Snap, Crackle, Pop, and R. Crumb's Record Collection


The trick to listening to old recordings, I mean OLD recordings, mono LPs and 78s, is listening through the record surface noise to the music behind it. Some audiophiles who specialize in mono-era music prefer an all-tube stereo because of its ability to put record surface noise on its own plane in front of the music, making it even easier to listen through the noise to the music just on the other side of a diaphanous noise curtain.

Listening to The East River String Band's Radio show, featuring the cartoonist R. Crumb and his record collection, I was struck by how easy it was to separate out the noise from the music on my computer desktop system. Even though the obviously originally-analog signals of the old 78's Crumb played had gone through at least one A/D and D/A before reaching my ears, my system was still able to separate out the noise from the music.

I'm sure having a mono source made it easier - the music came from a very small spot in the soundstage while the noise spread out over a far wider area. All I had to do was listen to what was coming from one spot and forget about the rest.

During the narration sections of the broadcast, the sound is in stereo. Periodically Crumb gets a bit too jiggy with the microphone and you can hear it clip. But if you are into early European jazz you are going to find his commentary fascinating. But I must warn you, his political comments may alienate some listeners...but his take on jazz history is solid gold.

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