Following up on this ...
One kind ARSC member sent me the RCA issues from the massive Ellington set. Another sent me a dub of
the LP version of the accidental stereo, created by Brad Kay and Steve Lasker. The RCA one has the
two channels out of phase, like I said below! The Kay/Lasker version is much more realistic 2-mic
"stereo," although the mics are very close together but seem to be aimed at different mid-points.
Kay and Lasker also did a much better job time-aligning the two disks and did much better cleanup,
or used a better source in the left channel (no high-pitched tone throughout on theirs).
It's too bad that the RCA "official" version is what's all over the web. Because it's out of phase,
it's phoney accidental stereo!
Mark, I hope you fixed the phase vs. what RCA put out.
By the way, even though the Kay/Lasker audio has a strong in-phase center, there is definitely
stereo information to both sides, according to my scope. The net result, on the Kay/Lasker audio
(which really sounds much better, in all respects, than RCA's), is a sound-picture of a medium-sized
and somewhat dead recording room, with the piano in the middle and close to the two mics (so it's
spread artificially wide), the other instruments farther back. The stereophony is mainly in
reflected sound and room-tone, not in primary tones, indicating again how close together the mics
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Accidental stereo (again)
> 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