We get asked a lot of questions about the lathes we use, so thought it would be a good idea to give them their own section…
Modified Vinylrecorder T-560
This lathe was designed and built in southwestern Germany by engineer Ulrich Sourisseau. Most people offering lathe cuts outside the USA are using one of these. Here is a (gloriously cheesy) video of it in operation.
Ours has been modified by our cutting engineer to give superior results over the stock model. These mods include installation of an archive-standard turntable system, giving enhanced torque to minimise wow & flutter and custom cutting electronics to vastly improve the signal path.
A full analysis of the system resonances has been carried out and corrective EQ applied to give the best possible sound quality available from this machine.
Presto 28N Transcription Lathe
This is a very special double lathe and a true piece of recording history. Thought to be the last complete 28N anywhere in the world. It is one of five that were shipped to Germany at the end of World War Two by the US Armed Forces to make transcription discs of the International Military Tribunal, aka, the Nuremberg Trials.
At the end of the trials it is believed the lathe – still being a US government asset – went to Radio Free Europe, before being sealed in to a room until the 1990’s when it was discovered and stored by a collector.
Mechanically, it was in pretty amazing condition for a 70+ year old machine. They knew how to build stuff that lasts back then! Many of the original amplifier valves still worked (!), unfortunately many of the original capacitors did not and some of the old carbon composition resistors had drifted way out of spec. To top it all, there was no schematic for the amplifier, so a pretty huge restoration project got underway…
Now it is up and running again in our studio and has been fully restored to its former glory – it sounds incredible. Obviously mono and a bit lo-fi by today’s standards, with the cutterheads’ frequency response being 50Hz-10kHz, but what it lacks in extremes of sub and sparkle, it more than makes up for in character. We prefer to think of it as ‘old-fi’…
Identical lathes were also used on early BBC recording trucks and by the legendary Cosimo Matassa at J&M recording studios in New Orleans to record those genre-defining early rock n roll tracks.
For monitoring the mono cuts we make on this system we have a pair of rare Fairchild 225-A moving-coil cartridges on Clarkstan 212 16″ transcription arms. These feed an all-valve amplifier and a full-range, vintage Jensen speaker cabinet. Mono doesn’t come much nicer than that!
You can see a timelapse video of it cutting a record here.