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ARSCLIST  June 2007

ARSCLIST June 2007

Subject:

Re: RCA tapes...Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] Living Stereo? Don't make me laugh

From:

Don Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 23 Jun 2007 22:24:28 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (107 lines)

On 23/06/07, phillip holmes wrote:

> The 2 track tapes were (still are) amazingly good. The only problem is
> the tape stock (don't look at it, it might break) and the fairly high
> levels of hiss. From what I've been told (and this may be total BS),
> ECS-1, Reiner's first stereo version of Also Sprach Zarathustra, was
> dubbed directly from the 15ips master tape (it was a 2 microphone
> recording). I wondered why the reissues sounded so bad, and
> supposedly, the tape is worn out from all the dubbing. Is this true?

I think not. So far as you can tell from the notes, the SACDs are all
made direct from the (edited) studio masters. There is a comment in the
notes about how little the tapes were edited. (These are generic notes
by John Newton of Sound Mirror about the whole series.)

It doesn't sound worn out to me.

However, this was recorded in March 1954. It is the very first stereo
recording of Reiner and the CSO. In my opinion the sound is not as good
as on the Brahms concerto, recorded five weeks later. Different
microphones or microphone positions could explain this, but I also
suspect that tape formulations were improving rapidly at that time.

And maybe the recording levels were a bit high? Who knows? Anyway, at
least on this playback setup, the strings are rather shrill. 

The 1993 CD seems to have a more mellow, but less realistic sound. 
The 1993 issues were made with the masters played on a restored tube 
based tape recorder. The SACD restorations used a more modern tape machine.

I don't have any of the LP versions, nor any version of the Gilels
Tchaikovsky, so I can't comment on them.


What does strike me is the enormous improvement between the Toscanini
recordings of early 1953 (such as the New World symphony - a
single-microphone recording) and these first stereo recordings a year
later. Things were moving fast in the 1950s.


> Anyway, ECS-1 was preceded by an even earlier version of the tape with
> a different catalog number, but both were the same performance. I
> can't seem to get my hands on one. I even bid $200 three different
> times and was outbid by someone at the last moment. Oh well. Maybe
> I'll luck out and find one at an estate sale (would have to be a dead
> doctor or lawyer or drug dealer since these were VERY EXPENSIVE when
> new). Phillip
> 
> Don Tait wrote:
>>  Since I have trouble with such things, I hope that David Lennick's
>> message about the Gilels/Reiner Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 will be
>> forwarded with this. I agree with David about the sonic problems of
>> the stereo versions of this recording and perhaps I can shed some
>> light upon it.
>> 
>>   The recording was made on October 29, 1955 in Orchestra Hall. As
>> was
>> customary then, it was recorded in stereo; the mono version was
>> edited down from the
>> stereo master. (The last Victor CSO recording to be made with
>> separate
>> mono/stereo setups was the Heifetz/Reiner Brahms Concerto on
>> February 21 and 22,
>> 1955.) As David wrote, the mono LP, LM-1969, had excellent sound --
>> clean and
>> well-focused. There was never a stereo Red Seal equivalent of
>> LM-1969, but there
>> was a two-track stereo tape (ECS-8). I own one, and the sound is
>> excellent.
>> 
>>   The first stereo disc version was Victrola VICS-1039 around
>> 1963/4. There
>> might also have been a later Victor LP version in the late
>> seventies. The sound
>> was dreadful; David described it well. It was so muffled that it
>> sounded as
>> if it had been recorded with the microphones under the floor of the
>> hall. Then
>> came the "Living Stereo" CD (09026-68530-2), and I must say that I
>> disagree
>> with David a little -- it sounds pretty good to me, at least as good
>> as my
>> stereo tape. So...
>> 
>>   I was told by a good and trustworthy friend who worked at BMG for
>> years,
>> and was involved in reissues, that the stereo master tape of the
>> recording had
>> been lost for decades and that the "Living Stereo" CD was mastered
>> from the
>> two-track tape, ECS-8. Anyway, as I recall the CD does sound fairly
>> close to the
>> tape, which might now be the best (only?) stereo source we have for
>> this
>> recording.
>> 
>>   Don Tait
>> 
>>    
>> 
>>   
>> 
Regards
-- 
Don Cox
[log in to unmask]

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