Acoustical Recording

See also: 10inch 78rpms | 12inch 78rpms | 78rpms Manufactured in 🔗 Australia | Acoustically Recorded 78rpms |

View our Search Help Video

In sound recording, the acoustical era is from the 1880s until 1925. During this time, all sound recordings were made by mechanical means without the use of microphones or electrical amplification.

To make a sound recording prior to 1925, instrumentalists, singers, and speakers performed in front of a flared metal or wooden conical-shaped horn which gathered and funneled sound waves toward a thin diaphragm at the small end of the horn. The energy of the sound waves caused the diaphragm to vibrate. The vibrating diaphragm caused an attached stylus to etch the sound waves onto a blank wax rotating cylinder or disc. There were no electronic tone controls. All adjustments to the sound were made by altering the performer’s position relative to the horn or by trying horns of differing sizes or diaphragms of varied thickness.

To play back an acoustic recording, a mechanical reproducing machine reversed the process. A reproducing point-usually a steel needle, or a sapphire for cylinders-was affixed to an encased diaphragm (called a sound box or reproducer) that was attached to a tapering tube known as a tonearm. The needle running over a cylinder or disc caused the diaphragm to vibrate and create sound waves conducted through the tonearm.

The acoustical recording process could capture only a limited range of audio frequencies-approximately 100 to 2500 Hz. In the acoustic era, banjo, xylophone, trumpet, trombone, and tenor and baritone voices reproduced better than others. This constraint influenced the repertoire of early recordings. When acoustic recording improved later, the repertoire expanded.

While the recording range for acoustics was very limited, a wider range of frequencies could be achieved by any of the following: a thinner, more sensitive diaphragm, the sharpness of the cutting point, the characteristics of the recording horn (most companies kept many on hand of varying sizes, flare, thickness, etc.) and the pliability of the wax. Softer wax could capture more sonic highs than harder wax.

Depending on the company, some acoustic recordings produced surprisingly lifelike sounds. For instance, Victor discs made during the 1900-1903 period are known for their bright sound and strong bass presence.

The following index lists all Acoustically Recorded 78rpms in our database:

Label Cat. Number Composition Performer(s)
Brunswick Brunswick 2872 – Twilight, the stars and you
– Oh Vera!
– Benny Krueger’s Orchestra
– Benny Krueger’s Orchestra
Brunswick Brunswick 2828 – In Shadowland
– Hawaiian Ripples
– Castlewood Marimba Band
– Castlewood Marimba Band
Brunswick Brunswick 3460 – Stockholm Stomp
– Have It Ready
– Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
– Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra
Brunswick Brunswick 2913 – Collegiate
– Sweet Georgia Brown
– Carl Fenton Orchestra
– Isham Jones Orchestra
Brunswick Brunswick 4952 – Mood Indigo
– Runnin Wild
– The Jungle Band
– The Jungle Band
Capitol Purple 2773 2773 – Cigareetes, Whuskey, And Wild, Wild Women
– Pearly Maude
– Red Ingle And The Natural Seven
– Red Ingle And The Natural Seven
Columbia Columbia A2971 – Silver Water
– Goodbye Sunshine, Hello Moon
– Harry A. Yerkes Happy Six
– Harry A. Yerkes Happy Six
Columbia Columbia A3429 – Ain’t We Got Fun
– Not So Long Ago
– Yerkes Jazarimba Orchestra
– Yerkes Jazarimba Orchestra
Columbia Columbia A2899 – Hold Me
– Dance It Again With Me
– Art Hickman’s Orchestra
– Art Hickman’s Orchestra
Columbia D 1450 – Trot Here and There (from Veronique)
– John
– Dora Labbette / Harold Williams (Tenor)
– Dora Labbette / Harold Williams (Tenor)
Columbia 38782 (CO 42990), 38782 – Dixieland Is Here To Stay
– I Wish I Could Shimmy LIke My Sister Kate
– Phil Napoleon and His Memphis Five
– Phil Napoleon and His Memphis Five
His Master’s Voice D.B. 133 – The Lost Chord
– Ombra Mai Fu – Largo (from ‘Xerxes’)
– Enrico Caruso (Tenor with Orchestra)
– Enrico Caruso (Tenor with Orchestra)
His Master’s Voice E84 – Danny Boy (Old Irish Air)
– Because
– Edna Thornton
– Edna Thornton
His Master’s Voice 5-7915 – Chanson Hindoue (Hindu song)
– Fritz Kreisler
– Fritz Kreisler
His Master’s Voice D275 – Abide With Me
– Ombra mai fu (Largo
– Edna Thornton
– Edna Thornton
His Master’s Voice 3701 – When Maiden Loves
– Miss Carrie Tubb
– Miss Carrie Tubb
Victor 4095 – Love’s Old Sweet Song
– Miss Corinne Morgan
Victor 96200 – Lucia—Sextette, Act II. Chi Mi Frena (What Restrains Me)
– Sembrich, Caruso, Scotti, Journet, Severina, Daddi
Victor 5608 – Rainbow (An Indian Intermezzo)
– Victor Orchestra, Walter B. Rogers, Conductor
Victor 18661-A, 18661-B – Left All Alone Again Blues
– Who’s Baby Are You?
– Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra
– Joseph C. Smith’s Orchestra