SH Spotlight I'm asked stuff: Favorite mastering engineer, best BOSTON CD, best TRAVELING WILBURYS CD, etc..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Forum Resident

    I wonder if the modern trend toward over-toppy and sibilant masterings is because engineers don’t have to play by the constraints of vinyl now.

    Related, I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but Joe South’s excellent, and un-reissued Midnight Rainbows has a cover of Leon Russell’s SSStranger In A SSSStrange Land on it and a certain RL has just gone too hot and “such a sight to see” breaks up like nobody’s business on every copy I’ve had, including a Monarch test press and a sealed stock copy from the Lowery Publishing vault.
    It wasn’t popular enough to get a recut and while the Australian copy is a unique cut, it sounds like the ubiquitous Blanket-3000 processor has been used in the chain.

    So until Island decide it’s reissue worthy, we’re stuck with it. I must take the Island LPs with me next time I go to my mate’s place who has an eye-watering system and see if it tracks any better there.
  2. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Yes, i agree having read the enormous lukpac report which i believe also claims some contributing assistance from our gracious host.
    Funnily i still just own the original i purchased in 1989.
    mBen989 likes this.
  3. Tim Bexter

    Tim Bexter Well-Known Member

    Hello, Steve. What's your opinion about Bob Marley's Remasters? (Barry Diament & Ted Jensen)
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Don't have an opinion, I play my old LP's, sorry.
  5. showtaper

    showtaper Forum Resident

    In the interest of professional courtesy it would be nice if everyone would not ask Steve to comment on other mastering engineer's work. The number of "no comment" responses should have been enough of a hint...........
  6. Kevin Bresnahan

    Kevin Bresnahan Forum Resident

    York, Maine
    I believe Capitol sent all of their master tapes to Iron Mountain years ago. Where Iron Mountain stores, only they (and Capitol?) know.
  7. Sam

    Sam Forum Resident

    Rochester, NY
    Well, in addition to being sent to a secure facility, I was interested in knowing what techniques are being applied to those old masters to preserve them as much as possible, much like what the George Eastman House does in my town with original movie prints. I didn't think sharing restoration techniques would be a secretive subject, but I guess it is.
    john lennonist likes this.
  8. Greg Arkadin

    Greg Arkadin Forum Resident

    The aforementioned Fischer is great. Kovacevich on EMI is probably my favorite complete set, though not for sound (I'd describe the piano here as metallic; a pity he never recorded the entire cycle for Philips).

    But my strategy would be to get all of Bruno-Leonardo Gelber's halfish cycle (5 CDs IIRC on Denon; there's also a great CD of variations on Orfeo) and complete it with Kovacevich.
  9. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Toulouse, France
    It is mainly about avoiding variations in the environment: humidity, temperature, no magnetic fields, etc...
    john lennonist likes this.
  10. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    Add fire proof to that list.
  11. Psychedelic Sounds

    Psychedelic Sounds Forum Resident

    New Zealand
    Do you like Harry Nilsson and if you do which albums do you like?
    I like Aerial Ballet and Nilsson Schmilsson.
    I have a copy of Aerial Ballet (1995 remaster) on CD which seems quite hard to find.
  12. bherbert

    bherbert Forum Resident

    South Africa
  13. Kevin Bresnahan

    Kevin Bresnahan Forum Resident

    York, Maine
    Iron Mountain is in the storage business and as far as I know, they are the best out there. As to what environmental conditions they use, it would probably be best asked of someone at Capitol. At one point, I was told that all of the Blue Note masters were at one of Iron Mountain's underground facilities in CA in a climate controlled environment with a high tech Halon fire control system. They should be safe.
    Plan9 likes this.
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    I like him, have the original RCA-Victor LP's from back in the day, all on that dark brown label so I was a fan as a kid..
  15. Chooke

    Chooke Forum Resident

    Perth, Australia
    Well, that is a change in the environment (a major change in the environment!)
  16. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Forum Resident

    manassas va 20109
    According to the Ex- head guy at IBM Materials lab that specialized in mag tape - some of the formulations inherently go sticky shed due to the hygroscopic properties of the binders used.
    It's on my sticky shed page - Sticky Shed Syndrome and Tape Baking

    From that page:

    A bit from Dr Ric Bradshaw, former head of IBM Materials Lab, in a web discussion with Richard Hess, Steve Puntolillo (Soniccraft), and myself that started because of these photos:

    "This note contains a great deal of very useful information which could really help you all unravel what is really going on...IF you could actually get some chemical and mechanical analysis of these tapes before and after baking to separate/prove the possible hypotheses that may be at work in these various tape samples.

