I'm with Mike on this overall but Charles makes some good points.

I don't know of any commercial remastering producer and/or engineer who would prefer to go with a 
transfer of an original or later press LP instead of the master tape. They only do this when they 
have no choice, like when the master tape has been lost. I know of plenty of times where great 
effort has been expended to find safety tapes (2nd generation copies) rather than try a transfer of 
an old disk. The LP has just too many limitations -- fuzzy midrange on peaks, ticks and pops, rumble 
and surface noise, poor channel separation at certain frequencies. It's always amazing to me when 
the things sound great -- I tip my hat to the mastering folks and pressing folks who make that 
happen. I'm old enough to remember the era before CD's. NO THANKS! I can't think of one example of a 
WELL-MASTERED CD where the original LP sounds better. The problem, as I've stated many times, is 
that many CD's aren't well-mastered. But neither were most LPs, again I'm old enough to remember how 
lousy most of them sounded. This nostalgia for that medium is curious to me, but I won't make a 
blanket statement here because some of the newest generation of LP reissues -- which feature a 
viable business model for quality due to a much higher price point -- are really superb. At this 
luxury price point, you can do excellent mastering and strict quality control at the pressing plant.

Anyway, back to the master tape issue, I think both Mike and Charles make valid points. Mike's point 
is, a properly stored master tape played back on a properly aligned machine will sound better than 
the LP version and I agree based on the numerous examples I know of first or second-hand. However, 
Charles makes the valid point that tapes are not indestructable and many record companies were less 
than careful in their vaults.

A final comment -- of course it's great to be able to make a high-quality disk transfer if you can't 
find a tape or the tape is highly deteriorated. The new Mosaic set of early 50's Oscar Peterson trio 
albums contains maybe 1/4 total cuts from disk transfers because Universal was unable to locate the 
original session tapes or later safeties. The sample I heard at Mosaic's website was impressive; I 
have some of those original Mercury and Verve records and mine sure don't play that nicely nowadays!

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael H. Gray" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] ELP Turntable (Re(2): [ARSCLIST] RIAA EQ software)

> Charles Lawson wrote:
>>"Michael H. Gray" <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>>>I am not sure that the original statement about an LP eventually being more 'faithful' to
>>>the 'original sound' of the master tape is any more than a fanciful supposition ...
>>Oh, it's definitely more than a fanciful supposition.  Masters well-stored
>>over a long time can (and often do!) develop problems that a non-worn LP
>>will not exhibit.  (It's one of the reasons that the BBC would cut 78s and
>>LPs of their taped materials to be used as their permanent archive instead
>>of tape.)  The LP *will* have problems of its own, of course, but those
>>problems may be preferable to the print-through, high frequency loss,
>>distortion etc. of a tape.  As with most things, it's a case-by-case sort
>>of thing.
>>>unless, of course, you've exposed your masters to stray magnetic fields ... in which case, you're 
>>>taking good enough care of your tapes to begin with.
>>You would be amazed what even major labels have done...  Still, even if
>>you are storing things properly, entropy will get ya--more so with any
>>frictional medium.
>>Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>
>>Professional Audio for CD, DVD, Broadcast & Internet
> Dear Charles -
> Hmm ... my experience with tape masters from 1951 doesn't gibe with that.  Print-through, sure; 
> distortion, yep, even with properly executed bias, 'cause tape isn't a linear medium.  HF loss? 
> Ya gotta convince me on that one.
> I've probably visited more 'major label' tape vaults and examined more tapes than I'd like to 
> remember ... and I don't recall mastering engineers anywhere using these tape complaining about HF 
> loss from masters.  I remain skeptical ... but would love to have specific examples cited to 
> convince me.
> Mike Gray