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SH Spotlight Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" 45 & 33 1/3 RPM Hoffman/Gray vinyl mastering & equalization notes..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    All are German made.
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Thanks. I'm sure all who worked on this project at Warner Bros. Records took great pride in getting it right.

    Heck, they had four years...;)
    VinylPhool and Tombby like this.
  3. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Yeah, I've done that with old 35mm film soundtracks as well. When there's no tones, we get out the alignment tapes, set up to that, then tweak by ear. Then I leave detailed notes and nail them to the box, just in hopes that it will help the next guy who masters this stuff years from now.

    At least 20 or 30 times I've encountered 35mm mag tracks where somebody deliberately spliced out the alignment tones for some reason. And in a few cases, there's a note that says, "use Reel X for alignment tones"... only Reel X is not in the vault. Sad.
  4. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Thank you Steve! This will give me something to ponder when I am listening to my copy...when it gets here!
  5. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Having to use tape hiss? That sounds headache-inducing trying to get it in the ball-park.
  6. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    True, but tape hiss does have a sound that one can get used to. When there is equaliztion, you can really hear it's effect in the hiss.

    This is somewhat like using FM tuner noise in place of pink noise for testing frequency response of speakers or gear.
  7. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Oh yeah! I've used it in the same way, but I really hate it. I'd rather try to dial in the treble by ear and guess the rest.
  8. Nobby

    Nobby Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK

    I've not watched the "Classic Albums" DVD for a while...

    They just used the theatre as a recording venue. There was no audience there to applaud Christine when she'd finished!
  9. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    Tape noise is your friend.
    With it you can tell approximate generation and head alignment
    The more generations the 'harder' the tape noise
    White goes grey.
    Thats why they CAT 43 it or prefferably Cedar III it.:angel:

    I still can't get over Ken's
    LF -5 db, MF +10 db, HF +15 db.
  10. rinso white

    rinso white Pale Fire

    Man, I wish my copy was showing up today instead of tomorrow (when I'll be out of town for several days)!
  11. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Perhaps it was his gear. But, the trend in 80s pop music was pretty bright sound, so maybe that's why he boosted.
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The thing is, separate tone reels for major projects always get lost or indeed separated from the actual mixes. Ken Perry made sure this didn't happen with RUMOURS by giving each reel of tape a dedicated tone section, hooked right on. Even that got wacky by the 1980's though. On one of the RUMOURS reels there are like three separate tone sections with three different brands of tape. One of Ken's last scrawls on the box is to use the 1k tone from the first set, the 10k tone from the third set and so on. Drove us batty because on our MRL'd Studer playback deck those choices were irregular in the extreme.

    On the other hand, in 1989 when I worked on restoring the (still unissued) Victor Young soundtrack music score to AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956), the 35mm six track mag film stored at Todd-AO still had the crucial (and I mean CRUCIAL) separate box of Todd-AO set up tones attached by a piece of very old and crumbly artist tape. Without those 1956 tones the mag playback would have been a mess. The tones on the mag had the 10k down 10 db, etc. Made it so much easier to play back the music correctly. Without knowing that the 10k was down 10 db the thing would have sounded bright and hissy. With the 10k in its proper perspective, it sounded wonderful.
  13. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Sometimes studios would make reels of 'house tones' and then could tack them on to various master reels. Assuming the same machine was used for making the tones and the mixes, this makes a bit of sense, at least as far as head allignment is concerned.

    The problem though is that even with a single reel of tape, the tones rarely stay constant from head to tail. Granted the variations are usually not that much, but they do exist.

    My first day at Dawnbreaker, I was setting up the Studer 24 track for a session, and the second engineer was standing over my shoulder making sure all meter needles split the 0db markers. When he saw one that wasn't he was sure to point it out to me. Of course I pointed out to him that even if there was a place on the tape where I could actually achieve that, a few minutes later on the tape that would no longer be the case.

    Add to this, the fact that often in the studio things are done rather quickly. After a tape is recorded, instead of rewinding and rerecording, often we'd plop a fresh reel on the machine for future takes. Of course there was no time to reallign the machine, and if we did we'd find the tones were all over the place. Now I'm not talking much variation, but it could be as much as a db or more from track to track.

