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ARSCLIST  January 2011

ARSCLIST January 2011

Subject:

Re: DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording Speed)

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:21:42 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (365 lines)

These would have been early in the cassette's life in the US. These things had the standard 12V 
wiring hookup, and if I recall correctly had a mono output for a speaker in the dash or may have had 
a speaker in the player. I think they were meant to be bolted into the center console, maybe on a 
bracket. They were branded Mercury with the Mercury Records logo. I think this was short-lived 
because Philips started branding their cassette players and recorders Norelco in the USA.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roger Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2011 10:37 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording Speed)


Hi Tom,
I thought I had a pretty good knowledge of the history of Mercury Records,and the products they 
offered,but I was not aware of these players.

I knew about Mercury's connection to Philips,with their phonographs,"ticonal speakers" and all 
that,but not tape players for cars.Something they did,no doubt,to compete with RCA,and their "Stereo 
8".When was this,and what name did they market it under,so I can search for more information?

Roger

--- On Thu, 1/13/11, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording Speed)
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, January 13, 2011, 5:21 PM

Hi George:

I wasn't knocking the cassette format, per se, but I was knocking the awful-sounding fast-duped crap 
that was peddled in record stores when I was a youngster. Actually, the fact that the format became 
viable for music at all was miraculous and a major engineering feat. And viable it did become. I 
made plenty of really good-sounding transfers of LPs for playback both in my Walkman and my car, and 
spent hours and hours and hours "in the field" listening to them. In fact, the reason I have 
nice-condition LPs today, even favorites from my youth, is because I played those cassettes to death 
instead of the LPs. So, no knock on that format at all, that was a tremendous invention.

And, I think the Philips engineers only partially understood what they had invented. They were very 
proud of it, giving out early recorders and tapes to Mercury employees and marketing a car player 
under the Mercury brand in the U.S. very soon after the format was patented and tape-duping had 
begun. What I don't think the Philips inventors saw coming was the strides in tape manufacture and 
high fidelity tape decks from Japan. By the time I was teen in the early 80's, you could save up an 
achievable amount of money (from $250 to $500, depending on how fancy your tastes were) and get a 
very respectable cassette deck. Maxell UDXL tapes cost about $3 each back then, including the 
"copyright tax." So that amounted to $1.50 per album insurance policy. In fact, TDK had an ad 
campaign around the idea -- "My friends all think I'm crazy because I buy and album and only play it 
once, to record it onto a TDK SA cassette" (paraphrase, but pretty close to the script,
 these ads ran on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and other syndicated rock-radio shows, so I heard 
them many, many times).

But, none of this warm and fuzzy nostalgia will make those piece of garbage pre-duped tapes sold to 
the Walkman Generation sound any better. They were disposable junk, and almost all of them ended up 
in landfills in the 90's, replaced by much better sounding CD's. I never fell for the trap since I 
could dub my own tapes. I convinced several friends of this logic too, and we all enjoyed better 
sound and kept our LPs in great shape, not that many of them were any great shakes either! Who cares 
what condition a wafer-thin off-center warped late-era LP is in, it still sounds bad.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "George Brock-Nannestad" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:01 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording Speed)


> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
>
>
> Hello,
>
> in a way I am sick and tired of seeing CompactCassettes being slammed all the
> time. I will accept the slamming in case you have a choice between (European)
> vinyl pressings, CCs and CD's, but if you do not have a choice they were
> sufficiently good that they sold well. I still remember my copy of Pictures
> from an Exhibition on CC bought in Washington, D.C. in 1983 and which 5 years
> later had developed sticky something so that it would no longer play. That is
> the only one that has ever given me trouble.
>
> The CC was the most democratic and practical medium of all times: it was
> recordable and playable from its inception in 1962-63. It was only when they
> came up with Chromium Tape or Metal Tape or double speed in your mastering
> kit that troubles began. Fe (Type 1) never gave trouble; they were/are
> dependable, and the C90 was and still is a fine format for innumerable
> purposes. A lot of minor label (well, you might not even call them labels)
> distribution was exclusively on CC; certain types were only sold in gas
> stations, and for instance a lot of contemporary Italian folk music
> (something I used to know a bit about) was only available that way. I believe
> that it is the same in many small musical genres. And the format is still
> used; dusty tropical environments somehow are not as hard on the fairly
> coarse mechanics of CC players as on CD players. The machines are stand-
> alone; you do not need fancy computer programmes, USB ports, etc. to operate
> them.
>
> I know that this excellent medium is giving archives and transfer
> organisations a hard time; it is fiddly to repair leader break at the hub or
> at the splice to the magnetic tape. But the sheer breadth of material, wow. I
> have lots of conference tapes, some I have made myself, others I have bought
> off the conference tape duplicator. I have lots of broadcasts. I have Tom
> Lehrer from his Copenhagen visit when he played the "Copenhagen version" of
> "the Elements". All of this will eventually be digitized to facilitate my
> personal access. But I could have lived well with just analogue CC equipment
> for 95% of my personal entertainment needs. For professional requirements and
> 5% of entertainment I obviously need state of the art equipment.
>
> The shellac record had a similar simple appeal, but for distribution only.
> For a long period, 1925-50 (and in the UK and Dominions) it was optimised for
> reproduction on a portable gramophone: acoustic and wind-up: not even a need
> for electricity. You would get 50-100 plays out of it and could still enjoy
> it towards the end of its useful service life.
>
> No, I truly get tired of the ideal being the enemy of the sufficient.
>
> Kind regards,
>
>
> George
>
> --------------------------------------
>
>
>> And, not only backing up Steve's point but adding to it ...
>>
>> When CD's came along the industry DID SUPPORT TWO FORMATS, for YEARS.
>> Mass-duped cassettes outsold
>> CD's until into the 1990's, ten years of side-by-side sales until CD's
>> finally won out. Anyone who
>> ever deal with those awful-sounding cassettes probably rejoiced with me when
>> cheap portable and car
>> CD players came along, and soon after that cassettes faded into the
>> sunset.
>>
>> I like LPs as much as the next collector of them, but the quality control on
>> CDs was so much better,
>> from Day 1. You bought the things, and they reliably worked in all your
>> players. They weren't
>> hopelessly warped, pressed off-center, made of crackly garbage vinyl, etc.
>> And of course they beat
>> the mass-duped cassettes hands-down, as did all but the worst LPs.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:44 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording
>> Speed)
>>
>>
>> > >From the days of the Muntz 4track, later 8 track until the CD, the
>> record
>> > business was running at least two and, often, three "successful" formats
>> and inventories
>> > simultaneously, an extra expense to all..
>> >
>> > One point, often overlooked, is that the CD offered high quality and
>> portablilty. The financially
>> > beneficial advantage of the CD was that it streamlined the entire
>> distribution chain, cutting
>> > costs significantly.
>> >
>> > Now 4G allows higher quality downoads much more quickly than 3G.
>> >
>> > Downloading, to the rights owner, means the need to manufacture a phyiscal
>> object is remeved,
>> > hence the closing of the Sony facility.
>> >
>> > These business folks are in it to make money. We depend on them for our
>> recorded music. We'd all
>> > be a lot poorer (and this list would be much less active) without them.
>> >
>> > Steve Smolian
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message ----- > From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
>> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> > Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:59 PM
>> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording
>> Speed)
>> >
>> >
>> >>I don't see any great "conspiracy" in the practices described by Schwann
>> regarding LPs. The record
>> >>companies had invested a great deal of money in CD production and
>> manufacturing, and the simple
>> >>fact was the CDs could be replicated in a manner where very few were
>> returned for quality defects
>> >>(unlike late-era LPs, especially when sold to picky buyers in the
>> remaining small stores), and
>> >>also everyone saw the advantage to getting the consumers to buy CD players
>> and CDs so they would
>> >>move away from cassettes as soon as cheap/plentiful car and portable CD
>> players hit the market.
>> >>Again, tape duplication was not a great business. The CD plants could,
>> with some good training and
>> >>QC procedures, turn out reliably uniform copies millions of times if
>> needed. No more fussy ancient
>> >>stamping equipment, messy vinyl compounds and, even worse than that, tape
>> duplicating nightmares.
>> >>The win-win that made all of this inevitable was that consumers could be
>> re-sold their entire
>> >>music collection in this fab new format. If the industry had been this
>> business-minded earlier
