The Jack Pfeiffer excerpt is very interesting. He was such a pro! Note how he immediately assesses
the business prospects (accurately) of a commerical release program. This is a niche thing, of great
fascination to us and a few others, but not a commercially viable mass-release prospect.
Paul, I think the "controversy" is about exactly what is accidental stereo material, not whether
accidental stereo material exists. The point Mark was making was that if you use modern tuning and
time-alignment methods (which weren't available when Brad Kay was cooking up non-crazy "California
ideas"), you find that some disks Kay determined were accidental stereo are, in fact, fed from the
same mic and are not a different perspective. I don't think there's any debate about the selections
included on the disk Mark worked on, nor any debate about the two Duke Ellington extended suites.
The old EMI guy who took such a vehement stance at the ARSC Conference has been proven wrong. I
think he just had wrong information from stodgy, hidebound EMI executives (of which he was perhaps
one), or he was outright lying. I'm not sure what his motivation would be. Why would EMI care so
much about the entire topic to outright lie? Why would it be "controversial" in the first place?
That's why I think it's more a case of old, hidebound executives being defensive and relying on
sloppy or incomplete record-keeping.
One of those funny "what-if" scenarios -- what if the Ellington accidental stereo was known among
collectors in the early 50's? What if Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer knew about it while they had
carte blanche access to the RCA Victor vaults? What if they happened to run into Emory Cook and got
wind of his two-groove stereo disk developments?
Of all the accidental stereo audio I've heard, the most like a professional well-made stereo
recording was, ironically, the EMI Elgar recording. It sounds to me that they "accidentally" placed
the two mics in places where they good a good stereo image, good room tone and a good orchestral
balance. In contrast, the Ellington selections seem to feature out-of-phase mics placed close to
each other. Reverse polarity on one channel, and they flip to a near-mono image with some extra
brass energy on the left and some extra drum energy on the right. It's not at all unlikely that the
polarity of the two lathes or mics was different, since one lathe was experimental and may not have
been absolute polarity throughout. There are also certain arrival-time differences in the Ellington
not related to time-misalignment (at least as I am reading the waveforms) that indicate two mics in
different positions (though not in a traditional stereo pickup spacing). The left-channel lathe on
the Ellington session has some sort of a high-pitched squeal, either mechanical or electrical. I
assume that was the experimental disk.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Urbahns" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 9:45 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Accidental stereo (again)
> Mark Obert-Thorn wrote:
>> The issue George brings up has always been the
>> sticking point with regard to the acceptance of accidental stereo from the
>> very beginning. When it comes to synchronizing discs whose matrices were
>> originally cut on two different tables, there are so many variables --
>> differing original recording speeds between the discs; pitch fluctuations
>> within each disc; playback speed variations; incorrect centering of the
>> records to be played back; disc warpage, etc. -- that it becomes difficult
>> if not impossible to determine whether the differences were due to separate
>> miking or inexact synchronization.
> For the benefit of those on this thread here is an excerpt from an
> Audiophile Audition show in the 1980s where the late John Pfeiffer confirms
> it as true stereo so I really don't understand the debate. Especially since
> the EMI rep commonly quoted never seriously tested the recordings.
> Paul Urbahns
> Radcliff, Ky