There were different colors for various Mercury promo labels.  White, gold, 
light green, pink, etc.  Had these a particular meaning to the company?

Many mono period Mercs on the black and silver label have dots in the 
parimeter print at the 6 o'clock position.  I've seen none to as many as 
three or four.  What did these signify?

Also Mercs had some labels with a dash between the catalog prefix and the 
number while on other pressings of the same record there is no space between 

And, if anyone can help untagle the three or four variations in US Decca 
monos and early stereos, I'd love to get the gen on those.

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 5:47 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] LP pressing question

> Well, I can say how test pressings were used at Mercury Living Presence, 
> cannot speak for others because I never heard the details first-hand but I 
> bet most other classical shops operated the same way.
> Test pressings were a tool to make sure the master was correctly plated 
> and production parts were not carrying defects. Plus, since RCA pressed 
> the MLP records (superior plant, superior vinyl compounds, Mercury plants 
> never got up to snuff until Philips took them over), this was a way to 
> make sure the plant was doing exactly what they said they would do.
> Test pressings were distributed to the producer, the engineer and the 
> mastering guys. Everyone was encouraged to at least spot-check and the 
> producer listened to every test pressing all the way through, comparing 
> with notes made during the mastering session.
> Now, the fact is that production LPs don't sound as good as the test 
> pressings, which is why I asked my original question -- what makes the 
> production LPs generally noisier and less punchy? I'm assuming that the 
> plants pulled out the "maker's mark compound" biscuits for the test 
> pressing and that production itself wore down the stampers and mothers, 
> and perhaps the simple act of being quickly sleeved effects production 
> vinyl.
> Back in ye olde days, a test LP would arrive as a white-label affair, 
> identifiable only by the cutting marks, in a rice-paper-like sleeve in a 
> paper envelope. There was a separate test press for each side of a 
> production LP. The general way things worked at Mercury, a clerical person 
> would pencil in the catalog number on the white label and distribute 
> copies, including one for the files. When the QC listening was done, it 
> was done with a stop-watch so that times could be known for problem, which 
> were noted. Visual inspection was also done and vinyl "zits" or 
> clearly-visible groove problems were measured from edge and noted. The 
> rejection rate was somewhere south of 10% most of the time.
> The same care was taken with mono, because mono out-sold stereo even with 
> classical music until the mid-60's when retailers stopped carrying both 
> formats (see John Eargle's JAES article).
> -------------------------------
> Stereo/Mono Disc Compatibility: A Survey of the Problems
> Volume 17 Number 3 pp. 276-281; June 1969
> The record industry is now phasing out the mono disc, and the subject of 
> compatibility has once again been raise as it was with the introduction of 
> the stereo disc ten years ago. Then, the problem centered largely around 
> stylus-groove relationships and considerations of trackability; this time 
> the problem is mainly concerned with the way a pair of stereo channels 
> combine to yield a suitable mono channel.
> Author:   Eargle, J. M.
> E-lib Location: (CD aes3)   /jrnl6877/1969/6797.pdf
> -------------------------------
> available at
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "phillip holmes" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2007 1:24 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] LP pressing question
>> I've been told by collectors and people that were in the business, that 
>> test pressings were pressed in very low numbers, IE, 100-200 copies for 
>> the musicians, A&R people, producer, big wigs, and the like.  Every test 
>> pressing I've seen had a plain white label with just the bare basics 
>> typed or handwritten, and I only have 2 major label test pressings and 
>> 3-4 "audiophile" test pressings.  The jacket had a pasted on (typed or 
>> handwritten) note with just the basics--tracks and artist stuff.  If 
>> anyone wants a picture, I'll send one.  But it's impossible to confuse a 
>> white label promo with a test pressing.  Obviously, the idea of the test 
>> pressing is to give fair warning about what's going to be on the record. 
>> It supposedly gave the musicians the opportunity to sign off on the final 
>> product, but this really was a micromanagement tool for the front office 
>> types.  I can imagine some imbecile in management spitting his coffee all 
>> over the board room table while listening to Black Sabbath for the first 
>> time.  "Fairies wear boots?  What the hell is this crap?  Who signed 
>> these bozos?  I need to fire the A&R department".
>> Phillip
>>>                             Roger
>>> Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote: Why do most test pressings 
>>> that I've heard sound better than a bought-in-store version of the LP? 
>>> Did the plants do something special for the test pressing or use a 
>>> "brewer's choice" biscuit compound or is it more a random chance of 
>>> having a further-down-the-production-run copy in a store and thus worn 
>>> stampers? Where I've been able to compare a master laquer to a test 
>>> pressing to a bought-in-store version of the same cut/matrix/whatever, 
>>> the test pressing usually sounds pretty darn close to the first cut but 
>>> the production disk sounds inferior, usually lower s/n ratio and noisier 
>>> surface. This was less true in the one case I've been able to compare 
>>> all 3 for a modern LP reissue and I assume it's because a modern reissue 
>>> that appears at retail will be pressed with more care on better vinyl 
>>> and fewer copies will be made per stamper, but I might be wrong on that.
>>> In some older examples, late 50's and early 60's, the retail version 
>>> vinyl seems to definitely be a different compound from the test 
>>> pressing, which more resembles modern, "softer" quieter-playing 
>>> compounds.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>        ---------------------------------
>>> Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally,  mobile search that gives answers, not web 
>>> links.
> -- 
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 
> 269.9.14/884 - Release Date: 7/2/2007 3:35 PM