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ARSCLIST  March 2015

ARSCLIST March 2015

Subject:

Re: Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a MYTH

From:

DAVID BURNHAM <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

DAVID BURNHAM <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 21:52:23 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (189 lines)

I don't have a definitive answer but I can't imagine they would get into the electronics of the recording chain just to change the RIAA curve and when 16rpm was au courant, I know there was no switch on the phonographs to introduce a different playback curve.
db 

     On Thursday, March 12, 2015 4:49 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
   

 I don't know about Sid Frey, but Emory Cook experimented with all kinds of disk-cutting methods. I'm 
sure he touched on a half-speed at some point, but don't know if he ever used it commercially.

There was literally half-speed production of records for a brief time. I think it was Prestige that 
issued a series of double-length jazz albums, to be played at 16RPM, cut by Rudy Van Gelder. I think 
language-lab records, books-on-record and perhaps some kiddie records were also released at 16RPM. I 
recall that speed being available on older phonographs at my school; the phonographs would probably 
be circa 1960s and this was the late 1970s when I saw them. I don't recall any slow-speed records 
surviving in the school library or classrooms.

Was there a consistent emphasis and de-emphasis curve for 16RPM cutting? Was it RIAA?

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Burnham" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a MYTH


>I was thinking of the Audio Fidelity records that claimed recorded frequencies up to 24k or 27k, I 
>forget which, (not at full level, of course), and although you couldn't hear these frequencies, you 
>were invited to check with a microscope.
>
> db
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
>> On Mar 12, 2015, at 3:28 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> Yes, that would be a smart use of half-speed mastering. That would be for CD4 records only 
>> (mostly RCA and Elektra titles). SQ and QS did not have a high-frequency carrier, rather they 
>> were matrixed systems.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Randy A. Riddle" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 3:21 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a MYTH
>>
>>
>>> Wasn't there "super-sonic" frequencies on Quadradiscs?  I was thinking
>>> those had to be cut at half speed because they included a 30 kHz carrier -
>>> if you put one on a turntable and slow it down, the carrier tone is clearly
>>> audible.
>>>
>>> On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 3:10 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> I don't think very many LPs contained "super-sonic" frequencies, because
>>>> everyone rolled off at some point to avoid blowing out the cutterhead. You
>>>> are very correct, though, that it's easier to cut 10kHz than 20kHz at a
>>>> high level, but what music has high levels of 20kHz in the first place? I
>>>> just don't see any big advantage to half-speed cutting, but I should call
>>>> up my friend Stan Ricker and discuss this in-depth before saying more.
>>>>
>>>> For what it's worth, among the major classical LP labels cutting records
>>>> in NY in the first decade of stereophony, it was typical to low-pass around
>>>> 15K, meaning there was a decrease in level down to about 10K. No one tended
>>>> to complain that there's not enough treble on Mercury, RCA and Columbia
>>>> albums of the time. If you didn't low-pass, you used something like a
>>>> Fairchild Conax, which was a relatively fast limiter for high-frequency
>>>> (above 10K) signals. The reason was, it was expensive to blow out Westrex
>>>> cutterheads and they were easily blown out with intense high-frequency
>>>> information. One thing that mystifies me about half-speed cutting is that
>>>> it came into vogue later on, when most people were using Neumann lathes and
>>>> cutterheads. I thought one of the big advantages of Neumann cutterheads was
>>>> that they pretty much solved the problem of blowing up with intense
>>>> high-frequency information. I know that George Piros, who could cut a LOT
>>>> of HF into an LP using a Scully/Westrex system in the early 60's, said he
>>>> could cut even more HF and level "if I turn off the computer" using his
>>>> Neumann lathe at Atlantic Records.
>>>>
>>>> A major test of how much HF you could cut with a circa 1958 Westrex
>>>> cutterhead came with "Persuasive Percussion" by Terry Snyder and Enoch
>>>> Light, the all-time best seller among "Stereo Spectacular" pop records. My
>>>> father told Enoch Light's biographer that he and George blew out "about a
>>>> dozen" cutterheads trying to get acceptable fidelity with the Chinese
>>>> bells. They finally arrived on a compromise that kept the cutterhead from
>>>> blowing up and ended up with a close approximation of Chinese Bells when
>>>> played back with a good cartridge on a light-tracking turntable of the era
>>>> (2g was very light tracking in those days). It was during that time that my
>>>> father got Westrex to customize his cutterheads, making them mechanically
>>>> stiffer (less compliant), so he could use much less electrical feedback and
>>>> more net power from his 200W McIntosh amplifiers. George perfected cutting
>>>> right on the edge of coming out with a trackable record and not blowing up
>>>> too many cutters.
>>>>
>>>> Ironically, now that I wrote that, I think half-speed cutting would have
>>>> been really beneficial in the early stereo days. But not when it was en
>>>> vogue.
>>>>
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave Burnham" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 2:46 PM
>>>>
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a
>>>> MYTH
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I always thought the advantages of half-speed mastering were in the high
>>>>> frequencies, not the lows; super-sonic frequencies were brought down to
>>>>> sonic frequencies and recorded more easily, but very low frequencies were
>>>>> pushed down into a subsonic range and frequencies in the low teens can be
>>>>> troublesome for tape heads. Also consider that direct to disc recordings
>>>>> are better sounding than any half speed mastered disc and, of course, they
>>>>> can only be recorded at normal speed.
>>>>>
>>>>> db
>>>>>
>>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>>
>>>>> On Mar 12, 2015, at 8:49 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I do think they pioneered this, going back to SONAR training equipment
>>>>>> in WWII.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Speaking of half-speed cutting, I have never understood how this is
>>>>>> pulled off in a modern context, especially with Dolby-encoded master tapes.
>>>>>> I guess it's possible to make the NAB or CCIR tape EQ de-emphasis work at
>>>>>> half-speed, and the RIAA emphasis at the lathe, but doesn't Dolby get
>>>>>> screwed up when frequency bands are lowered?
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Today, I think one can listen to recent LP cuts by Bernie Grundman or
>>>>>> Ryan Smith or Sean Magee and hear that there's no need for half-speed if
>>>>>> the cutting engineer and his cutting chain are top-notch. I've heard
>>>>>> arguments about fitting more bass energy on a disk at half-speed, but again
>>>>>> I can't understand how that's true since the disk will be played back at
>>>>>> full-speed and hence won't track on normal-priced systems if the grooves
>>>>>> are too wide and deep.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 8:18 AM
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a
>>>>>> MYTH
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Decca did do some half-speed cutting - am I remembering that right?
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>>>>>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
>>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 7:57 AM
>>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Decca FFRR "backwards" disk-cutting -- likely a MYTH
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> I asked the folks at Decca Classics, including the guys who just put
>>>>>>> together the excellent new "Mono Years 1944-1956" box set. All of them
>>>>>>> said,
>>>>>>> in essence, no way. The technical guys said it's not possible to cut
>>>>>>> 20-minute LP sides this way and there was no reason to do it, given
>>>>>>> Decca's
>>>>>>> advanced cutting techniques developed during WWII, many of which were
>>>>>>> ported
>>>>>>> over to microgrooves.
>>>>>>> For 78's, they said again there was no reason to cut a disk backwards
>>>>>>> since
>>>>>>> they could easily accomodate FFRR cutting forward like everyone else.
>>>>>>> Unless
>>>>>>> someone can come up with some documentation saying otherwise, I would
>>>>>>> say
>>>>>>> this is a MYTH and should be nipped in the bud here.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>
>
> 


   

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