>> >>this century, they might have gotten yet another bite at the consumers
>> when the masses started
>> >>moving to downloads. Instead, they stupidly left a void where Napster
>> filled in and it's been
>> >>downhill ever since. The worst is, it was clear where all of this was
>> going as soon as the first
>> >>"ripping" software appear in the 90's, and definitely as soon as CD copier
>> burners because
>> >>ubiquitous.
>> >>
>> >> Anyway, the initial CD rollout was a time of phat and happy profits for
>> the record biz.
>> >>
>> >> -- Tom Fine
>> >>
>> >> ----- Original Message ----- >> From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
>> >> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> >> Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 7:14 PM
>> >> Subject: [ARSCLIST] DATs DELETED but not LPs (was: 15/16 Recording
>> Speed)
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>> John -- apology accepted, especially since I am a fan of Chance!
>> >>>
>> >>> On 1/12/2011 6:17 PM, Scott wrote:
>> >>>> I have often wondered if modern technology might recover some of the
>> lost
>> >>>> audio.... Scott
>> >>>
>> >>> You're not the only one, and I think they had another look at the tapes
>> a couple of years ago,
>> >>> but the "Rose Mary Woods Stretch" was a bit too efficient. By the way,
>> that famous photo had an
>> >>> amusing use on the cover of the August 1989 Schwann CD catalog under the
>> headline "EXTRA! DATs
>> >>> DELETED!!!" They had decided to give up on the viability of the
>> pre-recorded DAT and CD-3
>> >>> formats, and the editor said in removing the listings this position was
>> no less awkward than was
>> >>> Ms. Woods'. The also printed a 1971 letter she had written them on
>> White House stationery
>> >>> giving Nixon's thanks for a copy of the catalog.
>> >>>
>> >>> Of added interest they next included a commentary "Vanishing Vinyl (...
>> or the short run
>> >>> prospects of the long-playing record)". With insider evidence, they
>> accuse the industry of
>> >>> market manipulation by deleting popular LP series that were selling well
>> and instituting
>> >>> disadvantageous non-return policies for retailers. "Although the CD
>> revolution has been -- to
>> >>> some extent -- consumer-driven, the LP decline has been, to a degree,
>> industry manipulated."
>> >>> They pledged to continue listing LPs and cassettes in their quarterly
>> Schwann guide.
>> >>>
>> >>> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
>> >>>
>> >>>> -----Original Message-----
>> >>>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>> >>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Spencer
>> >>>> Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:12 PM
>> >>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> >>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 15/16 Recording Speed
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Mike,
>> >>>>
>> >>>> I truly value your contribution to this list and your long-standing
>> >>>> knowledge of recorded history, and I have enjoyed reading your posts
>> for
>> >>>> years. I felt as the last paragraph in your post was somewhat off topic
>> and
>> >>>> that prompted my post.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> In retrospect it was most likely a knee-jerk response, because to this
>> day I
>> >>>> still can't understand all of the reasoning/ logic (or lack of therein)
>> and
>> >>>> other motives that created these recordings - it simply baffles my mind
>> (and
>> >>>> even though I'm old, I wasn't old enough to vote for Nixon, so there is
>> no
>> >>>> love lost...).
>> >>>>
>> >>>> I too know several individuals involved with the playback/ recovery of
>> the
>> >>>> Nixon tapes and find the work (and their work environment) a case study
>> in
>> >>>> archival education.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> My sincere apologies to you, I had no idea that you also played a hand
>> in
>> >>>> the recording/ playback/ restoration of these tapes. As they begin to
>> come
>> >>>> to light in the Nixon Library, I'm hugely interested in what is
>> presented to
>> >>>> the public.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Best regards,
>> >>>> John
>> >>>>
>> >>>> John Spencer
>> >>>> www.bmschace.com
>> >>>>
>> >>>> On Jan 12, 2011, at 3:10 PM, Michael Biel wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>>> On 1/12/2011 2:23 PM, George Brock-Nannestad wrote:
>> >>>>>> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Hello,
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> beauty is in the eye of the beholder as is the experience of
>> >>>>>> politically loaded information.
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Mike mentioned these tapes, because they are some of the
>> technically
>> >>>>>> best documented in modern history. This is pure documentation, and
>> no
>> >>>>>> mention of the need to obtain it.
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Kind regards,
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> George
>> >>>>> Thank you, George. John, I RESENT your implication that there was
>> >>>> ANYTHING political in my mentioning the Nixon tapes because a close
>> friend
>> >>>> designed and installed the replay equipment used on these tapes, I have
>> seen
>> >>>> that set-up (George might have been there too), a number of other
>> friends of
>> >>>> mine have been involved over the years in the technical analysis of
>> the
>> >>>> tapes AND SOME OF THEM ARE ON THIS LIST.
>> >>>>> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
>> >>>>>> John Spencer wrote (why?):
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> Perhaps you could google for an answer to your question below
>> >>>>>>> without inserting a political slant to the list-serve that has
>> >>>>>>> nothing to do with what the original question was posed about?
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> John Spencer
>> >>>>>>> www.bmschace.com
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> On Jan 12, 2011, at 12:31 PM, Michael Biel wrote:
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>> Did the Nixon White House tapes use it?
>> >>>>
>> >>>
>> >>
>> >
>

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