    In practice, most won't hear any difference with levels fluctuating by a db or so, but in mastering often the eq changes are less than a db at certain frequencies, particuliarly in the mid range region. So the bottom line here is that tones are really not as accurate and useful as they may seem. That said they're a great starting point that should get very close to matching the intended tonality.
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Doug, as you know, in the real (reel) old days of tape (1950's-1960's) the studios never put tones on their master reels because every in-house machine was set up by the maintenance department several times a day with house tones. Either from official Ampex set up tone reels or Frankenstein tones manufactured in house or via oscillator.

    There was no reason to put dedicated tones on masters because they never left the studio, even for mastering. Every machine at Capitol (for example) was (in theory) always set up like every other machine there. It never even entered the mind of any engineer at Capitol that there would come a day when ANOTHER (gasp!) studio might need to work on the music and need proper set up tones. Even when they made an in-house dub in LA for the New York studio the machines matched.

    Of course the pre-1962 Ampex machines couldn't even be adjusted, not even bias. Everything was fixed.
  15. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Never mind. I just answered my own question and it sounded silly.
  16. O Don Piano

    O Don Piano Senior Member

    Sure is. These kinds of threads keep away the folks who like to post what I call "silly threads".

    This kind of info and discussion is what attracted me to this forum. What else would make me really want to hear an album etched within my DNA again and again?
    VinylPhool and Gardo like this.
  17. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    This thread is the kind of thing this forum needs more of and to get back to.
    O Don Piano and VinylPhool like this.
  18. +1 Great thread!

    There are many excellent reads on this forum discussing specific mastering techniques with certain recordings and overall sound recording methodologies,
    but most all (unless sticky) fall back and get buried under the latest "who is the best at whatever", etc. threads fairly quickly.

    Just pipe dreaming a bit here... :D

    Maybe an archival gathering of some of this excellent history along with still open and new threads like this could have a future section titled "Let's Talk Sound Mastering" or something?

    It could house locked archives for some classic older threads, with expansion over time as they are rediscovered, and an active area for the new ones.
    Anthrax likes this.
  19. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    I feel dumb now. The original LP liner notes say that "Songbird" was recorded at Zellerbach Auditorium in Berkeley in March 1976: I just always assumed that they played a concert there that night, happened to record it, and thought that they had gotten a perfect take of "Songbird" that they couldn't better in the studio. But that's not what happened at all, is it? :hide:

    According to Wikipedia, Caillat felt that "Songbird" needed a live hall ambience, so they recorded a special session for that song at that auditorium instead of in the studio.
  20. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    Tim Glover likes this.
  21. eyeCalypso

    eyeCalypso Forum Resident

    Colorado, USA
    Agreed. I've read every post with interest even though I don't particularly care for "Rumours":hide:
  22. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Senior Member


  23. rgcoleman9

    rgcoleman9 Member

    Nashville, TN

    Fascinating thread--thanks for the detailed information, Mr. Hoffman! My 45RPM set arrived today and it sounds AMAZING.
  24. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Oh, yeah -- I can remember that, seeing splices go by and you'd realize the tones were from a completely different brand of tape (Ampex instead of 3M, or some weird European brand you never heard of). Brings back bad memories.

    Why is this still not out, after 22 years?

    I once asked the head of Fox Recording why so few of their mag tracks had any line-up tones, and he kinda sighed and said, "back in the 1950s and 1960s, we had our own in-house standard and just set everything up to that. Nobody imagined a day, forty or fifty years later, where the tracks would be remastered by totally different people in other studios." So any hope of standardization went out the window.

    I have had to use some weird settings on occasion, even riding head azimuth by hand while watching the scope to try to "flatten" out the phase. Absolutely maddening. I'd go through four or five different head stacks just to find one that seemed to match the bad alignment of the client's tape. Very painstaking.

    And don't get me started on the problem of getting in tracks that were mixed with combinations of Dolby and non-Dolby NR, and nothing is labeled and there are no tones. I once encountered a major foreign film where the printmaster was mixed with part of the soundtrack Dolby-encoded, and part of it not encoded. We couldn't do much to it, because it was one-track mono. Painfully harsh. I think that got hurriedly fixed the day before it shipped, but just barely.

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