Early Rock "Tinny" Sound

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RhodyDave125, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. RhodyDave125

    RhodyDave125 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I'm not sure really how to explain this technically so please forgive my attempts. Is or was there a reason that most of the records from the 50's and 60's (rock and roll) sound so "tinny" or thin, treble-y, or not very "full"?

    To my ears when I hear early rock recordings there's a commonality in the sound quality. Is this because the sound "profile" was what was preferred back then, was it a limitation of the equipment of that era, or something else?

    Does this make sense to anyone? Thanks.
     
    mick_sh and angelo73 like this.
  2. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    They were recorded and mixed to sound best blasting out of a tiny speaker in a car's dashboard or a portable phonograph. High fidelity was not the goal.
     
  3. Hamhead

    Hamhead Sinatra promo specialist

    The engineers didn't know how to record it, at least Columbia's didn't know how until later.
     
    ianuaditis likes this.
  4. Depends on the recording and the mastering. Nothing tinny about Steve's mastering of Buddy Holly, Elvis or Bill Haley.
     
  5. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Up in TO, keepin jive alive

    As others have said, mainly because 99% of the people listening to music then were listening to table radios and car speakers so I'm sure the mastering engineers felt compelled to please the masses, not the 1%. Steve's RE-mastering of the Buddy Holly material was 30 years later and certainly sounds sublime.
     
  6. Khaki F

    Khaki F Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kenosha, WI. USA
    They wanted it to sound new and bright and sparkly?
     
  7. hoggydoggy

    hoggydoggy Forum Resident

    The instrumental balance choices can have a part to play here (I won't call it mixing, since we're sometimes dealing with 1- or 2-track recordings) - a lot of early rock'n'roll records are set up to shine a light on the singer, or the singer plus whatever instrument is doing the break and so the "meat" (bass/drums) is literally relegated to the back of the recording room and, therefore, the soundstage.

    That said, even on bog-standard mastering like my mid-80's vinyl reveals a big fat roomy live sound for the likes of Muddy Waters at Chess and Howlin' Wolf at Sun/Chess - those early electric blues pioneers knew what they wanted on record and they got it.
     
    ianuaditis likes this.
  8. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Guitar bands were going out of style.
     
  9. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Forum Resident

    Location:
    Little Britain
    I just jack-up the bass dial and hit the loudness button if need be.
     
  10. ralphb

    ralphb "First they came for..."

    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York
    Or a 2 inch speaker in a transistor radio.
     
  11. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Presley RCA records do not sound tinny.
    Neither do Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Burnette, etc.
    Neither do Atlantic Records R&B .
    Many many Doo Wop records are very warm.
     
    Rick Bartlett likes this.
  12. zphage

    zphage Beatard

    Location:
    Bucks County, PA
    What is the OP listening to? Records? Cds? Are they compressed Euro grey market cds? 80s and 90s cds have a greater chance of sounding tinny than 50s.
     
  13. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    Tube, if we're talking 50s. Or the built in speaker from a Caliphone suitcase record player.
     
  14. ralphb

    ralphb "First they came for..."

    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York
    The one I had when I was 6 looked something like this.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    They didn't know how to record deep bass very well...and the playback equipment then couldn't handle deep bass very well either. Those were the glory days of midrange.
     
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  16. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    Back in the early Rhino days, a lot of what they were releasing had been OOP for a long time, and, given that they were licensing, they didn't really have access to the vaults. Which is a long way of saying, that the best sources weren't always used. The early Jerry Lee Lewis greatest hits is actually unlistenable it's so brittle sounding. And you still encounter releases where the original masters are missing. Four Seasons, for example. Hell, the Collectibles Royal Teens comp I got is all needledrops.

    Bad sources lead to bad sound.
     
  17. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    If you bought the Kingsmen 45 of "Louie Louie" hot off the presses, it still sounded horrible.
     
    Crimson jon and seed_drill like this.
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    This thread makes no sense. Early rock is anything but tinny, in fact it is usually full and rich. They never EQ'd stuff like that back then.

    What is the OP listening to? Change your source, immediately.
     
  19. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    Of course, but it was not a professional recording. Gary U.S. Bonds records all sound like a sea of mud as well. And Carole King's first hit was a needledrop from an acetate.
     
  20. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    The point being.....the sources often were very bad from the get-go, not just from Rhino not finding the best source for a cd reissue.
     
  21. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    Yes, but Jerry Lee Lewis originals on Sun don't sound tinny. 1980s Rhino Jerry Lee Lewis CDs did.
     
    Hubert jan likes this.
  22. DK Pete

    DK Pete Forum Resident

    Location:
    Levittown. NY
    I think i know what you're saying but you're using the wrong terminology. While it's not categorically 'tinny', the overall sound of the recordings isn't as "big"...the guitars have a thinner sound, the drums don't have that rich "bottom end" sound and the bass guitars weren't as prominent or "rounded". It's a combination of things studio related whether it's miking, EQ, the quality of the recording consoles themselves...but a lot also had to do with the actual band equipment...particularly the guitar amps which didn't have the dynamics and power of those in upcoming years.
     
  23. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Not so on the artists I mentioned above and so many more...
    As our host mentioned. What is the source of these tinny rock and roll records from 50s?
     
  24. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    In fact, during 1963~1964, Jan Berry (of Jan & Dean) used to take early test presses of his latest records to his DJ friends at local LA stations to get them to play them (usually late at night) so he could sit outside in his car and listen to how they sounded on the radio and make notes for further tweaking of the sound.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  25. Vinyl Socks

    Vinyl Socks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Niles, Ohio
    Huh?
    Try Billie Holiday's Lady In Satin...or anything by Duke Ellington during his Columbia years...I've never owned a Columbia LP that didn't have excellent highs, mids, and lows. Especially the Billie Holiday LP with full orchestra and female background voices. Stunning.
     

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