Check if Classic Records outsourced their production:-)
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They have their hits and their misses like most labels do.
Give the first Led Zeppelin album on Classic Records a spin, (if you can find it, as it is OOP), and you'll be amazed at how good it is. It clearly beats the pants off any other pressing I've heard. (And I have a few, including a really nice clean Japanese copy, that I used to think sounded great, until I heard the Classic Records pressing.)
As far as cleaning records goes, I do indeed wet clean all of my records, new and used, before I play them, in order to get rid of the factory mold release, dust and any other contaminants. I merely use MoFi's super vinyl wash fluid, with some Disc Doctor brushes, and then vacuum them dry with my Nitty Gritty RCM. (With really dirty used LPs, I will use the MoFi super deep cleaner first, and then follow up with the regular super vinyl wash.) I find this helps my records sound better, as I rarely ever notice any pops or ticks.
My two cents worth anyway.
It seemed that as Classic Records got older their quality diminshed. But the earlier Led Zep, Peter Gabriel, etc releases were quite good. I find that the Mobile Fidelity releases have all been good. How ever with Chad at Acoustic Sounds on the threshold of pressing vinyl in a new facility I am hopeful we will see some higher quality releases. So far the Analogue Production releases have been good and I expect that to continue. But at the end of the day vinyl is vinyl and not perfect.
Talent, and production values have dropped.
The skilled record pressers are all retired. The new guys have no one to learn from. The machines are all old, No one is building a new Lp pressing plant! Not any new machines. The vinyl is probably harder to get as they would want it. And the folks who KNEW what it should be are gone too.
Then the pressure to produce is higher. I am certain all the crappy stuff with fingerprints, warps, the push to make more, faster, instead of better is all there is. then who cares about a quality product.
Not the minimum wages workers. And probably not even the managers. What counts is the bottom line.
How much product made in how long a time.
When was the last time you heard of a job where they were looking for someone who is going to make certain the product is made right, even if it takes a little longer?
Nowhere in any area of work except perhaps top tier luxury goods. And Lps are not that sort of product. (As much as one would wish they were treated like one)
The last big company was Saturn, and they dropped that idea.. then went belly up.
"The machines are all old, No one is building a new Lp pressing plant! Not any new machines. The vinyl is probably harder to get as they would want it. And the folks who KNEW what it should be are gone too."
Acoustic Sounds made this announcement last week:
Their reissues are pricey but generally excellent in quality - - as evidenced by their recently completed traversal of 50 Blue Note reissues, their on-going reissue of 25 Impulse! titles, and many others.
As for folks who knew (know) about mastering, Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray, Stan Ricker and a few others are still at it. Let's hope they take on some bright, young understudies/apprentices to keep the flame glowing!
I really hope they can start to make records sound like they used to. No digital processing. If I wanted that I would buy the CD.
I was going to invest in a new table, Why bother? For what, this garbage? I can try to convince myself as much as I want that this new stuff is going to get better. I am starting to give up hope. I will continue to buy the older stuff. Once in a while, I get a good one.
The Lyrita's have a nice sound and you can still get them. I just wish they offered more than just English artists. They did a good job and their vinyl is consistently good quality.
I just cannot figure out how some of those Classic reissues made it to TAS list. They are not what I expected for the price tag. They sound very digital in many respects. They never answer their emails either. I just cannot figure out that they had or have access to those historical moments, completely blow it and then are rewarded by TAS. Maybe my ears are deceiving me but I don't think so.
So far the only Classic that sounds decent is the Carmen, Faust RCA Living Stereo Reissue. I bought it because I cannot get the original, just like the others I bought for the same reason.
The Classic reissues I have heard of orchestral music all sounded terrible, FWIW. And unfortunately, I agree 100% with Elizabeth when she says "The skilled record pressers are all retired. The new guys have no one to learn from." One can also substitute "recording engineers" for "record pressers". It is truly shocking to realize how little training modern recording engineers have.
I've noticed the same thing. I got a Classic reissue of Who's Next and it's terrible. But then again, I have yet to hear a good version of any Who album in any format. Even Zeppelin recordings sound better comparatively, and they're no prize.
Meanwhile, my 41-year-old copy of Pink Floyd's Meddle is probably the best recording I own. And it was cheaper (used, 35 years later) than most new audiophile pressings.
I think as audiophiles our best bet is to find original pressings on eBay.
I bought the Classic Records from Day 1, I have most of their Living Stereos and Mercuries, and I also have some originals and compared them (with adjustments in VTA). From the Mastering they are excellent, a very good job was done in the 90's. When some say they sound horrible or digital, I think, it is based on their System. The very best is the 1. Series in 180gr. Top vinyl, no noise. I also have bought later some of their 200gr and stopped that fast. The first of them are silent but in the last years (or their last years) they got serious problems with their pressing factory. They made a bad job. Maybe 2 reasons, melted 2. hand vinyl or/and too fast output (cooling process or something in that area) which damaged the grooves (cracks and so on, no RCM can get it out, there are distortions, not in everyone but from time to time).
