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Interesting article and response by Tom.  There are a great many variables
and factors that go into the process of creating a recording as well as
remastering it, and you cannot escape the "personal" ones such as the taste
and even the hearing of the people who are doing the work.  The equipment
is one thing, but the judgment of the people using it is even more
important.

I wish that the listeners for the not-so-blind test of the RCA Living
Stereo Scheherazade (presumably Reiner's fantastic 1960 recording with the
Chicago Symphony Orch.) could have added to their test the fantastic
three-channel Living Stereo SACD version, taken right off the original
three channel master tapes.  I know you are not such a fan of SACD's in
general, Tom, but this one is so great that I can't imagine ever wanting to
listen to a vinyl version of this recording again after hearing it, either
original vinyl or as repressed.  I think at least in this case, the vinyl
versions are probably rendered superfluous.  You simply cannot get this
kind of sound quality from vinyl, any of it, period.  As I recall, the SACD
cost $11.

Best,
John Haley










On Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 8:52 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> The premise of this guy's business model is not BS at all. Every cut
> (lacquer) definitely sounds different and there are audible differences in
> stampers, for instance with early RCA Living Stereo LPs. In the case of
> Mercury, about which I can speak first hand, the original stereo pressings
> (designated with an "I" and something like "A1" in the deadwax) are VAST
> superior-sounding to later pressings because the early ones were pressed by
> RCA at the same Indianapolis plant that was doing the superb Living Stereo
> vinyl. After Philips took control of Mercury, they forced all pressing to
> the company-owned plant at Richmond IN, which was inferior. However, under
> strict orders to put quality above cost and carefully monitored, Richmond
> did produce some good-sounding cuts in the early "RFR" pressings. But, by
> the mid-60's, quality was awful across the board. The same is true of
> Command Classics. The original pressings were quite good, but late MCA/ABC
> pressings done out in California are terrible. In the case of RCA, most
> people say anything pressed with the Dynagroove system is inferior to
> previous cuts. RCA then went to paper-thin vinyl, which was also noisy at
> first but got quieter over time.
>
> In the pop/rock world, in almost all cases, the first pressing with a
> verified cut by the listed mastering engineer is almost always superior to
> subsequent pressings. In the case of a huge hit, several very good
> mastering engineers may have cut lacquers, and there will be debate over
> which sounds the best. Also, in the case of mega-hits like for instance
> Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," the same 2-track tape was used to cut _many_
> lacquers. Even though Ken Perry at Capitol cut most of those lacquers, the
> earlier pressings sound better because the tape had been run through the
> machine fewer times. This is even more true with digital masters, for
> instance Bruce Springsteen "Born In the USA." If you believe in such things
> as "clones" in the U-Matic days, then theoretically there should be no
> differences, but there are because "cloning" added jitter and
> error-correction and thus the U-Matic tapes got to sounding worse as they
> went down the line.
>
> I also see a lot of record-club dreck out in the used vinyl market, and
> you have to be careful to spot it. Some is clearly labelled on the sleeve,
> "Manufactured for the Columbia Record Club" and the like. But much is more
> subtle. One has to look closely at the deadwax and know the cutting marks
> of the various mastering engineers.
>
> Bottom line, if you can afford a house-priced LP playback system, you're
> not going to flinch at paying top dollar to a guy who will hunt down the
> very best pressings in the very best conditions.
>
> And by the way, there are differences in CD editions because different
> glass-master machines add more or less jitter (this shouldn't be a problem
> under modern conditions, but it was in the 1990s), and different component
> materials mean different discs behave mechanically differently in various
> players, adding error-correction and jitter in some cases. People forget
> that CD manufacturing and playback are mechanical processes, and bits may
> well be bits going in but they can get mangled in the mechanics.
>
> Finally, in the age of remastering and reissuing, there are HUGE sonic
> differences in playback and transfer chains when analog sources are
> involved. Almost nothing from the pre-transistor era gets remastered using
> similar equipment to what produced it, and I hear errors with playback EQ
> curves all the time. Furthermore, a modern CD reissue will have very
> different EQ in the remastering chain from most LPs. Those of us who deal
> with old tapes often see cutting EQ notes on the boxes. There were
> regularly large (+/-5 or 6dB) cuts and boosts at various frequencies, in
> order to make records sound louder and to make them more trackable. This
> was less that case with classical, but compromises often needed to be made
> in low frequencies to allow trackability, and a low-pass filter was often
> in the cutting chain to prevent blowing out the cutterhead with the steep
> HF boost in the RIAA curve. This is why a competently-produced CD reissue
> should always sound more similar to the master tape (for better or worse)
> than "golden era" vinyl.
>
> People who can't hear these kinds of differences wouldn't be interested in
> high-quality used vinyl and can stick to earbuds and all you can eat
> streaming. People with the ability and equipment to listen carefully do
> tend to care about sound quality and seek out their favorite versions of
> old gems.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Chris Bishop" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, March 06, 2015 7:56 AM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Another vinyl fad
>
>
>  http://www.wired.com/2015/03/hot-stampers/
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