Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RJL2424, Feb 9, 2005.
I posted this at Audio Asylum first. The following text is from that post:
So we get sloppy seconds, eh?
For what it's worth, I've never really heard a great sounding Capitol LP mastering after they changed their "system" around 1962. It wasn't until 1973 or so that things started to sound "master tape quality".
The point that I'm trying to make is that some Capitol masterings sucked less than others during the '60s.
The variant qualities of mono Capitol LP's could also be attributable to some variables, i.e. which studio cut the lacquers (Hollywood or New York), and/or which mastering engineer cut the lacquers at the time. During the period of which you speak (up to late 1967), there were two mono Scully lathes (F/G and H/J*) at the Tower in Hollywood, whilst New York had one mono Scully (P/T). With few exceptions, New York generally used dubbed-copy "protection masters" sent from the Tower. And the sound quality between New York and Hollywood lacquers tended to vary; West Coast lacquers could sound like cordon bleu, whereas East Coast lacquers of the same material could sound like chicken you-know-what.
* Around late 1967, the Scully lathe on which lacquers designated "H/J" were cut, was retro-converted to stereo. From then until the end of 1969, the only code they used in connection with that lathe was "H"; in the interim the "J" code was used on another brand lathe (Neumann?) that cut many of the lacquers for The Beatles (a.k.a. "The White Album"), indeed seemed to cut only White Album lacquers.
All of the LPs which I've described in my original thread-opening post were cut in Hollywood, on the F/G Scully lathe, except for side 2 of my copy of The Beach Boys Today!. And all of those LPs in my possession were pressed in Scranton, PA, except for a second copy of Pet Sounds* (which was pressed in Los Angeles, CA) and the aforementioned The Beach Boys Today! (pressed in Jacksonville, IL). And side 1 of both of my 1965-issue Beach Boys LPs reused old stampers which were first used on West Coast pressings of those LPs.
*Note that I own two original black/rainbow-label copies of Pet Sounds.
I know that in '62 (as I may have touched on before), Capitol's 46th Street studio in New York (which then used an "N" code for both mono and stereo lacquers) replaced one mono Scully lathe with another. That might explain part of it. (Though the stereo Scullys in place in New York and Hollywood remained the same; that, plus the mono Scully in Hollywood that would later use the "H" and "J" codes. I don't know if the other mono Scully in Hollywood was replaced in that time period, or what; probably, as there was a slight variant in the lead-out spacing, though not nearly as much as when New York changed mono Scully lathes.)
It was around 1973-74 that the stereo Scully lathe in Hollywood on which lacquers with "A" and "B" codes were cut, was phased out. Also, it was around 1974 or so that mastering from New York ceased altogether (though I did detect some LP's from that period with the "MASTERED BY CAPITOL" stamped on lacquers with "W" and/or "X" codes).
I suppose the question would then become, Who was mastering the lacquers for Capitol in Hollywood then? That might be the other key to the variant quality.
The H/J Scully lathe remained in operation until 1982 or so. I have 1981 medium-green-label reissues of a couple of late-'60s Beach Boys LPs of which one or both sides were cut on the H/J Scully.
The poorer-sounding lacquers might have been cut by an E.F., while the better-sounding lacquers might have been cut by someone with the initials W.T.
John Kraus told me before he died that in the early 1960's there was a "memo" that came down from above which stated that all Capitol LP's were to be cut in a "toned down" manner to avoid having to take any type of returns from consumers due to skipping problems. I believe (just a personal opinion) that certain cutting engineers took this to mean that any top or bottom end should be removed from the music and THEIR work reflected this for many years after.
At any rate, this is similar to the decree that RCA-Victor passed to its engineering staff in December 1934 which instructed them to FILTER all recordings from that point on until further notice. The jukebox operators were complaining that Victor records played too tinny on the crappy jukebox speakers of the time. This is why a 1934 Victor dance record was in amazing hi-fi for the time (with actual top end and everything) and a 1935 record sounded muted with nothing above 6k. These records still sounded good, but nothing like the 1930-34 engineering style..
Wally was one of my favorites back when I collected vinyl...he did a fantastic job on Juice Newton-Juice LP amongst many others...
The Capitol cuttings which sounded like hammered dog you-know-what were perhaps the early work of Ed Feinblatt...
Feinblatt, senior. Junior was still in diapers..
A-HA! There ARE (or were) two Ed Feinblatts involved in mastering work. The one who worked at Capitol was Ed Feinblatt, Sr. (who shall be known in the SH Forums as Ed "Shave Off The Treble" Feinblatt), while the digital-age Feinblatt (Ed Feinblatt, Jr.) shall be known (for SH purposes) as Ed "Compress Everything To The Max" Feinblatt.
I saw a similar quote on a Beatles site:
For "Paperback Writer" Paul demanded, and got a louder bass sound after demanding it from their record company. As a rule because records of the time had a weak bass sound to avoid having the needle skip needlessly.
Steve is right on the Money about Capitols pre 1962 product sounding better. I have every LP Capitol issued from The Lettermen and the 1960-1962 Lps have a fuller, wide range fidelity than the later ones. This difference is pretty easy to hear when there are strings and orchestras involved, which are are on EVERY Lettermen LP!!
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