Their latest Clarity Vinyl are superior from sonics (and mastering). Unfortunately it is possible to get some with distortions, too.
I think, this was the wake up call for some competitors to go to Europe with their Pressings. They take more care or have some more educated people there, who knows. Speakers corner for example have an absolutely inferior mastering but their vinyl is super.
Classic Records grew up in critics since they started. Hobson destroyed the market for the professional record dealers with the super high pricing for LSC.
It is always the same story, you have friends a short time but your enemies will bite you even 20 years later.
Classic Records with their enthusiasm (Remastering with Wilkinson, Rebuild of the original machines) created the real analog revival in the Digital Darkness.
Kudos to Hobson/Grundman
I agree with Syntax. The earlier ones were definitely better than these newer 200 grams, but not as good as the Chesky.
I also heard Scheherazade on Chesky and Classic and again, it is no contest. The Chesky blows it away. It was so obvious that my friend and I looked at each other and started laughing. My friend has top analog gear and he also noticed the overemphasized mids and highs on the Classic version. The older living stereo's sound very different from the Classic Reissues.
The Pines of Rome in the original release is amazing. I am not sure it is worth its price tag, but it blows away the Classic. It is just more natural sounding, more real sounding.
Classic says they use tubes on some of there reissues but it does not sound like they were used on all of them.
More than anything that I am annoyed with is the quality of the vinyl. It is just horrible and I did get a couple with fingerprints on them. I do agree with Elizabeth on that. Quality control is lacking as is customer service. They do not return emails.
Why is there so much gain on the Classic reissues? The 200 gram reissues in particular. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed it.
I also love the work that Kenneth Wilkinson did. He was amazing and quite arguably the best at what he did. I wish someone would release the Readers Digest Handels Messiah he engineered. That is a great recording, one of the best I have ever heard, except not on Dynagroove vinyl. You can get the Chesky CD but that is it. I would also like the Night On Bald Mountain with Sir Adrian Boult and the New Symphony Orchesrta of London. I always hear about Liebowitz and The Power of The Orchestra but the Boult version is incredible.
The Scheherazade from Chesky:
They used the pure 2-Track Tape without the - normally - added 3. channel. This means, the mid Part (left-mid-right) is not supported or 'pushed'. The result is, the listener gets a more realistic Soundstage. The recordings simply sounds more real. I also have the Chesky records. Outstanding good remasterings. A pity, they didn't made more.
In a way they have to sound a bit different, mainly based on
- other pressing machines
- different cutting heads
- different power amps for those
- different cutting angles
- different Quality of Vinyl
and very important
- 30 years difference in the Age of the Tapes
Tapes are magnetic and this stored information is not stable. The loss of information is natural, specially in the extremes of both areas, maximum highs, lowest Bass.
(the faster they made the cutting process, the more dynamic are the records. The fastest from all was Bob Fine)
When the tapes were running on the Westrex / Scully now, you can choose different equalizations. but there never was a Standard for that. It was changed from time to time because something new came in, something different was tried, 1954-1959 it was the N.A.R.T Standard for magnetic Tapes, later NAB Standard...
When the tape is old, the noise (rush) will get louder...a remaster needs a lot of work to be done right, and in this chain a lot can be done wrong.
CR tried to do it as best as possible and based on the age of tapes, equipment, they made the best possible results (Chesky did go a different way). Wilkinson still had the datas of everything, they went back to these datas and some was made identical, and when not possible based on technical issues, they went as close as possible to the written datas.
What we got is still the impression what happened 30 years ago without wrong information, and let us not forget, for 29.99 $ we got a LSC-1817.
did you know what you had to pay for a mint copy 1993? 700+ USD and you had to say 5x"Thank you" to the Seller..
CR was so proud to go to RTI (I think, that was the one) for pressing, not knowing, that this company would ruin their name...
Hmmm, perhaps I have only heard the more recent Classics reissues. I can only repeat that every one I have ever heard has sounded downright bad, especially compared to the original release of the same recording, and also compared to other popular re-releases such as the Chesky's mentioned. I also do not find it necessary or productive to criticize systems I have never heard of those who disagree with me. I trust my ears, they help earn me my living as a professional orchestral musician, but I don't expect others to therefore agree with what I say. Different strokes for different folks.
