I did an ARSC presentation on this topic a number of years ago.
Check the Columbias for another, handwritten number in the dead wax with an
"X" prefix." These were Western Electric experiments that succeeded so well
that Columbia issued them. I Think. This wan't part of the presentation.
The companies had to "tamp down" the dynamic range, particularly in the
bass, so the records would sound OK on the earlier machines before the
speakers designed with the Orthophonic formulas, acoustic and electric, came
into general use. This allowed them to continue to sell records to their
installed base. They let it all hang out in November of 1925 during
"Orthophonic Week." (again, the date is from memory). These record releases
use the scroll label, whereas the eearlier 1925 electrics used the wing
The Western Electric test pressings of the New York Philharmonic, some of
which are dubbed in their commemorative CD box, clearly show greater dynamic
range than the commercial early electrics. I used the Mengelberg Hollander
Overture to demo this. I'm going by memory here, but I think the
experimental one was made in 1924 and the commercial one in 1925.
Incidntally, another of those experimental Western Electric discs in their
"X series stayed in print a while as a Victor frequency test record. Can't
check for the number right now. Again, it's handscribed in the dead wax and
bears a separate Victor catalog number as well.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Donald Tait
Sent: Monday, October 08, 2012 4:42 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Early electrical disk recording
I might be incorrect about this, and would welcome being corrected, but I
have understood that the earliest commercially-released electrical recording
was from March 1925, live:
US Columbia 50013-D (Black Label)
Trad. arr. Mark Andrews: "John Peel"
Associated Glee Clubs of America
The label reads "850 Male Voices"
"Recorded at their performance at Metropolitan Opera House, N.Y."
The other side:
Associated Glee Clubs, Met.Op. Hse.1925 (as above)
850 Male Voices
"Augmented by the audience of 4000 voices at the Metropolitan Opera House,
N.Y." Matrix 98166
Nowhere do the labels indicate that a new or different recording method
The astonishing listening experience is John Peel. The dynamic range is
incredible. The climax is extremely realistically loud. I've had at least
three copies over the years and have never found one without a degree of
wear in the climax, probably due to the heavy old pickups plowing through
the heavily modulated grooves and creating grooves of their own.
I have read that after wear tests on a few early electrical recordings,
the companies compressed their dynamic ranges to "cope." Is that correct?
John Peel would rather seem to demand it for 1925/6 pickups. And did Victor
beat Columbia with their Cortot and Stokowski electricals?
From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
To: ARSCLIST <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Mon, Oct 8, 2012 3:00 pm
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Early electrical disk recording
This brings up a question -- what is the earliest commercially-released
Also, what is the oldest surviving test recording of an electrical system?
Something from WECO? From
GE (the optical-film system)?
Is any of the pre-commercial electrically-recorded material online?
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Stamler" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 08, 2012 3:25 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Howard Scott Dies
> On 10/8/2012 11:36 AM, Mickey Clark wrote:
>> I have electrical issues on Columbia as early as January 1925- by Art
>> Gillham and The Associated Glee Clubs of America waxed electrically by
>> March. I've issued discs by both these artists - Mickey
> And I transcribed a couple of Irish records, both by the same artist,
a few weeks apart,
> onw acoustic, one electric. Again, early 1925.
> But according to the information I've read, Western Electric first
Victor in late 1923
> or early 1924, and Columbia shortly after. It took the two companies a
(and a disastrous
> Christmas sales season) to decide they would adopt the new system.
>> Follow me on Twitter
>> M.C.Productions Vintage Recordings
>> 710 Westminster Ave. West
>> Penticton BC
>> V2A 1K8
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Monday, October 08, 2012 8:45 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Howard Scott Dies
>>> In all due respect, while Victor and Columbia readily embraced electric
>>> recording, the smaller labels did resist, mainly as they didn't have the
>>> capital resources to make the switch.
>>> Brunswick had it's "light ray" process which, though a mystery, seems to
>>> have been used by others as well as a way to dodge the equipment upgrade
>>> and hefty licensing fees.
>>> Gennett's electrical system, such as it was, was terrible sounding at
>>> first. You would think that Marsh Labs, with its earlier, inferior
>>> electrical system, would have prospered as a
>>> result. But it didn't. Homer Rodeheaver closed his own acoustic studio
>>> Chicago in the fall of 1925 rather than to upgrade. I think BD&M went
>>> route also.
>>> There was a little economic slump in 1925-26 that also wreaked havoc
>>> the smaller labels, so it wasn't just that. But the changeover to
>>> was a major contributing factor
>>> to the disappearance of certain labels in those years.
>>> Dave Lewis
>>> Lebanon, OH
>>> On Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 8:13 PM, Dennis Rooney
>>> <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>>>> Dear Tom,
>>>> No. Western Electric demonstrated their system to both Victor and
>>>> Each signed and began releasing electrical recordings by spring 1925.