Interesting points about azimuth in these circumstances, Tom. Of course
once everything has been digitized, it's hard to address azimuth "errors"
except with EQ, and there is a limit on what can be done with that. This
is an issue Richard Hess has been working on, I believe.
And to Richard, I hope you will find time to publish something about that
very useful information. I know a Journal that I bet would be interested
On Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 1:51 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> I'm not saying this is the case with these specific tapes, but azimuth
> gets tricky with rock master tapes.
> The mastering engineer who cut the LPs of a Led Zeppelin anthology, a guy
> who always works with a phase display right in front of his face, told me
> that he was sent digital masters to cut the LPs and a bunch of the songs
> were clearly out of azimuth. He speculated that all the tapes had been
> played back on the same machine but no one had changed anzimuth for each
> tape -- or that the master tapes were made up of songs mixed at different
> studios without a common azimuth reference. That is what I think is common
> with big-name rock albums -- stuff mixed at several different studios at
> different times comprising the 2-track master tape. Unless the producer or
> mixing engineer carried around a single alignment tape and adjusted both
> play and record azimuth to it at each studio, how likely is that every song
> is locked into the same azimuth? I remember with multi-track tapes, it was
> drummed into everyone's head at Sigma Sound NYC to adjust the 24-track
> machine's azimuth (align play, then align record to play), print tones and
> then don't touch a damn thing on the machine while that reel is being
> recorded. Preferably don't touch a damn thing throughout the multi-track
> sessions, if the band is working during a block-booked time period (and
> also pray that the Ampex 456 tape batch you're using was slit well enough
> to stay within the azimuth you set as it travelled through the transport).
> I don't think that kind of discipline was universally enforced
> industry-wide with 2-track mix-master tapes, so it's entirely possible that
> the master for an LP side contains songs slightly or more than slightly out
> of azimuth from each other. I'm not sure how many people paid attention to
> this issue back in the day. I don't think Bob Morrison at STL or Jay
> McKnight at MRL ever claimed that all of their tapes carried the same
> azimuth, because they don't. That's why the only assurance I can think of
> is the producer carrying a single 2-track alignment tape to every studio
> and having everyone standardize on that one tape.
> Specific to the Tom Petty remasters -- Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman's
> place is a good engineer with a long track record of good-sounding
> remastering work. I'm sure he pays careful attention to things like
> azimuth. Come to think of it, I'd bet that he is well aware of RX's tools
> including EQ compare, and there are complex reasons we don't know as to why
> EQ'd copy tapes sounded better than master tapes in the cases where they
> were used.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 1:28 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] More tales of woe from the tape vaults
> And there is always the issue of: did they set the azimuth right for the
>> "worn out" sounding masters? I know that's a basic thing, but I have
>> learned in life to ask the dumb questions. I also don't know what "worn
>> out" sounding means. Unless they were playing the master tapes at parties
>> or something, there is no reason they would be "worn out." If there were a
>> more specific response about what is wrong with them, perhaps the issues
>> could be addressed.
>> On Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 12:49 PM, Richard L. Hess <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> On 2015-04-07 11:54 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> I just had e-mail correspondence with one of the first-person
>>>> participants. He told me that the tapes were playable as in they'd pass
>>>> through a transport, but they sounded "worn out" compared to the EQ'd
>>>> copies that they used. The decision was to use what the artist and
>>>> producer thought sounded better. It's an aesthetic and artistic
>>>> decision. In any case, moves are afoot to clarify the text on the
>>>> HDTracks website.
>>>> The only question I have with that was what would the "worn out" tapes
>>> sound like if the same EQ was applied to them as was applied back in the
>>> day to the EQ'd masters, thereby saving a generation?
>>> Samplitude and iZotope both offer an "EQ match" function, so it might be
>>> quick test (tweak to taste later if there seems to be a good reason to
>>> the "worn out" tapes with modern EQ).
>>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
>>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.