I hope Dennis Rooney will respond, and Seth Winner's input would also be
very welcome, as he can probably answer exactly what Columbia did, not to
mention comment meaningfully on the tape vs. disc issues. I just had a
discussion with both of them about how they worked on these sources, which
were often not pristine, and they also sometimes had to resort to metal
parts and mothers. Dennis searched and located what could be found. Keep
in mind that what you are hearing on those fantastic Sony Masterworks
Heritage CD's were not only dubbed from original best sources by Seth, with
Dennis actively producing by his side, but also restored a lot by Seth
after that, so what you are hearing is not raw dubs, with audible rumble,
groove noise, etc. Those kinds of issues have been addressed. These CDs
still represent state-of-the-art in many respects, and certainly a high
water-mark for restoration work inside one of the big companies (this kind
of meticulous work is unknown at Sony today).
It is a terrible, terrible shame that Sony, at the direction of Peter Gelb
(the same guy who is presently destroying the Metropolitan Opera with his
hopelessly incompetent management) terminated this great project
mid-stream, with so many excellent Columbia projects still slated for
release. We are all the poorer for it.
On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 11:04 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> 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
> 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
>> did twenty years ago is astonishing. It completely passed me by at the
>> 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
>> 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
>> that their falling high frequency response must have been compensated,
>> 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
>> TIA to anyone who can replace my speculations with facts.
>> Carl Pultz
>> Alembic Productions
>> Rochester, NY
>> www.alembicproductions.com <http://www.alembicproductions.com>