Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by hoover537, Jun 6, 2004.
Could your father share his insights on the mystery of 317X with us?
He'll never tell. He was required to sign a sworn statement with RCA. If the secret ever gets out it could upset the delicate balance of time and space. Forget about it.
To think this recording is almost 90 years old. My lord, it sounds fantastic!
I see. If it does not conflict the swearing.
All I know is that every time I ask him about it he starts swearing.
Yes, a one mic wonder. The importance of the actual sound of the recording room cannot be overstated..
This 1944 RCA recording of Duke Ellington sounds like a recent CD with overuse of the RCA limiter.
RCA Victor still referred to it as "Stereo-Orthophonic High Fidelity Recording" on the jackets until the early 1960s.
I think it had something to do with birds, right...?
No, wait - that was Orinthonic, wasn't it...
...Life's the same when you're Moving In Stereo!
This is a fascinating thread. I have a rather shabby copy of Elvis' "Elvis" from 1956, and like the original poster, am familiar with Monophonic and Stereophonic, but not Orthophonic, so I Googled it and you guys came to my rescue!
I am in the process of cataloging a few hundred records that were mostly my grandmother's "collection" (flea market buys) on the Discogs website. It's fun to learn as you clean and listen. I am looking forward to exploring this site!!
Thanks, Marina (aka, Silvrgoat)
I just watched the video below. It was a short on TCM yesterday.
I have a Benny Goodman 45 RPM mono set from 1956 that indicates it is "New Orthophonic". I understand the echo effect that plagues many 1950s Goodman RCA Victor releases, but I don't think that has anything to do with the "orthophonic" process, new or otherwise. That effect is on a lot of RCA issues of the time - Goodman and Dorsey and others - that don't say anything about the record being “orthophonic”. By the way, here’s what the Goodman set says:
"The sound on these records was enhanced by the application of 'New Orthophonic' techniques and transfer methods which involved the extension of frequency and dynamic range. Master transfer from tape to disc was accomplished using heated stylus to assume the smoothest possible groove and lowest over-all surface noise, and an automatic variable pitch method to reproduce as closely as possible the enhanced sound tape."
I don’t see anything there about giving the record a faux stereo effect, just “extension of frequency and dynamic range” and “automatic variable pitch method” (unless that, in conjunction with “enhanced”, is code for the echo effect).
Now here's this video implying orthophonic is a stereo concoction, serving to confuse me further.
I guess the solution is to just listen to the records, and like them or not, and not try to understand the “how” (unless that is your profession).
'Extension of frequency and dynamic range'--translation: we EQd these old recordings within an inch of their life, and smashed out all those nasty loud peak blasts with heavy limiting.
'Automatic variable pitch method' applies to the mastering lathe used to cut these newer microgroove reissues of the old recordings. (Pitch meaning the spacing of the grooves from one turn to another, expressed in units of lines per inch.) The automation has to do with the lathe cutting the grooves closer to each other during softer passages of music, then widening the spacing between them during louder passages....said automation taking place on the tape machine playing back the master tapes for cutting the LP master lacquers. This was done via what's called a preview head, which literally plays the music from the master tape about a second in time before the playback head reproduces the music. The preview head's feed controls the lathe mechanism to regulate the spacing of the grooves as they're being cut.
There was also manual variable pitch control, as in, the mastering engineer controlling the spacing by hand as the master lacquer is being cut; this is how the old Mercury Living Presence classical albums were mastered.
Toward the end of the 1970s into the early 1980s, digital technology got involved, so that the playback head fed a lathe's computer, and the output of a digital delay fed the audio electronics--so what you got on a record was not the sound of a master tape, but how it sounded after it went through a digital delay!
Now it can be told:
317X: Jewish Space Laser..
This is remarkable!
Sounds more like Orthopedic.
I haven't watched the videos yet but "Orthophonic" was the term Victor coined in 1925 for the new electrical recording process. Around 1953-54, RCA Victor began referring to their improved recording process with a wider dynamic range as "New Orthophonic High Fidelity". When RCA Victor began issuing stereo LPs in 1958, they were labled "stereo Orthophonic" on the record jackets until about 1962. "Orthophonic" was just a scientific sounding term devised to sell records; it really didn't mean anything at all, just as the term "high fidelity" doesn't really mean anything.
Stan Freberg, in his guise as Dr. Herman Horne (ex-tuba player for Horace Heidt's orchestra turned hi-fi expert) on his 1957 CBS Radio show, referred to a "StereoFranticOrthopedicCinemaQuadaramaphonic" sound system. The "New Orthophonic" (which Our Host would have called the "whole new ballgame" when developed in 1953-54) terminology was parodied on the cover of this famous album (at top left):
It should be noted that RCA Victor still had the "New/Stereo Orthophonic" wording on labels of records pressed in Hollywood to the 1965 change in label design (to "black label, white type, dog on top" on LP's and "black label, dog on side" on 45's) - and on Canadian LP's through 1968-69 when the orange label was phased in.
By the time "New Orthophonic" came on the scene, I was wondering which cutting system RCA was using to cut lacquers for records in all three speeds - Western Electric 2A? (I presume the 2B was into the future at that point.) I figure in their recording studios, until Neumann mics began their "invasion," 44BX's and 77DX's dominated?
Coming on 90 years old!
The marketing angle seems to sum it up. How else can one equate an electric recording process in the mid-1920s, mid-1950s mono reissues of late 1930s recordings, and late 1950s stereo recordings? I don't see any other unifying thread running through all three. I should listen to my Benny Goodman again to see if there otherwise is anything to the "New Orthophonic" process (other than the concert hall echo effect). I think I've probably heard enough legitimate Goodman in the past year or two to give it another (better) critical listen.
So the quality "scroll" 78s are limited to those recorded in Camden? I see that Victor recorded widely during the scroll years (e.g., Memphis and Chicago). If so, is there nothing to commend those non-Camden Victor's "orthophonic" electrical recordings over and above what other (quality) labels were issuing during that period?
Where did you get that? From something I wrote? Victor had the Batwing label first, then the Scroll design from 1926 to 1938, then the modern revision as their record labels, doesn't matter where they were recorded or what the music was.
Perhaps I misread the above, but I thought there was something extra special about the acoustics of the Camden studios, specifically the converted church location. I was wondering whether the Victor electric recording process utilized elsewhere (such as Chicago or Memphis) might not have sounded quite as good.
There was something special about it, yes.
Seems like a nice little collection (by John R.T. Davies) that's right up the ol' Victor electric alley. It's a bit hard to read, but note the "Orthophonic Recording" on the left side of the Victor label.
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