SH Spotlight 'Does anyone know where Brian Wilson mastered PET SOUNDS in 1966?" Info is here...

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    I got an email from a guy who knew someone who knew someone who wanted to know the answer to the above question.

    The album was mastered at Capitol, minus Brian Wilson, per the late John Kraus.

    PET SOUNDS was assembled and the ref cut at the Capitol Tower on 4/4/66 by E.F. (whoever he or she might be). The first set of parts were cut the next day (4/5/66) by E.F. and then another set was cut for the East Coast by W.T. on 4/19/66. On 4/7/66 a protection master was made (marked N.Y. copy). I can't read anything else on my Xerox copy of the original fact sheet, too faint, probably pencil lines, sorry.

    As for "LPI" (lines per inch), EQ and limiter settings, that information is unfortunately lost to time. I can tell you that according to my ears, Mr. or Ms. E.F. added about 5 db at 5K to everything, shaved off a bunch of bass (probably 10 db off at 100 cycles) and filtered the top end at 10k or even lower. The limiter was set around "medium" with something like a dynamics crunching 4:1 ratio, typical for Capitol of the time.

    Hope this helps.
    ceddy10165 likes this.
  2. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    Perhaps this was an early Ed Feinblat job? At any rate, it does explain why the early Capitol Pet Sounds vinyl sounds less than spectaclular. Still, there is something cool about having it, holding it and knowing that it's "of the time". Thanks for the information Steve!
  3. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Were Capitol albums typically frequency chopped like that back in the day? Yikes....
  4. lennonfan

    lennonfan New Member

    baltimore maryland
    I think the original Capitol pressings were really crap. Had this record had more life in the sound when it was first released, it might have been a bigger hit. As it was however, it sounded dull flat and lifeless. I first got into those tracks from the Capitol 45 B-sides, they sounded much better. It went from being a bad mono pressing of a mono recording to a duophonic nightmare that was the only option from '68-74 or so. It's nice as a curio the way a Capitol Beatles original is, but I still think the Fabs lps sounded better:)
  5. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Albany, NY
    Likely it was cut with AM and pop FM radio in mind. In the early days of FM stereo high frequencies could set off the decoder in the receiver when tuned to a mono station. Low bass, especially if it was out of phase and wide dynamics worked poorly with the over active signal processing used at poorly run (make that 99%) of the radio stations out there. So do the dirty work at the cutting end and it will sound the same on the record and the radio.

  6. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    The original Capitol pressings lacked a hell of a lot. Would it been a bigger hit if it were dialed in a bit? No. Most people had the worst of Hi-Fi's...
  7. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Portland, Oregon
    The only E.F.'s I can think of are Ed Feinblatt and Elmer Fudd.
  8. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Surround sound lunatic

    Bayside, NY
    There WAS NO pop FM radio in early 1966. It didn't happen until late 1966 or early 1967 (I forget exactly), when the FCC made FM stations stop duplicating their AM programming. This caused some stations (WOR-FM & WNEW-FM in NYC) to start programming rock & roll, since they needed cheap, new programming fast.
  9. electrode10101

    electrode10101 Forum Resident

    Northern Virginia
    Checked the date. Oct. 8, 1966 for WOR-FM.

    John Diamantis
  10. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    This confirms my suspicions of other old Capitol's. Steve, do you know what was the purpose of cutting lacquers/parts in LA for the East Coast AND sending a tape dub to the NY studio? I've suspected it was so they could start pressing records right away at Scranton (or Jacksonville?) from the "parts" sent from LA without having any delays from waiting for the NY studio to cut lacquers, but that's only a guess...
  11. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    The same was done for the White Album and Abbey Road as well, though I don't know what frequencies were cut, I do know that those cuttings have NO HIGH END.

  12. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I listened to a numbered original Apple White Album the other day, and could not believe how bad it sounded. Worse than I remembered, just dull.

    Funny that we had RCA Living Stereo, Columbia Six-Eye, Mercury Living Presence, London Blue Back, and the earlier Capitol on gray or turquoise, or even slick black, sounding rich, full bodied, and dynamic as US pressings. Then the late 60s came along, and Capitol (among other labels) turned down the fidelity a good 2.5 notches at least. In the name of radio or our current record players. Shameful.

  13. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    BTW, the album peaked at #10 in 1966.
  14. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I compared a Tower-cut copy of The Beatles' "Ticket To Ride" (#5407), made in Scranton, with a New York-cut copy of same pressed by RCA's Rockaway, N.J. plant, and notwithstanding the differences in vinyl quality, the New York lacquers from Capitol seemed to be louder, more compressed and distorted, and slightly higher in the high end than lacquers from the Tower. A few Beatles' singles had that difference between coasts. Also, from beginning to end some New York-cut lacquers seemed slightly slower in pitch (by about 1%) than L.A.-cut lacquers. Wonder why that might be -- tape speed? Speed of the Scully lathe?
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Well, if the NY tape was a dub, the speed could be off.

    What is weird is that Capitol LP cuttings (with those wacky over-the-top looking fancy numbers in the dead wax) from the 1950's are awesome. Around 1962 everything suddenly started to suck. When they stopped using the machine numbers and started writing in the numbers they must have "upgraded" their mastering systems at the same time. That means that they thought that they were IMPROVING the sound.

