SH Spotlight QUESTION: Vintage Van Gelder BLUE NOTE LPs, stereo or mono titles. Which are better?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Cassius, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. Another Side

    Another Side Senior Member

    San Francisco
    That's where the "or so" comes in. :D

    They did not start releasing stereo LP's until then, but they were running two machines beginning with BLP 1544 in 1957, IIRC. Why? Who knows at this point. :shh:
  2. kudesai

    kudesai New Member

    Who knows indeed! LOL, Reminds me of a thread on Blue Train... ;)
  3. OE3

    OE3 Senior Member

    Best thread in months. :thumbsup:
  4. william shears

    william shears Senior Member

    new zealand
    Apparently Rudy did do a fairly long interview which covered some recording techniques for an 'interactive' cd-rom type thing for a 'Blue Train' special release in '95. I've never seen it though...
  5. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
  6. kudesai

    kudesai New Member

  7. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Damn, some of the comments that go along with that Youtube link are hilarious!

    "are these all of your records? i have about that many (probably more), but not all one label. very impressive, How many do you have total?" :laugh:

    "at least we know hes not a raicst!!!
    thats good man" :rolleyes:
  8. kudesai

    kudesai New Member

    I found this little blurb on website for Kenny Burrell's "Midnight Blue"

    So it sounds to me as if they are saying, "well its supposed to be mono according to Rudy but the Stereo masters sound much better".

    Also, this title (Midnight Blue) says that its summed into mono from the 2-track master. Whereas, the blurb for "Blue Train" mono and stereo releases states: "Transferred from the first-generation full track mono masters" and "Transferred from the first-generation two track masters" respectively.

    Steve, looks you might know a little something about this stuff. ;)

    Now, I can understand why someone, who wants to be a completest might want to own a mono "Blue Train" as it did come from a separate master, not me, but a collector perhaps. However, why on earth would some one want a mono "Midnight Blue" if it is nothing more than a summed 2-track master?
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host


    This statement:

    Also available in MONO cut from the same 2 - channel master tapes - summed into MONO per Rudy's instructions!

    C'mon, BLUE NOTE wanted mono so Rudy told them how to do it. It's like a TV salesman telling someone how to turn off the color on their color TV so they can watch everything in black & white. Doesn't mean the salesman thinks it is a good idea, just that it can be done. But, WHY RE-RELEASE SOMETHING LIKE THIS NOW????? If someone has a mono only cartridge and they need something to play, there are tons of great mono mixes out there in the world. However, for the rest of us with stereo cartridges, a double Y cord to fold down to mono would do the trick. Heck, you could fold down everything to mono that you wanted to, even without directions from Rudy Van Gelder; amaze your friends.:laugh:
  10. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict

    Hi Steve.

    The Mono Blue Note craze, as far as I know, was driven (if not started) by the Japanese Jazz vinyl fans during the late 70's through the 90's. For whatever reason, they got the idea that the Mono titles were released first and therefore, are the very first pressings.

    I was actually grateful for that, since I am a Blue Note Stereo nut.

    Now, the current Mono craze by the new generation of vinyl lovers is adding fuel to the fire and these reissue companies are just tailoring their marketing accordingly, I suppose.

    One of the big differences between Classic Records (for example) and DCC (for example), IMHO, is/was that Classic tailors/tailored their releases to what the vinyl nuts raved about in magazines and articles during the 80's and 90's, whereas DCC appeared to have released titles that contained great music (the original releases of which may not have benefited from the best mastering).

    Of course, the general market (yes, even the audiophile market) is basically ignorant and Classic appears to do well, while gems like DCC and Alto Edition are no longer in existence.

    It is sad but what can one do?
  11. yasujiro

    yasujiro Senior Member

    And you'd better know that, for whatever reason, they honestly much prefer(ed) mono sonic in general.
  12. Monsieur Gadbois

    Monsieur Gadbois Senior Member

    Hotel California
    Interestingly that I've just had a disagreement with a very good audiophile friend of mine in regards to this subject. This friend(Japanese American) is a true and true stereo fan(over $100,000 sound system) except when it comes to jazz recordings. His reasoning is that mono, although wrong in sound staging and imaging as Steve indicated, due to the combining of both channels into one gives you a much fuller, more dynamic and thicker sound which makes the music much more involving.
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    That's just plain silly talk.:laugh:
  14. Monsieur Gadbois

    Monsieur Gadbois Senior Member

    Hotel California
    You're telling me.

    But if one truly believed deeply into what they perceived to be right, what can I say......:shrug:
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    I hope people are playing their expensive disks. Fortunately most collectors I know avidly play their records. Pretty pointless not to.

    On the other hand, the hard core collector has a "playing copy" handy and the mint original for the really scarce titles. I have a few like that myself but don't tell anyone..:wave:
  16. johmbolaya

    johmbolaya Active Member

    Pacific Northwest
    NO! :eek:

  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Just a few.:)
  18. mothra

    mothra New Member

    washington dc
    Rudy only had one speaker until the new studio. Some pretty good stuff was recorded listening to two track just in mono. I posted part of an interview over on the other thread. Frankly, I think music matters and all those involved should do whatever they think sounds best. However, I am not sure van Gelder thinking of the two track stuff in mono is a false concept, he has said on a couple of occasions that his thinking about stereo was way later. That doesn't mean it sounds better, but I think it is common for those guys who were doing things in that era to operate in this way. That's why I was little surprised by the music matters press release. How come no one called him? He is said to be quite difficult and is way into digital these days too (not that that's an inherently bad thing I guess).

