Thanks for all the discussion and insight George. This was first directed
to Roger Beardsley who I exchanged several correspondences with earlier as I
worked through ordering the latest Historic Masters set, Issue 33. I
thought the questions I raised might give way to more discussion on the
lists but my "stump" is really in the last paragraph and I thank you for
your hearty affirmation!
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of George Brock-Nannestad
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 3:49 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Historic Masters--One guy's opinion
From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
Martin, just a few words to say that I am very happy that you are promoting
this worthwhile endeavour. I shall interject a few comments where I have
> Just wanted to share part of a recent email that I sent off to Roger
> Beardsley of Historic Masters with my list serve buddies. Anyone have
> own opinions?
> I think I might have mentioned this before. I may be coming at Historic
> Masters from a slightly deviant point of view. Although I love the
> matter (singers and music, both popular and classical in nature, of the
> "golden" era) I'm really just becoming familiar with many of the artists,
> repertoire and background. Needless to say I've found the HM accompanying
> notes to be invaluable at leading to an appreciation of what's actually
> recorded on the discs and thank you all so much for them. What really
> me to HM pressings is the fact that they ARE derived from the ORIGINAL
> MATRICES or as true to accurate copies as possible. This is a treasure
> the technically minded individual who is interested in early recording
> techniques and practices. Each side is a case study in itself. It would
> fascinating to get more information on the various processes of preparing
> the "shells" from the discovery stage to pressing of the vinyl. These
> been alluded to in the past but not delved into with a great deal of
----- this is described in some technical detail in: Sean Davies:
"Manufacturing Recordings From 100 Years Old Masters", AES Convention Paper
No. 7456, 124th Convention, Amsterdam 2008 May 17-20. Available from the AES
website at $20 for non-members, $5 for members.
> F'r instance....I've noticed that several of the sides in the Tamagno ten
> inch set are from parts that seem to have been ?polished to death? The
> surfaces are smoother (shiny) but the stylus never seems to really seat
> itself and this results in dullness, fuzziness and distortion that doesn't
> seem to be present on the rougher looking sides. I'd imagine this is the
> result of earlier attempts at "sprucing up" the metals by the parent
> companies for more recent reissue.
----- this was quite a messy business. It is extremely interesting to follow
and compare the various pressings, with their run-out grooves manufactured
post-recording, and in particular the style of the matrix numbers. I wrote a
paper and guide to these mechanical markings, "How is discography related to
the physical object?" "- presented at the seminar "Dokumentation av 78-
varvsepoken i Skandinavien", SLBA, Stockholm 12-13 February 2005. This text
used to be available somewhere on the Royal Library of Sweden website.
However, and this is very important, I have not actually made this
study of Tamagno records that is required, but I encourage it. In some
respects it would appear that the Historic Masters' pressings are from
that cannot have been the most original. When the VMA white-label HMV-series
came out ca. 1949 the metals had been polished quite visibly.
This same characteristic is true of many
> (I hesitate to say "ALL" but it might be a more accurate statement) of the
> RCA Heritage series of 1940 or 50 era repressings in red vinyl.
----- Victor Talking Machine Co. pioneered the use of two processes for
making more durable grooves. One was a "pinch-effect" removal: running a
spherically-tipped stylus at slow speed through a very thin copper positive
so that the grooves would yield and expand. This was internally called "the
ironing-out process". These were the metals that were used for the Heritage
Series,and consequently you will have the least distortion using a spherical
stylus on replay, but never as good as the originals. If that did not work
for the VTMC, they did a slow mechanical dubbing by just connecting a
reproducing stylus to a recording stylus on a different machine via a
straight rod that was covered in vibration-damping material. Some have
believed that this was indicated by S/8 in the wax. The use of this process
may be proven by differences in rpm.
> also one of the ten inch Tamagno sides that shows evidence of filling in
> the runout. These and other anomalies really do spark some interesting
> Several weeks ago on either the ARSC or 78-L list serve there was
> speculation on the processes of cutting the eccentric lead out grooves on
> post 1922/1923 Victors and the like.
----- many of those were not cut at all but rolled into the mother. The
earlier types used by Deutsche Grammophone were actually just traced by a
scriber around a semi-circular template.
> All this to say that, with me, it's not only what's in the
> groove........it's the GROOVE ITSELF. Therefore, I find that Historic
> Masters is not only providing a service to the music listening population
> but also an affordable window into the past for the historian of the
> recording industry and the practices employed in preserving all of the
> music and voices of the past. For that we should also be grateful.
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