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DCC Archive Kevin Gray question for Steve Hoffman

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sam, Nov 10, 2001.

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  1. Sam

    Sam Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Mr. Hoffman, I believe you remastered one of the Doors lp's with Kevin Gray. I own two of the MCA Heavy vinyl records--Who's next and Buddy Holly. I see that the remastering engineer is Kevin. What I also know is that you had a hand in remastering Who' next (canada) and Buddy Holly in the past. Did you have any connection or give any insight to Kevin when he was remastering these lp's? What is your opinion of these two releases? I mean, I have to ask since you do a lot with Kevin and you remastered these very titles yourself at one time. Thanks in advance for your time.
     
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Sam,

    I had nothing whatsoever to do with those LP's. Kevin told me that he was told what to make the albums sound like by the company. He had no control over the sound.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    Not trying to play follow-the-leader, but those Heavy Vinyl MCAs don't sound at ALL like a laid-back DCC product, ever. Not ONE of them.

    Yes, even "Who's Next", which I thought sounded OK. It's nothing on Kevin. Most every black buscuit I've ever touched on DCC is frikkin amazing. Thanks, Kevin. You certainly do know how to make lines!
     
  4. Sam

    Sam Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Steve, so I take it you feel the MCA lp's are not true to the master tape. I must say, not having heard the master (if there is one), I have owned the Canadian half-speed and regular pressings of this lp and the MCA heavy vinyl wins hands-down. And Buddy Holly sounds great, too. I know Michael Fremer praised the Buddy Holly in Stereophile. Of course, he may be biased since he wrote the liner notes, but he dosen't strike me as the type to praise something that is really bad. I know he quite correctly put down the terrible remasters from, what was it, RTI or something that did the Stones Exile on Main St. and Some Girls and Grand Funk. Those were so muddy.

    So, if I read you words correctly, you don't care for those heavy vinly releases from MCA? Could you share with the board (since you not I have actually heard the master)what these recordings are supposed to sound like. And someone above said these releases don't sound like "laid back DCC" releases. Are all recordings supposed to be laid back? Many DCC ones are. Have you been accused of therefore "adjusting" the sound from purists who claim THAT'S not what was on the master tape? Sorry for all the questions steve. So much to learn, so little time.
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Sam,
    I really don't like to comment on other people's work, but in this case, it really isn't another person's work---- It is "mastering by group meeting". I hate that.

    So, here's the deal. I'll comment on the Buddy Holly only.

    The original tape sounds great just the way it is: Very natural, with a built in breath of life. Lots of vacuum tube magic. Especially turned up loud! The Heavy Vinyl version has a big top end bump which some people like, but is not true to the spirit of the original sessions. Also, the bass was thinned and mucked around with. Totally pointless.

    So, you have one of the best sounding recordings of the 1950's and you make it sound more "digital" by adding screech. The louder you turn it up, the more the tampering is evident. Drives me nuts. The tape hiss has this rising top end that is out of control. Grrrrrr.

    Now, I'm sure it sounds fine like that on SOME systems, and you could do a lot more damage to the sound without screwing up Norman Petty's great engineering. But, why? Because some record exec. played the Buddy Holly test pressing on their cheap office Pioneer turntable with a 40$ cartridge through a Technics receiver and decided that there wasn't enough treble? Shades of Stan Ricker and MFSL! Enough about that.

    As for "laid back", I'm not sure what is meant by that. DCC releases are true to the master tape. Listen to live music. Listen to drums and cymbals. No sizzle whatsoever on the cymbal, but on the snare, yes. Live sounds are very complex and textured. They don't have "one note" boosted top end. They sound rich and real, with overtones up the ying yang. Why should recorded music not sound that way? If someone's stereo needs that treble boost, they should just use a tone control. I'll never tell. If it makes one happy, do it. But, why should I build that treble boost right in to the CD or LP like Rhino and some other companies do? You can't get rid of it that way. And believe me, someday, you will want to get rid of it!

    On the other hand, I never "mellow out" a master tape. That's silly. On a good playback system, my mastering work should sound lifelike. That's always been my goal. I can't worry about what kind of stereo one will be playing it back on. That way leads to madness.

    Sam, does this help?

    [ November 11, 2001: Message edited by: Steve Hoffman ]
     
  6. Angel

    Angel New Member

    Location:
    Hollywood, Ca.
    So Steve, is there a good Buddy Holly LP reissue out there?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    I agree with Steve's process of striving for the best "true" sound of a master tape rather than using tricks to make it sound wonderbar on boom-boxes or Aunt Jane's phono-box player from 1974. I have a so-so system but one day (when I'm a famous actor/musician living on the planet Mars) I may have a killer system that will be thankful for having great music that wasn't enhanced for my own good (It's the same as crappy edge-enhancement on some DVD's to be helpful to the people with 20 year old dying TV's or loss of sight). I can hear the "breath of life" in Steve's work but in time as my system matures I believe that the focus will improve and more detail, nuances, depth, etc. will be evident. The resolution is there. Yesterday, I was listening to the DCC vinyl of "Nick of Time" and it's so smooth and spacious. It was refreshing to listen to Bonnie rather than some other heavily compressed cd's/vinyl I was listening to earlier. No headaches at higher volumes...

    Todd
     
  8. feinstein

    feinstein Member

    Location:
    Detroit, MI
     
  9. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    Steve,

    "Laid Back" (sorry) I think was too broad-a-term, but I've never heard a DCC Lp to be fraught with ruined dynamics that come from heavy handed boosting. That being said, I'm still amazed at Elton John's "Madman Across The Water" and Rod Stewart's "Never Dull Moment". One would never think that album had that kind of sonics in it.

    Plus it takes a hell of a lot of work to make a LP product tonally perfect to the master tape. These days, Cds and Lps are taking caffinated sterroids behind our back.
    I hate it when an otherwize technically proficiant record sounds like a basket of snakes.
     
  10. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    "mastering by group meeting" reminds me of an article in an Absolute Sound when those LP's came out. Michael Fremer, as has been mentioned, loved the new LP's. Some of TAS' staff, including the editor Harry Pearson, thought they sounded "digitalish", let's say, and also noted a strange quirk on their high resolution reference system. The EQ choices, which we now know weren't Kevin Gray's, made a "similar" sound between the Holly and Who albums. Once they noted this sameness, they were in hysterics, because it actually made Buddy Holly and Roger Daltry sound similar. My system is not that revealing, but it's getting better all the time, a process I enjoy. If only my bank account agreed :(

    P.S. I DID immediately notice that The Beatles Anthology discs all sounded the same, and very contemporary, despite having been recorded over the course of an entire decade 20-30 years ago. All EQ and processing I suppose? I prefer the sound of some of those early alternates on bootleg CD's I own.
     
  11. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    I'm not a fan of "modern mastering" or maybe post-modern. Everything in a recording is squeezed so hard. Drums are just making noise and vocals no longer sound human (people used to have natural timbre/Sinatra loved Nat King Cole's vocal tone). Effects are great but the balance is slipping. It's kind of like the same thing that's happened to Broadway shows. What has happened to the art? Everything is miked and processed. Are we hearing the singer create the vocals or are we hearing the heavily mixed/reverb/eq reproduction of the singing in "real-time"? When is Dorothy going to pull the curtain and reveal what's really going on?

    Todd
     
  12. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    I have an 80's Japanese MCA/Pioneer press of the Buddy Holly lp with Rave On as one of its tracks - great vinyl, and it sounded pretty swell (can't listen to it now cause my Adcom preamps' phono section is kaput)...
     
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