    We could have the same discussion about the roy orbison monos since i think there is more evidence that Bill Porter was into stereo early on.
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    One more time, I don't care if he monitored with a crystal headphone set or two tin cans. :) Orson Welles edited CITIZEN KANE on a 4" Movieola screen.:eek: SO WHAT? Sigh.

    I'll copy what I wrote earlier in this thread one more time:

    "Engineer Rudy usually has carefully split a band with a horn on the left and a reed on the right, bass and piano in the middle and drums on the right with a nice bleed through to the middle and thick, swirling stereo reverb that encircles the band in a 360 degree angle. This was not done in a haphazard fashion; it was done in a delicate, deliberate manner, well thought out and well balanced for the best stereo impact...

    Don't believe the legend, believe the tapes. Trust Steve on this...

    As I wrote in the other thread and as I keep trying to explain to the folks, certain cues are lost when RVG stereo tapes are folded down to mono. Also, all of the out of phase information that occurs when recording live CANCEL OUT in L+R mono. They vanish, poof! Nobody knows this more than RVG himself. The monos were good enough for a 1961 Webcor phonograph but just because that sound was a compromise back then doesn't mean we are stuck with it now. The actual stereo (binaural) tapes reveal a sonic panorama "time machine" back to the past. We are lucky to have such a clear record of such amazing music.

    If you must hear it in mono, get a double Y chord and combine the channels of your turntable to L+R. Problem solved. But don't gyp yourself and miss out on the fantastic lifelike stereo image that RVG created; it's quite wonderful for that time (or any time)".
  20. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Steve, Rudy used ONE Campbell's Chicken and Stars tin can to monitor BLUE TRAIN! He peeled the label off so the cameras wouldn't catch on, but Coltrane left notes behind. :)
  21. alanb

    alanb Senior Member

    Bonnie Scotland
  22. mothra

    mothra New Member

    washington dc
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Good morning.

    Of course RVG intended it to be heard in stereo (regardless of what he might have claimed 45 years later). Why the heck else would he record in stereophonic sound so carefully with such a wonderfully laid out stereo image? If he just wanted mono he would have used his mono Ampex machine like he did for his recording sessions for Prestige.:)
  24. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    I may be in the minority here, but I love me some tape box images, not least of all for the insight they provide into the recording/mixing process. It's just cool seeing these things!
  25. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict

    Good morning to you, Steve.

    Let these blind Mono worshipers be. You and I are definitely in the minority on this issue, it seems, FOR NOW.

    Several years ago, I carefully tested many many (I am guessing at least 100) original Mono and original Stereo pressings of Blue Note titles from the late 50's and early 60's, and it is unmistakable that some of the instrument sounds are lost in the Mono. I could not figure out why this was so back then. Even if they were fold-downs, I figured you would just get what you would hear in the two channels in one. Therefore, my conclusion back then was that someone just goofed in folding it down.

    My preference for Stereo original Jazz LPs from late 50's and early 60's was further hardened by my comparison of other Mono vs. Stereo originals of other labels. I am a huge fan of Coltrane, as I am sure many folks here already know, and I did a careful comparison of his Atlantic titles in the original Mono and Stereo, and found that the difference is even worse. Some of Coltrane's titles, even Giant Steps, sound boxed in and very small in the Mono original, whereas the Stereo original sparkles and sounds open. The same thing with Lee Konitz' Inside Hi-Fi. Riverside originals of Adderley brothers (please excuse the pun, but I just love the Everly Brothers harmonies), Heath brothers, etc. are also like this.

    Your explanation of out-of-phase info getting lost, etc. definitely makes sense to me and explains what I noticed from these comparisons. I was lucky in a sense and after these tests, I sold those "inferior sounding" Mono originals for much more money than the cost of the original Stereos. When people finally catch on to the fact that original Stereos sound better vast majority of the time, it may be too late to get rid of the Monos in favor of the Stereos so easily and profitably.

    Also, sometimes, even the frequency extension suffers from my experience. I don't have an explanation for this phenomenon but on some recordings, the low bass information gets lost on the original Monos, whereas the bass is much more even and goes much deeper in the original Stereos. Even if there is no scientific explanation for this (perhaps there is, I just don't know), it is an empirical fact from my experience that this is the case in some recordings.

    Finally, regarding Mr. Van Gelder, even though he is my all-time favorite recording and mastering engineer of the past (because everything that he did in the late 50's and early 60's for Blue Note, Impulse and Prestige are amazing to me, except that I prefer the Stereo originals), he has not done anything in the last 30 years that I find remotely satisfying from a sonic point of view. His Blue Note CDs, to me, prove that his hearing is shot or he had to use third or fourth generation tapes. Therefore, what he says now about what he did 40 plus years ago does not say anything to me. The comparison of his work back then and his work more recently is all I need to ignore what he says now. His actions 40 plus years ago speak more volume than his words now.

    By the way, when looking for Mr. Van Gelder's work from the 50's and 60's, it is important to note that there is a HUGE difference in the sound between those recordings RECORDED and mastered by Mr. Van Gelder and those recordings just mastered by Mr. Van Gelder. The recordings recorded and mastered by him sound much much better. Also, one should try to avoid many of later Van Gelder stamped pressings of Prestige recordings, as it is obvious from a careful comparison that he either did not have the master tapes or just did not do as good a job in the mastering process. I will not go into details here because of my own selfish interests (I have yet to finish my Prestige and Riverside collection :D ).

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