Sinatra / Reprise Sound Quality: "Sinatra and Strings" (rec. 1961) - incl. NAB/AME EQ, etc.*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by aoxomoxoa, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    After years of looking for a decent copy of this album in mono, I found one yesterday. What strikes me odd is the echo sounds on Frank voice which seem to pop up from time to time. Was this a fold down?

    "Come Rain Or Come Shine" sounds amazing in mono. Play it loud!
     
  2. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    No. More compressed than the stereo mixes. Well, maybe not the EOTC version...

    Which copies did you hear previously?
     
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    A bad recording from the start. For some stupid reason it was recorded in AME and then converted to NAB in mixdown. Both the stereo and the mono. Urggh.. Same for the Sinatra/Neil Hefti album as well. Dreadful idea. Destroyed dynamics and added needless distortion. Something like minus 15 at 1k to convert. Such a drag..
     
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  4. Blackie

    Blackie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    My original mono pressing just sounds okay, nothing to write home about, is the stereo version generally preferred? Is the MFSL version appreciably better than the original stereo LP?
     
  5. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    So THAT'S what the problem with "Sinatra & Swingin' Brass" is! Ever since the first time I heard it back in the early 70's (in mono) I sensed that something was just not right with that whole album. And it's a damned shame too because Mr.S was in such good voice at the time and he was buzzing thru each chart that they cut the three sessions down to two!

    For the sentimentalists, we are approcahing the 50th anniversary of the recording of that LP next month...unbelieveable.:sigh:
     
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  6. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    There is a mid 80's Japanese pressing of "Sinatra & Strings" that (IMHO) surpasses all others...even the MoFi. Incredibly silent platter and really fine sound!
     
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  7. Blackie

    Blackie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Thanks Paul, I'll check it out!
     
  8. paulmock

    paulmock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    That sure explains it. Anyone who has heard the session tapes that have been floating around for decades can attest to this. Those things sound remarkable! In fact they might be the best sounding studio "visits" with Mr. S that exist.
     
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  9. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    That Hefti album, sonically, is just horrid in mono. I think it's on the old Bose label, you know: No highs, no lows.... There's a king's ransom in knob-twiddling going on, as well, like at the start of side two:
    "Tangerine!" (Dry as a bone)
    "....cabelleoros sigh" (bathed in plenty o'reverb.) You can actually hear the amount of reverb increase over those first few lines of the vocal. What a mess!

    Great music, though!

    Matt
     
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  10. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    I have the suitcase box, the ETOC, and the MOFI.
     
  11. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Marlboro , ma. usa
    Very Interesting on the conversion , thanks for that info ...

    I only own a Vinyl copy of this , i'll have to dig it out again , Pretty sure mine is an older stereo copy , i don't remember being blow away by it ....
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    A few of you have privately asked me what the heck AME is.

    Sorry, I don't mean to make it a Private Club type of thing.

    In the late 1950's, Ampex was trying to get the hiss level down on two or more channel tape recorders. The Ampex Master Equalization was simply a noise reducing technique that added like 15 db eq at 1,000 cycles during RECORDING of the music. When you played the tape back for mixing purposes, you did the reverse, you removed the 15 db at 1k and it took a lot of the noise with it.

    Umm, the problem that they didn't think of was that in order for the Ampex tape recorder to be able to record with such a midrange boost and not get the signal distorted was to keep the level lower (defeating the purpose in the first place) and if you went too loud, you got this "SPLAT" distortion overload. So, if the recording engineer didn't keep the record level at like minus 10, forget it.

    Well, no engineer ever kept an incoming signal that low. Usually they slammed the meters on NAB and so they slammed the meters on AME as well, causing terrible midband distortion constantly.

    Bad ju ju.

    Not too much SINATRA that we like was recorded with AME eq (the machines had a switch for NAB or AME) and other than STRINGS, SWINGING BRASS and RING A DING DING, the engineers chose to use the NAB setting on the Ampex recorders, thereby slamming the meters with not much side effect..

    Make sense? If not, I'll try again, no problem..
     
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  13. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    This would be a good candidate for a remix. Would it be possible to fix the problem if you went back to the original tapes?
     
  14. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    Fascinating information, many thanks!

    No wonder those albums are a bit hard to listen to, even though the arrangements and performances were great.
     
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  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    That's the reason. Ampex also convinced the RCA-Victor LIVING STEREO engineers to try AME out on some of their classical recordings. You can always pick out the AME Living Stereo LPs, they totally distort during orchestral crescendos. Right there on the tape, can't do a thing about it.
     
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  16. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    Well, since no one else asked. What is NAB?
     
  17. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    That's what that evil sound is!

    And I thought it might be pressing problems in the vinyl records, or groove wear, or mistracking, or overload in the phono stage...
     
  18. Blackie

    Blackie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Would LSC-2514, Franck Symphony in D Minor happen to be one of those?
     
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    National Association Of Broadcasters NAB EQ for recording at 15 inches per second. Started around 1952 up until today.
     
  20. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Marlboro , ma. usa
    I did a Yahoo Search on both of the Breakdowns on these , I too had no idea what Steve was speaking about .....
    Always fun to learn ...
     
  21. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    So. If one were to go back to the original tapes, could the eq be fixed or is this damage permanent?
     
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  22. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    RHAPSODIES by Stokowski, 1960???


    I've always assumed thats why the trombones, for instance, get a real CRUNCH (in a bad way) to their sound in some spots on the RING-A-DING DING album. Same with the trumpets at the opening of "When I Take My Sugar to Tea." Is that correct?

    Matt
     
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  23. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    The session tapes are permanently distorted. Go back and re-read post #12.
     
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  24. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Marlboro , ma. usa
    I revisited a side of my Vinyl copy , i have an old Reprise 3 color Label with photo of frank on it , it is indeed the Mono version & it's as i remembered it , not so great sounding for all the reasons steve mentioned , but it's nice to know the why's of it sounding this way .
    Got my copy for $1 at a goodwill & always wondered if maybe the grooves were worn , but it sounds really good on just voice passages , then when things kick in , that "distortion" type overload ..... Cool history lesson .:thumbsup:
     
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  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Yeah and yeah. Not the end of the world, just harder to enjoy on a modern high quality playback system.
     
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