Sony/CBS 'Half Speed Masters' are a rip off!!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Scott J, Aug 28, 2006.

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  1. Scott J

    Scott J Forum Hall of Fame Thread Starter

    I have been purchasing several Sony 'HSM' LP's, and they offer nothing over the original standard issue LP. Was this a big scam or what?

    The only one that I can say delivers on their promise, is Pink Floyd 'WYWH'. We all already know what a piece of crap The Wall is. But there are many more pieces of doo doo Sony 'HSM' LP's, almost too many to list.

    I'm curious what others here who own a lot think of them.

    Thanks for letting me rant. :realmad:
  2. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict

    I agree with you, Scott.

    Pink Floyd's WYWH is definitely a keeper. Otherwise, they are either worse or no better than a clean original, at least the ones that I have had over the years.

    One exception, however, is the Japanese "Master Sound" series, which I think were the Japanese counterparts of the US Half-Speed series. Except for a couple, I have been very impressed with these. For example, the Billy Joel, The Stranger, record (the version WITHOUT the "sterling TJ" etched on the dead wax) is about as good (if not better) as the "MASTERDISK RL" cuts that I have. Toto IV is amazing as well (big sound stage with amazing detail).

    Just my two bits.
  3. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    I agree with Scott. I played some of them at half-speed, and they just sound wrong. :mad:
    Vinyl Socks likes this.
  4. Scott J

    Scott J Forum Hall of Fame Thread Starter

    I'm serious about this. I want follow forum members to know what a rip off MOST of these things are.
  5. CraigVC

    CraigVC Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    I appreciate Dillydipper's sense of humor. I agree with you, ScottJ, that my experience with CBS half speed masters has been underwhelming. Fortunately the 2 or 3 I've acquired were purchased at comparable prices to the standard LPs so I don't feel "ripped off" in my particular situation. At the same time, though, I don't hear what the big deal is with these LPs.

    Bear in mind my modest sound system when evaluating my comments.

  6. tspit74

    tspit74 Forum Resident

    Woodridge, IL, USA
    I don't like them and prefer their regular version better. The ones I have are:

    ELO - Time and Discovery
    Babs and Barry - Guilty
    EWF - I Am
    Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town & Born to Run

    Maybe a few others I can't recall. They're early digital and they sound bad. Plus the EQ wasn't altered for the half speed preocess. They were EQed at regular speed and when the tape was slowed down, they left the settings which messed up the sound. Bad EQ and digital is a very bad thing IMO. They're AADA. Analogue recording, mastering and playback with a digital remastering and wrong EQ.
  7. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    I hope one of the industry insiders will chime in here, but I've read that the engineers did something fundamentally wrong on most, but not all, of these and actually wound up with a product that was inferior to the standard pressings.

    Another to avoid is the Columbia heavy vinyl reissues from the late 90s-early 00s.
  8. bangsezmax

    bangsezmax Forum Resident

    Durham, NC, USA
    The only one I own is Wish You Were Here, and I still had to re-EQ that one for my needle-drop. Way too bright.
  9. sgb

    sgb Forum Resident

    Baton Rouge
    I kinda like the Willie Nelson Stardust in addition to WYWH, but, truth to tell, there just weren't that many available titles that interested me.

    IIRC, the bad ones I had were:
    A Collection of Great Dance Tunes
    Born To Run
    Earth Wind & Fire

    Speaking of that, the RCA .5 series was an even bigger joke.
  10. proufo

    proufo Active Member

    Bogotá, Colombia
    I believe (read here, most likely) the RIAA EQ curve was not adjusted for half-speed mastering.
  11. 93curr

    93curr Senior Member

    The Japanese MasterSound Zappa 'Sheik Yerbouti' is a sonic delight, sez me. I wish I still had mine.
  12. Jeff H.

    Jeff H. Well-Known Member

    One of the other problems with the Half Speed Master LP's is that nearly all of them were made from production masters rather than the actual first generation masters. Which really makes the whole point of doing what's supposed to be an audiophile LP irrelevant.
  13. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Uh, I don't know what you mean here, but this was an analog recording all the way.
  14. casinoboogie

    casinoboogie New Member

    I have Dan Fogelbergs Phoniex. That one sounds good. Also Band On The Run. That one was good also if memory serves. It's been 3 or 4 years since I last played it though.

  15. mne563

    mne563 Forum Resident

    DFW, Texas
    I was never too impressed with them, except for Nashville Skyline. That one caught something right, it sounds great to me.
  16. Marty Milton

    Marty Milton Forum Resident

    Urbana, Illinois
    I own a few of these LPs, and I could never really hear any difference. I don't know if it was my equipment, or just a great job of marketing on Sony's part.
  17. Ed Hughes

    Ed Hughes Forum Resident

    :biglaugh: Apologies to Scott I do agree with him. I just thought this was really funny.
  18. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    I knew they sounded wrong from the first moment I heard them--I owned maybe four or five, and then sold them about two years ago. Two Earth Wind & Fire LPs (I Am and Best Of), Bob James "Sign Of The Times", Charlie Daniels "Million Mile Reflection", and I'm thinking there's one that I've forgotten.

    From a site I read, they halved the mastering speed, but did not halve the EQ settings appropriately, so they had a really wonky sound to them. All of mine sounded wonky. And I could not get more than $8 for any of them on eBay, even though they were flawless. *sigh*
  19. charlie W

    charlie W Forum Resident

    ATX North
    I have a few myself:
    The Best of EWF, Volume 1
    Jeff Beck-Blow by Blow
    Bruce Springsteen-Born To Run
    Bob James-Sign of the Times
    None particularly stood out sonically, though I always liked "Blow By Blow".
  20. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    All my CBS titles I got rid of were before the digital digital on these at all.
  21. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Golden Gate
    Wow... I would've thought the Columbia HSM debacle would be common knowledge here, at least by now... sorry someone had to find out the hard way... I guess there wasn't much of an internet in 1986.

    I had a handful back in the 80s – every one was inferior to any other copy when a comparison was made... and the difference was not subtle... after about 5 or 6 titles, I said 'no mas'.

    And yes, the Japanese Mastersounds were astounding slabs of vinyl... beautiful sound, dead quiet, perfectly crafted... and I almost missed out on the few I had because of the lingering bad taste from the HSMs.
  22. reverber

    reverber Forum Resident

    Lawrence KS, USA
    I remember reading an interview with a MoFi employee (was it Ricker?) that told the story of these. Apparently, MoFi had approached CBS about licensing titles for their audiophile treatment. CBS said "Sure, pick out a dozen titles to start out with." Guess who got to release those titles in half-speed mastered editions. MoFi were none to happy about doing market research for CBS until they bought them and listened to them. They realized immediately that the engineer at CBS had neglected to adjust his RIAA eq for the half speed cut. I believe this was later rectified, and that the Japanese engineers had probably consulted Stan about how to do things right. That's why the Japanese Mastersound usually sound better, and why later releases don't sound like laino (use a Bulgarian dictionary, if you must).

  23. Pug

    Pug Elitist Snob

    Near Music Direct
    The only one I ever heard was ELO - Discovery....

    :hurl: :hurlleft:
  24. Russ

    Russ Outlaw

    Anglesea, NJ
    The Half Speed of Kansas "Leftoverture" is pretty good. It's not great, but I haven't found a pressing that's better.
  25. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Hyannis Ma
    Yes. Except I'm not sure if Ricker was contacted. If you don't adjust the EQ while cutting at 3/4 or 1/2 speed, the cut will be very hard to listen to. "Watermelon seeds flying out of the speakers" or something like that.
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