"Cut from the original master tapes"

this is a phrase I see often when looking at new vinyl of old recordings. I always wonder if this is a good thing. I'm sure the tapes used are of a better quality than the 8 track, casette, or reel to reel tapes that I used but were they really of a quality that they would still be Quality today? Do they not lose their muster, so to speak, like everything that one deems to be from that period of time referred to as "In the day" (yours truly included)?
Yes, ones made from the master are much better. It was common practice even in the old days to cut records from 2nd or 3rd generation copies of the master tape. The idea was to put the master in the vault and leave it, no one could tell the difference. LOL. The master is the closest thing to the actual performance that we will ever have. Some of the older ones are still of exceptional quality. It is POSSIBLE now to make masters that are even better but that seldom happens. Cassette's were crap and 8 track worse and if you didn't have a real professional tape recorder you have no idea how good they can be. Some of my favorite records were recorded up in the Andes 40 years on portable pro recorders.
Good question. All things being equal (they never are) tapes are better than vinyl because they proceed it and do not require such elaborate equalization (not to mention cutter heads, pressing issues etc.). Time, however can change that relationship. As it happens, vinyl is the most stable recording medium that we know of. The jury is still out on more recent recording procedures.
It is not a sales pitch. The original reel-to-reel studio recordings are, generally speaking, superior in every regard. If there is deterioration in the original tape then specific areas will be re-recorded by computer from another part of the tape that is not damaged. For the most part, the recording companies kept the original tapes in climate controlled storage to ensure stability of the oxide. Many of the 1950's tapes are still in pristine condition. Playback is usually done on an Ampex 350/351 tape deck, or similar professional deck, which is the deck most recording studios used. Listening to the original tapes is like being at the recording session itself, though it may have been 50 years ago.
I always say Its a dull day when you don't learn something - I thank you all for your responses
I'd go with most that's been said above, if not a little voice tells me:
How is it, that often more then one party claims they used THE master tape?!

And how about, that there often are 2 - 3 claims of being in possession of the master?

I have a notion, that those are 'secondary masters' cut from some original that's long gone. And in any way THE master is often a jumble of bit and pieces collected during a recording sessions. (Reading about how S.D. 'Katie Lied' was done gives some insights)

The politics of marketing must play the usual roll, because WHO is to disprove those claims: "Cut from the original master tapes" in the first place?

I think it is possible to have more than one Master. This is achieved simply by sending the signal from the console to more than one tape machine simultaneously. Each of these Masters would theoretically have identical sound quality as long as identical tape machines with identical set up were used. Each of these tapes would correctly be labeled first generation.
only 'one' disc is actually cut 'directly' from the original master tapes, and the term 'original master tapes' is almost never spelled out. if it sounds good, it doesn't matter.
Is the standard a 16-track "master" tape? Did many studios routinely record more than one master tape simultaneously? Commcat, it sounds like you have some experience with recording, and have actually heard a master tape played back. I hope I have that opportunity some day.
No serious recorder ever used a 16 track tape. These are for multi track mono pop recordings where each musician comes in separately and lays down a track. In this case the concept of a "MASTER" is meaningless, there is NO original performance, only sounds to be mixed and manipulated.
its like the term 'remastered' can mean just about anything.