Robert Parker's main career prior to his remastering activities was
in the ad industry. Until the early 1980s he co-owned and ran
Molinare, London's busiest dedicated radio advertising studio. He was
no stranger to marketing techniques, which he applied very
effectively not only to "rebranding" music from the 78 era, but also
in the way he described his technical methods to the world.
While he was probably one of the first 1980s producers to apply the
soon-fashionable sales pitch "digitally remastered", initially this
only applied to his storage method (Sony PCM-F1 into Betamax VCR
SL-2000). The rest of the system was entirely analogue, boiling down
to a Packburn, a set of styli from Expert Pickups, a rack of filters
and equalizers, an Orban stereo spreader and a spring reverb unit.
Whatever one thinks of his work, I would stress that one of Parker's
most important remastering tools was his healthy bank-balance, which
enabled him to accumulate an impressive archive of vinyl tests, metal
parts and mint-condition laminated pressings, all of which were
practically noise-free before he applied his "techniques". Also,
unlike other producers, he was prepared to pay handsomely for the
loan of mint pressings from other collections. This meant that when
he did use the Packburn, it was very sparingly.
By the end of the 1980s, Cedar Audio had developed their first-
generation digital declicker, essentially relegating Packburn to the
On 22 Mar 2009, at 2:44, George Brock-Nannestad wrote:
> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
> Hi everybody,
> Jan Myren described his Packburn setup and seems quite satisfied. I
> did not
> know that it had an "undo RIAA" feature in its later versions, but
> I assure
> you that the Packburn switcher works even better if the treble is
> not rolled
> of like RIAA does.
> In cooperation with John R.T. Davies Ted Kendall has developed what
> they used
> to call "the Mousetrap" that used components that were 25 years
> younger than
> those of Packard and Burns, although the basic switcher idea was
> the same. I
> do not know whether that is incorporated in Ted's "the Front End"
> preamplifier that has many useful features. It is only built to order.
> Jan asked:
>> BUT; Since I think the Packburn works well on clicks and pops; do
>> you know
>> if the engineers from the "analogue remaster area" like Robert
>> also used a second noise reduction system to get rid of more of
>> that surface
>> noise, or did they just use it "as is" and accepted a fair amount of
>> surface noise on their LP-compilations?
> ----- if I remember correctly, Robert Parker artificially boosted
> the high
> frequencies by generating distortion by having an elliptical stylus
> with the
> long axis along the groove. This permitted/indeed REQUIRED very
> heavy treble
> filtering to remove the distortion (and any noise from 78s), so
> that he had a
> lot of fundamentals. Any lack of brilliance was counteracted by
> heavy reverb.
> All in all disgusting results, but John R.T. was forgiving: "it will
> advertise that there is plenty of interesting material in these old
> and those who want to engross themselves will go to the sources".
>> -----Opprinnelig melding-----
>> Fra: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] På vegne av ADRIAN COSENTINI
>> Sendt: 21. mars 2009 20:13
>> Til: [log in to unmask]
>> Emne: Re: [ARSCLIST] PACKBURN 323A
>> Hi Jan,
>> When I was the Chief Audio Engineer at The Rodgers & Hammerstein
>> archives we had a number of Packburns, and we never used them,
>> because they sounded like shit, to put it mildly. Now a days with all
>> the digital noise reduction programs out there why aren't you using
>> that? Also why on earth are you using a RIAA curve on 78's?! You're
>> missing most of the sound. A KAB pre-amp would be much better, even
>> though I'm not crazy about the pre-set curves. The OWL 1 is way
>> better to dial in the curves. Good luck finding one of those. Anyway
>> toss the Packburn and the RIAA curve.
>> On Mar 21, 2009, at 11:32 AM, Jan Myren wrote:
>>> About Packburn 323 Audio Noise Suppressor
>>> HI; I have learned that you for many years (and probably still) use
>>> Packburn for playback and recording from old 78 rpm discs.
>>> Since I am a collector of old 78's and have a big collection of
>>> records from
>>> all ages. I have also spent some recourses on good equipment and I
>>> this Packburn would be the correct analogue device to my set-up.
>>> I have a Thorens TD 521 turnable. The arm is a SME 3012R and the
>>> is a Stanton 500MKII and some different stylis, all special made for
>>> playback of old 78's! I use a normal NAD RIIA preamp.
>>> My experience so far is that it works very well on clicks and pops
>>> using the
>>> switcher and the blanker. But the continous noise filter bugs me a
>>> since I think it doesn't reduce that much surface noise. I don't
>>> use the
>>> variable adjust very often, since the so called "masked-noise"
>>> and the
>>> pumping effect bring offer "strange noises" to the sound. Therefore
>>> I mostly
>>> use the FIXED adjust, and usually set it fixed at 9 o'clock
>>> I have read that some re-issue engineers, like Robert Parker used
>>> Packburn 323A frequently when restoring old 78's for LP and CD-
>>> MY main question is if the Packburn was used as a "stand alone"
>>> unit or it
>>> was also supplied with other noise reduction units in order to
>>> filter out
>>> more of the surface noise. If so, what did they (or you) actually
>>> do and
>>> what could eventually be a good supplement for that purpose?
>>> I would really appreciate if any of you would please give me some
>>> hints and
>>> suggestions, since I think the Packburn will work very well if used
>>> right way!
>>> Really hope to hear from you again!!
>>> Best regards
>>> Jan Myren¨