I'm with Mike on this overall but Charles makes some good points.
I don't know of any commercial remastering producer and/or engineer who would prefer to go with a
transfer of an original or later press LP instead of the master tape. They only do this when they
have no choice, like when the master tape has been lost. I know of plenty of times where great
effort has been expended to find safety tapes (2nd generation copies) rather than try a transfer of
an old disk. The LP has just too many limitations -- fuzzy midrange on peaks, ticks and pops, rumble
and surface noise, poor channel separation at certain frequencies. It's always amazing to me when
the things sound great -- I tip my hat to the mastering folks and pressing folks who make that
happen. I'm old enough to remember the era before CD's. NO THANKS! I can't think of one example of a
WELL-MASTERED CD where the original LP sounds better. The problem, as I've stated many times, is
that many CD's aren't well-mastered. But neither were most LPs, again I'm old enough to remember how
lousy most of them sounded. This nostalgia for that medium is curious to me, but I won't make a
blanket statement here because some of the newest generation of LP reissues -- which feature a
viable business model for quality due to a much higher price point -- are really superb. At this
luxury price point, you can do excellent mastering and strict quality control at the pressing plant.
Anyway, back to the master tape issue, I think both Mike and Charles make valid points. Mike's point
is, a properly stored master tape played back on a properly aligned machine will sound better than
the LP version and I agree based on the numerous examples I know of first or second-hand. However,
Charles makes the valid point that tapes are not indestructable and many record companies were less
than careful in their vaults.
A final comment -- of course it's great to be able to make a high-quality disk transfer if you can't
find a tape or the tape is highly deteriorated. The new Mosaic set of early 50's Oscar Peterson trio
albums contains maybe 1/4 total cuts from disk transfers because Universal was unable to locate the
original session tapes or later safeties. The sample I heard at Mosaic's website was impressive; I
have some of those original Mercury and Verve records and mine sure don't play that nicely nowadays!
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael H. Gray" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] ELP Turntable (Re(2): [ARSCLIST] RIAA EQ software)
> Charles Lawson wrote:
>>"Michael H. Gray" <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>>>I am not sure that the original statement about an LP eventually being more 'faithful' to
>>>the 'original sound' of the master tape is any more than a fanciful supposition ...
>>Oh, it's definitely more than a fanciful supposition. Masters well-stored
>>over a long time can (and often do!) develop problems that a non-worn LP
>>will not exhibit. (It's one of the reasons that the BBC would cut 78s and
>>LPs of their taped materials to be used as their permanent archive instead
>>of tape.) The LP *will* have problems of its own, of course, but those
>>problems may be preferable to the print-through, high frequency loss,
>>distortion etc. of a tape. As with most things, it's a case-by-case sort
>>>unless, of course, you've exposed your masters to stray magnetic fields ... in which case, you're
>>>taking good enough care of your tapes to begin with.
>>You would be amazed what even major labels have done... Still, even if
>>you are storing things properly, entropy will get ya--more so with any
>>Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>
>>Professional Audio for CD, DVD, Broadcast & Internet
> Dear Charles -
> Hmm ... my experience with tape masters from 1951 doesn't gibe with that. Print-through, sure;
> distortion, yep, even with properly executed bias, 'cause tape isn't a linear medium. HF loss?
> Ya gotta convince me on that one.
> I've probably visited more 'major label' tape vaults and examined more tapes than I'd like to
> remember ... and I don't recall mastering engineers anywhere using these tape complaining about HF
> loss from masters. I remain skeptical ... but would love to have specific examples cited to
> convince me.
> Mike Gray