Half speed records, are they any better ?


I have just got myself a Halfspeed copy of Pink Floyds Wish you were here . I am wondering if any of you listeners out there have any half speeds and what your thoughts of sound quality over a standard copy . 
thanks in advanced 

Steve
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128steve1979
I have well over 100 HSM's & have been collecting them since the '70's.
1) They are made from virgin vinyl = Much less surface noise & less pops & clicks.. 
2) They are cut at half speed = 16 2/3 RPM = A tad deeper groove.
3) Yes - They all do sound better - I have almost every title on both formats - Standard & Half Speed Master.
4) You get what you pay for!
5) ENJOY!
REAL audiophile has to have all options possible:
Half-Speed, MFSL, 180g, 200g copy of the same album.
The CBS MasterSound WYWH is definitely improved over the other US and European contemporary releases, but has notable shortcomings IMO.  I actually prefer my first generation CD to it; one of the very few I do favor in such a comparison.  If I recall correctly, the CBS half-speeds were all early attempts to remaster with digital technology.  The results were generally better but still suffered from a lot of the digital artifacts that still plague many CDs today such as excessive compression and weak soundstage.  My gen-1 CD was made directly from the analog master tape without compression and just seems more musical.  It is very close to my Japanese home-market audiophile vinyl pressing from 1978 (which is the best vinyl copy of WYWH I have).

With half-speed pressings, I personally prefer MFSL by a large margin.  They were almost all made with JVC Super Vinyl, which was far, far better than anything before or since.  The MFSL engineers used a light touch tweaking the remasters too, and preserved the artist's intent.  Donald Fagen's The Nightfly is one of the very best examples.  There are others too, including DSOTM.  All of them blow away the original releases, hands down.

One vinyl technology you might find interesting is the Sheffield direct-to-disk mastering.  The entire performance is captured live, in one take, directly to the master disk used to drive the cutter heads.  They only made a few, but they are almost all superb.  You might want to look for the Track Record.  It's got 4 thumping rock-n-roll tracks that will give your system a real workout.  Check into it if you have a chance.

Happy listening!
Dear friends: Nothing is perfect in audio that’s full of trade-offs on diferent subjects where half-speed recordings is no exception.

Many times we can hear a better quality sound in half-speed not because is half-speed but because its mastering process was made more carefully.

Here are some notes that I took from recording engineers over the net:



"""

a half speed job is a bit more difficult than just dropping the speed, and few are actually equipped for it. It requires specialized electronics on both the cutting lathe as well as the tape machine. It’s tougher to make adjustments during mastering, as you can’t really hear what you’re aftually doing. Wow & flutter is also greater on tape playback equipment at lower speeds, and things like tape damage and edits become much more noticeable as they basically take twice the amount of time to pass over the tape head. These things can "stick out" on playback whereas they wouldn’t on a conventionally mastered LP.

the few that still do half speed mastering actually aren’t doing half speed mastering anymore for some reason...""""



""" Half-speed mastering is a two-edged sword. One one edge, for a response of 20-20,000, the cutterhead only has to go up to 10,000, so if there are any nonlinearities in the upper range, they will be greatly reduced. Plus, if you were going to, say, 30,000 Hz (and you can, with both analog masters and vinyl) you’ll have that much more "breathing room" up there.

On the other edge of the sword, and this is a pretty sharp edge, you have to apply only half the RIAA curve when cutting the lacquer, and that’s not always easy to do. Plus, now your response for 20-20K has to go down to 10 Hz. And to make things even more fun, the response of playback heads is slightly different at 15 IPS than at 30 IPS. That’s why, generally, you’ll find 15 IPS machines set to NAB, and 30 IPS machines running IEC. """



"""" I would add that half-speed mastering was invented for RCA’s CD4 Quadradisc LP pressings in the early 1970s, when they had to figure out a way to get the 30kHz subcarrier frequency into the grooves. By reducing the cutting speed in half, they could easily get 15kHz in there with no problem.

