1/2 speed cutting not usually so good?


Any mastering engineer or other person in the know care to comment on Bob Ludwig's letter in the March issue of The Absolute Sound where he indicates that 1/2 speed cutting is a trade-off. He says that a cutter head flat to 20Hz is only flat to 40Hz at half speed. In combination with the RIAA cutting curve, Ludwig says that an additional equalization circuit is needed for 1/2 speed cutting that introduces extra ringing and distortion. He concludes: "For some music, half-speed cutting is an advantage, for the majority, probably not."
Perhaps I misunderstand the process. But if I have it right, some other folks including those at Mobile Fidelity may want to provide a different viewpoint.
gpgr4blu
A trade off.. nearly any change of any kind is a 'trade off'.
So why is his comment a flash of light? Oh you thought all things were eternally perfect?
Nope.
I learned something
Co-incidentally, I have been thinking about this issue myself lately; what are the tradeoffs; why aren't more masters cut at half speed? I do not subscribe to AS; is the article available on-sline?
Not all lathes can operate at 16rpm. Certainly speed stability is a much greater issue at the lower speed!

I don't buy the 40Hz thing. Our cutter seems to go down much lower than just 20Hz, as do our electronics.

Seems to me it was Decca in the UK that first started using 1/2 speed mastering as part of their method of controlling cutterhead resonance. Essentially, this put the resonance in the upper part of the last octave, which is beneficial due to the RIAA pre-emphasis (boost at high frequencies); IOW it meant that less amplifier power was needed.

There are indeed tradeoffs!
Virtually every product manufacturer wants to have a "thing" that separates their product from others. Half-speed cutting, 45 rpm, single-sided discs, direct-metal mastering. The fact is, IMO, no single attribute has ever been shown to produce a consistently better-sounding product. The quality of a record starts with the quality of the master tape, the lathe, the skill and care of the people involved, the demand for perfection... Sometimes the reissues are great, sometimes the old-fashioned older pressings are better. Unfortunately, it's often plain old trial and error to find the best pressing.
Hi Swampwalker:
I don't think the item is available online because it is a letter to the editor, not an article. It was a very short letter that does not say much more than the synopsis I set forth above.
At my age, half-speed cutting is about all I can master.
LOL, Doug.
Didn't MoFi stop cutting at half speed about 15 years ago? Why would the new owners (Music Direct is it?) want to provide a different viewpoint.

Of course, Stan Ricker, who mastered the first LPs at MoFi is still around and might have insight, having done both half speed and conventional mastering.

But there seems no reason to doubt RL, he is about as good as they get. In a way, it's a bit of a tempest in a tea pot.
MoFi lp inserts still refer to a half speed mastering process and how the cutter head has twice as much time to direct cut complex grooves. Unless their inserts are wrong, they are still cutting at half speed.
"The quality of a record starts with the quality of the master tape, the lathe, the skill and care of the people involved, the demand for perfection... Sometimes the reissues are great, sometimes the old-fashioned older pressings are better."

Cutting records was an artform in the golden age of vinyl. I agree with you but would add that the quality and purity of the vinyl is an important part of the process.

And half-speed or not, I have had a few MOFI records with pops and clicks in them. So Chayro makes a very valid point.