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ARSCLIST  April 2007

ARSCLIST April 2007

Subject:

Re: commerical reels history (was Boston Pops question)

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 9 Apr 2007 07:33:31 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (109 lines)

Hi Jack:

Just to clarify the history here, when you say "2-track (non-stereo)" do you mean half-track 
(2-sided mono) or do you mean one-direction mono? And, if you mean one-direction mono, are you sure 
they are not full-track? It should clarify this on the tape boxes, although the nomenclature used 
early on varied between companies.

I forgot to mention one thing in my post before -- some of these old tapes can be real gems and the 
best available source. Here's a for-instance. Apparently, the master tapes for most or all of the 
Everest Woody Herman albums are lost. The CD reissues are all obviously (and poorly) made from LPs 
(clearly audible groove distortion, sloppy and overbearing tick and pop removal, digital artifacts 
galore from over-agressive noise-reduction). I was able to borrow the quarter-track, not even the 
2-track but the early quarter-track duped reels and it was like night and day. Especially in the 
case of the Woody Herman and Tito Puente session, the reels were dynamic and rarely distorted while 
the CD reissue made from LPs was awful. There was an earlier European or Asian CD of this same 
material that sounds like it was made from a cleaner LP and is not aggressively digi-tooled to where 
there are annoying artifacts but it's still not as good as the reel. From what I've been able to 
gather, most of the Everest pop and jazz master tapes are either lost or badly damaged, so one hopes 
there are a few more of these quarter-track, or better 2-track, reels floating around. Especially in 
the case of the earlier dupers (half-tracks, 2-tracks and very early quarter-tracks), the quality is 
usually very good aside from hissy tape. By the early 60's, duping speeds were faster and quality is 
not as good. By the time you got to the release product being 3.75IPS and duping speeds were up to 
16x, the quality was awful. Aside from saving tape, duping to 3.75IPS allowed standard duping speeds 
in factories that by then were mainly doing 8-tracks, although a place with a decent on-going 
quarter-track business would have a separate duping line for that.

There are several good articles covering the evolution of tape duping in the archives of the AES 
Journal. Anyone interested can search and buy articles at the AES website. Ampex published articles 
about the first 3200 system in the mid-50's, their higher-speed system for multiple formats in teh 
early 60's and their solid-state bin-loop system in the late 60's. I believe at least one of the 
makers of cassette duping equipment published at least one article, too.

Tape duping must have been at least marginally profitable because people stayed in it all through 
reels, 8-tracks and cassettes. There was one brief moment, at the end of the LP era as CD's were 
just catching on, maybe 2 years in the early 80's, when cassettes outsold LPs. This was after the 
Walkman caught on big-time and before CD's were mainstream (when players still cost a grand and 
didn't sound so great). CD's then caught on and the cassette began submerging. I'm not sure there 
are any large-scale cassette duping for commercial music operations left. There are some operations 
taylored to smaller jobs who will do, for instance, 100 copies of a set of medical conference 
recordings or 1000 cassette box sets for Radio Spirits. I believe cassette duping for music is still 
a viable business in Asia but I might be wrong about that.

-- Tom Fine

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jack Palmer" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 8:16 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] commerical reels history (was Boston Pops question)


>    I checked about a hundred of my tapes and I am not sure any of the 2 track (non stereo) were 
> from 1952.  I have several 2 track non-stereo tapes, 7 1/2 speed that were issued by Ampex for 
> London.  No date on the box or tape reel, so I can't be certain of the date.  None of the early 2 
> tracks I bought were stereo though.  I thought the high-fidelity was great and worth the money. 
> Thanks for making me look.  I found three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on reels that I didn't 
> even remember owning.  Jack
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 7:10 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] commerical reels history (was Boston Pops question)
>
>
>> I'd be interested to know what's on them and who released them. I do not believe you'll find that 
>> they are in fact 2T stereo. They are likely half-track (2-sided) mono. If they are stereo, it 
>> would be very interesting to know who put them out as in 1952 only a few people were 
>> experimenting with 2-channel stereo recording of music. No major labels yet, although I believe 
>> RCA started making 2T masters in 1954 or even 1953 -- I think Zarathustra with Reiner was the 
>> first 2T session.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "Jack Palmer" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 12:29 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] commerical reels history (was Boston Pops question)
>>
>>
>>>    I bought my first 2 track tapes for my reel recorder/player in the Base Exchange in 
>>> Sidi-Slimane, Morocco in 1952.  I still have a couple of them in fact.   Jack
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>>> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2007 9:40 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] commerical reels history (was Boston Pops question)
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>> Ampex developed their own, was developed by Leon Wortman in NY and detailed in a 1951 Radio & 
>>>> TV News article. Wortman's line made full-track or half-track tapes. Commercial half-track 
>>>> tapes were available as early as 1951 or 1952, but there was only a very small consumer market 
>>>> for reel to reel machines at that point. > Because this was a new format sold at a premium 
>>>> price, a lot of QC attention was paid by the reputable companies in this era, so the net 
>>>> quality is very high. Akin to what happened when stereo LPs came along.
>>> .
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
>>
> 

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