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SH Spotlight How records are made: RCA Command Performance 1942 & "Living Stereo" 1956. MUST SEE!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Yes. :D
  2. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    In all seriousness, though, as a collector's collector with records in LP, 45 and even 78 RPM formats from various labels including the majors, I've been able to tell how many Scullys of post-1950 make with variable pitch knob (including the post-1955 Scully 601) were in a studio based on variables including lead-out pitches and so on; ditto for determining an approximate time frame for when such lathes used by those studios were manufactured. That RCA's New York studios, for example, had four mono Scullys as of the 1960's, was borne out by each lathe having a different set of slow / fast lead-out pitches. (One lathe was generally reserved for cutting 45's, EP's and 7" 33RPM ["Compact 33"] records; while the other three cut LP's.) Of those Scullys (both post-'50 and post-'55, combined), I've counted at least over 110 such lathes in use around the world (even in places as far afield as Canada, England, France, Italy, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina) - and I may be just scratching the surface.
    EasterEverywhere likes this.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    That 1960 mono stuff they did sounded great, too.
  4. MaximilianRG

    MaximilianRG Forum Resident

    I've been addicted to these video's since I ran into this thread a few days ago. I've watched them all several times. They mesmerize me. I remember being a little kid in the early 80's when my dad bought me a record player so I would leave his alone. I was always amazed and wondered how it worked. My uncle gave me a book a few years later and I read all about how records are made and how they work. All this time as passed, and now I finally saw with my own eyes how those records were made in the old days. It's so amazing to me that pressing those black lumps between the stampers could actually capture those grove cuts with perfect, if not nearly perfect accuracy. Another thing that is amazing to me is how shiney those old 78's look when they were fresh. Its like looking at baby pictures of 78's.

    If anyone knows about any other video's like these, please let me know. I can't get enough.
    Steve Hoffman likes this.
  5. mrob0000

    mrob0000 Forum Resident

    I was so lucky to have been given the lesson on how records are made by the great Stan Ricker in the early eighties. I lived a few miles from Mobile Fidelity back then. That's an afternoon I'll never forget.

    He certainly contributed to me being a Hi Fi junkie.
    Elton and Steve Hoffman like this.
  6. MaximilianRG

    MaximilianRG Forum Resident

    These videos made me start to understand something. Please correct me if I'm wrong. To me, it looks like the grooves on the vinyl are the actual sound waves. So if the recording is too loud, wouldn't that cause the grooves to run into eachother and cross at times? Or maybe even create a record with such wild grooves that it throws the stylus out of the groove?
  7. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    Just great!
  8. apileocole

    apileocole Lush Life Gort

    Yes, basically on all counts. Remember records pre-date electrical sound technology. Until 1925 records were cut and played back using the actual sound waves, no electricity or electronics involved (even the lathes and record players were usually powered mechanically not electrically, by hand cranked spring or pulley, etc). The groove is an analog of the sound wave. The grooves have to be kept within a certain usable range and distance from one another or they could interfere, cross over or otherwise be impossible for the record players to track. So yes, the intensity of the sound levels being cut has to be kept in reason. Some forms of distortion in record playback (mistracking) involve the failure of a stylus to accurately follow the groove.
  9. MaximilianRG

    MaximilianRG Forum Resident

    Wow... ok then I think thats the reason a lot of vinyl albums sound better than their CD versions. The limitation is a blessing in disguise. I'm assuming CD's don't have that limitation, because there is no gravity or push and pull when a laser reads the CD. If the recording is too loud, the laser will still track, the CD will just sound like garbage.

    Also I have been thinking that some of my favorite 70's artists sound better on vinyl because the LP's were made when the tapes were fresh. And when CD's finally got going, the tapes weren't as new. So in other words, some well kept vinyl has preserved the original sound quality of those recordings better than the tapes?
  10. apileocole

    apileocole Lush Life Gort

    Yes and no. A professional quality tape is a pretty stable media sonically. Damage or deterioration tends to be a playability concern, not a sonic one per se. Given the same tape, different choices (different electronics, EQ and all sorts of other possible factors) made during the different masterings account for the differing sound quality. Of course there are cases where the best tape (or in some cases any tape) doesn't survive and the vinyl does represent the best source left.

    In some senses, yes the limitations of vinyl could oblige some restraint from what could be nasty excess. For instance too much treble can get nasty quick on vinyl but there's no such limitation for a CD. The laser reading a CD is not reading an analog of the sound however, only digital data.
  11. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    In addition, a user on Flickr put up a series of pictures of a disassembled Scully lathe with the exact kind of control panel as used by the mastering engineer in the 1956 film. Though from a distance it seemed unclear, when I saw the pictures it corresponded exactly therewith:


    (Source photostream can be found here.)
    1970 and MMM like this.
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Newbie bump.
  14. Jim T

    Jim T Forum Resident

    What is most interesting to me is how they depict people doing nothing else but listening to the music. How times have changed. I tend to do a lot of reading and listening myself. Probably should stop that.

    Watching those video makes me realize it is a miracle lps are made land work at all, and how lucky we are to enjoy the quality we get. Seems kind of hard to bash digital after watching that.

    I watched the first 3.
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Neat stuff, eh?
  16. gates69

    gates69 Music Junkie

    Enjoyed watching it but I can't seem to stop hearing Joel and the bots riffing away on that one from the 1950's :)

    Chris DeVoe and Hamhead like this.
  17. Scopitone

    Scopitone Inveterate Skipper

    Denver, CO
    Fantastic videos! A couple of things that stand out:

    1. My, how the process is labor intensive. But in less than 20 years, they had automated a great deal of it - especially with those 45s.
    2. I was shocked at how much bare-handedness is present. Very rarely do you see anyone using gloves, even at the end phase of actually packing up the records for shipping.

    Incidentally, I downloaded the mp4 versions, imported into iTunes, and streamed to my Apple TV. Even though the stated resolution is low, they looked and sounded just fine on my 36" HDTV.
  18. I can't believe it's been nearly 8 years since my post above. I got to go to RTI a couple of weeks later (January 2006), and not only did I get to see the whole Record manufacturing process, I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Steve do some remastering (I don't recall the artist Steve was working on, but it was some incredible Jazz music), as well as observe Kevin Gray cut the Lacquer. It was a great, great, great experience.

    So many years have gone by, and it's great to have this reminder of what I liked so much about this forum from the beginning.
  19. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    is a video called A Revolutionary New Triumph In Tape about the 4-track tape cartridge.
  20. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  21. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  22. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  23. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Around the 7:20 mark in the 1956 Sound and the Story, that was a rack-mounted RCA RT-11 tape recorder on which the (unknown and unnamed) mastering engineer was threading the tape to start. (Doubtless at their old 155 East 24th Street studios.)
  24. Joel1963

    Joel1963 Senior Member

    Other people with unique pronunciations of hardware and sound:

    Jack Lord on Hawaii Five-O: Cassettes pronounced as "cay-settes"
    Mike Douglas interviewing Brian Wilson in 1976: "steer-eo" :)
  25. Aris

    Aris Forum Resident

    To me it was important to see the other side, we speak of the "soft" side but ignore the "hard" side.
    Is gratifying to see that human intervention during the process is huge.
    Did not know that RCA manufactured the raw material.

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