The earlier ones are better, not great, but better. I buy these records because I cannot get the originals in decent condition. I love the performances, just wished they sounded better, like the older vinyl. I believe you Learsfool. I'm with ya. I am just disapppointed and wish they sounded better. My friend has an excellent system, much better than mine and it even sounds worse on his. He's got Atmasphere gear and it sounds fabulous, especially the Cheskys, Sheffields, well you know what I mean.
We still have Bernie Grundman, Steve Hoffman and Chris Bellman. I have enjoyed many of their reissues. There are still really great sounding new records(not too many on Classic). Nora Jones, David Crosby, CSN, Lennon, and some of the Zeps are among their better ones.
Recent great sounding vinyl includes the Neil Young catalogue, ESP. Massey Hall and some of the ORG releases such as Nirvana Unplugged.
Another one I hear little talk of is the Wretches and Jabberers soundtrack. Great music and stellar sound(mastered by perhaps the best of all time-Bob Ludwig). This one even comes with a CD to demonstrate why vinyl still sounds better. Highly recommended but limitted to 500 copies for now. I'd grab one just in case.
I only have a few Classic Recs. I had a terrible time getting a copy of Sonny Clark's "Cool Struttin" without a bunch of crackly noise. I would've gone with the Music Matters 45, but I wanted mono. Eventually I got a decent one, though.
The others I have are the 45rpm Mingus "Ah Um", 45rpm Clarity mono Cannonball "Somethin Else", and John Jenkins/Kenny Burrell. All of which I'm very happy with.
Even with their QC problems, I'm sad to see them go, because they released mono versions of albums even where stereo was available. I just don't like the sound of most early stereo. Why would anyone pan drums and bass all the way to one side?!
I listened to some Scheherazade Reissues
Classic Records, first Series 180gr
EMI ASD 251, Sir Thomas Beecham, RPO
RCA was one of those rare Companies (with Decca and Mercury) which made recordings to the absolute limit what was possible from dynamics, see their Stampers 1s, 2s and so on. Some of them were so hot, they were nearly untrackable at their time.
The Scheherazade is a very critical record (even the Reissue), the violins have extremely high frequencies and are amplified in 2 stages. I am sure, most tweeters will go into clipping when you will hear this record loud. Then the high frquencies sound compressed. But this has nothing to do with the mastering itself. It is the way it is. A hot record.
The made 3 channels into 2, this gives a deeper soundstage and a more defined focus left and right side from the middle. But this records sounds dry, you cant hear (of feel) the moved air which was caught from the microphones. This is more an audiophile Pressing than an illusion of being a part of thePresentation.
EMI was not among those companies who pushed the curtain in recording sessions. EMI made excellent recordings BUT they had no Espit. They had no ambition to try where the limit is. They had order to stay 18 dB below the maximum. No EMI records has a higher Dynamic than 40dB!
Back to their Scheherazade, this is a nice sounding one. Good dynamics, a powerful Bass, when you listen to it, you will be impressed, a good demo disc for most stereo Systems. Most of their records were made in the Abbey Road Studios, only very few were made in Kingsway Hall. One reason for a good, but in a way degraded Presentation.
But why do they sound good even with all these limits? Their secrets were the used microphones and how they made the fixings. The made the Sound more concentrated, with a bigger distance between the Listener and the Orchestra, and they reduced the distance of the Instrument groups. The result is a powerful presentation for the Listener.
But RCA had a total different Philosophy, they wanted to go into the Session, very difficult to do, but with a Stereo System which can handle those dynamics, the Listener is in the Position above the concert and can see into it.
I believe the following is circa mid-2007 from a Classic Records newsletter written by Mike Hobson. I've inserted a few additional paragraph breaks to make it more readable.
The Long and Winding Road to a Classic Vinyl Record
The long and winding road at Classic Records is the way I describe our daily pursuit of making the best records we possibly can which is often not easy. I have come to learn that everything matters when making records and that it is a challenge just to make a consistently good product. This is due, in large part to the number of variables that are involved. Take as an example that the quality of lacquers used when cutting makes a difference to the sound of the records pressed from stampers that result from the plating the lacquers. In fact, throughout the last three years there has been large variation in the quality of lacquers and hence the quality of the LPs that result vary as well. Im not talking about subtle variability here but in fact material issues that result in more or less background noise and sporadic ticks and pops that come from the lacquer material that propagates its way all the way to the finished product.
Thirteen years ago we used lacquers from a company named Apollo with great success they were quiet, cut and plated well and made great sounding records. At some point along the road, Apollos began to get noisy which we could hear by cutting a blank groove on a lacquer and playing the lacquer back on the lathe. We switched to Transco lacquers, which were not as quiet as Apollos originally had been but were quieter than Apollos had become. We used Transcos for many years with highly consistent and good sound results while continually experimenting with Apollo and other lacquers in the quest to always use the best possible lacquers at any particular point in time.
