We have a number of XCO records in our Whit Ozier collection at the University of North Texas. They're described as test pressings, but I do wonder if these were indeed lacquer "safety" discs. There are just under 150 discs here:


From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Stewart Gooderman <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, April 8, 2021 6:25 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [EXT] Re: [ARSCLIST] [78-L] What happened to Columbia's masters and the masters from some of the other companies? Could they still be used?

Wow! I really do appreciate this encapsulation of Columbia’s early Lp creation and magnetic tape usage. Lots of questions answered.

It will be very interesting to listen to the new Sony release of the complete Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra mono recordings coming out tomorrow. It is my understanding that each release has been completely remastered. Hopefully, there will be a discussion of sources and how it was done.

Thank you again!


> On Apr 8, 2021, at 3:21 PM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> To Stewart Gooderman's query as to what was the source of most of the
> earliest Lp releases that Columbia made in the first one or two years of
> the format’s existence, the answer is:
> The first Lps were produced from lacquer parts dubbed from the master
> lacquers either as discrete tracks for compiled releases or slip-cue joins
> to an interstitial lacquer submaster that was then dubbed to produce the
> tracks of a multi movement symphony, sonata or quartet, or an overture or a
> single movement work. Therefore, the earliest Lps in most cases were two
> generations from the master generation and sometimes three. Columbia
> introduced magnetic tape  in late 1948 and it was used in tandem with two
> lathes to produce the usual sets of lacquer discs. Regardless of the
> medium, everything continued to be recorded in 78rpm side lengths until
> 1951. Tape parts produced before that date were filed under co or xco
> matrix numbers depending on the length of side chosen, wound on reels with
> leader separating each part. Because Columbia's tape recorders went through
> a period of adjustment, together with the traditional caution of the
> engineering staff, lacquer "safeties" continued to be made until tape
> ultimately became the dominant mastering medium. At that point, the
> earliest lp and xlp parts began to be replaced by new dubs from the master
> lacquers to tape. However, the program was inconsistent and all too often
> some masters were merely copied to tape for further production. That's why
> *South** Pacific* exists from two different sources.
> On Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 6:20 PM Stewart Gooderman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> This is fascinating! Thank you for all this info.
>> I do have a question. What, then, was the source of most of the earliest
>> Lp releases that Columbia made in the first one or two years of the
>> format’s existence. Tape was not really introduced until mid-1949 at the
>> very earliest. Was the source of those Lps the 78 rpm disks or the 33 1/3
>> lacquers?
>> I’m especially interest in Columbia’s Lp release of Kurt Weill’s Street
>> Scene. According to Masterworks Broadway’s web site, its Lp release was on
>> April 4, 1949 (it was recorded in 1947). The cast recording of South
>> Pacific was released a few weeks later, May 9, 1949 (it was recorded just a
>> few weeks earlier.) South Pacific was the first Columbia cast recording
>> that was recorded on tape (as an afterthought), although the source for the
>> that first Lp release was not the taped version. The taped version was used
>> for the first CD release of the recording, but not subsequent CD releases.
>> DrG
>>> On Apr 7, 2021, at 10:21 AM, Dennis Rooney <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>> Someone asked me to join this thread. Ask and ye shall receive.
>>> First, thanks for the kind words re MASTERWORKS HERITAGE series. Columbia
>>> masters of various types are stored in western Pennsylvania. Metal parts
>>> include master negatives, positives ("mothers") and stampers.
>>> Beginning with the Sale of Columbia Records to CBS from ARC in late 1938,
>>> the label began mastering on 33-1/3 lacquer discs that were subsequently
>>> used to produce the 78rpm dubs used for commercial manufacture. Two
