If you are floored by these, you will be even more so with the Mercury Living Presence SACD's.
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While I agree that the RCAs are quite good (I haven't compared them with the Classic re-issues yet), I echo Gaudio eek's post. I played the Morning Noon and Night in Vienna cut from the Mercury Suppe/Auber Overtures SACD for the NJ Audio Society meeting at my home on Sunday and actually got a big round of applause at the end of the piece. The edginess and stridency on big climaxes of the CD are gone, and you're left with music, and a lot of fun as well. Worth getting the whole set, even at a higher price than the RCAs.
Let's keep the hype about these recordings under control! These were, in their time, state of the art recordings, but that was about fifty years ago. Folks should know that they will hear tape/tube hiss and/or AC rumble on many of the discs (all I have to date). I would not discourage people from buying these historic discs, but if they want an audiophile demo disc they will be disappointed.
Yeah, Eldartford, but the magic of tubes used throughout the entire recording chain, classic vintage microphones, and a simple 2 or 3 channel mix creates an experience just not found on today's recordings.
Although I have not taken the plunge into SACD, the DCC Gold CD (standard redbook) of "THE SUMMIT" (Frank, Deano, and Sammy) has a magical quality that is quite unique when compared to the later solid state, multi-tracked, compressed/limited, and otherwise electronically manipulated recording chain. The original recording tapes were made in 1962, and still stand the test of time!
Fatparrot...Sorry to tell you, but compression and peak limiting can and was implemented with tube equipment. It is almost manditory when cutting an LP. You are right that early multitrack mixing was not the greatest idea, but it made the recording session a lot easier for the technicians and musicians. "Get it down on tape, several times, and we'll fix it later". The multitrack approach is much better when implemrented with modern digital recording tracks, where timing is exact and proper phase relationships can be maintained.
Unfortunately not all the master tapes "stand the test of time"...in some cases they have turned to dust and 7.5ips copies of the original 30ips masters, made several decades ago, were used to make the SACDs.
I repeat, these are interesting discs, but don't expect an audiophile's dream.
Tom, they were recorded using 35mm film stock. There's some interesting articles on the MLP website. I think they (the engineers) used Wilma Cozart-Fine's Ampex equipment to remaster the SACD's.
It's all there on the website.
..and yes, the highs are very extended but not edgy. The dynamic swings are also incredible.
I know some of the Mac era preamps had 3 chn capability, I suppose to use with a pair of K-horns and a single Belle Klipsch for the center. What was the play back source piece for the 3 channels ? I missed this era of equipment by a few years..Very intriguing concepts, center channel fill, greater dynamic range, lower distortion more extended highs,simple recording path..How long ago was that leap forward..Tom
Theaudiotweak...Center was always driven by a L+R mix signal. I did that for about 30 years, but what we have now is much better.
Regardless of how you make the master tape, compression/peak limiting is necessary when you cut an LP, along with LF blend, and the usual RIAA mutilation of the original signal. Much less of this is necessary for a digital disk.
What is meant by "35mm film stock"? Are we talking about optical recording? 35mm magnetic tape running at 30 inches per second was the usual medium for master tapes.
Eldartford, a very insightful response to my post. Your facts are correct, but I must ad clarifications. We must assume that a good copy of the master tape exists at 30 i.p.s., and has not physically broken down over the years. A 7-1/2 i.p.s. copy is a poor substitute!
There are also TWO mastering procedures. The first takes place in the studio; the second takes place at the vinyl or digital medium pressing plant. Mastering for vinyl is modern alchemy, part science, part art, and part "hunch". Further audio processing (read that degradation of fidelity!) was necessary to cut a commercial vinyl record. Again, were not talking about a special pressing like a 45 RPM single-sided 12" disc(s). There are many less constraints when using the original old studio master tape (assuming a good state of preservation), and doing a MODERN digital pressing master, especially if tubes are used in the chain, as Steve Hoffman of DCC does.