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"TML-M" and "TML-S" in dead wax--what's the difference?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by TLMusic, Mar 23, 2010.

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  1. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    Calling all vintage vinyl dead wax experts...


    I know that "TML" stands for The Mastering Lab.
    But what does the suffix M or S stand for?

    Would one indicate better sound quality than the other?



    Thanks!
     
    QQQ likes this.
  2. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    From our archives:

    -Ben09-23-2004, 09:19 AM
    "TLM" / "TLM-S" / "TLM-M" / "TLM-X" = The Mastering Lab (Los Angeles) -- one of the best pressing plants ever. Not sure what the "-S/-M/-X" indicate.

    Best answer:

    Well, The Mastering Lab apparently used three lathes to help speed up the cutting process since they were a pretty busy outfit back in the 1970's and into the 1980's. The "M" lathe was the master and the "S" was a slave. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing the "X" lathe was a slave as well.

    Of course, it still boils down to judging on a pressing-by-pressing basis given stamper wear and whatnot, but IME, the "M" lacquers often seem a smidgen better. Nothing to fuss over too much, though. I was just commenting as it's always nice to see back-to-back "M" lacquers.

    It's worth noting that the lathes at TML were driven with tube amps, which is nice...and certainly *very* unique for the time. Lots of swell records cut by Doug Sax and company back in the day.


    Not info I can verify, but there you go.
     
  3. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    Master and Slave cutting lathes. There's also an X and I forget what that means.
     
  4. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    Jinx, Pinknik!

    IIRC the TML lathes were discussed by Doug Sax himself in a recent issue of either Stereophile or Absolute Sound, and he explains what M, S and X all mean.
     
  5. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    Pinknik, thanks so much for your reply, and I'm sorry I didn't find the answer in the archives.

    I did notice on a UK press of ELO's Face the Music, A//1 matrix has TML-M and the A//2 matrix has TML-S

    The "M" does seem to sound a smidgen better than the "S".
     
  6. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    Cool. The man has cut some of my very favorite LP's of all time.
     
  7. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    No problem, I actually stumbled across the archive post via Google. The circle of e-life. :)
     
  8. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    I've have that record too.

    This is really interesting - as I have at least two records with the TML-S in the matrix.

    And both are UK pressings of Electric Light Orchestra records. What's up with that? US plates or stampers used for UK pressings for a UK band that recorded in the UK?
     
  9. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    TML did a mastering for a few UK pressings. Never learned why the lacquers were cut in America.

    Off the top of my head:

    The Who Who's Next (1st UK pressing)
    ELO Eldorado
    ELO Face the Music
    Pink Floyd The Wall
     
  10. Ben Sinise

    Ben Sinise Forum Reticent

    Location:
    Sydney
    The information I have pretty much agrees with -Ben.

    The Mastering Lab used 3 lathes; 2 Scully lathes indicated by TML-M (master) and TML-S (slave) plus a Neumann lathe indicated by TML-X (extra). All 3 were driven by custom designed tube amps built exclusively for TML by Doug's brother, Sherwood Sax. They were all retired from active duty in 2001.

    I haven't noticed any major sound differences between the 3 cutting designations. You'd have to think though that the Neumann "X" cuts should be the ones that would stand out as having a different sound signature.
     
  11. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    The lathes affect the noise level, if any, of the silent parts of the disc and to a certain extent the smearing of low-level detail (this seems to be a function of mechanical integrity in all the moving parts, just like turntables). However, these aren't really big differences in the scheme of things. Good work can be/is done on both models of lathe, and the electronics and cabling probably have a greater effect. Not to mention the cutter head.

    I wonder if Linn still have the 'mechanically rebuilt' Scully they used for their first generation LPs? now those were something special...
     
  12. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

    I actually asked Doug what the meanings were, and he was kind enough to reply. He also has some cool news:


    The MasteringLab Master, Slave, and X Three different lathes that ran together to be able to cut triplicates. if something would go wrong, we could identify which lathes cut what.

    We have resurrected the Master and Slave and are cutting inOjai, California

    Doug
     
    QQQ likes this.
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    Someone started a thread on this topic recently. Several other U.S. cut, U.K. lps were identified. . .
     
  14. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    ^^Very interesting:righton:

    Guilty as charged
    http://stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=210105&highlight=
     
  15. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    Are these TML UK ELO records pressed in the US or were the stampers alone from the US? Or metal plates?

    How do these versions (my Face The Music is a Polydor Super/Jet) compare to earlier versions? I know my Face The Music is a later version because something is smudged out on the rear artwork credits near where Polydor is printed.
     
  16. chewy

    chewy Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast USA
    i dont get it, so i just got a pink floyd wall that says manuf. in uk, on harvest--- with the TML imprints.....were these made from uk tapes, in america, for the britions? i dont get it....
     
  17. violarules

    violarules Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Well, read above, the same thing happened with ELO British pressings. And ELO also had Stan Ricker cut the lacquers for the original Out of the Blue. Perhaps they thought the American disc mastering engineers were better, and, in the case of Doug Sax and Stan, I'd be inclined to agree with them.
     
  18. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I wonder if the plethora of UK album tapes sent to the US for mastering/cutting - (which seems to have peaked in the mid-1970's) was due in part to backlogs at UK studios / cutting facilities. Around that same time top selling UK labels like Island were outsourcing some lacquer cutting to places like Germany & France. The US record industry was better set up / practiced for mass processing & production compared to the UK industry.

    I know one thing - given same mastering marks those UK pressings, 9 out of 10 times, will sound better - and its not just the vinyl.
     
  19. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    UK Face The Music was USA cut at The Mastering Lab. Back then, many titles in the UK were US mastered.
     
  20. HiFi Guy 008

    HiFi Guy 008 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New England
    Well, I wasn't too impressed with my TML pressed UK Polydor Face The Music.

    I'm guessing the US copies are at least as good, if not better, depending on vintage.
     
  21. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    I think it was sound of the final product. EMI and Decca had no real concept of 'mastering' for rock or pop, of changing the process to actually produce a record that sounded different to the tape.

    The real reason might be the oft-described 'white coat' engineering at those majors, and a new generation of producers understanding that they could change the sound of their records to get what they wanted.

    US houses could do this, and UK independents soon followed (Utopia, TapeOne, Sound Clinic, even Strawberry (started by and for 10cc)) leading to 'signed' lacquers in the UK as they touted their brands.

    UK production (pressing).. think there's probably fewer records made in the entire UK than there are in the California during this time period. Everything's a limited run audiophile issue, from one pressing plant and one set of presses.
     
  22. chewy

    chewy Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast USA
    so for an american wall release-- they'd use the copy of the uk tape, and mass prodce them on NOT using doug sax tubecut


    but for the usa made uk harvest that says on the package made in great britian they used the doug sax lathes and used the original uk tapes????
     
  23. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector Thread Starter

    My US and UK copies of The Wall both have TML in the deasdwax.
     
  24. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    No, they used a set of production metal parts (probably a set of 4 mothers) that were made from TML cuts. This is the official first master for vinyl.

    There are quite a few TML cuts. Detailed on PinkFloydArchives.com.
     
  25. PFA

    PFA Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    The Mastering Lab used three different lathes to cut records: two Scully lathes indicated by the letters TML-M and TML-S, and a Neumann lathe indicated by the letters TML-X.
     
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