I recall EMI/Angel adopted Telefunken's Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) system
in the 1980s too. One claim about DMM was that it enabled LP side lengths
to be longer than otherwise possible without loss of fidelity.
I can't say I always agreed with that, but since most of my purchases of
EMI material that used DMM were reissues it is hard to entirely blame DMM
for quality/audio issues, there being many other factors as you've
enumerated Tom. I did find Telefunken DMM pressings usually quite superior
to earlier non-DMM pressings, particularly with the
Harnoncourt/Leonhardt Bach Cantata sets. I recall ditching many of the
earlier sets in favor of the DMM pressings when DMM versions became
Anyone have opinions about DMM?
On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> I tend to agree with Roger that there were some very good-sounding
> classical LP records made in the 1980s. There were some good reasons,
> however, why this era is shunned by some collectors.
> 1. many people don't like the sound of early digital recordings, period.
> From 1979 onward, many and then most new classical LPs were made from
> digital masters. The classical labels wholeheartedly embraced digital
> recording early. So the same mentality that left some without a CD player
> well into the 1990s would lead them to hate digital-master LPs.
> 2. this also carried over into the reissue market. Labels would make
> digital masters for early CDs (we know how good those sounded, by and
> large) and then cut a "New Improved Digital Remaster" LP. Collectors by and
> large didn't like these reissues one bit, no matter how good the vinyl and
> 3. there were reissues like Mercury Golden Imports which didn't sound
> anything like the originals, although they were pressed on very quiet
> vinyl. There were also reissues of mono content mastered to fake stereo and
> all the quiet vinyl did was show how bad fake stereo sounds.
> 4. I've heard conflicting stories about the Angel issues of EMI material.
> One version says that EMI would send over NAB-EQ dubs for Capitol to cut.
> The other story says EMI would send over CCIR master tapes and Capitol's
> cutting guys would EQ around their NAB playback curve. Either way, I agree
> with David Burnham that some of those Angel reissues don't sound right. In
> contrast, as I understand it, some, many or most of the London reissues of
> Decca material were pressed from either plates or laquers made in England.
> If I recall correctly, some of the manufacturing was done in Canada, but
> maybe that was only the sleeves?
> 5. Columbia and RCA reissued a few classic titles using gimmicks like
> half-speed mastering and heavy vinyl. Some of them sounded OK, but I recall
> reading a lot of bad comments about RCA not sounding like the original
> Living Stereo records.
> 6. the final net-net for late-era USA vinyl was it was paper-thin and the
> sleeves were often cheaply made. Production was sloppy, so you'd get inner
> sleeves folded over and having scratched the record in process. Non-warped
> records were less than common. Stuff from record clubs was even worse, a
> step down in quality.
> There are some cases with the early digital recordings, where the original
> LP sounds much better than the CD. The main reason for this would be early
> sample-rate conversion equipment and early CD mastering in general. For
> instance some people very much prefer the early Columbia 3M Digital records
> on their original LPs vs the Masterworks Digital CDs of the late 80s. Same
> for Telarc and RCA early digital recordings made with the Soundstream
> system. By about 1985, many original recordings were "born" at 44.1/16-bit,
> so there shouldn't have been any bitrate conversion issues. However, Decca
> used its proprietary 48k/18-bit system throughout the 1980s, and EMI may
> have used its higher-than-CD-resolution well into the 80s. I think RCA used
> Soundstream for quite a while, too.
> Finally, you got some specialized audiophile LP reissues, for instance
> Decca on Mobile Fidelity and various Polygram material out of Japan, that
> was of very high quality.
> Many of these comments run parallel in the jazz world. Stuff "Newly
> Digitally Remastered" and then put on a newly-cut LP usually didn't sound
> better than originals. This was especially true with Columbia reissues of
> 78's where someone had gone nuts with CEDAR and destroyed any ambience or
> room-tone in the original recordings, plus lopped off the entire top end.
> In the rock world, there are definitely cases of fast-selling albums where
> later remasters (required because so many copies had been sold that new
> laquers and plates were needed) sound better than original pressings. There
> are also plenty of the opposite. In general, record-club versions sounded
> worse if they weren't pressed from original parts (and they usually still
> did because they'd be pressed on warped paper-thin noisy vinyl). The
> overall quality of rock LPs suffered when duped cassettes became the go-to
> mass medium in the late 80s. LP releases of new albums just about stopped
> by the time CDs outsold cassettes.
> -- Tom Fine