Somebody discovered that there were advantages to making regular stereo LPs this way, too, but as Mr. Stephens says above, this affected the RIAA curve, NAB tape playback EQ and a bunch of other stuff. I remember at the RCA cutting room I used a few times on Sunset Blvd. in the late 1970s (across from the Ceramic Dome), they had some black boxes that they would plug in-line when they needed to do half-speed mastering, plus some charts and notes on a bulletin board above the Studer A80s they used for playback """"



"""

This is the response curve that actually gets cut into the groove. You can see that response is fairly even over only a short distance around 1,000 Hz. So for half-speed cutting, that entire curve has to be shifted down one octave, the "knee" at 500 Hz has to be lowered to 250 Hz, which when played back at normal speed would be shifted back up to 500 Hz. Which is just a matter of changing a couple of component values in the cutting amp. But, as was pointed out, you really can’t hear what effect the changes will have on the finished product until you play it. Theory is one thing, listening is another. """


""" The problems with the process are the same ones mentioned in this thread. All the equalizion had to be done trial and error in that you couldn’t monitor in real time. For records that didn’t need much help I never thought this was a big deal.

Steve and others have noted that the tonality seems to change when using 1/2 speed mastering. This may be, but when I was involved it was not my prime concern. After all, slight differences in tonality seemed like a small price to pay for the other benefits. To me, this was much like making backwards tape copies, which generally yielded better copies than straight copies """


So, the ball is on each one of us field.



Regards and enjoy the music,

R.

I have a few HSM records, and in general I find them a little smoother and more articulate in the treble.

Where I *really* notice an improvement across the board--mo’ bettah everything--are the 45 rpm LPs. It used to be that my gold standard was 33-1/3 Direct-to-Disk, but with the accumulation of a few 45 rpms such as Analogue Productions’ The Power of the Orchestra, A Meeting By The River (Ry Cooder & VM Bhaatt), Nat King Cole After Midnight, and some from Angel’s Sonic Series including The Planets and Rodrigo’s Fantasia, those comprise the most musical, most kick-you-around-the-room dynamic, most compellingly rhythmic, articulate, and organic needle-in-a-groove music I have.

With no claims of half-speed mastering or anything, some of the best 33-1/3 RPM LPs I have are from Universal’s Play 33-1/3 series. But then at $59.95 for a 2-disk title, they oughtta be.

http://vinyl-records.soundstagedirect.com/records/Universal-Play-33-1-3?cnt=300
Have Kondrashin/Van Cliburn Tchaikovsky Concerto 1 both shaded dog 2s/2s and half-speed re-issue.
The original beats half-speed all the way through.
I have a couple half speed masters that don't sound anywhere near as good as the original first pressing.  George Benson's "Breezin' comes to mind as does Steely Dan's 'Aja'.  I am probably not the best to offer advice as I only have maybe 25 titles, and none of them have 'blown me away'.  I seem to much prefer a good 1st pressing, but that's me.  

things like tape damage and edits become much more noticeable as they basically take twice the amount of time to pass over the tape head. These things can "stick out" on playback whereas they wouldn’t on a conventionally mastered LP.

On the other edge of the sword, and this is a pretty sharp edge, you have to apply only half the RIAA curve when cutting the lacquer, and that’s not always easy to do. Plus, now your response for 20-20K has to go down to 10 Hz. "

"""" I would add that half-speed mastering was invented for RCA’s CD4 Quadradisc LP pressings in the early 1970s, when they had to figure out a way to get the 30kHz subcarrier frequency into the grooves. By reducing the cutting speed in half, they could easily get 15kHz in there with no problem.
The above statements are all false:

A tape edit will sound the same either way. Whoever wrote that comment had no experience and had not even thought through the process...

The RIAA pre-emphasis has to be added whether half speed or not.

You can cut 30KHz to a lacquer at normal speed no worries with any cutter system made in the stereo era.
Decca originally developed the half-speed process to help deal with a resonance in their cutterheads. By going half speed, the resonance was shifted upwards one octave (to about 16KHz) where it was less tricky to deal with. This was a decade prior to 4-channel. So most early Londons and Deccas are half-speed mastered. 

atmasphere,

Thank you for the education.  Makes total sense and explains why the old Londons and Deccas sound so good.  I am wondering though,
why is it that some half speed masters don't sound as good as their normal speed 1st pressing counter parts?  I appreciate someone explaining this. 

Norman