Tom, much, though not all of what you wrote is accura
Hi Tom and John,
Tom, much, though not all of what you wrote is accurate. The later Gold Seal (ca. 1989 and later) and all the Living Stereo releases were done from the original two and three track workparts, when they could be located. That was most of the time, but not always. The same was true for Soundmirror's SACDs. In the case of the SACDs, I located the tapes myself, and that, coupled with better computer records, meant that more workparts could be found and used. The SACDs also used higher quality A-Ds.
Two and three-track workparts were edited analog. From two-track originals, the earliest hi-speed stereo tapes released (which were issued first) and LPs were indeed make from the edited workparts in many (but again, not all) cases. (If a recording was issued on a high-speed tape, the LP would have been made from a dub for aforementioned bookkeeping reasons.) Edited three-track original workparts were mixed down to two-tracks, and those two-tracks were then used to make the initial LP release. John, Victrola issues that were the first stereo release would have been first generation dubs.
Tom, as an aside, the Living Stereo CDs were made as a direct response to your mother's successful remastering of Mercury's first Living Presence CDs. As they say, no good idea goes uncopied. Almost all the first Living Stereo releases from three-tracks were remastered using an Ampex 351 tube machine (in not great condition), while the later ones were done from transistor machines (Ampex 440 for three-tracks and Ampex ATR-102 for two-tracks).
On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:18 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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
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 Worthwhile
> 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 reels
> from the recording sessions were never used in the early CD days. The main
> reason had to do with bookkeeping (and Jack Pfeiffer's belief that no one
> could hear the difference, and therefore was not worth the trouble to track
> down, find and physically restore the edited masters). From it's earliest
> LP days, RCA maintained a system where every LP side (and later every CD)
> 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 first-generation
> dub of the previous LP. Unfortunately, they took this a couple of steps
> further. Three-track (and higher) masters were always mixed down to 2-track
> 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 CDs.
> Also, in later LP years, they often dubbed early 30 ips tape masters to 15
> ips, and used those for later LPs with the same issue numbers. The
> consequences of these factors was that early CD masters were sometimes as
> 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 in
> RCA parlance) rather than dubs as their source material were the Artur (now
> Arthur) Rubinstein CD series released in 1984, which was produced on CD by
> Max Wilcox. That didn't become pretty much standard practice around RCA/BMG
> until around 1988/9 (and even then, not in every instance).
> This doesn't even allow for the improvement in the quality of digital gear
> over the past thirty years (a subject written about here many times).
> Jon Samuels