>> lathes,
>>> very occasionally three, were set up for each session in order to yield
>> an
>>> "A" and "B" set of discs. Therefore, every Columbia record manufactured
>>> after that date is a dub, i.e. second generation. The lacquer discs are
>> the
>>> genuine master generation and exhibit significantly superior audio
>>> characteristics in comparison to all second generation source.
>>> Fortunately, much of the lacquer inventory has survived and is mostly in
>>> good condition, especially the Masterworks division materials. Seth and I
>>> used lacquers as the prime source when they were available for our work.
>>> However, we occasionally had to rely on metal parts, but often chose late
>>> 1940s tape copies of the original lacquers in preference because of the
>>> poor condition of the post-1939 metals. Columbia cheapened the metalwork
>>> process after that date, which is what makes them generally undesirable
>> for
>>> use in a/d transfer. As for the metal jigs necessary to press the parts,
>>> they are difficult but not impossible to replicate. Columbia often placed
>>> stampers in bakelite-like beds that were employed to stabilize the part.
>>> For the aforementioned reasons, Columbia 78rpm metal parts after 1939 are
>>> mostly unsuitable for use, especially if first-generation source is
>>> available.
>>> Vinyl pressings made from stampers were occasionally employed. In our
>> work,
>>> my experience often was that a negative metal part carefully played with
>> a
>>> bi-radial stylus, gave better results than the vinyl pressing. Striking
>> new
>>> pressings also adds cost, and in the present state of the industry is
>> only
>>> rarely done anymore. Usually, earlier tape dubs are copied and heavily
>>> processed, and that product is frequently characterized as being "from
>> the
>>> original masters" when in fact it comes from an inferior intermediate
>>> generation. Properly played back with available signal processing, the
>>> Columbia lacquers offer sound quality that is quieter than tape and
>>> possesses greater dynamic range than any commercial pressings ever
>>> produced. One of the reasons that a second generation production master
>> was
>>> chosen was the possibility of post-production (i.e. gain riding,
>>> equalization) in the copying from 33-1/3rpm to 78rpm, a technique that
>>> governed the making of every Columbia record after 1939. Thus only the
>>> lacquer discs contain the original audio product of the recording session
>>> and truly qualify as original masters.
>>> DDR
>>> On Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 9:07 AM Tim Gillett <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>> Thanks for those extra comment Andreas,  not surprised it was done by
>>>> people who knew what they were doing and using a good original.
>>>> Tim.
>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>> From: [log in to unmask]
>>>> To:<[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Cc:
>>>> Sent:Wed, 7 Apr 2021 07:53:36 -0500
>>>> Subject:Re: [ARSCLIST] [78-L] What happened to Columbia's masters and
>>>> the masters from some of the other companies? Could they still be
>>>> used?
>>>> Hello Tim,
>>>> Paul Robeson - -MWH reissue from the late 90's? That was a Dennis
>>>> Rooney and Seth Werner production at Sony music Studios when it
>>>> existed.
>>>> I assisted on that project and was learning from Seth and the rest of
>>>> the engineers at Sony during that time about early media. It was a
>>>> great reissue series that ended too soon.
>>>> I am unsure about the plates as well, but have been told they are
>>>> necessary for fitting the disc to the machine. Standards today don't
>>>> fit the 78 negatives or the stampers.
>>>> Best,
>>>> Andreas
>>>> On 2021-04-06 21:42, Tim Gillett wrote:
>>>>> Hello Andreas,
>>>>> Thanks for the information. Yes photos would be interesting. I'm
>>>> still
>>>>> not sure what function the plates serve. Are they adaptor plates to
>>>>> allow for the different dimensions of the metal master?
>>>>> I remember the first time I hear a CD taken from a 78 vinyl
>>>> pressing
>>>>> from the metal master (Paul Robeson: Songs of Free Men, I think)
>>>> and
>>>>> was impressed with the much lower noise floor than the shellac
>>>>> pressing could have ever been.
>>>>> Regards, Tim
