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ARSCLIST  September 2005

ARSCLIST September 2005

Subject:

Re: Disaster recovery- LPs

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 30 Sep 2005 07:12:00 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (57 lines)

I was once given a very large pile of LPs that had been in a mostly dry
basement, except there had been a heating-water pipe burst a couple years
before they were given to me. They had  been drenched but not soaked -- some
not touched at all, others obviously exposed to a lot of water. Everything
had been left in place and had dried naturally from the hot air of a small
basement with a furnace in it. Aside from a bunch of ruined sleeves, no
records were in that bad condition. I did QC checks on all of them because
the original owner had kept them in surprisingly excellent condition as far
as limited playing with good equipment. He had just left them there when my
friend bought the house and my friend doesn't do LPs. Since most of them
were not my taste or I had on CD already, I donated most of them to the
Salvation Army store and went no further with them. The 100 or so that I
kept were either very old, original pressing LPs of various things or were
audiophile reissues. For those, I tossed the damaged sleeves, cleaned the
records on my VPI machine and continue to enjoy their content and, in the
case of the MOFI and other audiophile LPS, their quiet surfaces. For the
records I kept, there was no damage too severe to fix with a VPI cleaning.
So I'd say it's worth a careful assessment before you toss an LP that got
wet, but if it got soaked and is all gummed together, it probably can't be
saved. But, if it were an LP that I really treasured, I would let it dry out
and see if the warping/shrinking of the cardboard and paper, combined with
the oils in the LP material, lead the sleeve/cover material to separate from
the LP and leave an LP that can be cleaned and played without problems -- 
I'm sure this won't happen every time. I think Steve's first point about not
being aggressive with a wet sleeve/cover is key.

As for replacing commercial LPs via eBay and other online stores, I've been
very unhappy with the quality of many that I've bought, including
still-wrapped NOS LPs. THe problem is that most that are still wrapped
haven't been stored well and are of junky late-era pressings. On the other
hand, I've been very happy with others, despite the fact they were
(lovingly) used. One guy sold me his late father-in-law's jazz collection
for the cost of media mail because he had tried eBay, gotten one bid on one
auction and didn't want the hassle anymore. I sent him extra for packing
time and gas to get them to the post office and he said he used it to buy a
nice bottle of wine and toast his father-in-law. The records, meanwhile,
were in excellent shape and the collection had a lot of stuff I did not have
on LP or CD. It's kept my transfer chain busy when no paying work is on the
turntable.

One final thought. People who are used to CD's lack of background noise and
are critical listeners who are bothered by things like rumble, ticks and
pops to the point of not enjoying the content will NEVER like ANY LP, so
it's a fool's errand to try and "convert" them. I personally do not like LPs
very much but a lot of content I like was never released on CD's or was so
poorly remastered that the LP sounds better, warts and all. Over the years,
I've been surprised and dismayed to see just how much material never made it
to CD (some of this material is now seeing the light of day as
vastly-inferior iTunes super-compressed digi-files, which is worse than
being kept in the vaults since that as much as guarantees it will never see
life in a modern high-fidelity format). I believe the copyright laws need to
change and material that languishes in vaults forever or is doomed to
re-release in some inferior headphones format needs to be put in the PD
sooner, but that's a whole other discussion.

-- Tom Fine

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