Thanks for that discussion Tom. There is no mystery at all about the
CD's/SACDs being dubbed sharp. It's that ol' human factor again. People
are just not careful with pitch. Either the tapes used to produce the CD's
are a little flat (playing back sharp), or they were played back a little
sharp. This is a lot more common that you might think. I have BMG
Boston/Munch CD's that are sharp, and I recently bought some early stereo
Capitol classical remasterd by one Wayne Hileman that are a little sharp,
and he has a long list of reissues to his credit on his website (and is a
professional musician to boot).
On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 7:44 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> Hi John:
> I'm not sure what era Capitol you are referring to.
> I think the very early Capitol stereo, the first round of session recorded
> in Pittsburgh, may have been done on a 2-track machine with 2 mics. Soon
> afterward, Irv Joel and another engineer (did a lot of jazz recording at
> Capitol NYC but I can't remember his name right now) travelled around in a
> little "micro-van" with a "portable" Ampex 300 3-track. I don't think they
> used more than 3 mics, at least early on. The results of those sessions
> would have probably been mixed down to a 2-track disk-cutting master.
> I don't know how Capitol's Hollywood recordings were done, but I assume
> 3-track with multiple mics, mixed to a 2-track cutting master. I would
> guess the same about Houston.
> I do know some facts about the Capitol/EMI/Angel recordings made by Carson
> Taylor in the late 60s and early 70s, in Chicago and Cleveland. Taylor used
> a 4-channel (8-track) 3M Dynatrack recorder at the sessions, and about a
> dozen microphones (counting his coincident stereo mics as 2 mics). Back at
> the Capitol Tower, he mixed his session tapes to 2 channels and dubbed them
> to 2-track NAB, and then edited the 2-tracks into the master. Original USA
> LPs were cut from these tapes. A former Capitol mastering engineer has told
> me that Taylor sometimes or always edited two master tapes, and one was
> sent to England for the original-issue EMI LPs. Somewhere along the line,
> dubs were made, and it's apparent that the EMI reissue CDs and SACDs were
> made from these dubs. John Marks, a writer for Stereophile, has discovered
> that at least two of the Cleveland recordings were dubbed so as to end up
> with fast/sharp pitch on the EMI CDs and SACDs. It's unclear how or why
> this happened. John did spectrum analysis on the CDs/SACDs and on dubs of
> original LPs that he and I had. The original LPs are perfect A=440, whereas
> all EMI CD and SACD resissues we could find are A=445 to 446. These are the
> Oistrakh recordings with Cleveland/Szell. We tested the Gilels-Szell
> recordings, made by Columbia engineers, and they are dead-on A=440. We also
> tested the CD and HDTracks downloads of later Szell/Cleveland recordings
> made by Carson Taylor and they are A=440. And we tested Chicago/Giulini
> recordings made by Taylor, and they are A=440. So something went wrong in
> dubbing the master for those particular Cleveland-Szell recordings, and
> it's not clear yet where or why the error occured. John Marks is still
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:28 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile
> Way to Own Music"
> RE Jon Samuel's eye-opening post about multiple generations tape dubs at
>> RCA, "aging" the product every time reissues were done, even into the CD
>> era (pretty horrible news, actually), does anyone one know if this was
>> the practice with EMI/Capitol? I have recently been comparing some
>> classical LP's reissued over time, and I would swear that the earlier ones
>> have more "life" in them.
>> Back to RCA, I guess that means that the Victrola classical LP's that so
>> many collectors seem to have prized (at least in the past), were made from
>> later generation tape copies too.
>> John Haley
>> On Wed, 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
>>> 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
>>> 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).
>>>> Jon Samuels