T’s mother passed not long ago, and in her possessions he found a small record-album that a suitor had recorded for her while serving in WWII.
It seems that Pepsi-Co provided these machines for the use of GI’s. There is small print on the disc itself that reads ‘Recordisc,’ which was a popular pro-sumer disc recording unit of the era. I have not been able to determine exactly what the recording apparatus for these Pepsi-branded discs were, but I imagine it was not dissimilar to these:
When T first asked me to do this transfer for him, he was very concerned with the recording deteriorating due to the playback. For this reason, I captured the material on the first-pass.
I used my shitty little VESTAX ‘porta-trax’ or whatever player, as it is my only deck that does 78 RPM. Why did I assume 78 RPM? Well, the 33.3 LP or the 45rpm 7″ were not in common use during WWII, so 78b RPM was a safe guess.
The recording was actually quite good, aside from the surface noise. Since the VESTAX applies an RIAA equalization curve (which was NOT used in 194X), I had to re-EQ the audio in Pro Tools. I attempted to research the Recordisc machines in order to determine which pre-RIAA pre-emphasis EQ curve they used, but I could not find any information on this. So I use my best judgment. I used my ears. I applied a 24db/oct lo-cut at about 200hz, a 12db/oct hi-cut at around 5k hz, and then boosted a bit at around 2200 to help the intelligibility. Two stages of compression were then applied.
This is powerful for a few reasons. Generally, when we hear voices like this, it is in the context of a film or radio news program of the period. Although this GI is reading from a piece of paper (it sounds like), he is not an actor, and he is not acting; this is intended for an audience of one.
In case you were wondering: the woman in the photographs is in fact the addressee of this recorded message. This man did come home after the war. He did not marry the woman that he is addressing, although they did remain in touch; and he is not T’s father.