on of all things a classical record where mine blasted big time and the others didn't. So I spent most of the rest of the day attempting to figure out why? I don't know that I still know. Every little thing makes a huge difference. Change the linkage, its louder or softer, use more material on the base and its to boomy and less clear. One thing for sure is that on some designs where I did have more material on the surface I was able to change the upper cone in various ways that finally stopped the blast in that record. But that design was a bit too dull and muddled sounding. It must mean that the basic piece I am using for the diaphragm is just too flexible yet when nothing but the cork is put on it. I am working up another piece and coating it with extra layers of shellac in hopes of arriving at a place where it is just stiff enough to resist the blasting while maintaining the sound quality I want. Better yet I need to start once again looking for something that will work when combined with the cork and cap pieces to get good tone and clear clean sound. Sorry things aren't more positive at the moment..
I am sure this is getting tiring if anyone is following this, such ups and downs. Lets consider it a learning experience.
After all the close but not totally successful attempts with the previous ideas I was about to give up, but being stubborn decided to continue and see what I had learned.
Actually the past few days at least crystalized finally what may be going on. The basic diaphragm piece is problematic and too easily influenced by every tiny variable that happens. At times that is great, because if you just with luck put one together just right the sound is very good, but usually not overall. A few other points I sort of am getting a handle on now is that for good sound the diaphragm needs the upper cone or driver. What size is dependent on the material used. A baffle such as the cork is where most of the tone comes from when everything else falls in to place. Some I made without it and using multi layers of materials at times were quite clear and had good tone, but always had flaws. So cork properly applied and shaped seems the best route. Then the linkage which I have felt I could leave till last to improve is also very sensitive to slight changes in size or design.
So that leaves three things that if all fall into place produce good sound. Well four with the linkage. Today I started playing with some flexible vinyl pieces just to see what could happen. The first was fairly toneless, but flexible. Too Flexible leading to the bad blast I mentioned last night. The second try today was a heavier vinyl, and while its not doing badly and does not blast, it is a bit to thick and the tone is muddy on light pieces. On dance it seems pretty good. Now that I know what all the parts are doing and what the changes in them produce I think I can start looking for just the right material for the three main parts. I was surprised that in one day I got fairly good sound from my second attempt with vinyl pieces for the base. I think tonally that a paper product may be better, even might consider trying the aluminum that was used by some companies way back and see what it produces.
As much as I would like to clear away all the junk piled around from testing and get my kitchen table and cabinets back, I won't feel right till I accomplish what I set out to do and that is get something that is workable and not impossible to assemble.
The premise of this was to do better than what is out there. I guess I am the only one that can say that has happened. But the downfall to all of them is the limiting of the diaphragm to one main piece and expect it to accomplish everything well. They may well have been where I am and gave up?
Today will have some rest.. Were going out of town for a while. I settled in to listening to the vinyl diaphragm I created yesterday and have come to appreciate it as a fair example of sound. I doubt I would consider it the end word, but when compared to the original it has very few differences and so for No flaws in reproduction to speak of. That is for sure a first. (of course when I think there aren't any is about when they show up making a liar of me). Due to the thickness of the material it is a bit quieter than the original, something like the Wlatrip range. Now that I have learned how to manipulate the volume of a diaphragm I am going to see if some small changes might boost it just a bit. Don't want much more, just a little.
I played all types of records and it was refreshing to hear it play through clearly and without distortion or noticeable feedback from the diaphragm. Compared to the other versions it is silent on that front, a definite plus. As usual I am going to try when I get home to recreate the first one and see what happens. No predictions this time, I am never right.
So far this vinyl diaphragm is playing anything I have thrown at it with surprising ease. I have on now the only 5200 series I have, some waltzes. They distorted badly with most other tires, its playing right through them now! I have three more in the works and tomorrow will try and see if I can boost the volume a bit without creating issues of blasting. I still feel its not as sensitive as some others I have put together, but none have had the overall results of this one so far.
Things are leveling off it seems. I made two today and each has slight issues but overall the quality of sound is pretty good. The things they are doing may not even be apparent to some, but would to me. It is surprising how little of a change in a tiny piece of wire can effect the level of output. Or how much the cork is sanded down. Well that one I sort of expected. But I have one that tends to be overly loud and another that is about the right range. I hear a slight overtone in some things but far less than in any thing I have made to date. It may be that at some point the base piece will have to be rethought, but for now it is a fairly good start I think. If I can get a number more going at about the same level I will be sending them out. Usually something happens that prevents that, but I have a feeling this is more stable due to using pretty much stock parts that don't have a lot of variables built in. Still any small change in something is easily apparent in the sound at times. Worst thing is how you have to play half a days worth of records to find the one that sets you to looking for why something is happening. But overall, I have learned a lot.
I'm making this post public regarding the diaphragm you sent me, Larry - listening to several etched-label pressings with that diaphragm, even though it's one of your preliminary ones, I definitely think you're on the right track.
For this occasion I pulled a few from my "recycle pile", some with light noise and some with heavy noise. Both reproducer weights are standard. Here's a comparison test, first with Edison's original diaphragm then with yours:
50166 ("Monterey, Mexican waltz", non-dimpled laminated pressing) - 1) band has depth, some light hiss at the top end of the range. 2) band sounds louder than before especially in lower midrange, no hiss, groove noise dead quiet, a pleasure to hear.
50398 ("I'll Make You Want Me" Murray & Grant, wartime pressing) - 1) hiss pronounced, Murray's vocals good and loud, Grant's voice further back and not as clear, band mingles with hiss. 2) Hiss still there but not as bad, Murray's voice punchier in lower midrange, Grant's voice and band are both more audible.
