From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad


it takes real courage to change the Subject line, and Richard made a valiant 
attempt, but we still see ELP Turntable as the heading for a discussion of 
tape degradation. And what I am going to say actually harks back to the EQ 
discussion regarding sound-on-disc.

From interviewing the resident cutting engineer at EMI Denmark I know that he 
corrected many things on the master tapes he was presented with, in order to 
get a passable mechanical signal for the singles and LPs he mastered.

We also know that the mixes available from mono and stereo, and single, EP 
and LP of the same selections were entirely different around 1960, and I 
suspect that in many cases the master tapes were basically the same. However 
I have not evidence for that.

Some record companies were proud of their technical prowess, and I ventured 
into the field of 'technical hype' or merely good advice on record covers in 
a paper I gave at the AES; Convention Paper No. 6478 "More Than Sound", 118th 
Convention 2005 May 28-31. It is well worth reading; let me just quote one 

'WORD Records ("The Finest Name in Sacred Music") stated with conviction 
"This recording is worthy of the finest needle".'

I forgot to make the natural sequitur that it would obviously be a thorn.

Looking at the way that tape masters were distributed and the various disc 
masters cut at various locations local or international, I concluded that a 
lot of work would have gone into making a good disc master out of a perhaps 
not ideal tape master, and the disc master would be better in a lot of cases.

To quote myself a second time : "However, the early producers thought the 
subsequent disstribution into their recording practices, which means that a 
transfer to digital from master tapes (or what is left of them) may not give 
the same results and certainly not the intended results of the early 

I should say that the word "producers" includes everybody working on the 
sound, from balance engineer (a lovely, old, term) to the cutting engineer. 
And do not forget to use a spherical-tip conical stylus for your Dynagroove 

Best wishes,



> At 01:31 PM 2008-08-27, Michael H. Gray wrote:
> >I'm curious to know how master tapes 'deteriorate' Is it in the 
> >physical carrier or in the magnetic signal?
> Yes, and no.
> Look for my article on the subject in the next issue of the ARSC Journal.
> Cheers,
> Richard
> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Detailed contact information:
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.