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ARSCLIST  September 2012

ARSCLIST September 2012

Subject:

Re: early stereophony

From:

Roderic G Stephens <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 25 Sep 2012 11:16:51 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (85 lines)

Dear Jon, and I use the "Dear" in the full sense of the word.  What a wonderful result you and "friends" have created in the "Living Stereo" re-mastered series.  The very reasonable cost of the SACDs is obviously another result of all of your "labors of love".  As an admirer, thank you once more.

--- On Mon, 9/24/12, Jon Samuels <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Jon Samuels <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] early stereophony
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, September 24, 2012, 9:23 PM

Hi Tom,

The traditional story behind early "Living Stereo" recordings is not quite accurate.  Jack Pfeiffer told everyone that the first RCA binaural recording was the 1954 "Damnation of Faust", and that the whole piece was recorded in binaural at 15 ips.  That's what the first Living Stereo CD booklets said.  Over the years (predominantly, after Jack passed away in 1996), I tried to find all the early stereo masters that I could.  RCA's surviving paperwork does not list whether tapes are binaural or mono.  I found quite a few binaural scraps (most of which were issued on the Jack Pfeiffer tribute), but no prior unknown binaural complete works.  The early 1953-54 binaural tapes were all recorded at 30 ips, not 15 ips.  When we remastered Reiner's early "Ein Heldenleben" and "Also sprauch Zarathustra" recordings for the "Living Stereo" CDs, we used 15 ips tapes that we thought were the original masters, because they were so labelled.  However, I
 subsequently found an alternate take of the Sunrise section of "Also sprauch" at 30 ips in far superior sound.  (Unfortunately, those Strauss 30 ips binaural masters are still missing to this day.)  The "Damnation of Faust" has never been issued in binaural/stereo, and it isn't clear that the whole piece was even recorded that way, given that I found only one 14" binaural reel.

I can fill in some of the missing details, at least as concerned RCA classical recordings.  RCA recorded 30 ips simultaneous mono and binaural session tapes sporadically from late 1953 through early 1955.  They had only one binaural setup during that time, so only a relatively small number of recordings were made in binaural.  (It was considered experimental at the time; the mono tapes were thought to be more important - after all those would be the tapes used to make the LPs.)  At some point in 1955, they started recording every orchestral session binaurally (the tapes were subsequently mixed to mono for LP release), and used mono for everything else.  Also, sometime in 1955, they switched to recording at 15 ips.  Sometime around October, 1956, they started recording orchestras 3-track on 1/2" tapes, but unfortunately stayed with 1/4" mono for all other recordings.  Starting around April, 1958, they started recording everything 3-track, except
 for the recordings made for them in the U. K. by Decca, which were done 1/4" two-track.  They switched to the AME curve sometime around September, 1958, and abandoned it (Thank God), and returned to 30 ips around March, 1962.

None of this exists in written form, but I kept a careful log of the specifics of each tape that I (or, for that matter, any of my colleagues) worked on.  This proved especially useful for the "Living Stereo" remasterings on SACD, when I was asked to research and locate the best surviving source material for each recording.  In every case, Soundmirror was given the best analog tape sources for their DSD transfers, and I think you'll agree that the results were worth the effort.

Jon Samuels


--- On Mon, 9/24/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] early stereophony
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, September 24, 2012, 8:05 PM

Hi Jon:

AHA! Thanks. I found the Monteux right there on the "Age Of Living Stereo" tribute to Jack Pfeiffer CD. Excellent.

Listening right now, it's not bad, I think it's more realistic sounding than Cook, for example. Lots of wow and flutter, must have been the RCA tape machine. Not bad, though. Great that a lengthy (5+ minutes) excerpt was included on the CD.

Was "Damnation of Faust" recorded with the intent of commercial release (as opposed to an experiment like the Monteux and Toscanini recordings)? If so, is it correct that it is the first for-release stereo recording by RCA?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jon Samuels" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 7:13 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] early stereophony


Tom,

The first RCA binaural experimental recordings that I have found paperwork for were conducted by Leopold Stokowski, recorded in October, 1953. The tapes were not assigned numbers, and have not been located. The earliest surviving binaural tapes that I've found were conducted by Pierre Monteux, recorded in December, 1953.

Jon Samuels


--- On Mon, 9/24/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [ARSCLIST] early stereophony
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Monday, September 24, 2012, 6:01 PM

Going from the liner notes on various commercial issues plus online stuff, I've arrived at this list. Comments most welcome and appreciated.

1. Bell Labs/Stokowski - 1932

2. EMI/Blumlein - 1934

3. Bert Whyte/Magnecorder -- 1952

4. Emory Cook -- 1952

5. RCA -- 1954 (earliest experimental recordings no longer exist, first commercial stereo recordings made in 1954)

6. Decca -- 1954

7. Teldec -- 1954

8. Mercury -- 1955 (experiments started as early as 1952 but no tapes exist pre-1955)

9. what about Livingston with the hotel polka bands, was that 1954 or even 1953?

10. what about Sound In The Round, 1955?

Thanks again for comments/clarifications/facts.

-- Tom Fine

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