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 &
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
> 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
>> 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.
>> 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
>> would be the primary tools? My experience with ribbons for such use
>> 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
>> TIA to anyone who can replace my speculations with facts.
>> Carl Pultz
>> Alembic Productions
>> Rochester, NY
>> www.alembicproductions.com <http://www.alembicproductions.com>