All was well until, one fateful day when Transcos became noisy as a result of their supplier of nitrocellulose acetate, the material lacquers are coated with, delivering material that was not filtered as rigorously as it had been in the past and chemistry problems with the materials used to make nitrocellulose acetate. Further complicating the matter these problematic lacquers, even when we used hand-selected examples, often had problems in plating during the silvering process, requiring sides to be recut. On a tip from the plating plant, we sourced and began importing MDC brand lacquers from Japan, which for a while, were both quieter and plated more consistently than Transcos.
Instinctively knowing that MDC might fall back into the inconsistencies they previously had experienced, I began working with Transcos ownership to help encourage them not to give up the battle to solve the materials problems and return to making consistently quiet master lacquers for the record industry. My instinct was right, in that, possibly the result of increased demand for MDC lacquers while Transco was struggling, MDC lacquers became more noisy and harder to plate requiring many more recuts. Volume is always an issue in providing a consistently good product, which is true at the pressing level as well which I will address later. I am happy to report that Transco has taken the control of the manufacture of its microcellulose acetate in-house by hiring the original chemist and buying the formula from their previous supplier.
A local supplier who uses the highest quality materials and filtering is now strictly making Transcos microcellulose under the supervision of their chemist. Transcos efforts and perseverance have paid off and I am thrilled that we are again using Transco lacquers with great success they cut, plate and sound great! The point of this part of the story is that materials matter crucially in the final sound quality of an LP. Also, I want all to know that Classic Records has and will always pursue quality down to the materials level, which no other vinyl company is currently doing.
Another variable is vinyl formulas, which according to some Self Proclaimed Experts (SPEs ) on well known vinyl enthusiast websites, only number two or three. In fact, there are four suppliers worldwide, each of which have somewhere between three and twelve different formulas each! We have, for years pointed out that vinyl formulas sound dramatically different. Some have more clarity in different frequency spectrums while others have better bass definition and still others sound warm and tube like but lack a little of the sense of reality that audiophiles so long for.
We have again embarked on listening to a dozen different vinyl formulas and the variation is as great as I have ever heard. Other companies that produce LPs use the vinyl that the pressing plant they contract with has available. Vinyl pressing plants strive to have consistency in manufacturing and hence their choice of vinyl is driven not by sound quality but by consistency in their pressing process and a minimum of rejects. I dont mean to suggest that pressing plants have no interest in sound quality, just that it is not at the top of their list of objectives. They would like to make quiet records but quiet is only necessary and far from sufficient as a motivation in making the BEST sounding records possible.
Now for the bad news, over the past five years there have been dramatic changes in the market for vinyl pellets used to mold vinyl records. One of the major suppliers for decades, Kaiser, simply shut their doors and stopped producing vinyl pellets. A few of the top people that lost their jobs set up a new company, to produce vinyl pellets in Columbia (South America) and after years of struggling to make a consistent formula, now market and sell a variety of formulas under the brand name Kenan. We are experimenting with great success with a number of Kenan formulations. Add to the mix that Rimtec Corp. , a major producer of high quality vinyl pellets that Classic Records had used up until the third quarter of last year, announced that they would no longer be making vinyl pellets with lead and cadmium, important mold release additives.
Vinyl formulas that are lead free are both harder to press consistently and sound different. Rimtec Corporation continues to make colored vinyl pellets which use no lead or cadmium but no more of the original leaded formula that we had used for many years. By the way, even if you ate a ground up record you should have no fear of lead poisoning from the amount added to vinyl pellets, although you may have digestive issues thereafter. We have listened to the unleaded material and it sounds great and well have more to say about this and other issues that come up along the long and winding road in the future.
Regarding the OP comment on The Reiner Sound - I hear a fair amount of tape hiss on both the Chesky and the Classic Records.
Pressing-wise, Classic Records had some superb releases and some less so, but they gave us the opportunity to acquire RCA and Mercury that otherwise would not be available in anywhere near the quality of their releases. I think the Speakers Corner vinyl is a bit more consistent.
I'll just say that I am thankful that I have the record collection I do, and that there was such a tremendous amount of quality music recorded from the 1950's through the end of the 1970's. 30 years worth of listening and I am still trying to catch up with all the great stuff that was put out. Just because a record is 40 years old means nothing to me in that if I am hearing it for the first time it is brand new to my ears.
As long as modern artists are over producing themselves in the digital domain with too many edits, compression, digital plugins and samples that sound unnatural and overly manipulated they will not gain the attention of my ears. Cd's dithered down to 16 bit will never sound proper and ipods will remain the choice of the masses but not my choice ever.
I guess it's all a good argument against the value of capitalism and the free market.
Is it possible to have a society based solely upon quality?
I'm in.. even with higher taxes.