    The Ampex tapes were made using Estane 5701 I am pretty sure...possible a blend of 5701 and 5707....both contain a polyester made from butanediol and adipic acid..the primary difference in the length of the nominal polyester chain....hydrolysis of the polyester-polyurethane cleaves the initial long chain polymerat the polyester repeating units(120,000 Mw or about 340 repeating units long). When the polyester segments of the polyester-polyurethane(PU) is broken down by acid catalysts, water and heat, the coating becomes soft and increasingly contains a liquid residue of small polyester fragments. These can pool on the surface and then scrub during tape motion on typical laminated heads used in audio recording such that when the tape stops and reverses direction, the tape slaps down onto the collected adhesive material and picks it up as a "line" or smear of sticky material. We were able to confirm this using high resolution mass spectrometry.

    I was trying to get a die made to cut samples for the dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer (DMTA) from the 1/4" tapes Richard sent me before I left was never completed by the model shop. I sent Richard's note with the link to Wayne's photos on to Dr Dylan Boday at the IBM Materials Lab in Tucson in the hope that he might be interested in doing some analyses on these tapes samples.

    What you need to know is what happens to the tapes during baking....chemically and mechanically. I think I know what is going on, but my direct experience was with several binder systems used to make digital 1/2" tapes in the 70's and early 80's...and limited experience with the later versions of Ampex instrumentation and audio tapes (used by NASA). It would be a relatively straight forward analysis which Benoit was
    doing in France a few years ago..but never go the effort fully completed for these tapes.

    What you see visually is surface embossments which show up much better with a scanning electron microscope (also available at the IBM Materials lab)..some of the tapes which had observable "dusting" on the surface are still probably degraded but the dust is not the degraded polyester fragments but the granular ureas from the polyurethane degradation. The polyester fragments are buried within the coating matrix probably due to not being baked or having been run below the glass transition temperature (below 20C) so that the coating is mechanically worn producing the dusting rather than sticky surface conditions. I note what appears to be considerable scratching of those tape surfaces consistent with that type or wear induced damage. The tough components of the binder system are the polyesters..they are rubbery even when degraded somewhat...but the urethane fragments left behind are not..they are called the "hard segments" for that reason..they impart strength but are not elastic. These materials are high melting and would act like grit at the head to tape interface...leading to digital drop outs and SNR degradation, but no squeal or detectable noise in an analogue detection channel with the track widths used. The effect of baking at temperatures about 45C is to soften the coating. These tapes have a glass transition temperature detectable by dynamic mechanical analysis (DMTA) typically with an onset of 30C with the viscoelastic transition point (tan delta peak max) close to 50-52 C hence your experimental observation of needing to bake the tapes at a temperature above 50C to see the change in the surface condition.

    What happens to the wraps of tape on the spool during baking is thermal mechanical creep to relieve the compressive and tension stresses placed in the spool of tape during winding. The surface of the tape coating softens and the topography of a worn tape flows back to a smoother surface due to the compressive forces of the over wraps in the spooled tape during backing. If you back sections of the tape as flat specimens in the oven..not wound against the backside of the would actually see material move to the surface...and probably very little change in surface topography...but change in gloss or reflectivity. I believe your observable staining has a similar mechanistic explanation.

    As Richard and I discussed during the creation of his paper, baking does not return the polymer to it's initial condition...just can't happen this way..and once the tape is degraded it is a losing battle to try to "reconstitute it". You can alter it so that it can play, but it's initial durability is gone and it should be copied to a new tape or converted to a digital format."

    Ampex patent
    US5236790A - Restored magnetic recording media and method of producing same - Google Patents
  17. Dee Zee

    Dee Zee Forum Resident

    Steve, Any suggestions for the best Best of the Ventures compilation on CD?
  18. mdr30

    mdr30 Forum Resident

    Gothenburg, Sweden
    That I wonder too. Is the original lp similar to the cd versions? Compression, distorsion, variable tape speed. And some of the arrangements and songs are so good...
  19. I've done the same thing for the last 20. Whatever I've lost, I've lost but I want to hold on to as much hearing as I have left. It's still pretty good even considering my age!
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Didn't Ron F. do one in the late 80's for EMI?
    Lownotes, Dee Zee and bmoregnr like this.
  21. ilo2

    ilo2 Well-Known Member

    Oh I've bought albums over the last few years that state 180g Audiophile Quality or some such wording.
    ashiya likes this.
  22. simonux

    simonux For rhum president

    Steve, can you tell us about the mastering of Country Joe & the Fish - Electric Music for the Mind and Body for Pure Pleasure, is it from the master tapes or from a remix?
  23. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

  24. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    @Steve Hoffman
    From "Ella Fitzgerald "Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie", Stereo or mono? + Recording info.." tread.
    The mix down was always done at RR by the same person.
    I'm curious as to what made the 2 year rag (between 1956 and 1958).
  25. seacliffe301

    seacliffe301 Forum Resident

    Steve, what is your opinion on the work that Giles Martin has done with the "White Album" reissue?

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