It's too bad they weren't Plangent transferred for HD remastering. Once you get rid of the
time-smear issues, all that's left is electronics distortion (should be slightly audible in that era
of tape recording, but there will be about as much as was between source and cutterhead on the D2D
chain, maybe less for tape because of a possibly simpler signal path) and tape hiss (which could be
very quiet if the tape was made with Dolby and played back with proper Dolby tracking). I've done
quite a bit of listening to tapes, disks and digital recordings and transfers, and to my ears the
most noticeable sound degradation that takes place with tape is the time-smear (scrape-flutter, wow
and flutter, other mechanical issues). In disk recordings, the most noticeable sound degradation is
the mechanical groove itself, both the losses inherent in its creation and the imperfections in its
playback. Not to mention the losses inherent in imperfect replication.
In that recording's era, one could drive a tape machine conservatively enough to grab about the same
dynamics as were getting cut in the grooves. However, there were tricks with disk-cutting where you
could still slam instantaneous peak levels harder, even in the bass frequencies. These tricks were
NOT applied by automation systems, but remember that Doug Sax was who worked with Mayorga and Doug
knew a lot of the manual cutting tricks.
It's also worth mentioning that it's highly unlikely that any LP record's EQ profile will exactly
match the master tape source (assuming tape playback on a machine precisely adjusted to match
recording EQ). There are certain things you just have to do to make LPs trackable, and then most
commercial cutting engineers back in the day did other things to add "sizzle" or "heft" for when
their records were played back with common equipment combinations of the time. The LP is likely to
sound "nasal" or "hyped" compared to the source tape. This is just how commercial mastering works,
it's the final step and is INTENDED to be that way.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rhett" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 5:40 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Tape vs. Disk
> The closest us mere mortals may come to being able to evaluate a direct to
> vinyl disc and tape could be the Lincoln Mayorga "Missing Linc" LP's and their
> subsequent release on HD Tracks as 96/24.
> You recall that the "Missing Linc" LP's were recorded with orchestra going
> straight to the lathe. Turns out that they also rolled tape machines. These
> tapes were the source (I hope) for the later CD releases.
> Dust off (on your VPI vacuum cleaner) your vinyl pressings and compare them to the HD Tracks and
> maybe, just maybe you'll be able to judge.
> Rhett McMahon
> On 9/20/2015 3:00 PM, Corey Bailey wrote:
>> I will second Toms comments.
>> As a Recording Engineer who recorded and mixed numerous records during the 1970's through the
>> 1980's, I can say without reservation that magnetic tape sounded better that a disc made from
>> that same tape. I A/B'd numerous lacquers made from 2tr. tape masters and listened under the best
>> of circumstances. The challenge was ALWAYS trying to make the disk to sound as good as the tape
>> it was sourced from. This is with the very best of electronics of the day (Microphones, Consoles,
>> tape decks & cutting lathes).
>> That said, I have never compared a live recording simultaneously recorded to tape and disk.
>> Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
>> On 9/20/2015 8:04 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> Regarding tape vs. disk ...
>>> 1. in the very early days of commercial tape recording in the US, the electronic distortion
>>> going into a tape head and going into a disk cutterhead were about the same. We don't have any
>>> brand-new-like tapes from that era to playback now and really test about the magnetic media
>>> being a lower-distortion carrier than the etched groove. In the case of working with
>>> used/vault-stored music masters from the late 1940's and early 1950's, it's entirely possible
>>> that an unscratched and well-preserved laquer disk, direct-cut from the same source as a tape
>>> from that era, will today sound better than the tape. The paper-backed and acetate-backed tapes
>>> have well-known physical life-span issues, and many were not stored optimally over the years.
>>> Furthermore, magnetic tape is susceptible to damage from magnetic fields, and lacquer disks are
>>> not. Net-net, 60-70 years down the line, it's possible and in fact likely that a disk source
>>> made from the same recording buss as a tape source in that time era might sound better with
>>> proper playback. But, at the time, when the tape was fresh, I submit that the playback equipment
>>> of the day would greatly favor the tape.
>>> 2. no matter how you cut it, disk recording and playback is compromised by the fact that it's a
>>> mechanical system very much observant f the laws of physics. Lacquer disks are known to have
>>> "memory," where the groove closes back slightly within the first short time period after
>>> cutting. A disk played back for listening in 1945 sustained damaged right then and there,
>>> irreparable damage, due to the heavy and non-compliant playback systems of the time, they
>>> essentially re-etched parts of the groove. There are ways to somewhat mitigate this, tracking in
>>> other parts of the groove with a compliant modern stylus for instance.
>>> 3. where the disk is likely to shine vs. tape of that era is in the transient attack and
>>> time-smear areas. Simply put, excellent direct-to-disk recordings of that period did not have
>>> the problems that scrape-flutter and other mechanical differences in each tape pass cause.
>>> However, this can be fixed today -- Plangent Process. I do think the combination of
>>> direct-to-disk recording and the groove velocities allowed by 78RPM can produce the "tactile"
>>> sense that disk fans talk about, and tape of that era would come up short in comparison -- aside
>>> from the mechanical time-smear issues, the disks could accomodate greater short-term dynamics
>>> that would reproduce on a system with adequate speed and power, whereas tape would saturate and
>>> brickwall-limit the dyanmics due to the physics of electromagnetism.
>>> 4. I can't understand how anyone would prefer rumble and whoosh groove noise over tape hiss. All
>>> recordings of that era were noisy, but tape was less so. I submit that a person who can't hear
>>> and is not at least somewhat annoyed by the rumble has inadequate bass response in their
>>> playback system.
>>> One man's opinions ...
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 10:11 AM
>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Reiner/Pittsburgh
>>>> I'd like to send sincere thanks for to Dennis Rooney for his talk and
>>>> demonstration of the Reiner Columbia recordings at ARSC NY,
>>>> &feature=youtu.be, and to Kim Peach for sharing it. The work Dennis and Seth
>>>> did twenty years ago is astonishing. It completely passed me by at the time.
>>>> Even via MP4, the results are incredible, so I can imagine what the
>>>> transfers must sound like. They certainly break down my stereo-centrism.
>>>> Fascinating too is Dennis' comment about the virtue of lacquer discs vs.
>>>> tape. I recall a late interview with Kenneth Wilkinson, who said the best
>>>> reproduction he'd ever heard was from disc, not from tape.
>>>> How much do we know about the microphone technique Columbia used at that
>>>> time? There is a photo of Stravinsky recording with Cleveland ca. 1952-55.
>>>> The only mic visible is a RCA 44, well back of the podium. I have to go back
>>>> and listen to those for evidence of other pickups, but the Reiners have
>>>> evidence of wind spotlighting. Is it likely that in the 1940s ribbon mics
>>>> would be the primary tools? My experience with ribbons for such use suggests
>>>> that their falling high frequency response must have been compensated, given
>>>> the strong and very clear high-end on those lacquers. Quite a feat to do
>>>> that and maintain low enough noise floor. I guess that would have been a
>>>> limiting factor for how many mics could be used, although at a time when
>>>> noise was referenced to shellac, a little hiss may not have bothered anyone.
>>>> TIA to anyone who can replace my speculations with facts.
>>>> Carl Pultz
>>>> Alembic Productions
>>>> Rochester, NY
>>>> www.alembicproductions.com <http://www.alembicproductions.com>