>>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> From: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> To:<[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Cc:<[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Sent:Tue, 06 Apr 2021 07:57:48 -0500
>>>>> Subject:Re: [ARSCLIST] [78-L] What happened to Columbia's masters
>>>> and
>>>>> the masters from some of the other companies? Could they still be
>>>>> used?
>>>>> Hello Tim,
>>>>> In the early 1950's, a number of 78 metal parts of Victor's was
>>>> vinyl
>>>>> pressed before the factory and machines were destroyed. When we
>>>> call
>>>>> up the parts for reissue projects, sometimes we get them along with
>>>>> the metal. That is usually a happy day as they sound much quieter
>>>> than
>>>>> positive metal and definitely shellac pressings. I have inquired
>>>>> with a number of current pressing plants if they could press from
>>>> the
>>>>> original negative masters, but no one has the correct plates to fit
>>>>> current vinyl pressing machines. Some didn't even know what to do
>>>>> with the 78 that are still in there original shellac beds.
>>>>> I have a large project coming in next week that should include
>>>>> examples of all 78 formats we receive from the vault. I will try to
>>>>> get pictures to the membership through this list. Perhaps someone
>>>>> here can suggest a new pressing technique. I would love to press
>>>>> vinyl for these projects. The metal can be a real pain in the a$sh
>>>>> to work from. This big issue: cost.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Andreas
>>>>> On 2021-04-06 07:48, [log in to unmask] wrote: Hello
>>>>> Andreas,
>>>>> I understood that from the metal parts a 78 RPM vinyl disc could be
>>>>> pressed from which a digital dub could be made. The vinyl would be
>>>>> quieter than the shellacs originally pressed. Is that so? Or is it
>>>>> even difficult to press the 78 RPM vinyl because of the shortage of
>>>>> suitable plates?
>>>>> Rgds
>>>>> Tim Gillett
>>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> From: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Cc:
>>>>> Sent: Tue, 6 Apr 2021 07:24:48 -0500
>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] [78-L] What happened to Columbia's masters
>>>> and
>>>>> the masters from some of the other companies? Could they still be
>>>>> used?
>>>>> Hello Eric,
>>>>> I receive original metal parts from Victor and Columbia catalog
>>>>> regularly from their vault for remastering jobs. Much of it still
>>>>> exists, but condition varies from pristine to unplayable. If you
>>>> are
>>>>> looking to press new 78's from them, the biggest issue is getting
>>>> the
>>>>> plates that fit their format. Those were all destroyed at the
>>>>> manufacturing plant and as far as my inquiries have gone, no one
>>>> has
>>>>> the
>>>>> knowledge how to make new ones for modern pressing facilities. If
>>>> you
>>>>> wish to license, email me directly and I can get you in touch with
>>>>> the
>>>>> correct people at Sony.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Andreas
>>>>> On 2021-04-06 06:57, ERIC BYRON wrote:
>>>>>> Jay,
>>>>>> Thank you. I greatly appreciate your help.
>>>>>> Eric
>>>>>> On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 07:47:49 AM EDT, Jay Bruder
>>>>> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>>>> Here is a part of the answer from Allan Sutton's blog post.
>>>>>> Given the money and necessary permissions you can certainly make
>>>>> records from old metal parts if they are still in decent condition.
>>>>>> Jay
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>>>>> <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of ERIC BYRON
>>>>>> Sent: Monday, April 5, 2021 6:29 PM
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] [78-L] What happened to Columbia's masters and
>>>>> the masters from some of the other companies? Could they still be
>>>>> used?
>>>>>> I know many of Victor's masters were destroyed when Victor
>>>>> demolishedits Camden warehouse. Does anybody know what happened to
>>>>> Columbia'smasters and the masters from some of the other companies?
>>>> If
>>>>> these masterswere found, would it still be possible to make
>>>> recordings
>>>>> from them?
>>>>>> Take care,
>>>>>> Eric
>>>>> -------------------------
>>>>> Email sent using Optus Webmail
>>>> -------------------------
>>>> Email sent using Optus Webmail
>>> --
>>> 1006 Langer Way
>>> Delray Beach, FL 33483
>>> 561.265.2976
> --
> 1006 Langer Way
> Delray Beach, FL 33483
> 561.265.2976