Hello Tom, Jamie and Richard
Tom, as I remember it, in the 1970s a debate simmered over the
precision of the (purported) audiophile grade phono preamplifers. Did
they track the RIAA de-emphasis curve accurately? How closely,
I remember Mark Levinson at that time asserting that one-tenth of a dB
mattered. He was then ridiculed in certain quarters and saw his
products dismissed by subjectivists who complained that they sounded
too cold and analytical.
I think you are correct Richard to point out pre-emphasis inaccuracies
found in old master tapes. Often, we have reason to suspect that they
were huge. And I agree with Jamie about the advantages of performing
de-emphasis in the digital domain. We advocated for this as the least
destructive post process back in 2000. And we were certainly not the
first to arrive at this conclusion.
And Jamie, I am very happy to see you express the view that playing
the tape right really matters. Again, this is what ATL (Audio Transfer
Laboratory) has been saying since back in the 1990s.
It could appear that we have lost much of the technological expertise
that was once present in the record industry. The David Smiths, who
knew better, are now gone, tragically, at the very time their
knowledge is most needed. Interestingly today it is sometimes the
library science majors, working in the AV preservation field, who seem
more concerned about doing the analog to digital transfers in the most
technically correct manor.
Meanwhile, over in the music industry, artistic (well, hopefully)
re-mastering during the domain transfer process remains widely
prevalent. Witness the mis-guided but popular approach of adding a new
layer of analog coloration (distortion) in the transfer process by
selecting a classic tape machine for the transfer.
Jamie, I note that Plangent has made alliances with other transfer
studios, so I hope you will now consider an alliance with us at ATL
and ATAE. Seems to me that we might share the same goal: Preserving
the world's recorded music heritage to the best of our ability.