Foreign Issues of US Original LPs: Advantages? Disadvantages?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by rontokyo, Jul 18, 2004.

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  1. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    I'm sure this has been discussed before [though I can't find it], but I'm curious to know what differences exist between original US LP titles and their foreign counterparts. For the sake of simplicity, by "foreign" I'll say "Japan." OK, so Japan wants to issue a current Eagles LP in, let's say, 1974. What tape are they sent? Would that tape be the same generation as the tape used for the US LP issue, or would it be one [or more] generation down? [Were all US LPs manufactured using first-generation tapes or were safety copies sometimes used?] Was it ever the case that Japan would be sent the actual stampers as manufactured in the US?

    What advantages, other than superior vinyl, are there with Japanese issues if indeed a lower generation tape was sourced? Is it a case-by-case situation where occasionally the Japanese mastering was superior to that done in the US such that even with a lower-generation source tape the end results may be superior to the original US issue?
     
  2. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Bump.

    You know, it's kind of strange. I never imagined I would ever have to "bump" a topic like this one. Not on this board.
     
  3. James Glennon

    James Glennon Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    From what I have read over the years, if the Japanese LPs are from the original stampers they sound great (very quiet pressings as well, a big plus). Unfortunately I haven't seen too many Japanese LPs with original mastering in the dead wax. Donald Fagan's 'The Nightfly' being the exception.

    Again from what I have read in the forum, UK or German pressings with the original mastering in the dead wax, sound better than the US pressings (which are 'bad' not - my opinion, but a general consensus).

    My main thing is to get an LP with the original mastering in the dead, not too pushed if it US, UK, German or Japanese (beggars can't be choosers).

    THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT!
    JG
     
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    If a country licensed an album from the USA from like 1969-87, the usual thing would have been to send a Dolby A cutting master copy to the country. In the case of SOME labels, this would mean a dub of a dub but with OTHER labels like Capitol, this would mean a flat Dolby A copy from the original master. So it could be neat or disaster....
     
  5. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks. Would the Dolby A "cutting master copy" [from the original master] sent to foreign countries be of the same generation as the "cutting master copy" sent to the record plant for US domestic production? If so, then it would appear that foreign pressings [in this case] would be sourced from the same generation tape as US copies. Of course, should foreign countries be sent a "dub of a dub," that's a different matter. You think I'm getting this OK?
     
  6. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    No, Ron, the "foreign" dub is made FROM the LP cutting master. But in the case of CERTAIN labels, the cutting master might BE the actual master tape. So, (for example) if Capitol dubbed EMI, England a copy tape of the Beach Boys or Dean Martin, it would be from the MASTER TAPE. If Universal/MCA dubbed Steely Dan AJA for Japan it would be a Dolby A copy from the CUTTING MASTER, which is already a dub of the ORIGINAL MASTER.

    But there is no real rule. It totally depends on what tape the American record company has "handy". Could be wonderful or not so wonderful.
     
  7. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Ah. Got it now. Dumb question, but wouldn't it have made sense for the "source" country to make multiple cutting masters--one or more to be sent out to the pressing plants for domestic production and the others to be sent to foreign subsidiaries? Wouldn't this ensure better quality abroad, which might result in additional respect for the company and increased sales? Or nobody's really listening anyways?
     
  8. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Yes, but that's not always what happens. Tape dubs can get lost. Sometimes even the label doesn't have the masters down the line. So what you get is sometimes different everytime when a title gets done multiple times....

    Sometimes you get a goofy clerk, sometimes someone at the facility gives a damn and knows a thing or two... Sometimes it's a glorious accident!

    It helps much when the end-engineer knows, cares, works, persists tirelessly. If they're looking for a record done cheap, it's a miracle if it sounds good at all...
     
  9. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Yes, Sckott, but I'm really talking about concurrent foreign production of a then-current title. Nothing's missing, all tapes are on hand. You, I believe, are talking about reissues done several years down the road from the date of the original release.
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Doesn't work that way. They make ONE cutting master and then all the Foreign production masters from that. Cutting from a third generation tape was no big deal back then (still isn't for most reissues).

    If the producer felt it was a really big deal, he would have his mastering engineer cut "parts" for all countries at the same time and not trust the engineer of another country.
     
  11. rontokyo

    rontokyo Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Could it be said, then, that CD issues could be one generation [or more?] closer to the original "master" tapes if digital production masters are sourced from the master tapes themselves [no generation loss for "cutting" masters]?
     
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Well, maybe. If the digital tape was made from the original master, bypassing the LP cutting master and engineered correctly it would sound damn good.

    But, I've heard CD reissues that I KNOW were made from the original masters sound really crappy and I've heard some amazing sounding LP's that I KNOW were made from third or fourth generation copy tapes. So, what can I say? Whoever has their hand on the chicken switch gets to choose how the end result will sound.
     
  13. Leppo

    Leppo Forum Librarian

    Location:
    Off Broadway
    That it's a case by case thing.
     
  14. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Have any labels totally controlled their master tapes by sending stampers instead of tapes to other pressing plants?
     
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    As I mentioned above, sometimes the metal "parts" are sent for pressing in other countries, but most Foreign pressing plants have their own way of doing things and using someone else's metalwork isn't part of their plan.

    Sometimes, lacquers are cut for licensees at the same time as the original USA LP lacquer, but engineers don't like to do that because by the time the acetates are delivered, they have already begun to "loosen" and have groove echo, etc.

    Look at your British import BEATLES AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL LP. See the "Mastered by Capitol" in the lead out groove? Good example of the above.
     
  16. SVL

    SVL New Member

    Location:
    Kiev, Ukraine
    Would that be a fair assumption to say that if a label is (co-)owned by a Japanese parent company, like Columbia and Sony, there is a better chance of the Japanese plant getting a source that is close to the master tape?
     
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