There are LOTS of insights to be drawn from that short talk; too bad it
wasn't spelled out more clearly for the many audiophiles who have the notion
that a master tape is like an old-master painting - done, perfect, timeless.
Most audio masters are not that and were not anticipated to be that. Not
when the transfer to the lossy, intractable medium of LP was the norm. There
was always going to be another layer of interpretation involved, governed
both by technical needs and commercial considerations.
Mastering people recommend to mixers that they not take the compression and
eq to the max, that they leave some room for the final interpretation under
the controlled conditions of the mastering studio, away from the cranked-up
adrenalin of the recording studio. It is easier to add than to subtract.
That's true today, where the release medium is free from many of the
limitations of analog disc (well, maybe MP3 has re-introduced a new set of
constraints!). Certainly it was true then, when an experienced producer
could probably anticipate the results of a mono cut, but not the trickier
The one thing about the Stanton cartridge issue that bugs me is that by
being so far behind the curve with a key element, of which many end users
have far superior versions, undermines the credibility of whole process.
Hopefully that doesn't cloud another factoid. Isn't it cool to find out that
for some time Abbey Road's LP masters have been sourced through our little
DACs? High-fives, Tom.
Thanks to Michael Shoshani for the additional info. Hope Hoffman's site
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:34 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Interesting details on new Beatles LP reissues
Fremer has a bunch of pre-conceived notions, so the interview can be
grating, but some interesting
1. pressing for North America at Rainbo in California:
2. pressing in Europe is at Optimal Media in Germany:
3. the 44.1/24-bit masters were used. I think what Sean Magee said about the
USB drive is not true.
I've loaded both the CD and the USB tracks into the computer and compared
dynamics and the USB files
are less compressed. The 2009 CDs weren't exactly toothpasted, but they are
noticeably "make it
louder" compared to the USB, playing both back in Foobar2000. The mono CD
box set was claimed to be
straight transfers, no extra compression, from the mono Parlophone master
tapes. "Uncompressed" for
Beatles is not very dynamic (see next point). They were baking in a lot of
dynamics control with
their mono mixes (and stereo mixes for the later albums).
4. I like the fact that Magee spanks down Fremer about the Beatles and
dynamics compression. The
Beatles LPs were SUPERLOUD in their day. Original Capitol monos will
overdrive any lesser preamp,
only slightly less so with Parlophones because they cut slightly lower peak
levels to fit more time
on the sides. The only cuts I've ever heard that weren't
dynamics-compressed, stereo or mono, were
the Mobile Fidelity reissues. Supposedly those are not compressed, cut at
half-speed from the master
tapes with no EQ or compression. These new cuts are supposed to have no
additonal compression beyond
the master tapes. I'll be interested to hear when my set arrives next month!
5. I also like Magee quietly explaining that Fremer's jihad against digital
masters is off-base.
Almost ALL modern vinyl, reissue and new-issue is cut off digital sources.
Very few companies will
let old master tapes out of their vaults anymore. There are exceptions,
Kevin Gray and Bernie
Grundman seem able to get tapes when their client wants to boast they are
remastering from tapes.
6. Notice Magee likes the Benchmark converter. Me too!
7. I do agree with Fremer about the Stanton 681EEE cartridge that Magee uses
for playback on the
lathe. EMI can't spring for something better? That's a POS. At least get
something accurate like a
Denon DL-110, which retails for almost the same as what the Stanton used to
(it's not made
anymore -- good riddance!). If they want something "industrial strength" or
"broadcast grade" to go
on the SME tonearm, get a Denon DL-103 or the reissue Ortofon broadcast
-- Tom Fine