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Best pre-amp IMHO is the Time-Step variable phono EQ. Dave Cawley, the inventor, is on this list. ([log in to unmask])

Runner-up is the KAB Souvenir, but it's only a mono output IIRC. 

It is not the case that getting the right curve setting for an instantaneous disc is "pure trial and error". You can make some quite educated guesses based on the label information, the date of the recording, the source, etc. Sometimes the curve is stated on the disc itself ("Orthacoustic", "NAB", "AES", etc.) James R. Powell has a few reference books on this which are enormously helpful, at least as a starting point. 

Jeff



On Wed, 2 Dec 2020 20:26:00 -0500, Benjamin Roth-Aroni <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>THANK YOU, JOHN!!
>I shall pass that info to my supervisor.
>Right now we're using a flat pre-amp with no choice of settings.
>Can you recommend a couple pre-amps for the purpose?
>
>Regards,
>Ben
>
>
>On Wed, Dec 2, 2020 at 12:27 AM John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Truncated is generally better than not.  You usually want to stay out of
>> the very bottom of the groove.  And as a very general matter, elliptical
>> beats conical.  Also, an even more general rule--the loudest result is
>> often the best one--but here you want to compare carefully as this is not
>> always true.  The amount of noise can make you look for the quietest
>> playing where the sound is still good, as opposed to the loudest.
>>
>> As for procedure, altho it is not quick, I generally record my samples so I
>> can look at the WAV files and compare back and forth without playing the
>> record.  It can help too see it on the computer screen.  If several
>> candidate styluses seem good, I will dub the whole side with all of those
>> so I don't have to record the record again once I have picked the best.
>> Also, it is possible to edit together the best parts of different playings
>> if there is a reason to.
>>
>> I have noticed a funny thing that I can't explain--sometimes using
>> different stylus sizes will reverse the polarity of the resulting WAV file,
>> which you see by looking at it.
>>
>> For many pressed 78's in good condition, I will start with 2.75 truncated
>> elliptical, and then try 3.0 and 2.5 etc.  It seems like often enough the
>> decision comes down to 2.75 vs. 2.5.  Of course there is huge variety among
>> 78 records as a whole.
>>
>> Very worn records can be special cases, because here you are not looking at
>> optimal "fit" but rather trying to play the least worn part of the groove
>> wall.
>>
>> For instantaneous records, such as radio transcription discs, it seems like
>> there really are very few reliable general rules.  They are all so
>> different.  Many of course play at 33 RPM but with 78 sized stylus.
>>
>> Please take special care with trying to pitch your results, either upon
>> playback or as corrected on the computer.  It seems like no 78 really plays
>> at 78.26 RPM (if that is right decimal number).  If the pitch is way off
>> when played at 78 RPM, then you want to adjust the speed (pitch) on
>> playback, not on the computer, so phono EQ "decoding" is more accurate.
>>
>> Obviously, you will get far better results with a special preamp that lets
>> you select an appropriate phono EQ curve, and here you must often use
>> judgment as to which setting is "right."  For the majority of 78's, the
>> RIAA setting that is fixed in most phono preamps is NOT the right setting,
>> and often it not even close.  Remember, acoustic records do not have
>> phono-EQ added.  Getting the "right" EQ setting for an instantaneous disc
>> is often just an exercise in pure trial and error. There is often no way to
>> even guess.
>>
>> Hope some of that is helpful.
>>
>> Best,
>> John
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 9:46 PM Benjamin Roth-Aroni <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>> > Thank you.
>> > I guess what you're saying is that *there's no rule*.
>> > The ears have it - whatever sounds best is the right stylus to use.
>> > I have at least 8 sizes and configurations from which to choose: conical,
>> > elliptical, truncated or not truncated.
>> > I also have a GE VRII and the GE RPX-050.  Sometimes, those two save the
>> > day.
>> >
>> > Regards,
>> > Ben
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > Regards,
>> > Ben
>> >
>> > On Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 5:28 PM Corey Bailey <[log in to unmask]>
>> > wrote:
>> >
>> > > Use your ears!
>> > >
>> > > When I am unsure about which stylus is best, I will spend some time
>> with
>> > > a microscope & then, I will make three transfers; Above the wear, in
>> the
>> > > wear area & just below the wear area, avoiding the bottom of the
>> groove.
>> > > The styli that I typically use for this are 4mil, 3mil & 2mil. I will
>> > > also try elliptical & conical & pick the best sounding transfer. When
>> > > trying a stylus on a commercial disc, I will usually transfer about 30
>> > > seconds & transfer the same 30 seconds for each stylus. For lacquers &
>> > > other instantaneous discs, I will select a stylus based on my
>> microscope
>> > > observations in order play the disc or a section of ti as little as
>> > > possible.
>> > >
>> > > Cheers,
>> > >
>> > > CB
>> > >
>> > > Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
>> > > www.baileyzone.net
>> > >
>> > > On 12/1/2020 1:31 PM, Benjamin Roth-Aroni wrote:
>> > > > Thanks, but what about elliptical/conical/truncated, etc?
>> > > >
>> > > > Ben
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > > > On Tue, Dec 1, 2020 at 4:12 PM Mickey Clark <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>> > > >
>> > > >> Ben-I would use a 3 mil. I don't have a 2.5, and 3.5 I reserve for
>> > early
>> > > >> electric Victors-Mickey
>> > > >>
>> > > >> -----Original Message-----
>> > > >> From: Benjamin Roth-Aroni
>> > > >> Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2020 10:19 AM
>> > > >> To: [log in to unmask]
>> > > >> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Best width and configuration for a 1946 Victor
>> 12"
>> > > 78
>> > > >>
>> > > >> Greetings,
>> > > >>
>> > > >> Please tell me the Best width and configuration for a 1946 Victor
>> 12"
>> > > >> 78rpm, specifically DM-899 (Dvorak's 5th with Iturbi and the
>> Rochester
>> > > >> Phil) in good condition.
>> > > >>
>> > > >> Thank you.
>> > > >> Ben Roth
>> > > >>
>> > >
>> >
>>