Dammit, you have that same "feature" where when one replies to your ARSCList posts, the "TO" is you
and not the list. Anyway ...
Actually my father's first company, Fine Sound, was what started as a cutting-only operation. He had
been in charge of disk and tape recording at Reeves during the introduction of microgroove (in fact
Reeves and Fairchild had developed their own microgroove system and had worked on compatibility
issues with Columbia). He and George Piros already had years of disk-cutting experience by then, and
they decided to go off on their own, apparently without hard feelings from Buzz Reeves since many
sessions done at Reeves ended up cut for disk at Fine Sound. The original studio was in an
out-building on my father's place in Rockland County. He'd do freelance sessions, mainly jazz for
Mercury and Verve but also film-scoring and other work, in various NYC studios (Reeves and Fulton
Sound mostly) and he and George Piros would cut disk masters and do jobs like 78-to-LP reissue
mastering in Rockland County. After he invented PerspectaSound for movies, MGM bought 51% of
everything and moved the studio operation to 711 5th Avenue (now the Coca-Cola building), which they
had rebuilt in the late 40's for WMGM radio. Those studios were actually the first NBC network
studios, before Rockefeller Center. They were later used by World Broadcast and the building was
bought by MGM in the 40's. Fine Sound continued their mastering business in the new facilities,
actually expanded it.
When Fine Recording was set up in 1957, the first facilities built were the mastering rooms. It took
a year to build and outfit the Ballroom studio, so my father did sessions outside, mostly at Tommy
Nola's (in fact Nola was wired directly to a temporary control room at Fine Recording so the board
could feed directly to a tape machine there, I think to avoid paying a union tape-op technician). So
the mastering rooms were going from nearly Day 1 whereas the studio got operating nearly a year
What Bob says is absolutely correct about disk masters. There were all kinds of cooperative
manufacturing and disk-cutting agreements out there. If a record company thought they had a hit
based on early buzz and radio play, they'd order numerous masters cut and pressing all over the
country so as to serve regional markets quickly. I think some plating was done right at the
manufacturing plants and some was done near the mastering source and then shipped to plants. There
was a plating place in Queens that did a lot of business with Fine Recording. I think Bob
experienced a lot more run-away hits at Motown than came through Fine Recording, but there were
times especially with Mercury where something would catch fire unexpectedly and there would be a mad
dash to get hundreds of thousands of copies made and in the distribution channels as quickly as
possible. Another one of those cases for Fine Recording was "The First Family," which was recorded
right at the peak of the Cuban missle crisis and then rushed into the market when things calmed
down. I'm not sure how many plates you could get off a laquer or how many records you could get out
of a set of plates, but whatever it was didn't come near to filling demand if you suddenly made a
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Olhsson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] David Carroll "Let's Dance"
>- -From Tom Fine: "... the mastering operation at Fine Recording was a big
> part of the business and encompassed a whole separate area of the building.
> At peak time there were two stereo rooms and two mono rooms, and formats
> ranging from 78PRM vinyl kiddie records to super-loud mono 45 singles to
> stereo LPs were being cut. A lot of material recorded elsewhere was mastered
> at Fine Recording, and a lot of private-release stuff like corporate-promo
> records and network-distributed radio programs and ads were cut there, so
> the cutting was sort of a stand-alone operation more than an adjunct to the
> studio. In the mid-50's, Fine Sound was the largest independent LP cutting
> operation in the country, doing work for just about every label except RCA,
> Columbia, Capitol and Decca..."
> Tom, didn't you say that Fine Recording was originally formed as a mastering
> specialist before there was ever a Fine studio?
> Something a lot of people today don't understand about mastering is that any
> title that needed to support significant sales required a lot of masters.
> Most mastering facilities ran 24-7 in multiple rooms with custom and
> independent label work filling the time between big hits. One of the
> reasons we at Motown prototyped masters for production to actually be cut by
> RCA in Chicago was that we couldn't profitably run a large enough operation
> in Detroit to cut the number of masters we needed in order to support a
> hit. This was because we were virtually the only game in town. Universal
> Recording in Chicago also ran a massive mastering operation that I'm told
> did a great deal of work for Mercury.
> Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
> Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
> Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
> 615.562.4346 http://www.bobolhsson.com http://audiomastery.com