    Sigh. Sound familiar?
  16. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I know that in 1962, the New York studio replaced their old mono Scully lathe with another. Pre-1963 lacs from Capitol used "N" designations for New York lacquers and "D" for Hollywood (I believe the "D" intialized the old Don Lee studios on Melrose Avenue where Capitol was based between 1949 and 1956). After 1963, they had the following:
    Mono Scully lathe (#1): F and G
    Mono Scully lathe (#2): H and J
    Stereo Scully lathe: A and B
    Mono Scully lathe: P and T
    Stereo Scully lathe: W and X
    Lacquers furnished to Capitol were designated by a "Z." Is this of some help?
    Cassius likes this.
  17. Gary Mack

    Gary Mack Active Member

    Arlington, Texas
    I'm not so sure. KLZ-FM in Denver went Top 40 in 1965. I visited their tiny studio late that year and met a couple jocks. The station was still mono at the time and, compared to market leader KIMN-AM, the Denver Tiger, few people listened - but they played the hits and more.

  18. mal content

    mal content Guest

    Don't forget Ernie Ford!! :D
  19. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Now that interests me. I had thought that pre-1963, Capitol had "D" and "N" lathes in both LA and NY. In light of their lathe designations from circa 1963, this doesn't make much sense. However, during much of the 50's, you'll see Capitol LP's with two styles of machine stamping in the dead area - with that fancy "script" style Steve mentioned earlier, and also a plainer "block" style (not to be confused with the later, small plain NY stamping, beginning sometime in 1961). I had thought that the "block" ones were from lacquers cut in LA and that the "script" ones were cut in NY. In addition, during the later period of the "script" stamping still being used, there were also LP's being released at the same time with hand inscribed dead area info, which I believe were cut in LA. Unlike the later hand inscribed cuttings that Steve mentioned earlier from when Capitol was not doing their mastering as well as they used to (at least overall I guess), these generally sound great in my experience.

    What was Don Lee studios? I always understood Capitol Melrose to previously be the old location of KHJ radio and I just quickly read that Don Lee was involved with TV.
  20. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Actually, any "stamped" lacquers -- with the characters spaced far away -- were from the Scranton, PA pressing plant; pre-'60, the italic, quasi-script lettering indicated an LP or 78 while "block" lettering was used on 45's. Although a bigger version of the "block" type was used on the dead wax of Scranton-pressed LP's around 1955-56. The smaller "stamped" lettering took effect on Scranton pressings actually towards the end of 1960 and would be used up until the end of 1966 after which lacquers would be etched. (And when I say Scranton, I'm talking about anvil insignia pre-63, and afterwards "IAM" in a triangle which designated the International Association of Machinists' union whose members worked at the plant. L.A. pressings used a star, either stamped or etched, pre-64, and a six-sided asterisk after '64, and their lacquers were usually etched.)

    On top of that . . . after late 1971/early 1972, after Capitol abandoned its West 46th Street studios and relocated its mastering facilities to their East Coast offices of the time at 1370 Avenue of the Americas (a.k.a. Sixth Avenue), they retired the "P / T" Scully lathe which, along with the "W / X" Scully lathe, had been converted to dual mono/stereo cutting in early 1970 (they probably used Neumann cutterheads and processors from that point); while the "W / X" lathe remained, they acquired a newer Neumann lathe whose lacquers bore a code "R" (as in, on some post-1972 pressings of The Beatles' Something New, for instance, ST-1-2108-R13).

    As for the "Don Lee" studios which functioned as Capitol Melrose between 1949 and 1956: Almost a decade after Capitol moved into "the Tower," 5515 Melrose Avenue would become the birth of "Boss Radio" on KHJ with such jocks as Robert W. Morgan and "The Real" Don Steele. In other words, the once and future KHJ home.
    Cassius likes this.
  21. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    These are what I was talking about as the "block" style stamped LP's from the 50's. These were actually from lacquers cut in NY or LA? I have never seen a hand inscribed run-out on an LP from this period, and I thought these "block" style ones were from lacquers cut in LA (even if the actual record was pressed in Scranton). Of the old Capitol LP's of this period I have, on average these "block" stamped LP's tend to sound a little better than the "script" ones to my ears, though I have some nice "script" LP's as well.
  22. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Although, until about 1955, L.A. pressings also had "stamped" characters on the dead wax, spaced much closer together than on the dead wax of Scranton pressings. I.I.N.M., L.A. pressings switched from stamped to etched around the time of Capitol's move to the "Tower."
  23. Drawer L

    Drawer L Forum Resident In Memoriam

    Long Island
    Technically,that's only half correct.'OR-FM actually started the "progressive" format in July.For some reason,there were no jocks until October.
    There's a scoped aircheck of 10/8/66,the music is good(no,Excellent!),but it's all hits,just like on AM,but laid-back type announcers(ie:Scott Muni refers to himself as "S.M. on FM"),no 'screaming' type spots & even the jingles are kind of mellow("we rock FM,in stereo...")Sorry for veering off topic,but it's one of my fave airchecks.... :)
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    I thought I better put this back up.
  25. daviddaniel

    daviddaniel Forum Resident


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