SH Spotlight Bob Furmanek's research leading up to the first year of stereo records. It is fantastic reading..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Really, I started on this when the sun was shining, I looked up when I finished both parts, the sun was down, my kids and wife had gone to Chili's and I didn't even hear them leave.

    Bob has uncovered so much new, good information it's beyond belief. (for example, Capitol did stereo test recordings in 1952? I knew Atlantic did, but Capitol?) (Wait, WDRC AM did stereo radio in 1924????) (First stereo movie: Universal's "100 Men And A Girl" recorded in multi-channel in 1937???)

    It's also crazy that I've actually remastered many of these early stereo gems, sometimes without realizing how pioneering they really were, or exactly how old.

    Take it from me, check this out. It starts way back and ends with the first year of stereo records. Fascinating.

    I'm putting this as a sticky. If you collect records, if you love records, if you love music, if you love the history of recorded sound, this is for you!
  2. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
  3. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    Starting right now. This looks exhaustive!
  4. OtisWms

    OtisWms Member

    Weird coincidence that I stumbled upon a link for this site this morning while digging a hole through the comments of an old Blue Note post blog post. A worthwhile rabbit hole indeed!
    Crimson jon likes this.
  5. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    Thank you very much, Steve.

    The articles contain lots of new data newly compiled from primary sources and correct many long-standing myths and misconceptions.

    Among them:

    RCA Victor was not the first label to either record or issue a binaural tape in 1954.

    Bel Canto did not release a stereo sampler in December 1957 as reported at some websites.

    The Fantasia soundtrack was first released on stereo vinyl in 1958.

    The first Westrex stereo disc heard publicly was not Audio Fidelity's Dukes of Dixieland.

    The vast majority of labels did not have a "first stereo album." They had many, with London taking the lead issuing 75 titles in their first group.

    I began researching this material about ten years ago and was frustrated that so much inaccurate information was posted online. That's why I went back to the sources and did original research. The 60th anniversary of the Westrex demonstration a few months ago prompted me to quickly finish it and I posted a work-in-progress version back in November. This final revision is much more comprehensive and contains many images of first pressing covers.

    I do need a few upgrades on covers, especially the Cambridge release of MESSE SOLENNELLE. Anyone have that obscurity?

    Also, I'm not 100% certain that I have the first pressing cover for the Colpix/Benny Fields LP. Is that a 1960's reissue cover?

    If you have any questions, corrections or additions, please let me know. Thanks!
  6. sons of nothing

    sons of nothing Forum Resident

    LP= low
    AcidPunk15 likes this.
  7. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    thanks Steve! really enjoyed this...I love Bob's work!
    DRM likes this.
  8. ZippyPippy

    ZippyPippy Forum Resident

    Did they at least get you carryout?
    gonz likes this.
  9. ascot

    ascot Senior Member

    Great stuff as always from Mr. Furmanek!

    For those interested here's a 1934 stereo test by Bell Labs that I found on YouTube.

    DRM, MAYBEIMAMAZED, vwestlife and 5 others like this.
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Yes, some chicken thing.
  11. kt66brooklyn

    kt66brooklyn Forum Resident

    brooklyn, ny
    I fall down the early stereo rabbit hole often. I have a binaural tape made by RCA.

    I wish Joe Turner's The Boss of the Blues Sings Kansas City Jazz would get a proper stereo reissue. It's my favorite mid fifties stereo recording. Not as balanced as the mono, but who could ever hear Walter Page anyway? He was a perfect soft pulse, not a big booming bass player. Even with that, the recording is sublime.
    Tommyboy and googlymoogly like this.
  12. Endymion

    Endymion Forum Resident

    Nice to see appreciation of Bob Furmanek's work here. :righton:
    DRM likes this.
  13. Cousin It

    Cousin It Forum Resident

    Sydney, Australia
    I'm pretty sure Tom Dowd said Atlantic Records were recording in stereo/binaural (???) as far back as 1952(??).
    RonBaker and Grant like this.
  14. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    The two track recordings done by Dr. Hans Wolf in Vienna and Italy in the first half of 1953 are the first binaural recording sessions specifically made for tape/disc release and are of great historic importance.

    Does anyone know what happened to the masters owned by Livingston Audio aka Audiosphere? The company closed in the mid-70's and there was an auction of their assets.
  15. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    The first Atlantic binaural session was held on September 11, 1952 with Wilbur DeParis. There is no available record of how many binaural sessions were done but I've seen a few pre-recorded tapes over the years.

    Didn't they lose many of their half-inch masters in a fire back in the 70's?
  16. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    They probably had few 1/2” tapes (mostly either 1/4” mono and stereo or 1” 8-track), but yes, most session tapes through the late 60s were lost in a 1978 fire.
    Grant likes this.
  17. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    The only other Livingston binaural Atlantic Jazz release - up through December 1956 - was "New Orleans Jazz" by Paul Barbarin, recorded in January 1955.

    Here's the Atlantic stereo disc release from December 1958:

  18. Lownotes

    Lownotes Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Awesome! (really!)
  19. jhw59

    jhw59 Forum Resident

    fascinating. thanks!
  20. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    Steve, any idea if the Byrns Orchestra binaural session tapes for Capitol (captioned for April but possibly June 1952) survive?
  21. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    Does anyone know if Atlantic was recording in binaural with the Magnecorder or an Ampex deck?
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Bob, if Ron didn't come across them, I'm sure they are long gone.
    Bob Furmanek likes this.
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Magnecorder is what I heard.. Slow speed.
    Bob Furmanek likes this.
  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    According to Irv Joel, staggered head Magnacorder:

    "I am truly saddened by our loss of Tom Dowd. Tom and I were friends in the mid-50s. He used to bring his staggered head Magnacorder to our Capitol Studios in New York to make stereo recordings while we were still recording in mono."


    "That's funny because there is an article in Downbeat about three or four months ago, somebody talking about a Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz album or something which was out takes of Tristano and I jumped all over him and I said if this is what you’re talking about, this is the remnants of this session or that session and it was originally done--. Now, in those days, because Ampex had not yet invented, or made, or manufactured an adequate, professional two-track track recorder, I was using the magnacorder which had the heads spaced 1-7/8" apart for the left channel and the right channel. I was recording a lot of the jazz things in Atlantic on that instrument while taping the mono at the same time. When we were finished the Tristano sessions, I could not give him the original tape because it was stereo and if you played them a second and a half apart you would go out of your mind. I would reduce everything to mono and give them a 7-1/2 copy. God knows what he did with those tapes. That's not a criticism but he used them or did homework on them and then added to them, cut them, edited them. He did whatever he damn well pleased, and that's fine, that's his privilege. They came from originally binaural magnacorder 1-7/8" separated left and right tracks which would sound like hell on any machine that you played it on that didn't have exactly the same spacing.

    The recordings I’m referring were titled Lennie Tristano and The New Tristano."

    Additional stuff here I'm not going to transcribe at the moment:

    Pressed for All Time
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  25. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Forum Resident

    Thanks, Steve. I'll ask Ron.

    Any idea what happened to the Livingston/Audiosphere masters? Some Lenny Herman material is on You Tube and the quality is quite good.

    I know stereo LP's were released in 1959 by Janus and then Fleetwood. Both were Newark, New Jersey labels.

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