While we are right to focus on correct design and function of the
equipment, that's just the starting point. There is no substitute, ever,
for checking the pitch yourself. You cannot assume anything, and you
simply have to do it, whatever old tape or new machine you are dealing
with. Pitch, even pitch that varies across a recording (which occurs with
some frequency in live recordings, both from discs and tapes), is easily
correctable with standard computer programs, once you understand and can
pinpoint what the problem is. You have to use your ears for that,
spot-checking the pitch throughout. It's a PITA, but there is no other way
to get it right. Our species can detect very small increments in pitch, and
I believe almost anyone can learn to do that, which just takes some
concentration and perhaps practice. Slight changes in pitch will
definitely change the sonority of various instruments and voices, depending
on what they are, sometimes profoundly. People who fly airplanes need good
vision; people who work on recordings need good ears. None of this work of
copying tapes and remastering recordings can be just done routinely. If
for no other reason, the subject matter (the music) deserves that much
respect, for us to get the pitch right. But how often that doesn't happen
On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM, Jon Samuels <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> The earliest RCA stereo (or more accurately, binaural) recording
> The earliest RCA stereo (or more accurately, binaural) recordings were
> indeed experimental, recorded by a different crew, using different
> equipment. The simultaneously recorded mono was considered the master, and
> the producer of the mono recording was in charge of the recording, not the
> stereo producer. (Don't forget, that RCA didn't even issue the stereo
> versions on LP until 1958.) Also, there was only one binaural rig
> available, so some orchestral recordings were only done in mono, even as
> late as 1955. Starting in 1955, the binaural became the master, and the
> mono became a mixdown of the binaural.
> The one area I disagree with you is in the sound. Many RCA binaurals, if
> one can find the original tapes, sound spectacular. Some of the monos also
> have extraordinary sound, but all things being equal, given a choice
> between the two, I would choose the binaural in most cases.
> Jon Samuels
> On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 11:51 AM, Dave Burnham <[log in to unmask]>
> It is my understanding that the earliest RCA stereo recordings were little
> more than experiments and were recorded by a different crew using different
> mikes and equipment. The resulting sound was very inferior to the mono
> equivalents. Compare mono/stereo versions of "Also sprach...", and
> Liebermann's "Concerto for Jazz Band...." by Reiner.
> Sent from my iPhone
> > On Mar 26, 2014, at 6:17 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> > As far as I know, the only RCA Living Stereo issues that are all from
> first-generation tapes are the BMG SACD/CD discs. Jon Samuels and Mark
> Donahue will correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that all of
> the 3-track session tapes were mixed to 2-tracks, which were then edited
> into "master" tapes. And, a third generation dub was often used to cut LPs.
> For the earliest stereo recordings, the ones made on the RCA 2-track
> machine at 30IPS, at least the earliest stereo LPs were cut from
> first-generation tapes. Later LPs may have been cut from dubs (they must
> have been, because the first generation tapes were still in good playing
> condition 50 years later).
> > RCA began using 3-track session recorders circa 1956. So the 1954 and
> 1955 stereo recordings were all or almost all 2-track and the
> first-generation LPs were almost all cut from first-generation tapes.
> > It is also my understanding that Columbia was late to stereo, but jumped
> right in with 3-track, so all of their stereo LPs were cut from
> second-generation or later 2-track tapes.
> > Back in the day, people either couldn't hear the sound degradation from
> each generation of tape dubbing, or refused to acknowledge it, or felt it
> was minimal and harmless compared to disk-to-disk or disk-to-tape dubbing
> they had probably done earlier in their careers.
> > -- Tom Fine
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:48 AM
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only
> Worthwhile Way to Own Music"
> >> OMG. The horror is finally revealed. Did this also apply to the .5
> >> "audiophile" LP series? They sounded lousy to me.
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> >> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jon Samuels
> >> Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:41 AM
> >> To: [log in to unmask]
> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only
> >> Way to Own Music"
> >> Early CD transfers had another problem. At RCA (and, from what I
> >> understand, to differeing degrees at other record companies), edited
> >> from the recording sessions were never used in the early CD days. The
> >> reason had to do with bookkeeping (and Jack Pfeiffer's belief that no
> >> could hear the difference, and therefore was not worth the trouble to
> >> down, find and physically restore the edited masters). From it's
> >> LP days, RCA maintained a system where every LP side (and later every
> >> had to have its' own tape. That meant that if an LP was re-issued with a
> >> different number, the later LP master would at best be a
> >> dub of the previous LP. Unfortunately, they took this a couple of steps
> >> further. Three-track (and higher) masters were always mixed down to
> >> for the LP. (One of the reasons this was done was to deliberately reduce
> >> the dynamic range in the LP master before the cutting stage.) Each new
> >> re-issue's tape master was a dub of the most recently released LP tape
> >> master, not the original one. They continued this practice with early
> >> Also, in later LP years, they often dubbed early 30 ips tape masters to
> >> ips, and used those for later LPs with the same issue numbers. The
> >> consequences of these factors was that early CD masters were sometimes
> >> much as seven or eight generations down from the original session tapes.
> >> (It also explains why collectors often prefer earlier LP issues.)
> >> The first RCA CDs that used the edited session tapes (called workparts
> >> RCA parlance) rather than dubs as their source material were the Artur
> >> Arthur) Rubinstein CD series released in 1984, which was produced on CD
> >> Max Wilcox. That didn't become pretty much standard practice around
> >> until around 1988/9 (and even then, not in every instance).
> >> This doesn't even allow for the improvement in the quality of digital
> >> over the past thirty years (a subject written about here many times).
> >> Best,
> >> Jon Samuels