50815 ("The Crocodile" Imperial Marimba Band, last etched label before paper) - 1) hissy, band has good definition despite that condition. 2) hiss sharply reduced, since most of what marimba band does is in the lower midrange this diaphragm is getting a real workout, only appears to be overloading in a couple of spots but this is later found to be pre-existing wear on the disc.
50855, "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" Jones and Hare, black paper label) - 1) light rumble and some hiss, music and vocals not as up-front as they might be without these factors. 2) Hiss gone, rumble still there but tolerable, voices have sufficient warmth to sound like an electric recording.
50933, "On a Little Side Street" Ernest Stevens on piano, paper label) - 1) nice presence, piano sounds a bit 'honky' possibly due to horn used in recording, surface a bit scratchy but no hiss to speak of. 2) Piano 'honkiness' more accentuated since it's right in the lower midrange, presence slightly more up-front, scratches still a problem but don't seem quite so spikey.
I could go on, but you get the idea: the sharp treble rolloff characteristic makes certain earlier pressings sound as good as the later paper-label ones. I'll be keeping this one installed for a while and going through that recycle pile some more...
Thanks so much for the encouraging words I can definitely use that in this endless and difficult task. One wouldn't think that such a simple little round disc could do so many things so differently.
I enjoyed reading that you found the surface noise reduced some while the music level improved. That was something I strove for in the beginning and still do. But unfortunately as I progress and hit the sort of "limits" wall involved in producing clear sound with an edison disc I know I have compromised some of the freshness that those early ones had. I played one of the early ones the other evening and indeed it was exciting to hear things that weren't usually apparent. It is still a goal, but reality of attempting to get something that will play though about anything reasonably well has forced some changes.
Actually my lastest design which accomplishes most of those goals is quite good with small defects so far. Once I send that set out, which this time I am going to do so that more can understand what is going on here, then I will start anew to search for yet another base piece that will do even better.
Had to be out for the morning, perhaps thankfully. My confidence was taking another hit when the very diaphragms that I had pronounced as fairly clean playing started to sound oddly distorted to me once again. I was getting an aggravating reverb over some popular singers with just the right range to produce it. I was pretty sure that wasn't there the first couple days.
I tried changing the linkage around several ways, but it resisted and the volume, which was already high seemingly increased yet again.. Finally I thought out what were the only things that could have effected the pieces since they were all stock items. My guess became the glue again. Only glue here is holding the cork to the base. But since the cork is rather wide, if the glue set up stiffly it could be effecting the ability of the diaphragm to flex correctly as it apparently had at first. I took a razor blade to the cork and removed it and scrapped of the glue remaining. Then I used rubber cement, which I knew remained flexible. While I was gone it set up. So far I have not sanded or shaped the cork, and made another change in the link design. On this try the voices came though much closer to the original that I have been able to coax out of it the way it was. Now if this will hold I don't know. And as I am experimenting I am going to start to work the cork down a little at a time while testing and see what happens. The volume is a bit lower but by no mean quiet. My fear is it may get too loud again which is the opposite problem of too quiet.
So far my theory may be correct. I am playing it once again using the same main diaphragm only with new cork installed using rubber cement.. Once again I hear the clearness I heard earlier. I hate to say, but from designs that at least resembled the original in looks to one that is starting to look like a hardware store. But the sound is the goal and re assembly is a must. We will see how this holds up.
I don't think it was the stiffness, I think it was the fact the glue wasn't able to hold well to the vinyl. The rubber cement while it holds for now is most likely to want to easily turn loose also and would cause the same problems eventually. At least that is my guess. I am testing some glued with a plastic glue now and hope it will settle the situation. I played a number of records of all kinds while walking in my moms basement after dinner on my little london model. When it sounds good you know your on the right track. Nothing so far has approached this basic idea in sound an clarity and almost no distortion. (of course that always seems to change). I still think this is probably it with the correct assembly. When you can hear clearly all the loud band parts without blasting as well as loud sopranos and low basses with clarity you know your on the right track..
Here's some recordings I made with my laptop, about two feet from the front of the horn, first using a standard DD reproducer with Edison's original diaphragm and the next one using another standard DD reproducer with Larry's diaphragm installed:
This was going straight from the microphone to Audacity recording software, using no compression, and the same volume setting for all the samples. Those that seem louder really are louder.
The Marimba record is where this diaphragm really shines. I threw in a before and after on the classic Wendell Hall disc as well, even though the difference is not so stark, just to show how much mellower the voice sounds.
Good going, dude!
Last Edit: Feb 29, 2008 23:09:55 GMT -5 by Schmaltz
You need to be first on my list for the new diaphragm! Would love to hear some comparisons of current as well as originals to it. That early one is breaking up in places the new one will not. I think I have it fairly settled with two more that are pretty much the same as the first. It seems that when hand constructing things each may have a slight quirk that another may or may not exhibit. If I am ever going to get the better version out I will have to go ahead and let them be tried with a few issues, but not many.
To tell you the truth, I personally can't hear much difference in the two? Maybe I am not supposed to. Sound levels are coming across about the same on the recordings which is fine at least it is similar. I think the new one will easily out do it though.
Ok its not fun anymore.. I have had excellent results all day except I was worried about the rubber cement turning loose eventually.. I glued new pieces of cork on the base with a glue for vinyl and rubber ect.. Was doing fine, went in to take yet another listen an its way louder and now overdriving the sound. Unbelievable. I guess I will have to look for another glue or hope the rubber cement might hold long term but the way it rubbed off when dry makes me think it could lead to vibration problems down the line. That is if I ever get down the line!